What You Need To Know About The Mysterious Bennington Triangle Disappearances

In the quiet, peaceful woods around southwestern Vermont, many people believe mysterious, dark forces are responsible for numerous strange occurrences and disappearances. The woodlands around Glastenbury Mountain and the surrounding towns, including Bennington, Woodford, Shaftsbury, and the ghost towns of Somerset and Glastenbury, have long been the locations of unexplained and unsettling events, including a five-year string of unexplained disappearances between 1945 and 1950.

Once thriving logging communities, Somerset and Glastenbury were unincorporated in 1937 after all the trees in the surrounding area were depleted and the towns' economies withered. Shortly after, in 1945, people began disappearing from around Glastenbury with such frequency that the area was dubbed the "Bennington Triangle" by writer and Vermont native Joseph A. Citro.

The first notable disappearance occurred on November 12, 1945, when an accomplished outdoorsman and hunting guide named Middie Rivers went missing while leading a team of hunters through the surrounding mountains. After the 74-year-old became separated from the group, an eight-day search was launched, but, save a single rifle cartridge, no evidence was ever turned up to indicate where Rivers might have gone, per Legends of America.

People began mysteriously disappearing near Glastenbury Mountain without a trace

In the five years that followed, four more people went missing around the mountain with an eerie regularity. Paula Welden, an 18-year-old sophomore at Bennington College, set out to hike the Long Trail on December 1, 1946, and was never seen again. Authorities promptly launched a search, but, despite hundreds of local volunteers, the assistance of New York and Connecticut law enforcement, and even the enticing offer of a $5,000 reward, no trace of Welden ever turned up, according to NY Daily News.

Exactly three years to the day after Welden's disappearance, a man named James Tedford vanished, seemingly into thin air, while onboard a bus travelling down Route 7, directly through the Bennington Triangle. A veteran and resident of Bennington Soldiers' Home, Tedford had taken a bus into St. Albans to visit relatives. He boarded a local bus to return home, but he never got off in Bennington. Eyewitnesses, including the bus driver, confirmed he had not gotten off at the preceding stop, and his luggage and timetable were still on board the bus. Not a single passenger had any idea what might have happened to him in the time between the last stop and the bus pulling up in Bennington.

An eight-year-old boy vanished from his mother's truck in 1950

In October of the following year, an eight-year old boy named Paul Jephson tragically became the fourth person to disappear in the Bennington Triangle. The Jephson family worked as caretakers for a nearby dump, and on October 12, 1950, young Paul had accompanied his mother to work. He waited in the family's pickup truck while she went out to feed the pigs, but when his mother returned to the truck about an hour later, he was gone.

A search party was started immediately, with hundreds of volunteers combing the area for any sign of the boy. A bloodhound was able to track Jephson's scent to a nearby highway, but from there, the trail went cold. While some believe this was evidence of an automobile kidnapping, and others suspect the parents of foul play, Jephson's father believes the cause of his son's disappearance was something more mysterious. He told the Albany Times Union that "the lure of the mountains" had called Paul to them, saying he had "talked of nothing else for days," via History By Day.

Only one body was ever recovered

Frieda Langer was the last person to disappear in the Bennington Triangle, on October 28, 1950, while hiking with her cousin Herbert Elsner around the Somerset Reservoir. After accidentally falling into a steam, Langer told Elsner to wait for her while she returned to their camp for dry clothing. But she never made it back to the campsite. For two weeks, 300 people extensively searched the area on foot and by air with helicopters, but they could find no trace of her.

Unlike the other disappearances, however, Langer was the only missing person whose remains were discovered. On May 12, 1951, her body was found in an open area near the very same Somerset Reservoir where she had first gone missing, and which had been thoroughly searched following her disappearance. There was no evidence to indicate a cause of death, and no way to explain why she wasn't previously discovered, or how she might have ended up back at the reservoir after the initial search had taken place, according to History by Day.

After 1950, the mysterious disappearances seemed to come to a stop. But it's not just the disappearances that have made people skittish about the area over the years. As far back as the 19th century, the forests surrounding Glastenbury Mountain have been a common location for reported Bigfoot sightings and other unexplained paranormal events.

Other mysterious unexplained activity has been reported near Glastenbury Mountain

In the early 1800s, stranded stagecoach passengers reported being attacked by a huge, hairy creature that stood over six feet tall. Recurring sightings of the Bigfoot-like monster became so common that locals dubbed the creature the "Bennington Monster." Glastenbury Mountain has also been the site of many reported UFO sightings and unexplained lights through the years.

According to Legends of America, a Native American curse is one of the possible explanations people have given for these strange disappearances. Some versions of Native American lore indicate that Glastenbury Mountain is home to a "malevolent stone" that swallows whole those unlucky enough to run across it. Others suggest the land is cursed because it is the site where all four winds meet. Still more theories suggest a more practical explanation, such as the existence of a serial killer who stalked the Bennington area in the mid-20th century, as NY Daily News suggestsWhile there is no shortage of possible theories, only one thing is known for sure: These five missing persons cases remain unsolved today.

While there have been no reported disappearances there for 70 years, the sense of mystery and malevolence lingers, and many people still feel a sense of unease when they cross into the Bennington Triangle.