If I thought the first trip was crazy, boy, was I in for a shock with the second one! Five days, four nights through the Adirondacks, Capital/Saratoga Region, and Central NY. I brought my cousin, Lauren, along this time to collect brochures, take too many pictures, and control the radio station. 🙂
On this trip:
Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration/Hotel and Conference Center, Lake George, NY
Saratoga Springs History Museum/Historic Canfield Casino, Saratoga Springs, NY
Batcheller Mansion Inn, Saratoga Springs, NY
Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY
Hyde Hall, Cooperstown, NY
The Otesaga Resort Hotel, Cooperstown, NY
Eddie’s Restaurant, Sylvan Beach, NY
Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, Sylvan Beach, NY
Rome Capitol Theatre, Rome, NY
Fort Stanwix National Monument, Rome, NY
The Hulbert House, Boonville, NY
Erie Canal Museum, Syracuse, NY
Landmark Theatre, Syracuse, NY
Split Rock Quarry, Syracuse, NY
We drove all the way out to Lake George on Sunday and then slowly worked our way back east throughout the rest of the trip. Our first overnight stay was at the Fort William Henry Hotel and Conference Center—which is literally right next to the Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration. We had a beautiful, large room overlooking the pool and Lake George. Although it was cloudy and drizzly that night, what a sight to wake up to Monday morning! (I’ve always said I need to live by water.)
Before we settled in for the night, food was the priority. Lauren ate on the road, but silly me, I didn’t pack anything! We found an UNO Pizzeria close-by in Queensbury, ordered a gluten-free pizza, and took a short sight-seeing tour through a piece of Warren County! They really like their pirates and tropical-themed mini golf courses out there.
Winding down for the night (and setting up my new iPad that I all of a sudden decided I needed … for work purposes, clearly), we reaffirmed that the hotel did NOT look haunted, and that we would be fine. Repeating that in our heads, we went to bed.
There HAVE been some reports of the hotel being haunted (although the building is modern, battles were fought on the land), but we didn’t experience anything spooky during our night there.
We met Tom Wysocki, director of sales and marketing for the hotel, the next morning and he walked us over to the Fort for our daytime ghost tour, led by Nick, who was super knowledgable about the history of the Fort AND the hauntings.
Fort William Henry was originally built in 1755 as a deterrent to the French by the British during the French and Indian War. It was made out of wood, and therefore able to be built in 44 days. It served its purpose, then was burned down in 1757 in a siege that would later be written about (and dramatized) by James Fenimore Cooper in “The Last of the Mohicans.”
The ruins of the Fort lay abandoned for nearly 200 years before restoration began in 1953, along with an archaeological investigation. They discovered five skeletons, (eventually closer to 15), each with missing or added parts, and actually kept the REAL bones on display until the 1990s, when most were given a proper burial (some are still being studied). The discovery was featured on National Geographic’s show “The Decrypters” in 2012.
Although the Fort was only in use for two years, the tragic ending left many spirits behind. Nick said many paranormal teams, psychics, mediums, and paranormal enthusiasts have captured evidence in the restored Fort. Many catch a green orb in the Recruitment Center, which they believe to be a member of “Roger’s Rangers.” (Their color was green.) Not surprisingly, most of the activity seems to be underground. This is where Nick told us about four seemingly popular, or frequently-seen spirits.
In the ammunition bunker, the spirit of Jonathan Parker, leader of one of the largest missions at the Fort, has been seen in the corner of the room. In what was once the bakery, a spirit they call Mary has been heard saying “hurry!” and pushes people out of the way. Nick showed us a picture someone took there with an extremely realistic-looking figure of an old woman in the bakery.
In the “dungeon,” (which was really a field hospital), 40 men, women, and children were killed during the siege. A figure they call “Shadow Man” has been seen rushing around and heard saying, “I’m dressing wounds.” From this, they figure he was either a doctor or a medic.
Also in the dungeon is a spirit they simply call “Him.” He seems to reside under the stairs and has an orange aura, or when he appears in more human-form, sunken-in eyes, leading them to believe he was a Native American. He has an angry energy about him and psychics said he came to the Fort looking for someone, possibly never finding them and that’s why he is still there. Nick told us a story of a man who was taunting “Him” and then as the man walked up the stairs, he felt a hand under his shirt. Once at the top, he lifted the back of his shirt to find a bright red mark down his back—but no one on the tour had touched him.
Coming back into the daylight, we thanked Nick for sharing his knowledge with us. After Lauren picked up some goodies in the gift shop, we embarked on our luncheon cruise on the Lac Du Saint Sacrament, the largest ship on the inland waters of New York State! We took off at noon and lunch was served right away, which was wonderful. We ate and then went outside to enjoy the beautiful day, clear lake, and gorgeous homes. Our captain pointed out one house that was owned by a Boston Red Sox owner!
