Long Island is rich in history stemming as far back as its Native American tribes and the warring birth of our nation. Too many people have died a turbulent, violent or even premature death on this tiny strip of land. However, these sad events have created a playground for the paranormal that is both frighteningly irresistible and terrifyingly alluring.
Those who are brave or seemingly crazy charge you with the tasks to stir the dead and tempt your fate with angry and jealous spirits. Those who admire and respect these entities search quietly and keep a distance, being satisfied as a witness to their presence.
A Right of Passage
Imagine piling into a car with as many of your friends as you can possibly fit (more than seatbelts will allow) and journeying into unknown neighborhoods, down a moonlit one lane road, and passing through small patches of white fog. This is the stuff that builds deep friendships—overcoming a frightening ordeal.
Out of all of the memories I could have about High School, being crammed into Mike’s yellow Mustang with eight of my friends looking for ghosts is the best. Did we find any? Steve would tell you we found many. Each and every patch of white fog we drove through on that dark wooded path was someone. The cold presence of something was enough to make sure Mike’s foot stayed on the gas pedal. Steve was always curious and open to the paranormal so his narration of the gruesome events that led to the misfortune of these souls kept us alert and clinging to one another.
Top 10 Bone Chilling Haunts of Long Island
1. Amityville Horror
One of the most popular murder phenomenons began in Amityville, Long Island. Movies and tales of the paranormal activity that have occurred in this home have popularized it as “America’s Most Haunted House.” Built in 1927, this house has been the home to one death (1939) and a mass murder (1974)—the two are unrelated.
On November 13, 1974 Ronald DeFeo Jr murdered everyone in his family while they were sleeping. His parents and four siblings were found face down in their beds killed by a rifle. He was later convicted and is currently serving six consecutive life sentences at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY.
Surprisingly, the home was then sold to another family, the Lutz’s. They lasted 28 days. The paranormal activity that they experienced chased them out for fear of their own personal safety. The family of five left everything behind never to return. Their tales started a whirlwind of books, documentaries and films that created the legend we recognize today.
Needless to say, the Amityville Horror House has had numerous owners since 1974. You can drive by and check out the Dutch Colonial legend at 108 Ocean Ave, Amityville, NY at 3:00am and tell me what you find. (The address was originally 112 Ocean Ave, but there was an attempt to discourage crowds by changing the address.) If you’re not quite up to the task, but want a taste you can look up “demonic boy photograph.”
2. Kings Park Psychiatric Center
This “community” built in 1885 that once housed 150 buildings is a ghostly ton of tortured souls. This colossus was built on Long Island to lessen the burden of facilities in Brooklyn. It originally housed anyone society deemed “too much work” to “fit in.” This psychiatric center housed the mentally ill, homeless, orphans, and even immigrants who had trouble assimilating. It seems there was no gray area back then; you were either like everyone else or you went to live in this community. (I’m sure glad I wasn’t alive to witness this ignorance. How about you?)
If this prejudicial ignorance wasn’t enough, patients were regularly beaten and tortured by attending staff. Many deaths occurred over the years here, but these forgotten souls had no one fighting for them. (Imagine being strangled with a pillow case in your locked room by one of the attending staff— chills!) So many sad stories are rumored to have occurred here and the facts are even worse. This facility was the nation’s first to perform prefrontal lobotomies and other weird “experimental” treatments—as if electroshock therapy wasn’t enough!
Many of the buildings are still standing as they lay abandoned in what is now part of Nissequogue State Park. You may enter the property and witness the dilapidated buildings with broken windows, but no one is allowed inside. You didn’t hear it from me, but many do sneak in. You can even find a few locals who advertise indoor guided tours (these are illegal and the buildings are not structurally safe). You will see the remnants of former residents inside—old iron beds, torn teddy bears, outdated medical equipment and more.
Unlike some of the other items in this post, this one happened fairly recently and is known to be true. For those of us that live locally it makes it that much scarier. Whether your just curious about the paranormal activity or want to visit a piece of our nation’s hidden disappointing history, Kings Park Psychiatric Center is for you.
3. Camp Hero
I have two words for you… Stranger Things!
