Podcast 308 – The Devil’s Hopyard

The Devil’s Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut, is a place where they say the devil left his mark in the rocks around Chapman Falls.

In Episode 308 Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike up to the waterfalls of the Devil’s Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut, in search of where they say the devil left his marks in the stones of Chapman Falls. The Native Americans believe the odd marks in the stone were connected to a deity who thundered sounds from a nearby mountain, the Puritans believed it was the devil. Is there a connection to the Moodus Noise?

Read the episode transcript.


Produced and hosted by: Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger
Edited by: Ray Auger
Theme Music by: John Judd

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Chapman Falls at the Devil's Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut.

Chapman Falls at the Devil’s Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut.

One of the curious holes near Chapman Falls.

One of the curious holes near Chapman Falls.

*A note on the text: Please forgive punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. Like us, the transcripts ain’t perfect.

RAY: This summer has been a hot one so far!
JEFF: It has for sure.
RAY: Almost too hot to even go to the beach.
JEFF: I agree. Nothing worse than burning your feet on hot sand. So I guess it’s a good thing we’re heading into this wooded state park in East Haddam, Connecticut.
RAY: There’s tons of trees around here. Some pretty colonial stone walls lining the road here on State Highway 434. At least the shade will help with the heat.
JEFF: Let’s pull into this driveway here on the right…
RAY: Okay.
JEFF: And we can park just over there.
JEFF: I got something else that will help us beat the heat too.
RAY: Mmmmm a couple of cold ones on a hot summer’s day. Perfect! Oooo IPAs… right on. (SIP) Mmmm hoppy
JEFF: And how appropriate we drink these beers here, Ray. We’ve come to East Haddam, Connecticut, to explore the Devil’s Hopyard.
JEFF: Hey there, I’m Jeff Belanger.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger, and welcome to Episode 308 of the New England Legends podcast. Thanks for joining us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. We’re always on the hunt for ghosts, monsters, UFOs, aliens, roadside oddities, strange history, and the odd devil or two. If you’ve got a story you think we should check out, please email us anytime through our Web site.
JEFF: We’ll get back to searching the Devil’s Hopyard in East Haddam, Connecticut, right after this word from this sponsor.

