The museums and historical buildings found on the Haunted History Trail of New York State contain more than just artifacts. They are home to apparitions – the spirits of lives long past – who beckon you to visit their dwellings and explore their living history. Curious to learn more? You need only visit these six spooky spots to find out:
Historic Palmyra WM. Phelps General Store and Historic Palmyra Museum – Dubbed “the most haunted place in the Finger Lakes,” over 190 years of activity have been recorded here. But it comes as no surprise – the stories told of this location are tragic, devastating, and downright shocking. One speaks of a fire that ravaged the building just before Christmas, claiming the lives of seven family members, including a mother and her young children. Another involves a murder, a man stabbed to death – though the details regarding who and why are still unknown.
The Experience: The museum isn’t shy about letting visitors seek out its spirits. Ghost hunts are offered seven days a week with a minimum of four people.
Museum of Wayne County History – William Fee was the only man ever hanged in Wayne County, but to say he was laid to rest in 1860 is simply not true. The jail operates today, not as a penitentiary, but as the Museum of Wayne County History. All 24 cells remain, and so does William Fee – his ghost is known to walk the cellblock to this day.
The Experience: Ghost hunts and paranormal investigations are available by appointment, and guided historical tours are offered daily. You can even set foot in the very spot where Fee took his last, living breath.
Erie Canal Museum – In Syracuse, NY, things get eerie on the Erie Canal. Listen closely and you might hear a pair of arguing men who never seem to settle their ongoing debate, tromping through the 150-year-old hallways of the Erie Canal Museum. Or catch a glimpse of a woman, killed where the model canal boat now sits. Or see a group of see-through children playing in the courtyard – perhaps happier now in death than they ever were in life.
The Experience: Serious investigators can pull out their equipment and conduct a paranormal investigation, available by appointment. For the para-curious, ghost hunts can be scheduled year-round, as can guided, haunted history tours for 10-60 participants.
Starr Clark Tin Shop & Underground Railroad Museum – The Underground Railroad is ingrained in one of America’s darker moments in history – and its significance comes to life at this Upstate New York museum. Abolitionist and tinsmith Starr Clark hosted meetings and gave refuge to African-American slaves in the building where the museum now stands. Many artifacts remain from that era and may just be the cause of the unusual activity that mysteriously happens there. Paranormal investigators have found the site to be “very interesting,” and others have reported shadows, voices, and the feeling of being touched.
The Experience: Ghost hunts are available for up to 15 participants and guided tours can be booked during the museum’s normal season, May through December. Paranormal investigators can explore the museum by appointment.
Saratoga Springs History Museum and Historic Canfield Casino – Unusual events were once sporadic and infrequent. But after the opening of an antique clothing exhibit featuring garments from Saratoga Springs’ most influential families (now all deceased), activity increased – exponentially. Guests visiting the museum have seen full body apparitions of a woman in Victorian-era clothing, objects moving on their own, the smell of cigars, carpets pushed against doors in locked rooms, and a hostile presence on the third floor. The Walworth family in particular had a tumultuous history and could be the cause of it all – from an abusive marriage, to a scandalous divorce, and eventually, a murder.
The Experience: The museum offers pre-scheduled ghost tours from June through October and is open year-round for self-guided tours and exploration.
National Baseball Hall of Fame – Central New York’s Baseball Hall of Fame is full of strange and wondrous things – from the hauntings of Wrigley Field and Tiger Stadium, whose stories are told in the “Sacred Ground” exhibit, to the voices and shadow figures seen near the Ted Williams display. And you might know a few figures by name – Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb are both said to wander the halls of the Plaque Gallery at night.
The Experience: Tour the ghostly galleries on a pre-arranged haunted tour, which lasts about an hour. Children ages 12 and over can take part in the tour if accompanied by an adult. Or explore on your own but keep an eye out for any ghostly players who may still be waiting for their turn at bat.
What will you see when you explore these haunted halls? There’s only one way to find out.
Visit the Haunted History Trail website for more information on guided tours, ghost hunts, and public and private investigations.