Scary stories and shaky details lurk in these Blue Line spots
By Neal Burdick
Most of us know the story of Phantom Falls, which does not exist but may be a lookalike of Buttermilk Falls, on the Raquette River above Long Lake, or Raquette Falls below the lake. It’s one variation or another on this theme: A young native girl is rejected by her lover – in William HH Murray’s account, the offending suitor is a Catholic priest / missionary. The girl throws herself into a canoe and flies over the falls and into lore, occasionally surfacing as an apparition in order to scare the bejesus of today’s canoe campers.
By Dennis Webster
Arcadia Publishing / The History Press, 2021
Softcover, 160 pages
$ 21.99 plus taxes
In any case, Phantom Falls, whether real or imagined, isn’t the only supposedly haunted place in the Adirondacks. Far from there. A new book, “The Haunted Adirondacks” by Dennis Webster, claims document some 42 such sites, spread from Stratford in the south to Elizabethtown in the northeast and ranging from forts and libraries to inns and pubs to theaters and – unsurprisingly here – to cemeteries. Remarkably, Phantom Falls is not among them, possibly because its identity cannot be established.
Webster defines himself as a paranormal investigator, so this book is not so much a tale of ghost stories as it is a chronicle of his and his colleagues’ attempts to verify the existence of ghosts and spirits, poltergeists and succubi who play in these tales. . According to the publisher’s Breathless Promo Sheet, Webster “danced with the realm of the dead, stepped into another dimension, fought with the Grim Reaper, got intimate with a succubus during of a session and survived it all “. To write this book, apparently.
And what is a succubus, you will tell me? According to the book’s glossary, it is “a female demon who seduces male humans, multiple times, while they sleep.” It is therefore evident that Mr. Webster dozed off during that meeting.
To see how this book works, let’s look at one of the selections. In Edward Livingston Trudeau’s former sanatorium in Saranac Lake, a handful of old buildings are coming under scrutiny. Here is the formula, which is repeated, with adaptations, throughout: provide a little history; explain the methodology; tell scary stories that present themselves as evidence; give proof; conclude with lasting impressions. (In the case of Trudeau’s “san”, it’s that of sadness.)
The book, while interesting, needed a fact checker. In her foreword, ghostweaver Bernadette Peck alludes to “the inner blue line,” but there is only one blue line; he has no interior or exterior incarnations, except perhaps in the supernatural sphere, which is not specified. Whoever wrote the preliminary essay “The Adirondacks” claims the park is bigger than Vermont, which it is not (it comes close to it though). The aforementioned Trudeau health facility has been assigned more than one name, none of which is correct. Dr. Trudeau went to great lengths to clarify that he was only offering processing for tuberculosis, not a cure as the book suggests. And the first sentence of the main text announces: “The following lairs are in the blue line of the Adirondack Mountains. [sic] and cover all sections. But we are transported to “outside” places like Plattsburgh and Potsdam (although most are in the Lake George, Old Forge, and Tri-Lakes areas, where it’s easy to find a non-spooky place to spend the night) , and the vast expanse of the park north and west of Tupper Lake is overlooked.
You have to wonder if the creators of this book are sensitive to confirmation bias: if you want to see enough a ghost somewhere, you will. On the other hand, who can say they don’t? I recommend approaching the volume with an awareness of its flaws and a basket pack full of skepticism. Put them aside and you will find the reading entertaining.
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