“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.
History of 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.
Hubbard Park and Castle Craig
If you decide you’d like to go in search for The Black Dog of The Hanging Hills (though, seriously, why would you?) then you should be sure to check out the rest of Hubbard Park.
It’s surprisingly large for being in the middle of urban Meriden (roughly 1,800 acres), and is beautiful in it’s wooded and mountainous scenery. It’s “centerpiece” so to say, Mirror Lake, is a popular destination for picnics, family outings, and romantic strolls.
On the east peak, is a tower called Castle Craig, which was built to resemble the towers that the Turks built along the Danube River 12th-century Europe. An observation area at the top of the tower is accessible by stairs and offers amazing views of the whole park (perfect for trying to spot the mysterious black dog).
Though the park is free and open to the public year-round, it is at it’s best from March to October (it gets chilly in the winter!). You can find the entrance at 199 Notch Road, Meriden. You can read more about the park here, and a map of the area and trails can be found here. Just keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious little dogs!
Note: This post was originally published in June of 2008, but has been updated for accuracy and style.