The footprint of Howard Phillips Lovecraft in Rhode Island is surprisingly shallow: a plaque on the campus of Brown, a headstone & not much else.
But the discerning eye will find many traces of the gent from Angell Street. Often it happens with your knowledge– like returning home as a new Ulysses and being offered Lovecraft’s apartment at 10 Barnes Street and instead taking the one where Donald Wandrei wrote part of The Web of Easter Island. Other times, you find out years later– like discovering that your high school was on the same grounds as Lovecraft’s grammar school.
It accumulates over the years and then there’s nary a thing Lovecraftian you haven’t seen or done.
But there’s always more. We had, in particular, focused on the Dark Swamp of Chepachet, RI, the hardest to find of all Lovecraftian locations. In the summer of 1923, Lovecraft and the Eddys hunted for the swamp and could not find it– this mystery resonates through the letters and the first wave of remembrances & grows into a thing discussed in whispers and scholarly articles. For years I tried to uncover its location– but it wasn’t until USGS Topographical maps became easily searchable that I was able to find and pinpoint its very location.
USGS maps only tell one thing: where a place is, not how to get there. I had given my erstwhile chum, Andrew Harrison, a Google Maps location of the swamp’s GPS coordinates– he’d printed out some half-assed directions, but these were useless. So we drove around Glocester, RI desperately trying to get there from here. We trespassed private property. We mistook White’s Pond for the swamp. At last, we found a Department of Fish & Wildlife topographical map posted to a board and realized exactly what we, as men, had to do: drive the car down a dirt path, find a place to park, and then walk a mile in the woods.
And then, finally, we were there: the dark swamp. Dark because it’s wooded. Light hardly penetrates the dense canopy. A swamp because it’s disgustingly wet and covered in a large moss bed that attacks every living thing around it. It kills trees. It grows mushrooms. We saw no monster. But we had done it; we had gone to the most randomly inaccessible Lovecraftian location that we could– and only one jackass had fallen in the muck.
Update: Go here for directions to the swamp.
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