Come on boys and ghouls! It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.
This week's stop is New Harbor and our special guide is Matthew Quinn Martin, author of the Nightlife urban fantasy, horror series, including the new release NIGHTLIFE: NIGHT TERRORS featuring all three Nightlife tales in one chilling collection.
New Harbor's Top 5 Spooky Places
Standing in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft’s Innsmouth, and Stephen King’s Derry…New Harbor is the fictionalized version of an actual city (with a very similar name) in costal Connecticut that is home to more than its share of creepy places.
New Harbor serves as the setting for my novel Nightlife, and is one of main locations of the sequel As The Worm Turns––both of which are available in the newly released omnibus edition Nightlife: Night Terrors (Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster).
Here are five stops you might want to avoid if you find yourself stuck in New Harbor after the last train has left the station, and end up wandering the streets after dark.
Drakewell Tower is a faux-gothic masonry tower built between 1917 and 1921 located at the center of The University campus. It was donated by Ana Drakewell and dedicated to the memory of her son William H. Drakwell Jr. (a graduate of The University, and member of The Order of Sorman, killed in action during WWI).
Standing a full 216 feet, Drakewell Tower is The University’s most recognizable architectural feature, and its image is often used as a symbol for The University itself. The tower boasts four open copper clock faces located at the top of the structure, as well as three distinct and separately controlled carillons. To this day, many University tour guides still repeat the legend that Drakewell tower was the tallest free-standing stone structure in America until the installation of the third carillon necessitated steel reinforcements. In reality, the Washington Monument was the country’s tallest such building long before Drakewell was constructed.
In summer of 2014, Drakewell tower was deemed unsafe and unexpectedly closed to the public. The University sited safety concerns over newly discovered structural damage, but has plans to rededicate and reopen the landmark in time to celebrate the tower’s centennial in 2021.
Fun Fact: According to an apocryphal account, when scientist Emile Lascarre (often referred to by contemporaries as Nikola Tesla’s evil twin) was offered a research position at The University in the 1920s, he accepted only on the condition that his lab be situated in Drakewell Tower, stating: “It’s the only place on campus that I’ll be able to look out a window and not see that hideous thing.” According to University spokespeople, Lascarre’s appointment was never finalized and he, in fact, never conducted research there.
Lasarre was later recruited by the US government at the outbreak of WWII––allegedly to develop biological weapons. He was later accused of conducting human trials on unwilling participants, but disappeared before any formal charges could be brought against him. His subsequent whereabouts have been the subject of speculation and conspiracy theories for the past seven decades.
Fort Red Rock is a park situated on the remains of a Revolutionary War-era fort in the “Docklands” area of New Harbor. The original fort was destroyed by British forces 1779, but rebuilt to protect the port of New Harbor during the War of 1812. It was again refurbished during the Civil War. During this period, the fort was fitted with several deep, earthen, bomb-proof bunkers. However, rebel forces never advanced as far north as Connecticut and the fort was abandoned as a military outpost in the early 20th century.
In 1968, the Fort Red Rock Restoration Project was founded by concerned citizens of New Harbor who oversaw the fort’s restoration, as well as the its rededication in time for the celebration of America’s bicentennial in 1976. Since the mid-1980s the park has seen a steady decline, and is now best know to residents of the area as a haven for the homeless, as well as a hotbed of gang-related and drug-related activity.
Fun Fact: In the summer of 1863 a group of eleven Union soldiers, primarily Irish-American, stationed at Fort Red Rock surreptitiously left the outpost and traveled to the University campus where they approached and brutally beat no less than twenty students, five of which later died. The motive behind the attack was attributed to a combination of factors including unhappiness with anti-Irish and nativist cartoons published in the New Harbor Register, as well as solidarity with the draft riots happening concurrently in neighboring New York City. Ten of the eleven men were apprehended, found guilty of wartime desertion, and executed by firing squad at Fort Red Rock. It is said that their ghosts haunt the grounds to this day.
The Copperwaite Memorial Library is the main library of The University. The current building is the third such structure to bear the name and was erected just prior to the United State’s involvement in WWII. The library houses countless irreplaceable book collections and is the world’s single largest repository of manuscripts written in the English language. It is estimated that at least two-thirds of the library’s inventory is housed below ground in an extensive warren of interconnected chambers known as “the stacks.” The majority of the facility is open to University students and faculty, but the general public is only allowed inside during special events or by invitation. Access to “the stacks” is restricted to graduate students and researchers who have received prior authorization.