This state park was home to a secretive military base that was constructed back in 1942. It was outfitted to protect against German U-boat attacks and then Soviet missile strikes. The looming radar tower that still stands today was our first line of defense until technology passed it by in 1981. The government donated the land to the New York State Department of Parks with conditions—the underground tunnels, bunkers in the hill, and training center disguised as a fishing village were all to remain sealed. No one was to enter.
As if this wasn’t mysterious enough, add in the tales of missing children from the area and rumors of government experiments on time travel and mind control. “The Montauk Project” puts the children, experiments, underground tunnels, and government secrecy together into a science fiction thriller that inspires curiosity and has blossomed into Netflix’s “Stranger Things”.
If that’s not enough to peak your desire to walk through the grounds then consider it’s deeper history. The area of Camp Hero saw the Montaukett Indians ambushed by a warring tribe in the 1650’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders quarantined by Yellow Fever after the Spanish American War. That’s a lot of potentially wandering spirits!
4. Mary’s Grave
The infamous Mary is a teenage right of passage. Many towns claim to be the home to Mary Hatchett and it is your job to drive through and discover which one has her true resting place. Head of the Harbor and Huntington have been the hot spots of paranormal sightings, chills and screams. The rumors of her life and death even inspired “Blood Night.”
In all of the many tales of Mary Hatchett she has led an unpleasant life with an untimely end. She is a mental patient that died in a fire. She is a bride who was killed on her wedding day. She is a witch that led children to their death.
Most notably, she is a girl whose mother died at childbirth with a lonely father who finds the wrong type of comfort in her presence at night. His abuse drives her to madness and she kills him with an axe. The townspeople discover the crime and hang her from a tree at the edge of the property. It was an unsympathetic end to a tortured life.
Top locations to search for Mary
- Huntington Sweet Hollow Road, Sweet Hollow Cemetery, Mary’s Tombstone engraved “Life, How Short.”
- Sweet Hollow Rd, Huntington—side of the road just south of Northern State Parkway overpass.
- The end of Shep Jones Lane, Head of the Harbor
In the mood to tempt your fate? Stand before the tombstone with Mary’s name. Say her name three times while shining a light on it. She will appear (and possibly strike you dead).
5. Sweet Hollow Road & Mount Misery Road from Melville to Huntington, NY
Aside from the chance to spot Mary Hatchet, there are other ghostly figures hanging out on Sweet Hollow Road and its parallel, Mount Misery Road.
In the 19th century a psychiatric hospital that had been built in the surrounding woods had burned to the ground. Everyone inside perished. Ten to fifteen years later, another hospital was built on the same spot. It was rumored that the new residents were tortured with ghostly screams and the smell of a burning building in the evening. Only five months later, this new building saw the same fate. No one rebuilt this time. The foundation was left alone.
Visit during a rainy night and you may spot a hitch hiker walking along the side of the road. It’s never a good suggestion to pick up strangers, but if you do feel so inclined to stop don’t be surprised if he disappears.
I also suggest you avoid any odd figures along the side of the road swinging a basket. As harmless as this sounds, the basket is said to be filled with heads from people who have disappeared in the area.
You might be relieved after all of this to find a policeman in the area. You should certainly stop if he pulls you over, but be forewarned if he turns around to return to his car after asking you a few questions. The one that haunts this road is missing the back of his skull from a shotgun blast that ended his life many years ago.
6. Northern State Parkway Overpass
If you continue down Sweet Hollow Road you will arrive at the overpass for Northern State Parkway. This simple manmade structure has been the purported demise of many souls.
During the 1970’s a woman was hit by a passing car while trying to change her tire under the overpass. Many report that if you park your car facing Route 110 under the bridge and then put it in neutral; a woman will attempt to push your car uphill to safety, clearing the overpass.
There was another hit and run victim who you might see at night, but he’s on top of the overpass. Keep your eyes open for a young boy sitting on the edge of the bridge.
The most sought after “ghosts” are a group of teenagers who hung themselves underneath the bridge in a suicide pact. It is said that if you honk your horns and flash your light or park nearby and flash your lights, you will see their figures hanging from the bridge.
