Purgatory Falls – Lyndeborough, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura

Purgatory Falls

Lyndeborough, New Hampshire

Beautiful natural falls where Satan once ruined a pot of beans. 


The ominously-named Purgatory Falls may not be the biggest or most dangerous waterfall in the world, but if the legends are true, it is definitely the waterfall most used as a kitchen by Satan.

Despite the lovely natural surroundings, legend has it that the Devil himself once invited a number of churchmen to a bean feast at the falls, and while cooking in a pot heated directly by the fires of Hell, Ol’ Scratch drew too much heat and melted the rock around his foot which got him stuck. Evidence of this infernal meal still remains. Among the upper falls there is a large hole in the rock called “The Devil’s Bean Pot” and nearby is another indent in the stone referred to as “The Devil’s Footprint.”

Despite the possibility of evil dinner parties, the upper falls were a major tourist draw from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Purgatory Grove featured a dance hall, bowling alley, log cabin, and another building which have since been lost to the ravages of decay. The lower falls feature remnants of a sawmill that was powered by the brook until it burned in the 1950s.

Know Before You Go

The trails are poorly marked. Stay on the path.

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