A Tall Tale of the Devil's Washbowl

by Jack Cadwell

My Grandfather's family logged in New Salem, and when I was a kid, he told me about logging around here in the 19th century.

The Devil's Washbowl used to be called "Paige's Mill". It was the site of a water powered sawmill, and also a logging camp. During the winter, logs would be brought to the mill site from the surrounding hills via a temporary narrow gauge railroad, the kind that loggers would use in the 19th century to clear land. When the land had been cleared, the rails would be moved off to a new logging area. The "trains" were really a string of carts on the most rudimentary wooden rails, pulled by a "donkey engine". Each of the carts would have a separate braking system, which was run by a man sitting on top of the load. The track to the sawmill at the Devil's Washbowl followed the path of the Old Turnpike, from Gale Rd. to Hedge Brook.

One day in 1899, as a load of logs was being brought down the hill from Gale Rd., one of the brakemen fell off his cart, and had his arm cut off by a train wheel. The people on the train would not jump off to help. Even worse, they did not come back at the end of the day to help the injured brakeman. He was left to die.

A few weeks later, the camp foreman was on the way the outhouse at night when he was attacked by a one-armed man wielding a hatchet. It was the one-armed brakeman, and he was exacting revenge. He sliced the foreman's shoulder before being driven off. That winter, three other men were similarly attacked. That was the last year they had a logging camp there. It was thought to be haunted, and called the "Devil's Washbowl" after that.

Over the years, other people were also attacked by the one-armed brakeman. I would have thought this was simply a deranged person of long ago. However, the violence lasted into my lifetime, into the late 1960's.

When I was 10, in July, 1969, there was another attack. A group of hippies was walking back to the commune after working at Bowers Farm. They stopped at the Devil's Washbowl for typical afternoon fun, a pot party and skinny dipping. A deranged one-armed man wielding a hatchet came out of the woods at them, and chased them through the woods, all the way to Athol Road, and to the Inn. Warwick was different back then, but a one armed man with a hatchet chasing naked hippies down Athol Road caught people's attention.

I go for walks out there, and the place still has a certain feeling about it.


by guy carey jr.

