Did you know that New York State has a fun Haunted History Trail? Filled with all-things spooky, kooky, and even downright creepy at times, the trail covers plenty of locations that have been deemed haunted. So, where do you start? I mean, where are the must-see spots on the trail? A recent visit to New York State put me right in the middle of the HHToNYS and there are some that are definitely worth a stop. From a store where time stands still to a Scottish Inn to the most haunted place in the U.S., here are seven must-visit stops on the Haunted History Trail of New York State.
I’ve been attending ghost hunts for years, mostly in my hometown. Sure, ghost hunting and haunted locations have really ramped up since a few known television shows have brought it to the masses, and I love watching them. But there really is something about going to a known location that has plenty of haunted tales to tell.
So, you can understand my bliss when I road tripped with my teen daughter through New York State for a week and had the pleasure of stopping at several locations on the Haunted History Trail of New York State. Filled with a mix of fun NY history and spooky tales, these seven stops were not only a hoot to visit, they were hauntingly beautiful.
1. Rolling Hills Asylum
So much tragedy has happened on the grounds of where Rolling Hills Asylum sits, that it’s truly no wonder that it’s called the second most haunted location in North America. If you watch ghost hunting shows on the tele, you may have seen it on “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Adventures”, and plenty of others.
Originally the 1827 Genessee County Poor House & Farm (my mother used to tell me I was going to put her in the poor house!), RHA has gone through additions as well as owners. Not only were orphans housed there, criminals, the elderly, and folks with no place to live were all put in the RHA to live out their days. Flash to present day where Sharon Coyle, owner, lives on the property and calls the spirits her friends.
During our visit, there was a painting class (there are plenty of tour options including overnight lockdowns and day tours) with Guest Medium, Tessa DelZoppo. If the second most haunted location in N.A. can be a lovely experience, that day it was. After a reading, we had a tour with Sharon who told us about the spirits that inhabit the rooms.
While I did find a few orbs in my photos, this is what I found most: beauty. The rooms during the day are filled with natural light, and the property has a quiet calmness that I dig.
Location: 11001 Bethany Center Rd. East Bethany, NY 14054
For Information on Tours: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/rolling-hills-asylum
2. William Phelps General Store & Historic Museum
Historic Palmyra has been named “The Most Haunted Place in The Finger Lakes”, so we had to make a pit stop and check out two of its famous properties. The William Phelps General Store is a trip back in time and it’s absolutely gorgeous. From the brown paper and string that used to tie up purchases to scales and cash registers, the store is a history lesson come to life.
Then there’s the Historic Palmyra Museum. Make sure you have good walking shoes on, because you’ll be climbing stairs and walking through several rooms. Antique furniture creepy dolls, and even a tour of where the Phelps Family lived, there’s plenty of eye candy for photos.
Location: 140 Market Street, Palmyra, NY 14522
For Information on Tours and Times: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/historic-palmyra-wm-phelps-general-store-and-historic-palmyra-historical-museum
3. Museum of Wayne County History
Start visiting old county jails and you’ll recognize a crazy pattern: many times the sheriff and his family would live in the same building as its prisoners. The wife would cook for the family, as well as any inmates, and that’s how it was. I couldn’t imagine it, if only for the noise and chaos that would take place daily.
The Museum of Wayne County History is part of that crazy history. The former Wayne County Jail, we took a tour of its 24 cells and learned about William Fee. Fee was the only man to be hanged in Wayne County and it caused quite a stir in 1860. To avoid a large crowd, gallows were constructed inside the jail and the history surrounding that day is fascinating, so don’t forget to ask about it when you tour.
Also on property is a 13-room museum filled with county history and artifacts including weapons that inmates made while incarcerated. Another must see is the Lyons Pottery room. Gorgeous pieces including a one of a kind vase.
Location: 21 Butternut Street, Lyons, NY 14489
For Information on Tours and Times:https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/museum-of-wayne-county-history
4. Brae Loch Inn
During our week-long tour of New York State, we stayed at Brae Loch Inn on our last night. Just a few miles from Chittenango Falls State Park, the Inn has very affordable nightly rates, summer outdoor entertainment, and a dining room that’s ideal for a nice dinner.
But let’s get to the haunts. I had a great chat with the co-owner, Val Barr, and loved hearing several stories including orbs that float through bed canopies and a woman walking through a closet. Val even told me stories that she and her husband have personally experienced. My favorite? A Christmas Eve tale that you have to hear for yourself.
Here’s my takeaway from Brae Loch and its ghosts: they’re all happy haunts. I didn’t hear one story about folks being truly scared; most were simply curious over what they’ve seen.
Each morning, Brae Loch Inn offers a complimentary breakfast. Sadly, we had to hit the road before sunrise to get home, but if dinner was any indication, it’s a lovely addition.
Location: 5 Albany Street, Cazenovia, NY 13035
For Information on Inn Rooms and Rates: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/the-brae-loch-inn
5. Seneca Falls Historical Society
The Seneca Falls Historical Society may be three stories tall, but the haunted stories are tenfold. The property is a 23-room, Queen Anne-style mansion that includes furnishings from the period. Ask the tour guides and they’ll tell you there are three ghosts that stay in the mansion: an Irish girl that was injured and died onsite and the original owner, Edward. The third, the former nanny that still looks over the home.
I found a few orbs in photos, but the museum’s standout are the two rooms dedicated to hundreds of historical outfits. These pieces have been viewed and photographed by movie scouts looking to recreate period costumes and there’s good reason why. Most of the pieces are in amazing condition!
Location: 55 Cayuga Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148
For Information on Tours and Times: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/seneca-falls-historical-society
6. Erie Canal Museum
A couple of week ago, Mr. Locke and I had the pleasure of biking the Ohio & Erie Canal from Canton to Canal Fulton, Ohio. Biking 15 miles in only a couple of hours, we made a few stops along the way to simply take in the sights. I thought about those canal boats and how each was pulled for its entire journey by mules and young boys. Yeah. Those young boys has a rough life, for sure.
So, you can imagine my delight with the Erie Canal Museum, which brought even more history to my eyes and ears. The last standing Weighlock Building in the U.S., it has 150 years in its rooms and halls.
If you want to know more about the ghosts, get a group of 10 or more together and book a docent-led haunted history tour. If you’re not up for that, you can always check it out by day- that’s what we did. There are plenty of learning opportunities, too.
Location: 318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse, NY 13202
For Information on Tours and Times: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/erie-canal-museum
7. Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum
My grandfather used to work at the dry docks in Saint John, New Brunswick, so I already knew what they were. If you don’t know what dry docks are, here’s the quick version. It’s where boats are removed from the water, repaired, and sent on their merry way.
It’s the dry docks at Chittenango Landing that are now home to its Canal Boat Museum. Sure, you’ll hear tales of a massive boiler accident that killed workers. You’ll also hear the tale of a young boy that jumped off a bridge and into the water, losing his life. But you’ll see so much more.
The Museum has paintings, a scale canal boat that you can walk through, and a working blacksmith’s shop. You’ll also dig the guides that have plenty of personal stories to tell.
Location: 717 Lakeport Road, Chittenango, NY 13037
For Information on Tours and Times: https://hauntedhistorytrail.com/explore/chittenango-landing-canal-boat-museum
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at I Love NY to give you fine folks the scoop on its Haunted History Trail. All opinions are my own. Trust me, I have plenty to go around! #ILOVENY #ISpyNY