Taphophile Corner - Cemetery Legends

One of the most fun parts of being a taphophile is collecting the unavoidable ghost stories associated with certain cemeteries. That's why I had to share with all of you one of the greatest cemetery urban legends around. You see, the above rock has both captivated people and scared children for many countless decades. This is the famed Devil's Footprint rock in Manchester, Maine and it has all the essential items needed for the perfect scary story. It sits next to an old meeting house and serves quietly as part of a rock wall that surrounds the small country cemetery next door. But don't be fooled, this rock has a very questionable history.

For a little background, I went to Wikipedia to look up what the Devil's footprint might look like and was quite surprised at what I found.

"The Devil's Footprints is a name given to a phenomenon that occurred in Devon, England, in 1855: after a light snowfall, trails of hoof-like marks appeared in the snow, following primarily straight lines for over 100 miles. The footprints were so called because some people believed that the footprints were the tracks of Satan."

So… people have been talking about the old Devil himself leaving his footprints on things since the 1800's, and as far away as in England.  With so many colonists heading this way from across the pond, it seems only a matter of time before the Dark One might follow someone over and leave his mark here.

So let's dive into some facts now. 

It all begins with a meeting house that was built in 1793 in Readfield, Maine.  At some point, a few decades later, the meeting house needed to be moved to Manchester. No one is exactly sure why, since… well… what records?  It is said that the meeting house was loaded up onto logs and moved using oxen during one long cold winter.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

Maine is known to be a glacial dumping grounds from the last ice age. What that means is that we have some really big rocks that just kind of jump out at you when you really don't need a giant rock in your way. While trying to roll the meeting house to it's new home, one of these inconvenient rocks appeared. Of course construction crews of the day didn't have what our modern workers rely on to take care of such problems – Dynomite.  As the story goes, they tried everything to get the rock out of the way.

At his wits end, one of the workers is said to have climbed up onto the rock itself and proclaimed,

 "I will give my soul to the devil if only this rock will move."    

Be careful what you wish for… The next morning when the workers returned the rock was well off to the side of the road and out of their way. Only now, they noticed the large footprint on the rock – made when the Devil kicked it. It is also said that the worker who cut the deal was not seen again. Did he simply quit? 

Reports also say that over the years people have tried to remove the foot print and it cannot be erased. An interesting twist to the story for sure but not very likely. Others say that there was originally more than one footprint and that the print on the bottom left of the rock was the largest of these. With few facts to go on, the story seems to take on a life of it's own. No one can either prove nor disprove all of the various claims. That is why even till this day the rock draws people to it. It is just plain fun to be scared.

Modern claims associated with the rock include seeing a cloaked figure, and the ever classic Lady-in-White. There are even an assortment of child spirits dressed in either 18'th or 19'th century clothing that still play and wander through the small cemetery that the rock seems to guard.  By far one of the most common claims is that of car troubles near the rock. Be careful turning your car off, you may not be able to restart it.  And this is no place to be stranded because it is a long, winding and tree-lined road, far out into the country that brings visitors to this place.

So pack a lunch, bring your cell phone (in case of car troubles) and see for yourself the rock that is the cause of so much foklore.



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