Exploring The Happy Valley Ghost Town Near Syracuse ~ The Haunts And Legends Of New York
Steeped in history and legends, New York is filled with stories of the forgotten, eerie and the weird that influence us everyday. Hidden away just to the north of Syracuse lies one of New York's most renowned ghost towns, Happy Valley, a community that has since fallen into legend.
Lite 98.7's Eric Meier has teamed up with Folklorist P.W. Creighton to explore the haunts and legends of New York. Through their travels into the dark and often overlooked spaces they will bring these historic sites back to life and make some unexpected discoveries along the way.
In this episode Phil guides the explorers to the town of Williamstown between Syracuse and Camden to uncover a hidden history of the legendary ghost town of Happy Valley, now known only as the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area. Originally founded as the town of Fraser in 1850 as a farming community, with many homes, a school and a church, the main street of the town was known as Happy Valley Road and remains as one of the few traces left today after the area was abandoned during the Great Depression.
The hamlet Happy Valley was established in 1850 as a farming community, the first settlers were hop growers from the Mohawk Valley before later turning to dairy farming in the late 19th century. The school was opened in 1867 on the west side of Happy Valley Road in the town of Albion. Happy Valley received its Post Office in 1892 but only lasted until 1902 when it was closed because of the declining population in Happy Valley. The stock market crash of 1929 together with several bad seasons of crops led to many foreclosures on property in Happy Valley. This led to many families moving away to search for better jobs. In 1939 the State Department Of Environmental Conservation purchased large tracts of land and turned it into the Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area.
While much of the history of Happy Valley is rather well known in local circles the ghost town has garnered much attention over the years with a few interesting urban legends cited on why the township of Fraser and the Hamlet of Happy Valley outside of Williamstown were abandoned.
The most prominent legend states that one of the men in Happy Valley angered a Witch that lived on the fringe of the community. In a fit of anger the Witch cursed the town with a plague the led to the deaths of inhabitants and crops.
Another legend claims that a 'Black Fever' struck the town leading to many deaths in the community, contamination of the local water supply and forced the remaining members of the community to leave. Some variations of this legend contribute this "Black Fever" to a Witch that cursed the town.
The most prevalent legend claims that the township of Happy Valley is actually plagued by ghosts. The most notorious haunting legend is that of the Civil War soldier with a hook for an arm. While this sounds remarkably similar to the "Hook-Man" urban legend, there is some credence for this ghost. In the Happy Valley cemetery, currently maintained by the town of Albion, there are a number of Civil War soldiers buried including one that did have his arm amputated and replaced with a hook-arm.
Regardless of the legends, many residents in Williamstown and Albion still refuse to go into Happy Valley at night and often cite the hauntings as a reason not to venture into the old ghost town. Still, the younger generation whether intrigued by the legends or just seeking a spot away from town will often head into Happy Valley.
Watch the Complete Haunts and Legends Season 1 via this Youtube Playlist
Watch the complete first season of the Haunts and Legends of New York including our explorations of the Happy Valley near Syracuse, Lost Village of Delta near Rome, Utica's Secret Underground Waterways and the Hidden Vault at Bagg Commemorative Park in Utica.