Sgt. Antonieta Rico
Installation PAO NCOIC
From a haunted diner to a haunted fraternity house, northern New York has plenty of the supernatural to offer Soldiers and their families this Halloween. The book “Haunted in Northern New York” by Cheri Revai guides thrill and chill seekers to local ghosts, haunted houses and haunted cemeteries.
One of the closest places to Fort Drum mentioned in the book is the Burrville Cider Mill. The cider mill is said to be haunted by two different ghosts: the ghost of Capt. John Burr, original owner of the cider mill, and the ghost of Homer Rebb, who owned the mill in the 1940s.
“I’ve seen them, heard them, smelled them and felt them,” said Cindy Steiner, part owner of the mill.
Stories about the two ghosts abound. They are credited with making lights flicker, moving objects around the cider mill gift shop and smoking cigars in the gift shop kitchen. Steiner said she believes the smoker is the ghost of Capt. Burr, who was said to have enjoyed cigars when he was alive.
The cider mill is still open for business. People can stop by and try to catch a glimpse of the ghosts while enjoying the cider and donuts sold in the gift shop. The Burrville Cider Mill is located just southeast of Watertown off Route 12 at 18176 County Route 156. It is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Further north of Fort Drum are the villages of Massena and Potsdam, both offering their own unique blend of ghost stories.
The Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity house in Potsdam has a long history of hauntings. The two ghosts seen most often at the house are the “White Lady” and the ghost of Otis.
The “White Lady” is rumored to be the daughter of a past owner of the house. Her family arranged her marriage and locked her up in her room to make sure she was at the wedding. The day before her wedding, she put on her wedding dress and committed suicide.
The ghost of Otis is a friendly ghost who opens up doors for the fraternity brothers and generally helps them out around the house. When alive, Otis was an indentured servant to the owners of the house. The brothers are very helpful and willing to give tours of the house along with giving the haunted history behind most of the rooms. The fraternity house is located on Sissonville Road, Potsdam.
Perhaps the most haunted place in Massena, mentioned in the book, is Spanky’s diner, allegedly the home of seven ghosts.
Spanky’s diner is located at 3 N. Main Street, at the corner of Main and Center streets. Alex Krywanczyk, owner of the diner, has had various psychics visit the diner and “confirm” the presence of ghosts. He said one of the psychics actually sat down and drew a sketch of the ghosts said to reside in the basement of the diner. Krywanczyk tells of various incidents in the diner corroborating the presence of ghosts.
He said items around the diner end up missing and then reappear, salt and pepper shakers are moved around and he once saw a cooking tray picked up and flung across a counter.
Just across the street, to the left of Spanky’s, on top of a small hill is the Pine Grove Cemetery, home of, among others, the ghost of “Dragon.” His grave site is located toward the back of the cemetery; a reddish marble stone slab at ground level inscribed with his name marks the location. The stories surrounding this particular haunting center on a sighting by a woman and her son who liked to take walks through the cemetery.
For more information on haunted places in northern New York, people may check out “More Haunted in Northern New York,” the second book on North Country hauntings by Cheri Revai. The first book provides more information on the haunted places mentioned in this article.