The Berkshire hills are laced with legends and ghost stories, so I ventured up to Greylock to explore this enigmatic region and hopefully encounter a few ghosts. My first stop was the Bellows Pipe Trail which is rumored to be haunted by a ghost called the “Old Coot.” This ill-fated soul named William Saunders earned his living as a farmer before being called away to fight for the Union in 1861. About a year later, his wife, Belle, received a report that her husband had been gravely wounded and was in a military hospital. That was the last she heard of him. But Bill Saunders had survived, only to return home and find Belle remarried.
In 1865, a bearded, ragged man, wearing a Union blue uniform, stepped off the train in North Adams. You can guess who had finally returned home. Saunders walked to his farm, and while standing outside he saw his wife and happy family, his children calling another man “daddy.”
Crushed, he turned on his heels and walked away, heading toward Mt. Greylock, where he built a ramshackle cabin in the remote Bellows Pipe. He lived the rest of his days there, almost a hermit, hiring himself out occasionally to farms, known to locals only as the “Old Coot.” War and time had ravaged his appearance and no one recognized him.
People say the Old Coot was caused by the horrors of war and grief over losing his family. One cold winter’s day, hunters came upon the shack to find the Old Coot’s lifeless. They were the first to describe a sighting of the Old Coot’s spirit fleeing up the mountain, but he’s haunted the trail ever since.
To this day, his disheveled spirit is sporadically seen on Mt. Greylock, always heading up the mountain, but never coming down. You might be skeptical about this tale but are you brave enough to walk the Bellows Pipe Trail after dark?
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