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Capital Region Folklore

Cohoes Music Hall (Cohoes)- Believed to be haunted by several ghosts and one in particular that is located in the balcony.

Van Schaick Graveyard (Cohoes)- Everything from voice through the locked gates to sightings of male and female apparitions

The Cohoes Falls (Cohoes) – Legend has it that a young Indian girl was boating in a summer day when her boat drifted and fell down into the bottom of the falls. It is believed that she can only be seen during a full moon. She is seen wearing tomahawk hair, war paint, and is paddling frantically trying to escape the rapids.

Loudon Cottage
(Loudonville) – The ghost of Abraham Lincoln has reportedly been seen in this house. This is the house that was owned by the woman who was sitting directly next to Lincoln when he was assassinated.

Albany Rural Cemetery (Menands) – Ghastly Black figures such as cars, men, and unexplainable large masses can be seen here at dusk. A mysteriously transparent couple can also be seen floating through the cemetery at night wearing pajamas.

Forest Park / Pinewood Cemetery (Troy) – Forest Park cemetery is known to be in the top ten haunted cemeteries in the country. Many ghosts have been sighted there, photos of strange things have also been taken and published in the local newspapers. A renowned psychic says the cemetery was build on an Indian burial ground, and the spiritual activity is very turbulent and malicious.

Oakwood Cemetery
(Troy) – Said to be extremely haunted and a popular spot to experience something supernatural.

Troy Cemetery
(Troy) – Long after midnight, especially on Halloween; many people have reported witnessing the statue of the Holy Mary crying blood. Along with other ghostly sightings throughout the cemetery. The Troy Cemetery has been called one of the most haunted cemeteries in the United States.

Frear Park
(Troy) – Reports of large “creatures” jumping and sitting on people’s cars leaving behind claw marks and other markings.

St. Mary’s Cemetery
(Troy)- Just at the bottom of the hill, a green, glowing orb can be seen hovering right in front of a gravestone.

Troy Country Club
(Troy) – When driving by the Troy Country Club at night there have been reported sightings of a waitress that worked there in the 1970′s. It is rumored that when she was driving to work there one winter night , she lost control of her vehicle and it slid on the ice and off the bridge where she fell to her death. Even in the daytime you apparently can see footprints leading into the woods in the snow.

R.P.I College: West Hall (Troy) – This building served as a hospital prior to becoming a classroom for RPI. The ghost of a lady in white is often seen walking the halls. She is said to be a nurse that died in a fire while trying to save children that gutted the building. The ghost is friendly, welcomed by all and well liked. Signs around RPI jokingly say things such as “Please turn off the lights for the ghost when you leave.”

Evergreen Cemetery
(Wynantskill) – According to legend, if you go there to take a look at the tombstones you will see a lady in a black dress on top of the hill by the headstones.

(Old High School) – It is said that in the early 1900′s a teacher went crazy and killed many students with an ax in room 243. Reports of children’s screams and a ghost carrying an axe can be heard at night.

Lowell Rd (Schenectady) – A man killed himself at a house on Lowell Rd. Since then its been reported of lights going off and doors swinging open and slamming shut

Front Street Park (Schenectady) – It has been said that it was once an Indian burial ground. According to reports, when you stand close to it you can truly feel the presence of something or someone. The benches of the park have been seen with shadows sitting in them and then disappearing.

Union College (Schenectady)
– There is a garden behind the college itself. On the first full moon after the summer solstice, the spirit of Alice is said to walk along the creek there. She was burned at the stake centuries ago as she was believed to be a witch.

Vale Cemetery (Schenectady)
– Several of the statues bleed from the eyes and the tops of their heads and sometimes cry and shriek at night. Apparitions, both white and black, have been sighted roaming through the graves and sitting up in trees. The old church on the site also is said to be the home of many many ghosts. Strange lights can be seen in the windows and reports of hearing singing from the church has been reported.

Yates Elementary School (Schenectady) – Reports of the ghost of a young girl opening an upstairs door and entering it only to disappear. She has been described as having short, wavy hair, dressed in a brown flowered dress that went halfway down her shins, ankle socks, and wearing old shoes. The door is always locked, and as students always assumed it was a closet. After some students saw the apparition they told the teacher. She checked as it was still locked. Then, she used the school key to open it. The closet was actually a short set of stairs which led to a singular classroom which was no longer used and unknown to the current students. The girl was never found. Many students as well as some teachers had reported seeing the spirits of children open or go through the locked door to the classroom at the top of the hidden stairs.

