OSWEGO COUNTY – Many people looking for frightfully good fun this time of year will find that the New York State Haunted History Trail offers visitors a peek into the paranormal year-round!
The trail stretches over 400 miles through nine vacation regions in the state. It is the first statewide paranormal tourism program in the U.S. and contains more than 65 historic sites, events and locations where visitors can glimpse the mystical world of the supernatural.
Three sites in Oswego County are listed on the trail.
They include the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum and Casey’s Cottage at Mexico Point State Park, in Mexico; and Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego.
Each site offers guided tours and ghost hunts by appointment.
“The trail is certainly an attraction for serious ghost hunters who may want to investigate each site along its route to collect and record data,” said Oswego County Tourism and Public Information Coordinator Janet Clerkin. “However, it is also a draw for those with even a mild curiosity about the paranormal. Visitors may want to incorporate one or more of these sites into their planned itinerary for a slightly different experience.”
Visitors can tour the tin shop where abolitionist Starr Clark once worked, held meetings and housed runaway slaves in their pursuit of freedom.
The site is now a museum which features Underground Railroad artifacts and exhibits about local history, as well as information about unusual experiences with shadows, movement, voices and the sense of being watched.
Dr. William Casey, a Columbia University professor, spent his summers transforming the carriage house of the Mexico Point Clubhouse into an 11th century manor house with the help of German artist Severin Bischof and select students.
After his passing, visitors began to report mysterious sights and sounds, such as an organ being played, someone calling for help, and seeing a little girl standing near the tree marking her grave.
The site of Fort Ontario has been involved in every colonial and American war since the first fort was built in 1755.
Strategically located on a scenic bluff over Lake Ontario, the fort was destroyed, re-built, and changed hands numerous times before the current star-shaped fort was constructed in the 1840s.
Paranormal reports include strange lights and music, voices, and apparition sightings.
“Fort Ontario is said to be one of the most haunted locations in the U.S. and was featured on the SYFY Channel’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ in the fall of 2012,” said Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear. “Ghost sightings, sounds, and other unexplained activities have been reported at, or in association with the fort since the 19th century.”
The Friends of Fort Ontario partners with the Central New York Ghost Hunters to host an annual “Ghost Tour and Reveal” event in October.
Paranormal data that has been collected during the previous year is presented in the location it was gathered.
People are also invited to bring their own ghost-hunting equipment to find new evidence.
“This year’s event was another sold-out success!” said Caroline Lamie, office manager at Fort Ontario. “Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th did not disappoint the groups that came to have a paranormal experience. One of the computers froze, shadows were walking about, and we recorded several voices.”
She added, “We had local musicians playing bag pipes and a harp in the background to give an eerie atmosphere to the old fort. Guests were thrilled at the chance to see the place in all of its spooky glory and many commented that they cannot wait until next year’s event.”
Other locations on the Haunted History Trail offer guided tours and some allow individuals or groups to investigate paranormal reports.
There are haunted inns, mansions and hotels where visitors can stay overnight, restaurants said to offer a ghostly dining experience, and other spooky festivals and events to explore, many of which are family-friendly.
To learn more about the Haunted History Trail, visit www.hauntedhistorytrail.com.
For Oswego County tourism information, go to www.visitoswegocounty.com or call 1-800-248-4FUN (4386).