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Paranormal Archives

Ghosts and Murder in the Adirondack Mountains

Interconnecting trails, breathtaking views, and a wealth of rivers, lakes, and ponds make the Adirondack Mountains one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the world. Located in New York, four hours north of Manhattan and two hours south of Montreal, the area has attracted hikers, fishermen, and hunters from around the globe. The Adirondack region is an area rich in history and exquisite natural beauty. At night you’ll be treated to a view of the unpolluted, vast, starry sky accompanied by the hellish screech of a barred owl or a young fox;  by day, you may hear the constant chatter of active, some say mythical, forest creatures searching for food within the wooded pines they fiercely protect. 

The natural Adirondack playground is a destination meant for everyone. Although some who once came to the region for fun, a flight of fancy, or to improve their humdrum lives remain within the coveted backcountry. Their murdered souls are eternally tethered to the soil of the mountains by the trauma of unrequited love and unsolicited death. Denied by heaven and hell, their ghostly apparitions are forever trapped along the rocky banks of the Adirondacks’ unpredictable waters and dark, mysterious forests. 

On July 11, 1906, Grace Brown set out for a boat ride along Big Moose Lake in Eagle Bay with her lover. A trip from which only one of them would return. 

As a little girl, Grace Brown lived in South Otselic, Chenango County, New York. At 18, she moved to Cortland with her sister Ada and her family and began working for the Gillette Skirt Factory as a seamstress. She met and soon fell in love with the factory owner’s nephew Chester Gillette. Grace developed an innocent schoolgirl crush on Chester, which would be a fatal mistake. The couple kept their love affair secret until the spring of 1906 when Grace, now 20, discovered she was pregnant. 

Unable to face the consequences of his actions, Chester lured Grace to the Adirondack Mountains on the promise of marriage. Although it is still unclear what Chester’s murderous plan was, or if he even had one, we know that he eventually checked into a hotel under an assumed name and with sinister intentions. Chester false-heartedly escorted the mother of his unborn baby down the river in a small boat. Suddenly, raising a tennis racket that was once strapped to his monogrammed suitcase, he struck Grace on the back of her head, causing her to fall into Big Moose Lake and drown. 

After a three-week trial, Chester was found guilty of the careless murder of Grace Brown. On March 30th, 1908, Chester Gillette died by electrocution. However, that is not the end of the story. One would argue, on the topic of murder or any sudden or traumatic death, it never is. It’s evident that the spirit of Grace Brown continues to roam the thickly forested area of the Adirondack Mountains. Locals say she often appears along the water where she was ruthlessly murdered, mourning the body of her unborn child. Although, some say she’s seeking revenge on the cowardly soul of her bloodthirsty lover. Whatever the case may be, the ghost of Grace Brown has been seen within the area of the Covewood Lodge on Big Moose Lake for more than a hundred years. 

Rhonda Bousselot, a one-time employee at the Covewood Lodge, reportedly walked up to the second floor of the building and reached for the pull string of the overhead light. Suddenly, Rhonda had the distinct feeling that someone was standing in front of her, however, no one was there. She stood ‘breathless, frozen in her tracks.’ Rhonda stated, “It lingered for only a few seconds then it moved away. I didn’t see anything myself, but I felt that somebody was right there..” 

At the same time her friends, who were standing just outside the lodge, reported seeing a ghostly figure through the second-floor window. 

Another employee, Lynda Lee Macken, encountered the ghost of Grace Brown just a few months later. Lynda described walking toward Big Moose Lake, the glow from her flashlight becoming increasingly dim. By the time she reached the edge of the lake, her flashlight was no longer working. Lynda turned around and headed back to the lodge. She returned with a friend a few minutes later, only to find the ghost of Grace Brown appearing out of the mist on the bank of Big Moose Lake. Lynda, along with being thoroughly shocked, also reported feeling an instant, overwhelming sense of sadness. The unanticipated feelings of grief confirmed for Lynda that it was, in fact, the spirit of the young mother she had encountered. 

