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Old 11-06-2014, 11:05 AM   #1
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Default Devil's Den - New Durham

From the Baysider - 11-5-2014
Contributing Writer
NEW DURHAM ó Long before the first Abenaki roamed the mountains by Merrymeeting Lake, a lightning bolt tore from the sky, splitting a rock near the future hardscrabble homes of New Durham farmers, and unleashing the Devil from his underworld habitat. Fire and whirling sulphur carved out the rockís center, where the fiend could then hole up. Anyone brave enough to squeeze into the dank depths of the fissure can see his hoofprints, so you know itís true.
Maybe weíre getting carried away. Devilís Den, a natural cavity between rock slabs on a rise of just over 1,000 feet
Durham near Mount Bet, certainly wasnít blasted into existence by lightand tucked away in New ning.
Thatís a more compelling scenario, though, than the mundane movement of a glacier dropping a boulder that cracked in response to centuries of rain, heat and cold, or of the collapse of a block of stone from its progenitor crag.
One thing is for sure Ė on dark nights, the wind carries off the moans of shackled prisoners, hidden away down in the depths of the cave. These poor souls were colonists captured during the French and Indian War. Or, if not, they were certainly British soldiers who guarded the Kingís pines destined for masts being brought to Portsmouth along Kingís Highway. Or, redcoats during the Revolutionary War, ambushed and imprisoned by crafty New Durham residents.
Wait, weíre getting carried away again. Town Historian Cathy Orlowicz says she has never been able to confirm the folklore of prisoners being detained there.
But if the conditions are right, you can stand above the narrow rift that leads to the cave proper, and smell the whiskey from a broken cask smuggled down from Canada and stashed alongside the Devil in his den, far from the prying eyes of authorities. Even more likely, it came from one of New Durhamís infamous and free flowing stills of the 1930s.
No, no; the stills werenít imaginary, but hiding moonshine or Canadian liquor on the side of the mountain might have been.
Start again. An old Native American cave, also used as a lookout, was dubbed Devilís Den, a common name in the state, becauseÖ.
Okay, who knows why, what, or even when?
Certain things we do know.
Once, Devilís Den was a popular tourist spot, with a road that led horse and buggies right to its base. Families picnicked and enjoyed the views of the Ossipee Range, Lake Winnipesaukee, and Merrymeeting Lake.
Pictures exist from the late 1800s of a church groupís visit to the mountain. One imagines that those women in the photographs, clambering over the ledges while laden down with petticoats and long dresses, were more intrepid than the rock climbers that now frequent the granite faces.
Chesley Corner was the section of town closest to Devilís Den, and weed choked holes and foundations are the remnants of those farms now.
Resident David Shagoury, who scampered in and around the cave since he was seven while visiting relatives, wound up living about as close as possible to his childhood haunt. He describes the area as a "whole different world then."
Sheep, the only farm animals that could find things to eat on the rocky hills, grazed in abundance. But when many farmers failed to return after the Civil War and the demand for wool fell off, that changed.
If not bustling, this section of town was at least busy, with the four Chesley homes, their neighbors, a store, sawmill, itinerant charcoal makers, loggers, and the Mount Bet Sportsmenís Club. Guides led duck hunting expeditions and the area played host to other hunters, who swarmed the mountainsides hoping to collect bounty on bobcats, lynx, bears, and porcupines.
One industrious neighbor put up a steel gate and charged admission to enter the cave.
price was a quarter. "There are still some pin holes in the rock where the gate was pinned," he says. His guess is that the entrepreneurship ocShagoury believes the curred in the 1920s.
But the Chesley homes were moved to South Wolfeboro by oxen in 1918 and the sportsmenís club closed around 1930. The only signs today of the activity of the late 1800s and early 1900s are rotted and rusted pieces of vehicles and household items. Shagoury once found an old meatscale.
Blueberry fields next blanketed the Devilís Den area, and then logging firms bought up the land.
The well-marked trails of yesteryear are also a thing of the past. Diane Thayer, who led numerous groups to the site as part of the adult education group Explore for Grown-Ups, says many folks who make the trek report they cannot find the cave.
She notes that there are numerous trails to the top but the actual cave isnít there; it is off to the side of the mountain. At its rank of 1,245th highest mountain in the state, itís not the most ambitious climb.
Anyone heading out to squeeze and crouch inside, though, needs to bring a flashlight or headlamp and wear sturdy shoes. The cave cuts into the mountain at least 30 feet, and carved niches can be seen, perhaps that once held candles.
Rock climbers make use of the four main cliff areas of Devilís Den ranging from 40-75 feet, and have named them the Cave Wall, Slab Wall, Outback Wall, and Land of Overhangs. The Slab Wall offers excellent ice climbs in winter.
Thayer says the rocks have shifted over time, as several people used to be able to enter the base of the den at one time. This movement resulted from the spirits of those claimed by Satan roiling in turmoil and pressing against the molten rock above them in a futile attempt at escape. Well, probably not.
At any rate, today it is just a very narrow passage and to go up the decrepit ladder one must turn sideways.
Listed in Marianne OíConnorís book "Haunted Hikes of New Hampshire," Devilís Den is a permanent part of New Durhamís history and an excellent dayís outing, despite being a far cry from its heyday as a tourist spot.
Porcupines claim the real estate there now. Finally free of bounty hunters, they live among the ledges, watching for the occasional hiker.
But if youíre reading this, you survived the ghosts and goblins of All Hallowís Eve. If you think your luck will hold out, you might feel safe scheduling a hike to Devilís Den.

For further reading http://www.winnipesaukee.com/forums/...ead.php?t=3772

for further reading https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q...+new+durham+nh


Old Photo "Pathway to Devil's Den" circa 1865

view of Winni from Devil's Den


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Old 11-06-2014, 04:11 PM   #2
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Default Just Read the article in the Baysider...

Cathy Allen did a great job on the article.
I Live Here... I am always UPTHESAUKEE !!!!
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