NEWS10 Special Report: Capital Region Haunts

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Capital Region is full of history, and the team at Northern New York Paranormal Research Society says some of that history sticks around.

As Halloween approaches, things might go bump in the night. But some places in the Capital Region have a history of hauntings all year long.

NNYPRS put together their top 10 list for NEWS10 ABC, and ranked at number one is Fort William Henry in Lake George. With the traumatic and powerful history of a siege and massacre during the French and Indian War, NNYPRS Vice President Dave Zirpoli said there’s often imprints left behind.

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

Hundreds died during the war in 1757. Lake George native Erhardt said some still linger, but it doesn’t scare him.

“Scary? No,” he said. “Does it get your attention? Yes.”

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

“At the time, I was looking down and I heard somebody say, ‘Nice hat,’ and I said, ‘Well, thank you. I just got it recently,’” tour guide Richard Mitchell said. “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 at the fort who sense something in the shadows of history.

“We actually do believe we have a spirit attached to the fireplace,” tour guide Nick McCue said. “We call her Mary.”

“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,’” he continued. “And people standing in the doorway right behind us here say they get a little shove like someone’s telling them to get out of the way.”

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

And sometimes, they don’t let the guides complete theirs.

“I’ve actually stopped the tour because we had so much activity going on,” Mitchell said.

Guides say nights at Fort William Henry are more fun. Mitchell has put in hundreds of hours as a tour guide at Fort William Henry. But one ghost tour stands out above the rest.

“One of the girls had orbs flying around her,” he described. “She kept saying she had things flying all around her. 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.

That tour was ended 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 occur often at the fort. But could it be related to the hundreds who died in a siege and massacre during the French and Indian War?

After the French won the battle, they destroyed Fort William Henry, and the site was forgotten about for 200 years. The replica that stands today was built in the 1950s, but a section that would have received the heaviest bombardment back in the 18th Century is one of the most active spots for spirits today.

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

Zirpoli has been part of investigations with NNYPRS since 2002. The group spent the night at Fort William Henry eight years ago, but they’re back again with more experience, a bigger team and new equipment.

“We have full spectrum DVR cameras that capture infrared and ultra violet light, so if there’s anything in those spectrums, we can pick that up on camera, theoretically,” Zirpoli said. “We have audio recorders to hopefully record voices or noises we may not hear. We also have EMF detectors that detect changes in electromagnetic frequency, thermometers, night vision goggles; the list goes on.”

NEWS10 ABC went down into the military crypt. The last time a camera moved in the crypt, 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,” Zirpoli said.

Zirpoli hopes by Friday morning there will be a lot 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,” he said. “I mean, it’s possible, but it’s extremely rare. We haven’t had any issues with that. As long as you’re respectful, nothing’s going to follow you home.”

NEWS10 ABC reporter Heather Kovar will spend the night at the fort with NNYPRS and FLY 92’s Brian and Chrissy. Heather will have live reports on Friday on NEWS10 ABC In the Morning.

Find the full list of the top 10 list of the most haunted places in the Capital Region, here.

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