RAY: Okay Jeff, the Devil’s Hopyard?
JEFF: That’s where we are. Devil’s Hopyard state park.
RAY: I didn’t know the devil made his own beer!
JEFF: Why wouldn’t he? And it’s a hell of a good beer.
RAY: Ahhh I see what you did there.
JEFF: I couldn’t resist. So this region used to be farmland for growing hops. And there are strange tales around here of demons tossing men like twigs. The legends go all the way back to a time when the Mohegans and Nehantics passed through here. They called this region “Machimoodus,” which translates to “The place of noises.” Back then they believed it was a god or manito who roamed these grounds and left a mark and a sound. A mark that can still be seen today. And if we’re to believe the stories of the nearby Moodus Noise, those sounds can still be heard today too.
RAY: We’ve covered other locations where the devil left his mark.
JEFF: We have.
RAY: There’s the Devil’s Bean Pot at Purgatory Falls in New Hampshire, the Devil’s footprint in Rhode Island, the devil’s footprint in Maine, and plenty of other places where Old Scratch was said to have either thrown rocks or interacted with people in some way.
JEFF: There’s no shortage of devil sightings and stories in New England. Our puritan ancestors were looking for him around every corner and behind every tree. Anything out of the ordinary… and the first assumption was the devil.
RAY: Superstitious bunch.
JEFF: Sure, but also scared. And anything that didn’t fall neatly into their belief system was labeled from the devil. Anyway, we should take a stroll to this park’s most prominent feature.
RAY: Wow! Those waterfalls are gorgeous!
JEFF: A lot of people come here just to see Chapman Falls. The water flows from Eight Mile Creek and drops about 60 feet along the granite rocks as a kind of stair-step down before gathering in a small pool. But there are some strange indentations and holes in the rocks that have raised a few eyebrows and made people ask if maybe the devil was literally here. To find out how it all started, let’s head back to 1706 and meet some early East Haddam, settlers.
RAY: It’s the summer of 1706 here in Haddam East, Connecticut. This community is slowly growing on the backs of farmers and innovators. Captain John Chapman has been running his ferry service across the Connecticut River for a decade now. The First Ecclesiastical Society just formed in town last year. So now there’s a house of worship and a place for town meetings and governing. In short, Haddam East is growing.
JEFF: It’s a time for growth, but there are a few indigenous people still around. The locals of Haddam East will occasionally trade with them and swap stories too. One of those stories concerns the waterfalls in town. Let’s go check it out.
RAY: The waterfalls are a really pretty spot. I can see why people would want to come out this way.
JEFF: But the native people want the locals of Haddam East to know something peculiar about these falls. Let’s follow them.
RAY: Huh. Look at that!
JEFF: Yeah. Weird, right?
RAY: There are these perfectly round cylindrical holes and bowls in the rocks in and around the waterfalls and stream. They’re perfect circles. They look like they were neatly sculpted from clay or something like that. But they’re part of the rock, and totally smooth.
JEFF: The indigenous people explain that their deity Manito is believed to have made these holes. That maybe they’re his footprints. They’d already explained about hearing Manito’s thunderous voice in the form of booms from nearby mountain caves, and this must be further proof that he exists.
RAY: Haddam East locals have also heard the booms. And seeing these peculiar shapes in the rocks in and around the stream is cause for concern. Locals in town are concerned that maybe this is the work of the devil.
JEFF: It’s a conclusion others have reached before here in the New World. When the indigenous people speak of their gods, the Puritans are quick to tell them that they’ve been tricked by the devil. There’s only one god and anything else must be the work of the devil. It’s a way to try and convert them to Christianity, and also to villainize them as heathens if they won’t convert or leave.
RAY: Still, these strange bowls and holes in the rocks by the falls are perplexing.
JEFF: They are.
RAY: You don’t really see this at other streams and waterfalls.
JEFF: I’ve never seen anything like it.
RAY: These falls and rocks are of some significance to the native people. And now the local Haddam East Puritans are a little spooked.
JEFF: But not spooked enough that at some point a farmer arrives at the nearby fields.
JEFF: And plants a hop farm for making beer.
RAY: The hops grow. Beer is made. And people still raise a weary eye at the strange holes and formations in the rocks of the nearby falls.
JEFF: At some point, the Puritan version of the story went that the devil was lurking by the falls when he slipped and got hurt. He was so angry that he stomped down the falls. His hooves and tail leaving marks in the rocks as he went. Add in the local crops, and you have a region known as the Devil’s Hopyard. And that brings us back to today.
RAY: Okay… I love that hops were once grown here to make beer. It’s a noble cause, for sure.
JEFF: Absolutely.
RAY: But we’ve seen strange formations in rocks before. And we’ve seen other towns claim the marks were left by the devil when usually there are some natural causes.
JEFF: There’s an interesting phenomena that geologists believe occurred on the rocks at Chapman Falls. These holes are anywhere from a few inches in diameter to several feet.
RAY: Right. There are various sizes to these bowls and holes.
JEFF: What geologists say happened is that small rocks tumbled down-stream and were caught in an eddy where the small stone is spun around and around in circles over and over. That rock begins to wear a small impression into the larger rock below, and the eddy grows a little larger. Then another rock comes down and gets trapped in this eddy and spins around and around making the impression larger and larger.
RAY: That’s kind of amazing. So over the span of many years some of these impressions grew in size.
JEFF: Exactly.
RAY: And if you don’t understand how the process works, and you really don’t see it often, if ever, then you look for a supernatural explanation.
JEFF: And the devil is always ready to lend a hand.
RAY: I read in a November 10, 1999 Hartford Courant article that this hop farm once belonged to a man named Dibble.
JEFF: Dibble? Okay.
RAY: Though there’s no record of a man named Dibble owning the land, it’s possible he leased the farmland. Anyway, some believe Dibble’s Hopyard was blended with the word devil. Once enough time had passed and no one remembered Dibble, and then you add in the devil legends.
JEFF: Add in stories of scared teenagers be chased and thrown by a beast in these woods… and you get the Devil’s Hopyard.
RAY: Right. And here we are today seeing marks left in the rock from long ago on a hot summer’s day, wishing we had more beer.
JEFF: That we are. And thankfully… we do.
RAY/JEFF: Cheers!
JEFF: And that brings us to After the Legend where we take a deeper look at this week’s story and often veer off course.
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One Response

  1. Andy Kostecki
    July 25, 2023

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