The Damned Story: In one of the more pretty parts of Connecticut is the 860 acres of a state park known as Devil’s Hopyard, a parcel of land with a possibly damned history, including being one of the many hangouts of . . . perhaps . . . maybe . . . [*insert Church Lady voice*] SATAN!
The early Puritan settlers of Connecticut were inordinately obsessed with the Devil — maybe because they truly believed Satan was hiding behind each tree waiting to claim their souls. According to author David Phillips (of Legendary Connecticut), as a result, there are some 34 places whose names were inspired by the Adversary, including five Devil’s Dens, four Backbones, two Kitchens and a Dripping Pan, as well as a Hell Hole, a Tophet Ravine and two Satan’s Kingdoms.
Although any one of the aforementioned locations could be Hell on Earth, the one that seems to come up the most when talking about where the Evil One may be laying in wait is Devil’s Hopyard in East Haddam.
As with many of Connecticut’s state parks, the Hopyard is steeped in natural beauty, from its picturesque forest to the steady Eight Mile River, which bisects the park. One of the draws to the Hopyard is Chapman Falls (as seen above), a 60-foot cascade of water over multiple ledges; legend has it that the Prince of Darkness himself has been seen sitting atop a huge boulder near the top of the falls, playing a violin (or fiddle) while his minions stirred nefarious brews in the naturally formed cauldron-like potholes at the bottom of the falls. (The potholes have also been thought to be the marks burned in the rocks by the Devil’s hooves.) Native Americans may have used the area for rituals, further spooking the locals and adding to the mythos.
Over the decades, dark shadows and phantoms have been purportedly seen moving around the woodland. In more recent times, people have allegedly experienced spirit orbs and mists, as well as strong feelings of foreboding. Others have heard demonic voices and inexplicable laughing. EVPs have also been supposedly recorded.
And yes, there’s evidence that in the 18th century there was a malt house near one of the tributaries of the Eight Mile River, near which hops were grown. Hence, the “hopyard.”
To read more about the history of Devil’s Hopyard, as well as other Satan in Connecticut legends, check out Legendary Connecticut.
Our Damned Experience: We haven’t been to the Hopyard recently, but we’re hoping to hop on over soon.
If You Go: Devil’s Hopyard State Park is located in East Haddam and is open daily to the public from April 1 to December 1, from 8 am to sunset. Some camping is allowed; the scenic park also welcomes hikers, bikers, bird watchers and fishermen.