Henry Hudson Park (Glenmont) – In the Henry Hudson park, there’s a road that will take you to the park right off of RT9w. If you turn onto that road and follow it down it will bring you to a trail that is marked off “no trespassing”! The trail is marked with 2 large lion statues. If you walk this trail there is said to be a slave house where the white settlers had dropped off the slaves when they came in from the river. The rumor behind this is that in the 1980′s 4 kids went in to look 4 ghosts and they never came back, so 2 cops were sent in to look 4 them and only one came back out, the other was never seen again. Also sometimes you will see the lion statues eyes reflect light like if they were glass, but there cement.

Duanesburg Central School (Duanesberg)
– There have been two deaths at the High school. Since then there have been doors that slam by themselves, odd noises, and many orbs have been caught on camera, especially in the gymnasium. At weekend sports practices, students have claimed to see a figure run by the windows in the hallways.

Hunters Woods (Ballston Lake) – Many reports of sightings of apparitions, sounds of children laughing, gunshots, and voices. It is said that in the 1500′s during the takeover of the town of Atla over 60 people were murdered in the woods.

Main Street Church (Mechanicville) – A ghost of a dead soldier walks through the church as he turns lights off and on. He has been to know to often break the heating system during the winter.

Rich Thompson Homestead (Mechanicville) – The ghost of Richard Thomas Thompson is said to roam this building. He was killed in a fire in 2003 and often leaves beer bottles in his path.

The Adelphi Hotel (Saratoga Springs) – Reportedly haunted by a woman in a blue Victorian dress, foot steps are heard as well as reports of doors being open and shut.

The Battlefields of Saratoga Springs
– Reports of many hauntings.

(Saratoga) Congress park is believed by many to be haunted. Lights go on and off and the shades go up and down on the top floor.

Widow Susan (Amsterdam)- Many stories have been told on who exactly Widow Susan is, but there is legend that the cemetery is indeed haunted. The story goes that if you drive to the top of the hill just before the cemetery, turn off your lights as your coasting down the hill, and chant “Widow Susan” 3 times as you turn into the cemetery, strange things will occur. People have reported cars not starting, writings on the car, seeing strange figures, hearing screams, to even car door handled being shaken from the outside.

Broadalbin Hotel (Perth) – Many visitors to the hotel have reported lights going on and off & feeling someone sitting on the bed late at night and playing with their feet. Military uniformed ghosts have also been seen walking the halls at night.

Fulton Junior High
(Fulton County) – Reportings of lights turning on and off, doors shut by themselves, kids can hear voices in the hallway during classes and they look around and find no one, the toilets flush by themselves. it is scary

Granby Center
(Fulton County) – Locals report seeing 4 battered teenage girls staring at them, the same 4 girls who were driving drunk late a night coming from a party in the early 80′s. Their car and bodies were never found. Upon looking a second time though they would be gone.

The Bulls Head Inn (Cobleskill) – It is reported that Mrs.Danforth (previous owner of the building) has been seen sitting in the rocking chair and haunting the place due to her hatred of alcohol. She is believed to be upset her home is now a bar.

Prospect Hill Cemetery
(Gloversville) – Reports of numerous sightings of ghosts and apparitions.

by Ginger Henry Kuenzel (

“Lake Champlain might have Champ, and Loch Ness might have Nessie, but the Lake George Monster is so much more than just a might-have-been. It is a known and documented fact that, during the summer of 1904, this creature repeatedly surfaced in the waters of northern Lake George in the Town of Hague NY, wreaking havoc with the tourist trade, frightening honeymooners and reportedly causing at least one man to swear off liquor permanently.

And if reports of the Lake George Monster’s existence in such reputable publications as the New York Evening Sun, the Albany Times Union, Yankee Magazine, Adirondack Life, Popular Mechanics and The Chronicle of Glens Falls are not enough to convince some of the doubting Thomases among you, you need only to stop in at one of the attractions in Lake George, the Lake George Historical Association on Canada Street in Lake George Village to see for yourselves the famous sea serpent who has affectionately come to be known as George.

