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An Icy Purgatory Falls


Despite warmer temperatures, winter is hanging on here in New Hampshire. I ventured out to Purgatory Falls recently, my first visit to the site in winter. While the trail was slippery and required some careful maneuvering, the icicles and frozen waterfall created a spectacular vista, like a scene from a fairy tale.

The website Atlas Obscura explains the fascinating history of Purgatory Falls:

The ominously-named Purgatory Falls may not be the biggest or most dangerous waterfall in the world, but if the legends are true, it is definitely the waterfall most used as a kitchen by Satan.

Despite the lovely natural surroundings, legend has it that the Devil himself once invited a number of churchmen to a bean feast at the falls, and while cooking in a pot heated directly by the fires of Hell, Ol’ Scratch drew too much heat and melted the rock around his foot which got him stuck. Evidence of this infernal meal still remains. Among the upper falls there is a large hole in the rock called “The Devil’s Bean Pot” and nearby is another indent in the stone referred to as “The Devil’s Footprint.” Despite the possibility of evil dinner parties, the scenic area used to be a tourist spot from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Remains of the hotels and visiting areas can be seen around the upper falls.

“The Devil’s Bean Pot” was only holding frozen water on the day I visited with my friend Corwin Levi. We were able to capture this remarkable place on video to share with you. I especially enjoy the layer of ice glazing over the surface of the river in the first sequence, and the shifting sunlight and periodic splashes that punctuate the final segment. 

“Mother Nature is always speaking,” wrote Radhanath Swami. “She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer.” I hope this video brings you some peace today.



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