Haunted Stockade Tours

First Pres Cemetery Stones (1).jpg

The 1st Presbyterian Cemetery, resting place for ghosts of the Stockade.

By Wendy Voelker

We're just about a week away from Halloween. It's that time of year when everyone seems to be looking for a way to scare themselves silly (as if political campaigns aren't enough).

These ghost tours of the Schenectady Stockade may not leave you quaking in your boots, but they'll certainly entertain you, freak you out a bit, and get you in the spirit of the season.

Since 2004, every Friday in October the Schenectady Heritage Area has been offering Ghost Tours of Schenectady's Stockade. It's the Capital Region's own little version of Salem. I was lucky enough to be on the very first tour they offered, and it's been great to watch their popularity grow over the past seven years. This Friday and next Friday (October 21 & 28) are the last two days to get in on these spook-tacular tours of one of the oldest communities in our region (some of the houses there date back to the late 17th century, only a few decades beyond Schenectady's founding in 1661).

The Stockade Ghost Tours are led by cloaked guides carrying lanterns through the narrow and darkened streets, recounting myths and legends from the bloody Stockade Massacre of 1690, as well as some other lesser-known stories. There's quite a bit of fascinating history to some of these ghost tales -- many were recorded in newspapers of the day, and some are local legends that have been handed down over the centuries.

You'll hear the tale of Alice Van der Veer -- the ghost that purportedly haunts Union College's Jackson's Garden. The story goes like this: Alice was a beautiful young woman, who lived in the Stockade area with her strict father. She was sought after by many potential suitors, but all were angrily rebuffed by her father. But, love always finds a way, and in the summer of 1672, Alice and one of the young men began meeting in secret late at night. Alice's father discovered the dalliance, and... well, I don't want to give away the whole story, but let's just say it involves a gun, an angry colonial mob, and a tragic ending for Alice, her beau, AND her father.

The Van Dyck is another stop on the tour. This allegedly haunted site is reportedly home to two ghosts. Legend has it that the restaurant/brewery is the former location of a brothel, and one of the ladies who haunt the place met an unfortunate demise in the stairwell. There was a recent sighting of the ghost (about three years ago) by a Union College student who was employed there.

The first tour begins at 7 pm and others are scheduled as needed until all reservations are filled. Reservations are required. The tours begin at Clinton's Ditch and cost $10 (that covers the tour and a beverage.

Call 518-346-8376 (Clinton's Ditch) to make your reservations. Children are welcome, but those 10 and older will benefit the most. Tours last approximately 40 minutes.

Find It

Clinton's Ditch
112 South College Street
Schenectady, NY 12305

Tours every Friday in October starting at 7pm.
Reservations required 518-346-8376 (Clinton's Ditch)
Tours Start at Clinton's Ditch

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