OF RAG ROCK
by Marie Coady
Mount Mianomo holds many mysteries. In ancient times the summit
of Mount Mianomo was shrouded in mist and lightning played along its
edges. The shadows of primitive beings skittered along its surface
and flashed their spirits over the land in the sparks of lightning
that ricocheted off its red rocks. Sometimes the setting sun left a
halo of copper that lingered over Mount Mianomo and made it seem
part of the sky.
In the Autumn of the time before the white man came, Nansema, or
She Who Steals Hearts, lived at the foot of Mount Mianomo. There her
tribe of Pawtucket Indians made their home in peace. Her father,
Wabanowi, was the great chief of the tribe.
Wabanowi knew Mount Mianomo’s secrets. He alone knew the magic
powers of the Glittering Cave that burrowed deep in the recesses of
Mount Mianomo. It was where he gathered the wisdom to guide his
tribe. There was only one being with whom Wabanowi would share his
secret and that was his treasured daughter, Nansema.
A brave chief of the Narragansett tribe made his way north to
hunt. When he came to the Pawtucket village, he fell in love with
Nansema. His name was Winitihooloo, or Fighting Bear.
At first Winitihooloo was welcomed by Wabanowi. But when
Winitihooloo declared his love for Nansema, Wabanowi found reason to
deny him the hand of his daughter and sent him away. Winitihooloo
left Nansema behind, vowing to return for her.
When Winitihooloo did return, it was a time of great trouble and
grief for the Pawtuckets. A great pestilence had spread across the
land and the Pawtuckets suffered greatly. Winitihooloo came to take
Nansema away to his village. But her father held fast to his
Nansema, having shared the secret of the Glittering Cave with
Winitihooloo, sent him one of its gleaming rocks. It was their
signal to meet there. But someone evil followed her and discovered
The cave was filled with gold and the evil one wished to have it
for his own.
When Winitihooloo arrived for their meeting, a great battle
ensued and the gods shook the mountain and trapped the lovers inside
with the evil one. For four hundred years, Winitihooloo and Nansema
have waited to be rescued. They have cried out to many throughout
the years, but only served to frighten them.
Mount Mianomo is no longer called by that ancient name. Today, it
is known as Rag Rock, the name chosen by white settlers who arrived
from England in 1640 to make their homes there. Modern technology
has cut the mighty Mount Mianomo down to size, and only a small part
of its majesty remains. But the secret is still locked inside its
reddish-brown core, and the evil one still holds Nansema and
Winitihooloo captive inside the Glittering Cave.
Finally, the day has arrived when the perfect two people have
come together to fight the battle with the evil one and free Nansema
and Winitihooloo without giving away the secret of the Glittering
But today’s reality is somewhat less romantic. Sad to say, in
spite of the spectacular view from that ancient promontory, what was
most disappointing was finding that Rag Rock’s landscape is
literally paved with broken bottles, trash and the remnants of fires
that have left the rock floor of its summit scarred, black and sooty
and the pathways rutted with the tracks of motorbikes.
On the way back down the path to Hillside Avenue where I had
parked my car, my niece Bridget asked quite candidly if the people
of Woburn were aware of this treasure. And why, she wondered, did
they not take better care of it? I was hard pressed to come up with