From the banks of the Walden Pond to the historic Stone Tower, there’s plenty to see in the bucolic, 2,200-acre Lynn Woods Reservation. You could spend hours hiking its trails and never come across the distinct outcropping of rocks near the northern end of the woods. Even if you have been there, you’ll be forgiven for not knowing exactly what you’d stumbled upon: the site long known as Dungeon Rock.
After all, there is no historical marker. No sign. No nod whatsoever to its legendary past or its ominous, paranormal history.
“I’m likely to come up here and find some kind of weird shrine. I’ve found ritually killed chickens. I’ve found things with candles and coconut and all sorts of things that were set up,” said Park Ranger Dan Small. “It’s easy to dismiss it all as a hoax or hooey. But the reality is, a lot of people still believe that there’s something going on up here.”
And who knows? Maybe a pirate named Thomas Veal really did live here for a time back in 1658 — as described by historian Alonzo Lewis in his 19th-century book “History of Lynn.”
And maybe a great earthquake that year really did collapse the cave, burying Veal alive with his treasure.
What’s certain is that, in the mid-1800s, an occultist named Hiram Marble wholeheartedly believed the tale. He also believed that Veal was contacting him from beyond the grave and leading him to Dungeon Rock. And he believed it enough to enlist his son and spend the rest of his life — and his family fortune — digging a 174-foot tunnel through solid rock in search of the pirate’s treasure.
“They actually would hold seances in the cave,” Small said. “The ghost of the pirate would appear and he would say, ‘Go right,’ ‘go left.’ And that’s why it [the tunnel] makes these abrupt changes.”
Hiram Marble passed away in 1868. Edwin kept digging until his own death in 1880 and is buried in an unmarked grave just steps from the cave’s entrance. Some say his spirit still lingers underground.
The Marbles never found the treasure, but their man-made cave at Dungeon Rock is free and open to the public today whenever the weather allows.
Whether you dare to go see for yourself or not, join The Curiosity Desk as we enter this literal underworld to explore the history and mysteries of Dungeon Rock.
WATCH: Host Edgar B. Herwick III braves Dungeon Rock