Fort William Henry Guides Offer Tour of Haunted Sites
The Fort William Henry Hotel is not haunted, says Fred Austin, a Lake George resident and aficionado of all things paranormal who’s worked at Fort William Henry for many years.
“The location of the hotel is where the fort garden was,” says Austin. “It fed not only the fort but the nearby encampments. Since no one was killed there, the hotel is spared the hauntings. The Fort, however, is a different story.”
On summer evenings, the Fort’s guides offer a tour whose emphasis is somewhat different than daytime tours, which dramatize the historical significance of Fort William Henry and its role in the French and Indian War.
The Ghost Tours guide visitors through haunted sites, the places where spirits have been seen, heard or felt.
The Ghost Tour guides are the same young students who don costumes to conduct the daytime tours, which is appropriate, since it is the guides and other employees of the Fort who have the most experience with the spirits.
According to Fred Austin, the Fort’s ghosts are said to be the unhappy victims of the massacre of 1757.
In August of that year, after enduring a siege that had lasted six days, outnumbered three to one and deprived of any hopes of re-enforcements, Lt. Commander Munro, the Scots veteran charged with the defense of Fort William Henry, surrendered to the Marquis de Montcalm on the condition that the garrison be allowed to march out with the honors of war – flags, arms, but no ammunition. Montcalm agreed to escort the garrison to Fort Edward. The wounded were to remain at Fort William Henry until they were able to travel.
Somewhere between Lake George and Halfway Brook, the soldiers, along with women and children, were attacked by Indians allied with the French. It has been estimated that anywhere from 200 to 1500 people were killed that day,
There is, for example, the Limper, whose distinctive gait has been heard on the bastions and is, perhaps, the spirit of an amputee whose skeleton was found when archeologists explored the site in the 1950s.
There’s also the Slammer, who delights in slamming doors in the faces of guides. And the ghosts of officers who punish guides dressed as conscripts for entering their space. There’s the voice that urges tourists to leave the powder magazine. And plenty of orbs, flashing lights and streaks of color.
With so many reports of similar incidents, all occurring in the same place, it’s not surprising that the stars of the television show “Ghost Hunters” arrived at the fort last summer to conduct an investigation.
“They spent considerable time investigating numerous claims of specific paranormal events,” said Austin. “They always try to find a natural explanation for things, but likewise, they acknowledge it when something is truly paranormal.”
And, reportedly, there were many things the Ghost Hunters could not attribute to natural or human causes.
“These could be memories or energy patterns within the fortification,” says local ghost expert David Pitkin.
The Ghost Tours are held every Friday and Saturday evening and begin at 7 pm. The cost is $14.95 per adult; $7.95 per child. Call 668-5471 for more information.