Imagine walking during an excursion on the island in Spot Pond populated only by nesting cranes, and come across a cryptic stone marker. Wouldn’t you ask yourself what it could mean? This is exactly what happened to many Bostonians while hiking on the island.
Clearly carved into the stone are the words “WHERE SHUTE FELL”, words which seem so simple…however, no one alive today, or alive 100 years ago, is at all sure what they might exactly mean!
What seems to be sure is that the stone bears three words that denote the precise location where an unknow man (a wrestler? a colonel? or perhaps a drunk?) took a noteworthy tumble.
A Boston Globe article from 2016 (one of my source to write this article) and one from 1884 both try to unravel the same mystery, but the story of Shute, who was, why he toppled, and how the stone was hauled to the island are questions surrounded with so much fantasy and misinformation that have baffled history buffs and reporters for more than a century.
Of course there are so many versions of this story.
For example, one version has it that the stone marks the spot where, when Spot Pond was home to a debauched hotel, a drunken picnicker stumbled and fell in front of his friends, who decided to mark the spot as a joke.
An article published in 1915 by the Medford Historical Society claims this is more likely than the often-repeated tale of a duel that occurred on Great Island, in which a colonel named Shute died. The colonel was so memorialized by his grieving friends.
The 1884 Globe article, however, seems to provide the most likely version, even if it based on rumors.
According to a local boatman, the eponymous Shute, an unbeaten wrestler, suffered his first and final defeat on that spot in the island and the boatman, who spoke to a reporter, claimed to have rowed the wrestlers out to the island where Shute had his last round.
At any rate, the monument has been in place since well before the article was published in 1884, and this is clear because it was already described as “exposed to the weather of all seasons for many years.” Whatever the backstory of this lonely piece of granite, its appeal comes from its mystery, and its true origin will be lost to history forever!