7. Shipwrecks on the Shores of Long Island
Long Islander’s love their beaches, but there’s no question about the level of respect one has to have for these waters. Whether you’re on the island’s Atlantic Ocean side or the quieter side along the Long Island Sound, there are shipwrecks to be found. You can get up close and personal with the creepy wrecks in their watery graves with some diving skill and equipment or just stroll along the beaches and listen and feel. Just like the patches of thin white fog that stroll along Sweet Hollow Road, these beaches have a tell all their own. While you’re swimming in the waters or walking along the sandy beaches, you may feel a sudden spot of cold that wasn’t there before and has since disappeared. Locals feel these cold spots even on the hottest of summer days. If you’re “lucky” you may even come across pieces of a sunken ship washed up on the shore, especially after a heavy storm.
There are over 300 chartered wrecks along this “Wreck Valley” due to its rocky shores and unpredictable storms.
Here a just a few of the sunken maidens…
- The steamboat Lexington sunk in the Long Island Sound on January 14, 1840 taking 111 people to their watery grave. It sits between 80-150 feet below the water’s surface.
- The USS San Diego is the most famous New England dive site. It went under on July 19, 1918 taking 6 (known) men to their death 115 feet below the ocean’s surface. To date it has also taken the life of 6 divers.
- The USS Turner sits on the ocean’s bottom just off Sandy Hook Point. Sitting 55 feet below the surface, this shipwreck took 37 souls.
- In January 1858 the John Milton crashed on the rocks of what is now known as Ditch Plains, just west of Montauk Point. Over 30 of the crew’s frozen bodies washed ashore. It was a tragic end to a three year voyage.
8. Lake Ronkonkoma
Growing up on Long Island you were more apt to swim in the ocean after watching “Jaws” then tempting your fate in Lake Ronkonkoma’s waters. People and even cars have been known to disappear in this “bottomless” lake.
“The Lady of the Lake” is a tale that locals believe to be hard and true. From about the mid 1800’s to mid 1970 there were 160 drownings in the lake according to a local historian. Almost all of them were male (only three were women) and averaging more than one per year. In addition, a lifeguard from the lake reported 30 drownings in the 34 years he patrolled the beach starting in the 1960’s—all of them male.
Why are these deaths almost exclusively male you ask… The Lady of the Lake, a young Setauket Indian princess from the 1600’s, stabbed herself in the heart in the middle of the lake out of despair from her lost love. Every year she comes back to her watery grave to claim him.
9. Coindre Hall
This retired Gold Coast mansion sits hauntingly at 101 Browns Road in Huntington, NY. It was once home to a pharmaceutical magnate, George McKesson Brown, who lost his home and fortune in the stock market crash of 1929. The home sits at the top of a forested hill overlooking the harbor on several acres. This French Renaissance style home has been maintained and used for years, but the boathouse sits abandoned at the edge of the harbor dock. During its lifetime this property has been home to bootleggers who used the underground tunnels to smuggle illegal alcohol during prohibition; the Brothers of Sacred Heart who made it a boarding school and summer retreat; the Eagle Hill School for children with disabilities; and the current use as a multipurpose venue specializing in town activities and weddings.
Although there are no documented murders or horror stories including Coindre Hall, many visitors have claimed seeing figures dressed in 1930’s vintage clothing moving about the building. Many believe these spirits have returned to enjoy special times and relive the parties they attended here. These figures have been seen chuckling and enjoying the entertainment. No one knows for sure who these entities are but they may be George and Pearl McKesson.
There were also several reports of a 1930 male gangster’s spirit on the property. He is seen walking around the home and grounds enjoying himself, especially during a social event.
10. Fire Island Lighthouse
This frequently visited lighthouse has a secret—a spirit is roaming its austere rooms. Before this lighthouse became a popular beacon for Fire Island life, it sat by itself isolated on the sand.
The caretaker’s daughter became gravely ill and tragically passed away after waiting days for a doctor to arrive. The caretaker was so distraught that he hung himself. His lonely spirit clings to the lighthouse, perhaps because he can’t let go of his daughter.