As Halloween approaches, Oswego prepares for an eerie, frightful night with a little help from the Central New York ghost hunters. Every year in the middle of October, the CNY ghost hunters volunteer their time and energy at Fort Ontario to host a ghost tour that gives the community a chance to witness the paranormal activity that exists within the historic walls.
The ghost tour was first introduced to the public about four years ago and turned out to be a great success. Since then, Melissa Smith, the president of the CNY ghost hunters, tries to make the tour a bit different each year, so the visitors can get the most out of their ghost hunting experience.
“What we do here is a little bit of show, presentation and ghost hunting,” Smith says.
“By the end of the presentations, the visitors heard EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena), they’ve seen some of the video footage we captured, they have some history, they know what the equipment does and how to use it, and now they are off to do their own ghost hunt,” Smith added.
Fort Ontario is a well known location in American history and has seen many different eras of time. According to Caroline Lamie, a seasonal employee at Fort Ontario and an active member of CNY ghost hunters, history has shown Fort Ontario’s role in all of this.
“The history at the fort goes back to the French and Indian War, War of 1812, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and even up to World War I and World War II. So, pretty much every major war that has been fought in the United States, Fort Ontario has been apart of it”, Lamie says.
Due to all these events the fort has been around for, ghostly activity was an inevitable result.
“One of the ghost stories that go way, way back is the story of the red cap, which relates to the French and Indian War. The French actually wore a red stocking cap and every now and then, a man is spotted with a long red stocking cap on,” Lamie says about a common ghost that resides in the fort.
On Fort Ontario’s website it says: “Fort Ontario is purported to be one of the most haunted locations in the United States, and was the subject of an episode of the SYFY channel’s Ghost Hunters show in 2012.”
Lamie supports this claim and says the likeliness is high for someone to hear or see a ghost during the tour.
“You may see legs go walking by or you may even hear footsteps going upstairs or furniture dragging. And right now, since we are closed for the season, there isn’t any furniture upstairs,” she added.
Stephanie Forman, a student at SUNY Oswego, attended the ghost tour for the first time over the weekend and admits to a shift in perspective on ghosts.
“There are too many stories of people saying they’ve felt presences of people that have already passed to think that’s just all a lie. So going here, I definitely learned a lot more about what ghost hunters do and furthered my interest in the afterlife and how ghosts work”, Forman says.
That’s what the CNY ghost hunters hope for- experiences like what Forman had- but sometimes, that’s not always guaranteed. Lamie acknowledges this and believes that the ghosts don’t exactly perform on cue.
Whether you are a nonbeliever or a believer in ghosts, Smith suggests to just take in the experience.
“Keep an open mind. There are many more things than what we see, feel or hear”, she said.
By the end of the weekend, the CNY ghost hunters donated the $9,000 they raised from the ghost tours to Fort Ontario for it’s own use.
“Everything we do is volunteer. We always like to help out. So for us, when we help out it’s fundraising for whoever we are working for”, Smith says.
Any additional donations by visitors are also accepted at the fort’s gift shop.
If you didn’t get the chance to experience the two day ghost tour event over the weekend, keep an eye out for next year’s dates. Fort Ontario also hosts many other programs with CNY ghost hunters for Christmas and reenactments of famous battles fought in American history. With the abundance of activities the fort offers, it is definitely worth a trip with the family to experience.
For a real look at all this excitement at Fort Ontario, watch the video below.