There are several theories of the Stone Chambers in Putnam Valley, but one thing is for sure…someone or some being has left hundreds of them scattered in the Putnam Valley for us to explore and solve.
Stone Chambers of the Putnam Valley
Sometimes the coolest adventures can be in your own backyard.
A local Hudson Valley, New York, resident, Gary Becker, a man of many hats of which one is being an Oscar winning animator, happened to tell me in passing, “Fran, if you like adventure, check out the stone chambers.”
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“Stone Chambers? Sounds like the name of a Christian Rock group.”
“Actually, they have their own kind of other earthly tones. These chambers were built for a reason, but nothing is known about their history. They have a couple of different architectural styles…some are flat fronted, some have corridors, and some are underground. They are quite cool to see, and there is a map showing the location of all the chambers.”
“Where exactly are they?”
“That’s the great thing…we have the largest concentration of these chambers in the entire North America …over 200 of them right here in Putnam Valley… (That’s the east bank of the Hudson, just north of Westchester for you non New York City folks).
“But what are they?”
“That’s the mystery and adventure, according to this book, Celtic Mysteries by Philip Imbrono, the chambers have perplexed researchers of the paranormal and archaeologists for decades.”
“So the experts don’t know what they are about?”
“Well there is controversy as to their purpose. The town folk and historians have a number of different explanations as to why they exist. The one thing however they are all in agreement with is they need to be preserved. They are history.
If you want I can put you in touch with a friend of mine, Donna Savino. She’s not only a friend to the author of that book, but she’s a local historian who can tell you more about it. She’s a chamber hunter, who researches, survey’s and measures the chambers and logs them for Putnam County.”
“Cool, didn’t even know such a career existed. Love it!”
Exploring the Stone Chambers
Two days later Gary and Donna were eagerly showing me the chambers. She was like a kid on an Easter egg hunt…explaining the history of the chambers along the way.
“All the chambers are different but have some things in common. For example, all the chambers are made from large stones, and most of them have seven slab stones for roofs. They are usually built on bedrock. Some are recent with regular, smoothly cut stones; some have been modified recently with brick and mortar. The cool thing is some chambers have been reported to be ancient, based on carbon 14 dating of charcoal. Some chambers allow viewing of specific horizon events. Such as solstices, equinoxes, rising of Pleiades…etc.”
My deer in the headlight look, led her to continue.
“Basically it means that many of the chambers were used as calendars. When the sun hit them, the people knew it was season change.”
“Couldn’t they just look out their window, see snow and say…ah winter?” I smiled.
She laughed, “This was before clocks and calendars, that was their way of knowing.”
“That’s one heavy clock.”
The Double Chamber
In less than five minutes we were at the Double Chamber.
It was right off the side of a highway that I passed every day, near dozens of parked school buses! I wonder if kids ever cut class in there?
Donna continued, “This chamber, according to the Celtic book, is the second largest anomaly in Putnam Valley with a reading of negative 320 gamma degrees magnetivity.”
Again a blank stare from me.
“It means that the level of magnetic field here can reverse the needle on a compass or in other words, the level right here is strong enough to counter the local Earth’s magnetic field when a compass is held directly over the center of the anomaly. It can even stop a watch.”
Gary added, “The only anomaly higher in Putnam Valley is that of Balancing Rock, with a 400 gamma reading.”
“Geez I feel like I’m talking to Dr. Spock.”
Gary laughed, and Donna continued…”Well you might be onto something since in the book here the chart says, the purpose of these chambers are for the setting sun, and the other chamber is a ritual chamber…but you seem like you would like to know this fact…the book says the activity found in this chamber is both UFO and paranormal activity.”
“Now we’re talking…As a Guinness holder and Ripley’s Believe It or Not subject…weird is right up my alley. OK. Let’s go inside, I want to see if I feel something.”
Feeling the Paranormal
With that I went inside with a flashlight. Each chamber was about the size of a large living room. It was damp and there were faint carvings on the ceiling. I also saw some candles on the floor…”looks like someone had camped here”. It wasn’t like the typical caving I had done in the past, but it had it’s own feel of uniqueness.
I came out disappointed, “Well, my watch is still working and I don’t feel any different! I have the same energy as always…maybe my internal compass is spinning wildly, who knows… I’m still feel I’m missing something here…why are these chambers important? I need to understand.”