Most visitors come to the Adirondack Mountains for fun, but back in the 1870’s Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau came for a cure. Stricken with tuberculosis, he was soon healed by the area’s clean mountain air and the up country’s peaceful, soul-nurturing, natural practices. Trudeau established the first of its kind in the United States tuberculosis sanitarium in Saranac Lake, New York, eventually calling the small village home. Wealthy families traveled to the sanitarium seeking recovery within one of the many “cure cottages,” a name given to the local homes in the area catering to those inflicted with tuberculosis. Many of the sick who came to the Adirondack region in search of a cure for tuberculosis recovered from the devastating disease, although some were not so lucky. In the end, money may buy you happiness, but I’m pretty sure it can’t bring you back from the dead. Yet.

 Unfortunately, death from a disease one did not ask for, or deserve, can sometimes bring on a sort of ‘spiritual resentment’, sparking more than just a handful of random hauntings, that tend to leave those of us left behind, questioning our reality. A worker from the Trudeau sanitarium reported seeing a young boy, with a thin, skeletal face staring at her from the inside of an abandoned home. A home that was padlocked from the outside. Another story comes from a worker who witnessed a mysterious janitor walking to and from a boarded-up home that was also abandoned. 

The Trudeau Sanitarium is only one of the many haunted locations paranormal enthusiasts fastidiously explore. 20 miles north of Malone, NY, on the edge of the Canadian border is the hamlet of Fort Covington. Rich in farmland and historical significance, Fort Covington is also well known for being a hotspot of paranormal activity. During the War of 1812, the Fort was used as a blockhouse to shelter wounded soldiers. Over 23,000 American, British, and Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the war also known as the “Second War of Independence”, where for the first time in history America declared war on a foreign nation -Great Britain. 

A wood-framed Victorian home a young couple had turned into an antique shop, was located in the area of Fort Covington, and was precariously haunted. Alone in the shop at night the owner stated that unexplained noises and curious activity would often occur. Lights would turn on and off, doors would open all by themselves, and heavy objects would move from their shelves at random, and unassisted. One night, the owner recalled an unseen hand changing the station to her radio playing in another room. A more chilling personal experience relates to the climate within a small room located near the back of the centurion home. No matter how high the owners would set the thermostat, the narrow room, used to store vintage clothing, maintained a constant wintry temperature. The owner, along with some of her customers clearly felt the presence of something supernatural lurking inside the home. 

However, all hauntings are not exclusive to the bitter souls of military men alone. Sometimes the spooky encounters involve the women behind the soldiers. Nye Manor, also known as Parkhurst House, dates back to 1827 and was a home built for Army Major Jabez Parkhurst. Parkhurst was an abolitionist and a committed member of the Underground Railroad. Many people died within the home including Parkhurst’s’ first wife and daughter. Both women committed suicide. Fidelia, his wife suffered from ‘mental derangement’ taking her life in 1849, and Caroline, the Majors’ daughter, killed herself shortly after her husband’s death and one year after the death of her only child. It is easy to see how devastating earthly traumas can lend themselves to mysterious, ghostly happenings. A recent owner of the Parkhurst home, working late one night, claims to have heard a female voice calling out to him. Hearing the soft, feminine voice say simply ‘Hello?’ The owner’s wife reports that she is prone to feel suddenly sad when roaming into certain parts of the refurbished house. Both have heard footsteps within the home with no earthly explanation of where they came from. Neighbors of the Parkhurst house can also confirm odd activity, stating that they recall seeing lights glowing brightly on the second floor of the 18th-century home when it was clearly boarded up and without power. 

Whether you are someone looking for a paranormal adventure within a densely wooded forest, or simply seeking a stroll through one of the many historical homes in the naturally majestic region, whose occupants are decidedly more than happy to offer their visitors a ghostly adventure of their own, the Adirondack mountains are definitely a perfect fit. 

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