In 1963 a rare book and manuscript wing was added and has since become a major focal point of the University campus. The wing is made up of a six-story glass tower situated inside a shell of translucent marble panels supported on four piers which descent deep into the bedrock. Controversy still lingers over the construction of the rare book wing, as it necessitated the acquisition of property adjacent to The University. The owners of fifteen private houses––the majority of them African-American––were displaced by the University, allegedly by coercion and threats. Surviving records show that none were adequately compensated for the loss of their homes.
Fun Fact: Security measures at the library increased dramatically in 2002 after University legacy student Willis “Trip” Carling III was caught cutting maps and other documents from rare books with a razor blade. Carling (a scion of one of the families who founded the University and heir to a vast fortune) has offered no explanation for his actions and the documents themselves––which have a combined estimated value in the millions––have never been recovered. Carling initially faced expulsion and criminal prosecution. But his fate was averted, thanks, in part, to a sizeable donation made by his family.
The Old New Harbor Aqueduct was a complex water distribution system built between 1841 and 1850. It brought drinking water into New Harbor from springs and rivers located north of the city via an intricate system of sluices and reservoirs. The aqueduct was in constant service until the 1930s when population growth and increasing concerns over sanitation necessitated the construction of a more modern water delivery system.
The original structure was deemed too expensive to remove or fill, and as a result was simply bricked up and abandoned. In the fall of 2013 a large section of the aqueduct collapsed due to an explosion reportedly caused by over-pressurized sewer gas. The majority of the damage was limited to the subterranean structure itself. However a popular nightclub (Axis), which sat on the epicenter of the explosion, was completely destroyed when its foundations caved in as a result.
Fun Fact: Shortly after its construction, the city of New Harbor suffered an outbreak of Leptospirosis that claimed the lives of 5-10% of the population, most of them children. At the time, many citizens believed the epidemic was the result of an influx of rats they erroneously believed entered the city through the aqueduct. In reality, the disease was likely spread by the water system itself.
That same year, Silas Van Doorne––charismatic leader of breakaway Christian sect the Wetenists––called the plague “ God’s punishment for allowing the sons of the serpent of Eden to build their nest in New Harbor” during a tent sermon delivered on the New Harbor green. Later that night, every member of the Wetenist church (estimated to be over five hundred) took their own lives at the direction of Van Doorne. It is thought to be the first religiously motivated mass suicide in American history.
The Order of Sormen Hall is the headquarters of the Order of Sormen, the oldest and most secretive of the University’s “tomb” societies. Although no official membership roster has ever been made public, it is reported that Order members have included numerous US presidents as well as countless other powerful figures in politics, finance, medicine, science and nearly every other aspect of American life.
The building itself, built in an Egypto-Doric style, was designed to resemble a mausoleum. To date, no photographs purported to be of the interior have been authenticated, and the hall is strictly off limits to anyone but members of the Order––this includes law enforcement officers, thanks to a covenant first enacted by the city of New Harbor and later adopted by the federal government¬¬. This exemption has since became the subject of heated debate as accounts of sexual assault perpetrated by Order members has grown steadily over the past two decades.
Fun Fact: The symbol of the Order is a snake entwined, double-bladed battle axe. Two massive sculptures, both depicting this image, flank the wrought iron gate of the hall. The symbol was officially adopted shortly after the Order of Sormen’s supposed founding in 1832. It is widely believed that the symbol is an amalgam of the Rod of Asclepius (the ancient sign for medicine and healing) and the Faces (long associated with the dominance of state over individual and root of the word “fascism”).
However, some fringe scholars have speculated that the Order’s sigil not only predates the others, but was, in fact, the inspiration for them. According to this theory, the symbol, as well as the roots of the Order of Sormen itself, can be traced back to the earliest days of civilization––and a few researchers go so far as to suggest that both of them are of non-human origin.
Thank you Matthew for giving us such a haunting tour of New Harbor!
To learn more about Matthew Quinn Martin and his books, please visit his website. You can add the Nightlife: Night Terrors here on Goodreads.
What did you think of Matthew's picks for spooky places?
On our last Paranormal Road Trip we visited New York City with Victoria Davies. Next week we'll be traveling to Whispering Bluff with Selene Charles.
Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!
if you dare!