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Friday, October 29, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Scared

I asked readers and friends to suggest some of the most haunted places they’ve heard of in the region. And, considering we have some of the oldest municipalities in the country (including Albany that is the fourth oldest city and Waterford as the oldest incorporated village), there were a lot of stories to choose from.

Here’s my top 10:

10. Frear Park in Troy — I grew up in Troy and just heard this story but I’d say it’s good enough to share. Apparently, there is at least one very large animal that jumps on the tops of cars, mainly at night, while driving through this park in the Sycaway area of the city. Rumor has it that these strange animals have left claw marks on their vehicle victims. Since there’s a golf course in the park, I wonder if this has ever happened to one of those golf carts.

9. The Old Knox Mansion in Johnstown — A lavish mansion built in 1889 that is on the National Register of Historic Places, it now serves as a bed and breakfast where people are just dying to get in and the dead are trying to get out. Those who have visited the mansion say they’ve had weird vibes while walking the halls. There have also been reports of ghosts, sheets pulled off the bed, voices, and hearing ghostly footsteps. They usually have tours around Halloween to experience these for yourself.

8. Veil Cemetery on State Street in Schenectady — Along with being an alleged urban myth site for where the ghost of a bride can be seen trying to hitchhike, there have been multiple sightings of statues that bleed from the eyes and other apparitions.

7. Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany — A paranormal investigation was just conducted here after the volunteers at the more than 200-year-old site kept noticing strange happenings and a possible ghost of an 1812 soldier. This site is also conducting haunted tours this weekend.

6. Forbes Mansion in Rensselaer — Not much is recorded about any ghost tales at this old site off Washington Avenue near the new fire station. But that lack of documentation makes the stories all the more fun. It seems that on the anniversary of the death of one of the former residents, blood spills from a staircase inside. It is now owned by the Franciscans.

5. Snyder’s Lake in Wynantskill — Legend has it that a former night watchman near the lake was murdered at a young age now takes out his anger on youths who camp out at the lake. There is also a ghost of a drowned boy that roams the beaches.

4. Cohoes Music Hall — There are several spirits in the 1874 edifice in the Spindle City’s downtown. There is an actress dressed in 30s and 40s attire who sits in the audience occasionally, and another woman in black in the balcony. A former theatre manager, crushed by a sandbag, is also sometimes seen and heard on stage.

3. New York’s Capitol Building — Ghosts, ghouls, and spooky specters, aside from the elected representatives, really do wander the ornate halls. A stonecutter, who was angry at his boss, cursed the building and marked that by carving a small, intricate devil. A foreman in the late 1800s, who fell from scaffolding and died a few days later, is claimed to be one of the ghosts. Another is the lone victim of a 1911 fire.

2. Oakwood Cemetery in Troy — Famed as being the burial site of Uncle Sam, the hilltop cemetery overlooking Lansingburgh is also renowned as being a possible gateway to Hell. Dating back to the mid-1800s, it’s a popular gathering ground for area youths at night and many of these trespassers have seen ghosts and floating orbs near the gravestones.

1. Forest Park (or Pinewoods) Cemetery in Brunswick— Considering this site is on a national list of haunted cemeteries (and since I’ve seen ominous things here myself), I felt obligated to have this fill the Number 1 spot of this list. The stories here range from crying babies heard while sitting on a stone bench to a bleeding statue of an angel in the rear section of the Victorian age site. There are also rumors that witchcraft is practiced in a nearby perfectly-circular clearing in the woods. To top it all off, some say this is a location of an old Indian burial ground. If that isn’t material for a Stephen King book, I don’t know what is.

Honorable mentions of a haunted dwelling in Loudonville, and a house on Saratoga Street in Cohoes which apparently has three ghosts, one for each floor. Kudos to the owners for having the guts to live there too.


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