Naturally, I got burnt sitting in the sun (any longer than five minutes and that’ll happen) and Lauren had to change to a lighter shirt because she got so hot. But we weren’t complaining! It was the perfect weather for everything we had planned.
Although we didn’t have time to check it out, the main drag in Lake George is full of little shops, LOTS of ice cream parlors, restaurants, and mini golf courses. Such a wonderful place for a family vacation! Especially because just about 10-15 minutes down the road is Six Flags’ Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom amusement park.
Retracing our steps on I-87, we headed to Saratoga Springs—first stop, the Saratoga Springs History Museum, also known as the Historic Canfield Casino, located in the amazing Congress Park.
Parking was a little tricky, but we found a parking garage around the corner. What a busy and beautiful park! The landscaping and big trees were breathtaking. And then, right in the middle, a historic (haunted) brick building, housing the history of the city.
Built in 1870, the building was originally the Saratoga Clubhouse, “one of the most opulent gambling halls of the late 19th century in America,” according to the museum website.
Running a little late, we were prepared to move quickly, but the wonderful gentleman at the front told us to take our time. We strolled through a timeline of Saratoga Springs on the first floor before venturing upstairs—mind you, we were the only ones there.
The spookiness level definitely increased with each floor. The second floor had a super interesting exhibit called “Vice: The Darker Side of Saratoga Springs,” which explored the gambling, gangsters, and infidelity that accompanies such activities. It was one of the most well-put-together exhibits I’ve seen in a museum. The modern touch that really made it come to life was a projector playing different performances by Billie Holiday and similar artists. A real tommy gun, handcuffs that were actually used, and exhibits from criminal court cases transported you back to the late 1800s/early 1900s when all of this excitement was happening in Saratoga Springs.
They also had an exhibit on the founders of the Saratoga Race Course, as 2014 is the 150th anniversary of racing in Saratoga. Another interesting look into history! (With creepy woman mannequins …)
The third floor was, by far, the creepiest; Lauren and I both agreed. (Watch a short video of us going up here.) It is dedicated to the Walworth Memorial Museum. The Walworths were one of the most prominent families in Saratoga Springs in the 1800s, but they were not without their problems. Ellen Hardin Walworth married Mansfield Walworth, but divorced him when he became abusive. When Mansfield made continued threats against his family, their oldest son fatally shot his father.
Seven rooms provide a look into this tragic family’s legacy. Be prepared—you can only walk so far into a room before it’s roped off, and there is a motion-sensed audio recording hidden somewhere, because I almost jumped out of my skin the first time one went off! The mannequins (some headless) showcasing women’s clothing from that time period did not help ease my nervousness. Neither Lauren or I saw anything, but I did get the sense every so often that there was someone behind me.
In Linda Zimmermann’s book, “America’s Historic Haunts,” she writes about the Historic Canfield Casino and the ghosts that inhabit it. She said there are several around the roulette table on the second floor (maybe hoping to win some of their money back?) and a blonde woman seen walking around (attached to dresses/artifacts?).
Ghost Hunters investigated the building in 2010. Executive Director of the Museum, Jamie Parillo, said the unusual activity picked up in 2004 after displaying clothes, furniture, and other items from the Walworth family. 2007 to 2010 saw full body apparitions of a woman in Victorian-era clothing, objects moved, the smell of cigars, carpets pushed against doors in locked rooms, and a hostile energy on the third floor.
Making it back to the first floor and feeling like I could finally take a deep breath again, we drove the short distance to Saratoga Spa State Park, where we found Roosevelt Baths & Spa at the Gideon Putnam Resort, where we both had mineral baths scheduled. What a massive park! The famed SPAC was in there somewhere, but I didn’t see any signs of it—just lovely old brick buildings.
The mineral bath was absolutely wonderful. Lauren and I each had our own rooms with a private bathroom and were only checked on once at the end (you get 40 minutes) to let us know that our time was almost up and we could take our time getting out of the bath. I’ve never had an experience like it! The water is a murky brown and feels carbonated on your skin. The staff adds a minimal amount of hot, fresh water to the naturally cold mineral water, so the temperature of the water is between 97 and 100 degrees. The tub is actually four inches lower than the floor, which is an odd feeling when you first get in!
Mineral water has been one of the biggest draws to Saratoga Springs since the Native Americans first discovered it. Known as the “Queen of Spas,” Saratoga “has a rich heritage as a health resort.” The benefits of mineral water are endless! It’s been said to kill off germs and bacteria, increase blood circulation and metabolism, enhance immune systems, and promote an overall feeling of well-being.
Feeling utterly relaxed, we drove to our haunted inn for the night—the Batcheller Mansion Inn. Upon seeing the mansion, I believe Lauren’s first words were: “Wow, what a beautiful, cool place!” And mine were: “Wow. So haunted.”
Check back on Thursday to read about our night at the Batcheller Mansion and our visit to the spiritual gardens at Yaddo.
More pictures from this section of the trip: