Haunted Road Trip #3 – Destination: Hudson Valley Region/Catskills – Part Three


Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.


Here we were. The only haunted inn on the trail that I told my boss I couldn’t stay at. Just the website scared me!

It was The Shanley Hotel in Napanoch, NY, in Ulster County.

Shanley Hotel, Napanoch, NY

We were met by Fran DePetrillo-Savoca from Ulster County Tourism and Sal Nicosia, the owner of the Shanley. After my experience at the Hulbert House and the fact that just the Shanley’s website gave me bad dreams, I thought it best to just tour rather than try to spend the night. (I did get a little razzing from Sal on that!)

The (current) Shanley Hotel was built in 1895 after a fire destroyed the original building. A summer vacation destination for NYC-folk, it was a popular and bustling establishment. James Shanley bought the hotel in October 1906. Friends with Thomas Edison and Eleanor Roosevelt, to drop a few names, Mr. and Mrs. Shanley were esteemed in the community and brought elegance to the hotel.

James Shanley died in 1937 and his wife sold the hotel to Allen Hazen in 1944. After Mr. Hazen passed away, the hotel changed owners multiple times, before being abandoned from 1991 until 2005, when Sal bought it and has been restoring the hotel to its original glory since.

(An interesting note is that Mr. Shanley and Mr. Hazen were born {October 31–Halloween!} AND died on the same days, different years.)

The Shanley has seen its share of tragedy. Mr. Shanley’s sister-in-law died there, leaving her children to him and his wife (who gave birth to three children, all of whom died before nine months). The hotel barber’s daughter drowned in the well on the property; rumors of murder, suicide, and other deaths were reported throughout the years, so it is no wonder so many spirits still linger here.

Sal says he didn’t have any activity in the building until the day after he closed on it; he heard footsteps on the stairs, but no one was there. When renovations were being done, a construction worker who was on a scaffolding very close to the edge, heard someone say, “be careful,” but he was alone. A group of investigators from Australia said they got more activity at the Shanley than all of the places they’ve investigated in Australia.

The second floor is where the renovated hotel rooms are. We went room by room as Sal told us the stories of who used to reside in the rooms (and who he thinks never left). The third floor is not open to the public, except for investigations. Again, I’m sticking with my experience that the third floor is always the most haunted!

Shanley Hotel, Napanoch, NY

Each room has its story, similar to all the haunted inns on the trail. In the blue room, a man committed suicide. One room, a girl drowned (questionably) in the bathtub. In Marguerite’s room, Sal tells us, people will sometimes feel someone getting into bed with them. Apparently there was a man who was in love with her and wouldn’t let her go, despite her rebuffing his advances.

Mary’s room has a very negative energy from an abusive boyfriend. Claire’s room has a very somber energy; Sal told us she got pregnant and her boyfriend wouldn’t marry her, so she hung herself. A hit-man named Joe is still heard from on the third floor, as is a little boy named Jonathan. Apparently, when he was 11 years old, he was hit by a car and died from the complications soon after. Sal told us he now prefers to be called John.

A mirror in one of the rooms on the second floor is thought to possibly be a portal; people report being able to see things through it. There is another portal in the wall in Room 13, on the third floor.

One of the haunted mirrors.

One of the haunted mirrors.

We’ve heard the most active area of the building is the Bordello, which is closed off now for safety reasons. Other hauntings throughout the building include rocking chairs rocking on their own, whistling, laughing, voices, piano music, and footsteps. Objects have been moved and people have felt watched and followed.

I think it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have lasted the night staying at The Shanley! Just the tour in the daylight was more than enough for me.

After saying goodbye to Sal, we followed Fran to the Hurley Heritage Museum, where they will be hosting their annual Ghost Walk on October 24th.