Donna chimed in. “Well first, the stone chambers are fragile and are being destroyed at a steady rate…they are part of history, as well as a mystery to many. When the first English settlers came to New England they discovered many of these chambers.
There are extreme views as to the nature of the some chambers.
One belief is that they are Colonial root cellars used to store food. That would put them at about 250 years old. That’s the popular or conventional view that is taught in schools around here.”
“Okay, but you told me that some chambers are entirely or partially out of the ground…which would be useless for the storage of food. And I don’t see any hinges for door attachments…so how would the food be protected from animals or sealed for insulation to protect it from extreme temperatures to preserve the food? Unless after all this time the wood just disintegrated. Also, I don’t see any ventilation in these chambers…which would mean that produce would rot inside here from mold and the buildup of ethylene gas…I remember reading that…that would mean if there is no ventilation that fruits would ripen faster.”
“Fran, Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer…I’m just telling you what the theories are.” She smiled.
“Wait, I have another question on this food storage thing. I thought the lower Hudson Valley was one of the last areas to be settled because of all the hills? That would mean it was a lousy area to grow crops in. From what I read, sheep and dairy farming were the big things around here…so why would they build over 200 food chambers in this area? Wouldn’t the food chambers be uniform across the whole state? Why would they all be in this area were the least amount of produce is grown, unless of course it was to preserve what was so scare.”
“Fran, I don’t know…no one does. That is just one theory.”
“Ah, sorry Donna, my mind is racing. okay what’s the second theory?”
“The second theory is that they are Celtic-Druid temples, placing them at about 2,500 years old. Those who believe this theory say they were built as an extension of the same Neolithic culture (ie Stonehenge) that built passage tombs in Ireland. I do know that a hand knife was found under one rock in a chamber and the shape and design was that of the Druids.”
Donna continued, “The third theory is that they are Native American Temples, part of Native American spirituality linking to Mother Earth, dating them back then over 10,000 years. Those who believe this say that the stone slab roofs are not Colonial in nature, no cement is used and the stones were not quarried with the use of metal drills.” They say these chambers are like the New England version of Kiva.”
“Okay what’s a Kiva, I thought that was a fruit.”
Donna laughed, “That’s Kiwi. A kiva is a room used by modern Puebloans for religious rituals, many of them associated with the Kachina belief system. Among the modern Hopi and most other Pueblo peoples, kivas are square-walled and aboveground, and are used for spiritual ceremonies. The katchina belief system dates back to approximately AD 1250, while kiva like structures occurred much earlier.”
“There is enough variety of chambers to support all these views, hence the mystery. The bottom line is some chambers have good feelings around them and some have bad…but all are a mystery.”
As we headed to the next chamber I was suddenly exhausted. Me? The Energizer bunny? I needed a nap! Did that magnetic thingy kick me from behind? Mmm, maybe this was more of an adventure than I bargained for.
I remember watching a DVD seminar on the local chambers that said, some chambers were portals for extra terrestrials. The DVD’s findings were in alignment with what the book said. This adventure was getting stranger by the minute. There also was a lot of reported Wicca in the area so maybe it was some kind of energy zapping ritual that got me.
Okay, I shook my tiredness of an headed onto another chamber. The next one was on route 301 in Kent right off of Forest CT. A corbel chamber which was right there smack on the side of the highway. (Of course back then, there was no highway.)
According to the Celtic book, (which at this point was becoming our Stone Chamber Bible), the purpose of this chamber was Ritual, acting as a channel for the natural energy of mother earth. The activity of this chamber was reported as paranormal. (I went back there again without Donna and someone had left their card and a red feather.) All I can say was I felt great in this chamber…it had very positive feelings around it.
The next chamber was in the town of Mahopac. It was well hidden with a bush in front of I so you could barely see it from the highway. The purpose of this one, according to the book, was ceremonial. Apparently lots of parties were happening in these chambers.
We ended our chamber hunting for the evening as the light faded, and I didn’t want to start chanting. I thanked Donna for pointing out these chambers. I have to say it is pretty fascinating…I couldn’t ponder the thought too long however, because I rushed home to write this blog and report to you good people about the cool things right here in Putnam, proving that sometimes you don’t have to travel around the world to get a thrill but just open your eyes to what is around you, and with an open mind discover all life has to offer. The mystery continues.