The story of George dates back to the year 1904. At that time, Hague NY was the Lake George vacation home to two prominent New York City residents, Col. William Mann and Harry Watrous, who delighted in cooking up practical jokes. Mann, publisher of the New York scandal sheet, Town Topics (forerunner of The New Yorker magazine), owned a home on Waltonian Island just north of Hague, New York. Watrous, renowned artist and president of the National Academy of Design, lived in a mansion on the mainland, directly opposite Waltonian.

During the summer of George’s birth, these two men were engaged in a fierce but friendly competition to see who could catch the season’s largest trout while fishing in the Adirondacks. Watrous was waxing ebullient in the knowledge that he was the front runner. But one day, as both men were out in their fishing boats on northern Lake George, Watrous noticed Mann reeling what appeared to be a 30 to 40 pound trout. Not believing his eyes, Watrous maneuvered his fishing boat closer to Mann’s, but Mann was evasive. After making sure that Watrous had taken due note of the size of the fish, he began rowing furiously toward his island home in Hague NY. Reports have it that when Watrous called out demanding to see the catch, Mann shouted back that he could waste no time in getting this record-breaking fish to a scale before it dried out and lost precious ounces.

The next time Watrous saw the huge fish was when he visited Mann at his northern Lake George vacation home a week later. By this time, Mann had had the fish mounted and hung in a place of prominence high on his living room wall. He carefully rearranged the furniture in a manner which made it difficult for visitors to get too close to his prize. But Watrous’ sharp eyes quickly determined that there was something fishy — or shall we say non-fishy — about Mann’s trout. Watrous realized that he had been taken — hook, line and sinker — and that the fish was made of wood!

Although Watrous was a great lover of practical jokes, he only enjoyed them when he was the perpetrator. Being on the receiving end of such a giant hoax was, as it were, a completely different kettle of fish. In a fit of injured pride, he spent the next several days concocting his retaliation. In an interview with the Evening Sun in 1934, Watrous, ever the artist, recounted his creation of the Lake George monster.

“I got a cedar log and fashioned one end of it into my idea of a sea monster or hippogriff”, he told the reporter. “For eyes I inserted in the sockets of the monster two telegraph pole insulators of green glass…I painted the head in yellow and black stripes, painted the inside of the mouth red and the teeth white, painted two red places for nostrils and painted the ears blue”.

Watrous explained how he anchored the monster with a stone out in the bay on Lake George near his boathouse. With a pulley system which he designed, he could manipulate the monster from his dock. “We went out in a boat and dropped the stone anchor, sinking the monster out of sight,” Watrous recalled “Then we rowed back to shore and suddenly let go of the pulley rope, with the result that the cedar log, because of its buoyancy, jumped out of the water for almost its entire length.

Watrous admitted that even he was a bit frightened the first time he saw the monster surface. “The rope being twisted going through the pulley gave the head of the monster a sort of twisting motion so that it appeared to be looking from side to side, and occasionally turned entirely around as if to survey the scenery from all angles,” he said.

Mann, who was in New York City during this design and testing stage returned to Hague NY shortly thereafter. Twilight was falling as Watrous lay in wait on the shore of Lake George, watching Mann climb into his boat with several house guests whom he had brought up from the city.

“I watched as the launch approached,” Watrous told the Evening Sun reporter, “and just as it was about ten feet away from my trap I released the monster. It came up nobly, the head shaking as if to rid itself of water, and I will say that … it was a very menacing spectacle.”

So menacing, in fact, that Mann and his passengers lost their wits, according to Watrous: “Mr. Davies, who had a rather high-pitched voice uttered a scream that must have heard as far away as Burlington, Vermont. Mrs. Bates, a very intrepid lady, of Milesian extraction stood on a seat in the boat and beat the water with her parasol, shouting indistinguishable sentences in her native tongue. Col. Mann shouted, “Good God! What is it?” and kept repeating his query as long as the boat was in sight. Watrous explained that he then pulled on the rope, causing theLake George monster to submerge before the party could examine it too carefully.

