- David Shaw
- Meg McIntyre
For the archivist and fabulist alike, historical records are seedbeds of wonder and fascination, and Vermont is absolutely fecund with weird history. In the Green Mountain State, human settlements have neighbored alongside the region's primeval forests for nearly three centuries, but the two have often made strange bedfellows, and their proximity has begotten strange occurrences — some perhaps imaginary, many extraordinary.
When Meg McIntyre moved to Brattleboro during the pandemic, from just over the border in Keene, N.H., she wanted to learn more about the particularly confounding cocktail of history and lore that makes Vermont what it is, so she began to immerse herself in its stories.
She described what she found as "a treasure trove of legends and myths and folklore that has been passed down through the state's history, and I immediately just wanted to know more."
As a journalist, McIntyre naturally wants to share her discoveries with others. In January, she launched "The Vermont Ver-Mystery Hour," which airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on WVEW 107.7 FM and is also available as a podcast. The show is a mélange of the odd and the obscure.
Bolstered by meticulous archival research, expert interviews and even dramatizations, McIntyre shines a light into the darker recesses of the Green Mountain State. She tackles everything from ghost stories and folklore to bizarre histories and unsolved mysteries.
"The Vermont Ver-Mystery Hour" is a great way to familiarize yourself with the state's unique stories — whether true or speculative. One episode spotlights the state's favorite homegrown lake monster, Champ, who over the years has taken on a charming, family-friendly persona. Another installment surveys the murders associated with the Connecticut River Valley Killer.
The broadcast runs the gamut from the fanciful to the harrowing, often finding balance in a single story, as in the case of the so-called "Bennington Triangle," which has become a kind of paranormal shorthand to link missing-person investigations near Glastenbury Mountain.
In an email to Seven Days, McIntyre explained her show's big tent: "[I]n addition to highlighting the things that intrigue us or ignite our sense of wonder, [the show] is also about the things that scare us. I often think about the concept of 'the sublime' in Romantic and Gothic literature (particularly Shelley's Frankenstein), the idea that wildness and mystery can simultaneously evoke terror, thrill and awe, and that fear and wonder can go hand in hand.
"I'm certainly not saying that I think the Connecticut River Valley killings were awe-inspiring," she continued, "but ... it can be freeing, in a way, to sort of unmask the thing that frightens us and take some of its power away in the process."
For McIntyre, the most fitting way to share such topics is through an audio format. "These stories have always been passed down from person to person through our voices, and that's the thing that I like about it being a podcast or radio show," she said. "It's sort of sticking to that oral storytelling tradition."
McIntyre's background is in print and online journalism, so the move to radio was a leap of faith.
"I was at a kind of transition in my career where I was moving from a staff reporter to being freelance, and that just opened up so many possibilities of being able to do whatever I wanted to do," she said. "The pandemic did play a role in that it sort of created the opportunity to actually think about doing it and having the freedom and the time to dive into a project like this.
"I think all of us are thinking more about what's important to us and not waiting for someone else's permission to do those things, realizing we have only so much time," McIntyre added.
The show is a passion project and, with the first season under her belt, she's excited to keep going. New episodes drop this summer, kicking off on May 30 with an investigation into the mythic reputation of the catamount. Her coverage of the history and lore surrounding this elusive creature — the last of which was sighted and killed in Vermont in 1881 — will coincide with a special exhibit opening at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier.
For fans of the occult, next season McIntyre will also delve into Vermont's sole recorded witch trial, held in Pownal during the late 18th century, and she'll interview the man who originally unearthed the account, Vermont's own "Bard of the Bizarre," Joseph A. Citro.
McIntyre concludes every episode of "The Vermont Ver-Mystery Hour" by recommending a book, film or television show for anyone drawn to the mysterious and the macabre. Pressed for just one title to suggest to her Vermont listeners, she said it had to be Citro's Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls & Unsolved Mysteries.
"For anyone who is interested in this aspect of Vermont history, you have to go with Joseph Citro," McIntyre said. "He's the authority in the state."