In the year 1658 there was a great earthquake in New-England. Some time previous, on one pleasant evening, a little after sunset, a small vessel was seen to anchor near the mouth of Saugus river. A boat was presently lowered from her side, into which four men descended, and moved up the river a considerable distance, when they landed, and proceeded directly into the woods. They had been noticed by only a few individuals; but in those early times, when the people were surrounded by danger, and easily susceptible of alarm, such an incident was well calculated to awaken suspicion, and in the course of the evening the intelligence was conveyed to many houses. In the morning, the people naturally directed their eyes toward the shore, in search of the strange vessel--but she was gone, and no trace could be found either of her or her singular crew. It was afterwards ascertained that, on the morning one of the men at the Iron Works, on going into the foundry, discovered a paper, on which was written, that if a quantity of shackles, handcuffs, hatchets, and other articles of iron manufacture, were made and deposited, with secrecy, in a certain place in the woods, which was particularly designated, an amount of silver, to their full value, would be found in their place. The articles were made in a few days, and placed in conformity with the directions. On the next morning they were gone, and the money was found according to the promise; but though a watch had been kept, no vessel was seen. Some months afterwards, the four men returned, and selected one of the most secluded and romantic spots in the woods of Saugus, for their abode. The place of their retreat was a deep narrow valley, shut in on two sides by craggy, precipitous rocks, and shrouded on the others by thick pines, hemlocks and cedars, between which there was only one small spot, to which the rays of the sun at noon could penetrate. On climbing up the rude and almost perpendicular steps of the rock on either side, the eye could command a full view of the bay on the south, and a prospect of a considerable portion of the surrounding country. The place of their retreat has ever since been called the Pirates' Glen, and they could not have selected a spot on the coast for many miles, more favorable for the purposes both of concealment and observation. Even at this day, when the neighborhood has become thickly peopled, it is still a lonely and desolate place, and probably not one in a hundred of the inhabitants has ever descended into its silent and gloomy recess. There the pirates built a small hut, made a garden, and dug a well, the appearance of which is still visible. It has been supposed that they buried money; but though people have dug there, and in many other places, none has ever been found. After residing there some time, their retreat became known, and one of the king's cruizers appeared on the coast. They were traced to their glen, and three of them were taken, and carried to England, where it is probable they were executed. The other, whose name was Thomas Veal, escaped to a rock in the woods, about two miles to the north, in which was a spacious cavern, where the pirates had previously deposited some of their plunder. There the fugitive fixed his residence, and practised the trade of a shoemaker, occasionally coming down to the village to obtain articles of sustenance. He continued his residence till the great earthquake in 1658, when the top of the rock was loosened, and crushed down into the mouth of the cavern, enclosing the unfortunate inmate in its unyielding prison. It has ever since been called the Pirate's Dungeon. A part of the cavern is still open, and is much visited by the curious.
This rock is situated on a lofty range of thickly wooded hills, and commands an extensive view of the ocean, for fifty miles both north and south. A view from the top of it, at once convinces the beholder that it would be impossible to select a place more convenient for the haunt of a gang of pirates; as all vessels bound in and out of the harbors of Boston, Salem, and the adjacent ports, can be distinctly seen from its summit. Saugus river meanders among the hills a short distance to the south, and its numerous creeks which extend among thick bushes, would afford good places to secrete boats, until such time as the pirates descried a sail, when they could instantly row down the river, attack and plunder them, and with their booty return to the cavern. This was evidently their mode of procedure. On an open space in front of the rock are still to be seen distinct traces of a small garden spot, and in the corner is a small well, full of stones and rubbish; the foundation of the wall round the garden remains, and shows that the spot was of a triangular shape, and was well selected for the cultivation of potatoes and common vegetables. The aperture in the rock is only about five feet in height, and extends only fifteen feet into the rock. The needle is strongly attracted around this, either by the presence of magnetic iron ore or some metallic substance buried in the interior.
The Pirates' Glen, which is some distance from this, is one of
Nature's wildest and most picturesque spots, and the cellar of the
pirate's hut remains to the present time, as does a clear space,
which was evidently cultivated at some remote period.