Ghosts of Fort William Henry

LAKE GEORGE, NY (NEWS 10) – It’s nearly Halloween a time when things might go bump in the night.

But some places in the Capital Region have a history of hauntings all year long.

The Northern New York Paranormal Research Society put together their Top 10 list of Capital Region haunts and on Thursday night, they’re spending the night inside the top spot: Fort William Henry.

“It is highly haunted if that’s the word you want,” Dale Erhardt of the French and Indian War Society tells News 10. “There was a tremendous massacre here so obviously there’s going to be lots and lots of spirits that died a horrible death.”

It’s hard to imagine the peaceful waters of Lake George as they were in 1757, filled with thousands attacking Fort William Henry during the French and Indian War.

Hundreds died here and, some say, some still linger.

“Scary? No,” Erhardt says. “Does it get your attention? Yes.”

Many of the guides at Fort William Henry shared their experiences with News 10 of how something, or someone, got their attention.

“At the time I was looking down and I heard somebody say ‘nice hat,” tour guide Richard Mitchell says. “I said well thank you. I just got it recently and this is the first time I wore it on the ghost tour and I brought my head up and there was nobody around.”

But it’s not just the people who work there who sense something in the shadows of history.

“We actually do believe we have a spirit attached to the fireplace; we call her Mary,” tour guide Nick McCue says. “People have come down the steps right behind us here and tell us they get a whisper in their ear, “hurry up, hurry up, hurry up”, and people standing in this doorway right behind us here say they get a little shove like someone’s telling them to get out of the way.”

Why the hurry?

“We believe she’s a very anxious spirit, we believe she didn’t have enough time to complete her tasks,” McCue tells News 10.

Sometimes, they don’t let the guides complete theirs.

“We actually stopped the tour because we had so much activity going on,” Mitchell says.

That’s where NNYPRS comes in. They are hoping their investigation at the fort can catch some of the things that people have already seen.

“Night is a little bit more fun because that’s when the spirits come out a little bit more,” Mitchell says.

Out of the hundreds of tours Mitchell has conducted, he says one stood out more than others..

“One of the girls had orbs flying all around her she kept saying she had things flying all around her,” Mitchell remembers. “The little boy kept pointing out shadow figures all over the place and we actually had an orb appear in front of us and we all saw it and I actually got it to come over and land in my hand.”

They ended that tour early, but it’s not the only one where people have captured orbs of energy and shadowy figures on film.

“One of my first encounters was with a spirit we call Shadowman,” McCue said. “When I saw it I didn’t think much of it, I just thought it was a person and came down here to say hey this is the story that you missed, and there was no one down here.”

Unexplained sights and sounds happen all the time here, could it be related to the hundreds who died in the siege and massacre?

After the French won the battle, they destroyed Fort William Henry and the site was forgotten for 200 years. The replica you see here today was built in the 1950’s but the section that would have received the heaviest bombardment back in 1757, is one of the most active spots for spirits today.

“All those places are so rich in history, some traumatic, some very powerful and significant,” Dave Zirpoli of NNYPRS said. “So there’s often impact left behind, imprints.”

“Zirpoli has been part of investigations with the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society since 2002.

They spent the night at Fort William Henry eight years ago, now they’re back with more experience, a bigger team, and new equipment.

“We have full spectrum DVR cameras that capture infra-red and ultra violet light so if there’s anything in those spectrums we can pick that up on camera theoretically,” Zirpoli says.

That’s not all; NNYPRS has a lot of tools for the hunt.

“We have audio recorders to hopefully record voices or noises we may not hear,” Zirpoli explains. “We also have EMF detectors, thermometers, night vision goggles, the list goes on.”

Last time, a camera moved in the Military Crypt, when no one was around.

“We try to find a scientific explanation for everything and if we can’t find it then that’s when we start questioning it,” Ziroli says.

Dave hopes by Friday morning, there will be lots for them to question, but there’s no question of whether anyone will hitch a ride home with them.

“I think that’s one of the several misconceptions, I mean it is possible but it’s extremely rare we haven’t had any issues with that,” Zirpoli says. “As long as you’re respectful, nothing’s going to follow you home.”

Be sure to tune in on Friday October 30 at 4:30 a.m. for Heather Kovar’s report after she spends a night at the Fort.


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