When looking at what makes a good ghost story, the elements that are looked for are a tragic back story, a creepy location, and sometimes a tantalizing mystery. A lot of well-known ghost stories end up becoming more myth than fact, and the true tragedy of their haunting takes a back burner to the spirit sightings themselves.

Sometimes it’s important to remember the stories of those who go on to be legends. Who they were, where they came from, and what was their history.

Mabel Smith Douglass was well-known for her accomplishments long before she became known as ‘The Lady in the Lake’. She was a respected educator, and was the Dean for the New Jersey College for Women at Rutgers, which was later known as Douglass College. Her family owned a home on Lake Placid known as Camp Onondaga, which she was in the process of closing up on September 21, 1933.

Her stay at the Lake was preceded by a series of tragic events. She had experienced some professional setbacks, her husband had unexpectedly passed away, and her son had committed suicide. These events had led her to be institutionalized for close to a year. Her stay at the lake was designed to distract her from these events.

On the day in question, Mabel Smith Douglass rowed out into the lake, and disappeared. Her canoe was located on the opposite side of the lake, but searchers found no sign of Mabel. She remained missing for the next 30 years.

On September 15, 1963, scuba divers were exploring around Pulpit Rock in the middle of the lake, and discovered what looked like a mannequin, deep under the surface. Diving deeper, they realized that it was not a mannequin, but a woman, with an anchor tied around their neck. Two of the divers went for help, while the third remained with the woman. Scared by her eerily preserved face, the remaining diver chose to guide the woman up to the surface, causing damage to the woman’s face.

Despite the damage, the woman in the lake was identified as Mabel Smith Douglass. She was the only woman to have gone missing in the lake, and the anchor around her neck seemed to indicate suicide, which matched with her mental state at the time of her disappearance.

Prior to the recovery of her body, people reported spotting a ghostly woman on the lake, and sightings continue today.