Flashes of lightning steak across the peaks as the pelting rain and thunder make it impossible to talk at less than a shout. The Ravine Lodge sways in the heavy wind as the mountain storm takes on full fury. As the flashes of light illuminate the mountain, a human form is spied flitting among the trees and brush. It is the perennial figure that is still spied along the peaks and fissures near Benton, New Hampshire, a man named Dr. Thomas Benton.
Dr. Benton was born in the early 1800s. In fact his family was one of the first to settle the area in the late 18th, early 19th centuries. Benton was originally named Coventry but was later renamed in honor of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton not to be confused with the Dr. Benton, the main character of this narrative.
Young man Benton went on to study medicine with the gracious help of the locals. The townsfolk funded his education on the stipulation that he would return to become the town’s first and only doctor. While studying medicine in Germany, he became close friends with a Dr. Stockmayer. When Thomas Benton returned to his hometown as a Doctor of Medicine, he brought with him a large trunk that was willed to him by his friend in Germany. Its contents were believed to contain everything needed to complete experiments on an elixir of youth.
He soon met the love of his life and became engaged to marry, but his fiancé died of typhoid fever before they could share their vows. The tragic loss of his love caused the young doctor to become unhinged. He hid away to the mountains where he built a cabin on the top of Mount Moosilauke. There, it is said, he began experiments with an elixir of youth.
Soon the local farmers began to notice that their livestock was either disappearing or found dead of mysterious circumstance. When examined it was found that the only mark they found was a bizarre red swelling with a white pinprick behind the left ear. They deduced that it might be the reclusive doctor performing some kind of experiments on their animals.
A posse gathered together and ascended the mountain in hopes of finding out once and for all what the doctor was up to. Upon arrival, they found the cabin empty save for strange apparatus and the remnants of some recent experiment but no doctor. They began to descend the peak but darkness set in and one of the men became separated from the rest. The next day they found the poor soul dead of mysterious circumstance. The only mark on him was a strange swelling and pinprick behind his left ear.
Rumors began to circulate that babies from nearby towns were mysteriously disappearing in the dead of night. The people of the region feared the doctor was stealing them for his evil experiments. One day as a woman was in her yard a man with long white hair and a black cloak ran up to her young daughter and snatched her away into the woods. A band of men led by the daughter’s father followed the footprints in the snow along Tunnel Ravine to a cliff. There they Benton high above them on a ledge and demanded he release the girl, which he did to the ravages of the rocks below. After that he was never seen again.
In 1860 the Prospect House was built at the top of Mt. Moosilauke. People were afraid to bide their time at the hostel despite the fact that the evil doctor had not been seen in thirty years. Fears were substantiated when a cable holding the house in place was cut by hand. A logger volunteered to repair the truss but never returned. They found him dead a very short time later, with a red swelling and pinprick behind his left ear.
By 1881, the building had expanded and was renamed the Tip Top House. People began to stay there feeling that Dr. Benton was either too old to do anyone harm or had long since passed on. Still, reports of a dark shadow in a cloak seen scuttling through the trees were frequent.
In 1920 the house became an Appalachian Mountain Club hut. It burned down in 1942 but the stone foundation still remains. Of course, the doctor was blamed for this incident.
Reports of a mysterious dark form roaming around the mountaintop in period clothing are still broadcasted to this day. In 2003, a hiker spied an old style boot print in the mud on a trail near the summit of Mount Moosilauke that had not been used for many years. The perplexed hiker stared at the footprint realizing that no one had walked by him while he rested on the trail. Some have spied a glimpse of the shade as it bounds through the thicket. Those who believe it is Dr. Benton swear that he has not aged a day in centuries. If it is the evil doctor, he may have found the secret of eternal life and is now a hermit of the mountains he has haunted for the last few centuries.
This story is also in Tom's new book “A Guide to Haunted New England.” 0He has been a paranormal investigator for more than 30 years and lives in Connecticut.