The Halloween spirit is taking over as people watch scary movies and listen to scary stories, just to find some seasonal fright. But you don’t need to look far to find a good ghost story. Oswego has many places that are rumored to be haunted, and they are close enough to visit. If that’s too much spooky for you to handle, reading the stories of those places provides plenty of entertainment.
One center of Oswego folklore is the Fort Ontario. The Fort was originally built in 1755 by the British. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout its involvement in the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, and WWII, when it served as the only refugee center in the country for Holocaust victims. It is said that sometimes at night at the Fort, you may see a solider walking the grounds with a lantern. Lore also says Holocaust victims also haunt the Fort at night, especially in the barracks assigned for them to stay as refugees.
The Fort’s cemetery holds graves dating back the 1700s. The most famous haunting tale of the Fort includes one of these graves. According to legend, if you step on the grave of George Fikes he will haunt you forever unless you jump over the grave ten times. Fikes was a loyalist soldier at the Fort who died in a fever epidemic in 1782. The legend also continues that if you jump over his grave he will haunt a person of your choosing.
Another feature of Oswego folklore is the Oswego Harbor Lighthouse. In December 1942, during a heavy storm, a group of lighthouse crewman made the fateful trip to relief the crewman in the lighthouse. Six of the relief crew never returned shore as their boat smashed against the lighthouse breakwall, casting them into the water. People have reported seeing lights flicker on and off in the lighthouse and claim the lost crewmen haunt the building.
The Seneca Hill ghost is another spooky Oswego tale. Each year during the first week of November, it is said that a woman in a white night gown and a child run the Route 57 hill. The woman reportedly jumped from a barn window. She threw herself to her death after the Oct. 22 1844 Armageddon prediction did not come true.
Gray Road just outside the city, heading towards the town of Minetto, is another speculated site for ghosts. The road is shaded by the woods, and the swamps that surround it are eerie because it is largely uninhabited. It is a rumored that a man was hung from a tree on Gray road and consequently haunts the road. The road has also had reported sightings of a headless horseman.
Many local residents even claim their houses are haunted. The arrival of Samuel de Champlain in October 1615 marks the first beginnings of Oswego in recorded history. Oswego is an old port and trading post. The rich long history of the city provides many opportunities for residential hauntings. Some older houses in the city have little hideaways and traps doors for safe passage across the lake to Canada of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. Many of these houses are said to be haunted.