Mann raced toward his island with his screaming passengers. Suddenly Watrous heard a loud splash followed by language which is better left unsaid as Mann, in his hurry to get onto dry land, fell flounder. The Colonel later explained away the mishap, saying that he was not jumping ship but had merely mistaken a shadow on the lake for the end of his dock.

News of the Lake George monster spread quickly not only throughout Hague NY and the Lake George region, but throughout the entire state. It seems that Mr. Davies, who had been in the boat with Mann, was a drama critic for the Evening Sun. He wired a report to his paper which published an article with the headline “Is there a sea serpent in Lake George?” Other New York papers quickly dispatched reporters to the scene. It is not clear whether these reporters deemed this a plum assignment — escaping the hot city to scout the waters of Lake George NY — or an assignment for which they should demand hazardous duty pay.

Throughout the next weeks and even seasons, Watrous occasionally stole out under the cloak of darkness, moving his monster to different sites along the shore of northern Lake George. He was always careful to ensure that nobody got a clear look at the serpent, most especially not the reporters and photographers.

Bernie Clifton, who still lives in Hague, and whose parents owned the nearby Island Harbor House Hotel at the time of the monster’s exploits, recalls the following tale told to him by his mother. A young couple honeymooning at the hotel had gone out for a moonlight canoe ride when the monster surfaced close to their canoe, causing it to capsize. The groom, unable to keep his wits about him, swam to shore, leaving his bride to fend for herself. She eventually made her way to shore, stormed into the hotel and packed her bags, announcing not only the end of the honeymoon but also for the marriage. It is reported that she was actually grateful to the serpent for showing her that the true monster was her (soon to be former) husband.

Whether Watrous grew bored with his prank or whether local hotels became wise to his tricks and ordered him to retire the monster before the Lake George tourism trade suffered irreparable losses is unclear. It is said that one hotel proprietor asked his guests to refrain from making any mention of the monster to newly-arrived guests. On the other hand, he told them, if they wished to relate any monster tales to those staying at other establishments in town, he had nothing against that. In any case Watrous eventually packed away his monster and, over the years it was forgotten.

Sometime around 1920 Louis Spelman of Silver Bay, NY discovered the monster when some property was being sold in town. He took it along home with him. One summer thereafter, he decided to return the monster to its native waters to see if the pulley mechanism still worked. However, its appearance, it is reported, caused a near disaster on an excursion boat as the passengers all rushed to one side to get a closer look. Deciding that the monster was too dangerous for the serene waters of Lake George, Spelman retired him for good.

In 1961, Walt Grishkot went on his own monster hunt and discovered the serpent in Spelman’s workshop, sparking stories in area newspapers about the resurfacing of the monster. Kay Bailey, a Lake George vacationer and the cousin of Shirley Armstrong, the intrepid Times Union reporter covering the monstrous story, decided she simply had to have a monster all her own. Armstrong made Spelman an offer he couldn’t refuse, and soon the Lake George monster was on its way to Bailey’s home, which happened to be on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

Before his departure, the Lake George monster, which Armstrong christened “George”, was given a proper bon voyage party at Alfred’s Restaurant (today’s Montcalm, a northern Lake George restaurant), with local dignitaries attending. A good time was had by all, though Grishkot reports that George found the choice of seafood as the main course somewhat tasteless. Miniature replicas of George were crafted by Rod Bucklin, former executive director of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce, and presented to individuals who had played a role in promoting Lake George NY.

While in the Virgin Islands, George participated in a number of parades and carnivals, achieving fame, if not fortune, throughout the island. Eventually, however, Armstrong and Bailey decided that George really belonged on the shores of Lake George.

Grishkot and his wife Joan, who were planning a Caribbean cruise, agreed to bring George back home. Grishkot told The Chronicle of the difficulties he encountered trying to get George through Customs. “The officers didn’t quite know how to estimate the duty on George,” he recalled, “because, in their books, there was nothing listed under the category of monster.” However, all’s well that ends well, and George finally returned to his native shores.

At the time, Hague New York did not have a Lake George museum suitable for George. The Lake George Historical Association on Canada Street in Lake George graciously offered him a place to rest his weary fins and Armstrong placed him on loan there. We hope that in the not-too-distant future George will wend his way back to northern Lake George at his home in Hague NY.”

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