THE INDIAN CAVES, Yea, I've heard the tales, they come from a long way back
In fact they have been retold so many times, I fear some of the truth they lack
There are some good stories though, and the one I like, is about a young Indian brave
Who saved hundreds of warriors from his tribe, by finding those Indian caves
His name was Hewaugh if memory is right, but most any Indian name will do
Because you must remember that I'm not sure, if any of these stories are true
Well, Hewaugh and this Indian band were raiding the farms, up the valley and down
The havoc that he and his warriors had wreaked caused anger in all of the towns
So the town fathers they called meetings, in all the taverns and halls
They decreed every mother's son should pick up his gun, and come and answer the call
The men came round, from all of the towns, they numbered six hundred or more
Sending out scouts they all started out, to find the Indians and settle the score
The Warrior Braves to get caught did not crave, so they had scouts of their own on the trail
When the White Army they spied they grew shaky inside, and the Indians themselves grew pale
The scouts reported mean this Army they'd seen, and the chief foresaw something to fear
For when they started this bout to drive the white man out, there had been no White Army, near
So he sent a small sortie out and told them to rout, and lead the White Army away
Though he knew in this strife they might lose their life, their success could save the day
Yet a white leader named Bruce saw through this ruse, and ordered his men to move on
We won't fall for that we'll find the main body an attack, and we will be home before dawn
The Indian scouts reported the failed sorties rout, and reported the White Army quite near
The great Indian Chief seeing no relief said I wish we could all disappear
Then Hewaugh spoke out, about a cave there about, where hundreds of men couldn't be found
He remembered the rave when he'd heard of this cave, that it was close in these lowlands around
Hewaugh was told, take our sharpest-eyed Braves, and search through the lowlands, off the trail
If a cave you can find, like the one in your mind, then at saving your brothers you won't fail
Hewaugh set out with the sharpest-eyed scouts, to search for that cave far and near
One of the young scouts whose reputation was stout, said we won't find them in time is my fear
Hewaugh would not doubt that the caves were about, so he pushed through the brush with zeal
That the caves were quite near he had not a fear, for it was something in his blood he could feel
The Indian Warriors had drawn back, not wanting to attack and fight a battle they couldn't win
To lose those young Braves when he felt so close to the caves, to Hewaugh, seemed like a sin
It was then that Hewaugh found the animal trail, which led through the brush and the trees
Some places the brush was so thick, that at times he had to crawl on his knees
Hewaugh bucked over the logs and the brush, still reading signs though the going was tough
He finally broke into a clearing and was standing on a small narrow bluff
The bluff seemed neither mighty nor impressive, as he looked out over a muddy concave
This site made Hewaugh mighty down hearted, this unlikely place for a cave
Then Hewaugh noticed some weasel tracks, that went around the rocks on the right
As he studied the tracks where they went by the rocks, they seemed to go out of sight
Hewaugh climbed down over the rocks, and there, much to his surprise
He found the caves, and his heart jumped with joy, because they were of mighty size
With a bird trill he called in his sharp-eyed scouts, they stared at his find with awe
Not a brave standing there could believe it was true, a cave in this place that they saw
The scouts hurried back to the warriors, and reported their find to the chief
The great chief was overjoyed that they had found such caves, for his warriors needed relief
So right quick he called a council, with his top braves to draw up a plan
Which would help make all these braves disappear, that the white man wouldn't understand
Said a top brave of the council, give me your strongest warriors, we'll show the white man a fight
That will give you all of the time you need to be hidden, inside those caves, by the last light
Hewaugh wanted to lead these strong warriors, but the chief he was stern and said naught
Because he knew that the tribe would want the hero of the caves, after the battle was fought
The chief said I will lead the strong warriors and make Hewaugh, chief of the caves
So Hewaugh will be the name that is heard, in the story of all the warriors saved
Now Hewaugh himself must take command, he was no longer just an Indian brave
He realized that it was no little thing the great chief had done, making him chief of the caves
For hundreds of warriors he had to conceal, and he knew not for how long of a time
And he somehow had to keep them all quiet, so the White Army their cave wouldn't find
Hewaugh started placing his braves in the cave, having them take their easiest rest
Telling them to find the position they could hold, that they felt served them best
By dark he had all of his men hid away, and done all that a chief had to do
Hewaugh hadn't finished any too soon, for the strong warriors now numbered only a few
The great chief fought hard with his braves, though he knew there were none he could save
They couldn't go where Hewaugh was, without leading the White Army straight to the cave
The chief felt bad as his last braves were falling, though he knew that they understood
They had done the job that they stayed for, led the white army to a different wood
Then as the last battle cry was ringing, Bruce came racing to the fore
He said this isn't all the Indians there were, I know there are hundreds more
Calling his men together, he made this solemn vow
I know there were hundreds more of them, and we're going to find them now
He said let's circle a mighty area that will cover all these hills and dales
Until we find, where them skulking savages are hiding, somewhere on these trails
So the white men searched and searched the area, up the hills and down
All of the reports they kept sending back said the Indians weren't to be found
Night and day the white man kept searching, Bruce was beginning to rave
Little knew he then that a full score of his men had passed within yards of the cave
There were hundreds of braves packed in those caves, but the Indian calm did prevail
When they heard the footsteps of the white armies scouts, walking above on the trail
Three nights and three days the Indians stayed in those caves, hardly daring to move or breath
Still despite their plight they stayed ready to fight, at the stirring of every leave
On the fourth night Hewaugh went out on a short scout, then he sent scouts all around
Though they searched until dawn, all the white men seemed gone, not in the woods to be found
Hewaugh fearing a trap sent all the scouts back, to scout out a corridor long
At the last of the night they reported it all right, so they slipped away home in the dawn