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The Black Dog of the Hanging Hills

The Black Dog of the Hanging Hills


“If you meet the Black Dog once, it shall be for joy; if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time shall bring death.” – W.H.C. Pynchon

The legend of the Black Dog has been told by those living near the Hanging Hills of Meriden for over 100 years. Those who claim to have seen the dog describe it as a supernatural creature who supposedly leaves no footprints and remains completely silent as it travels along the ridges of Meriden’s Hubbard Park.   At least six deaths have been blamed on third meetings with the Black Dog.

One of the earliest accounts of the dog was published in the Connecticut Quarterly, (April-June, 1898) by New York geologist W.H.C. Pynchon. According to Pynchon, in February 1891 he and geologist Herbert Marshall of the USGS were conducting geologic research in the Hanging Hills when they saw the dog.  But this was not the first time for either man.  Years earlier, while Pynchon was studying some rocks near the Merimere Reservoir, he happened to notice a little dog standing on a boulder nearby. When Pynchon finally moved on, the friendly little dog trotted eagerly alongside him all the way up to the West Peak and later down into Southington, where Pynchon entered a restaurant for lunch. Later, the dog began following Pynchon back to his hotel, but by the time the two got back to the spot where they originally met, the dog was suddenly gone. Pynchon whistled for his new found sidekick, but the little dog seemed to have vanished into thin air.

Marshall, who had seen the dog twice before, scoffed at the legend.   While the two men were studying a rock formation near the ledge of a cliff, they noticed the dog approaching them; wagging its tail excitedly without making a sound.    As the dog drew closer, Marshall slipped on the ice and plunged to his death.  His body was later recovered by authorities.  This was the 3rd time Marshall had seen the dog, and the second time for Pynchon.  Reports of the Black Dog continue to circulate today.

The Hanging Hills of Meriden offer much more than spooky legends about supernatural black dogs.  The ridge is located entirely within Hubbard Park, which offers spectacular cliffside views, a stone tower known as Castle Craig, hiking trails, and picnic areas.   The Metacomet Trail passes through the park.  For more information including directions, trail maps and pictures, click here.

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