Pat, who normally gives the Ghost Walk talk, met us at the museum and then we walked across the street to the cemetery. She told us the story of Lieutenant Daniel Taylor, a British “spy” (probably just a messenger) who was captured by Americans during the Revolutionary War and held in the basement of the stone house with blue shutters, called the Guard House or the DuMond House, before he was hanged. His body hung from the tree for two days, on display to passing troops as a warning to British sympathizers. He was buried at the edge of the road and then (legend has it) moved to underneath the entrance to a tavern, so people would walk over his body. His family has since exhumed him once more and buried him in a private location.

Hurley Cemetery

Many people in town have seen the “Figure in Black” and believe it to be Lieutenant Taylor wandering the streets. A local man, when he was 16 years old, saw him while driving and thought he had hit someone. When he got out of his car, no one was there. He didn’t tell anyone the story until he was middle-aged and others reported seeing the same thing.

The stone houses each have their own story to tell. Sojourner Truth spent part of her childhood in one of the houses when she and her mother were slaves, and the Van Deusen house served as the temporary capital of NY after Kingston burned (reports of hauntings in this house include a spirit who doesn’t like men and phantom footsteps on the stairs). The house with beige shutters is haunted by a little girl calling “momma!” in a disembodied voice and the rocking chair frequently rocks on its own. The house next to the museum has the spirit of a man who told a little girl to ride her bike down the stairs and has walked across the room, through the wall.

The cemetery itself is relatively small. Most of the earliest stones are in Dutch and there are very few modern stones. As it is organized by family and not really used anymore, one would have to be “grandfathered” into being buried there. The area behind the cemetery is called “Spook Hole”—several people have reported seeing a man carrying his head.

Pat told us the stories behind some of the more “popular” ghosts that come out during the Ghost Walk, such as Colonel Wynkoop, who was killed by a slave with an ax in the Wynkoop house (also where they found the remains for a 14-year-old girl, suspected to have met an untimely and violent death).

Colonel Charles DeWitt was a man who wanted the title of “colonel,” but did not have the militia to earn the title. George Washington finally demanded that he attend a meeting and DeWitt sent his slave, an extremely disrespectful act. When he passed away, he demanded to be buried in an unmarked grave. Years later, when his grandson died, he wanted to be buried with him. A psychic who has visited the cemetery says that two bodies are at the grandson’s grave (not the Colonel’s).

A “witch” named Gitty Pauling is buried in the cemetery. Her gravestone has a skull and crossbones on it—the marking of a witch. (Who knew?! I always thought it was just because they were deceased …) Pat has heard rustling in the bushes near her grave and seen a blue light in the bushes. Dutch settlers were VERY afraid of witches. One of the stone houses still has “witch spikes” in its chimney—iron spikes believed to keep witches and other evil spirits out.

Hurley Heritage Museum, Hurley, NY

We followed Fran on back roads to get to Savona’s—our lunch spot, almost right on the Hudson River! Rick from Ulster County joined us and we had some delicious Italian plates. (Gluten-free pasta—yes!) The restaurant was adorable and bright and we could’ve eaten outside, but we didn’t want to roast on that 88-degree day.

Just a (thankfully) quick walk across the street was the Hudson River Maritime Museum, marked by Mathilda, a tugboat on land! Matilda is from 1898 and one of only three of her kind left in the world. Originally from Canada, she sunk several times and almost tipped the barge over when they delivered her in 1983!

Hudson River Maritime Museum

The Museum was built in 1980, as Lana, our wonderful guide (and director of public relations) informed us. Founded by steam and tug boat enthusiasts, the Museum strives to preserve the history of Kingston being the most important port between New York City and Albany in the 19th century.

The galleries are extensive and so interesting, even if you’re not familiar with maritime history/collections. They have their permanent collection, as well as several semi-permanent and changing annual exhibits. The space is beautiful and bright and their offices look out onto the river! They have tons of events in the spring and summer when the weather is nice.

We thought we had some time to kill, so we drove into Kingston and took a quick stroll before finding out that Dawn from Dutchess County, who we were supposed to meet next, was literally around the corner! What are the chances?

Dawn would take us to Dutch’s Spirits at Harvest Homestead Farm … A yet un-investigated haunted location.


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