Long Island, an island that has the rolling countryside, beachfront views, hustling and bustling of city-life, and a relaxed suburban lifestyle, but what was it before all of that?
When you say island the first thing that comes to mind is a tropical place with coconuts, and crystal-clear waters, but Long Island is not that. It is an island that has it all, from hard winters to scalding summers, but before all of what it came to be today, Long Island was a full- fledged farmland with curious secrets.
Across Long Island, there have been many historical events that have led locals to believe that specific places are haunted. Not just because the structures are slightly dated, but because of events that are said to have happened there.
Murders, burials, electroshock therapy, and secret experiments have all been said to have taken place here, on Long Island. Eerie Places like the Amityville Horror House, Kings Park Psychiatric Center, Fire Island Lighthouse and Lake Ronkonkoma are just a few of the locations that have plagued our island and given it a reputation as a haunted island.
The Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858, standing at 168 above sea level from the top of this lighthouse, you can see to about 20 miles out into the abyss of the ocean. At first the lighthouse was painted a yellowish color, but then in 1891 changed to its present day look, black and white bands alternating. It was used first for navigating the waters, and emitted a white flash of light every minute to ensure sailors were able to navigate their journey. In 1973, the lighthouse was decommissioned as a navigation site, and instead became a protected national tourist site. Today, sailors use a small light atop the Robert Moses State Park Water Tower. During the years 1974-1980, citizens banned together to save the lighthouse, as there was no use for it by navigators any longer. In 1982, the Fire Island Preservation Society was formed, and continues today to protect the lighthouse, allow visitors to explore the land, and educate the public.
Before the date of completion of the lighthouse that we know of today, (1858), there was a first lighthouse that was slightly smaller standing at 74 feet and was finished in 1826. Later on, in 1856, congress granted $40,000 to add an extension to the lighthouse, making it its present height at 168 feet. During the time that construction was taking place, the keeper,Nathaniel Smith, was living there with his family, his wife and daughter. And so the story goes, while construction was halted for the winter, the keeper and his family lived in what would be considered a shack, right outside on the dunes. If you’ve ever spent a winter on Long Island, you know that the temperature drops to the point that if you walk outside with wet hair, icicles will form, especially with the wind chill. With that being said, Smith and his family did their best to make due with what little they had, but even that didn’t keep their daughter from falling ill. As time went on, she became sicker and sicker until they had to call the doctor. Since there were no bridges, and the only way to cross to the mainland, was by boat, it took to doctor 3 days to reach the family, and by then it was too late. She had perished. After this had happened, there is some confusion as to what exactly happened. Some say the mother went to Sayville to bury her daughter, and never came back which drove Smith mad with loneliness and grief and was found weeks later when sailors noticed that the light was out. Others say, that Smith died right there in the keepers quarters, years later. Whether or not the ending to this story is true, it is said that as you climb the 182 steps to the top, to this day you can still hear footsteps and a man moaning over his lost daughter. On some rare occasions you can even see the keepers apparition waiting for the doctor to save his little girl.
Next, onto the Amityville Horror House of Long Island. Standing at its present address of 108 Ocean Avenue, neighbors don’t dare go near, as its is still considered haunted by most. The tragic story rings a bell in every Long Islanders head, as this was the scary bedtime story told to them from the time they were young. November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. (23), brutally murdered six of his family members, including his parents and 4 siblings. Exactly 13 months after the mass murder, the Lutz family bought the house at $80,000. 28 days later they moved out. Their reasoning, the house was filled with paranormal activity, making it impossible for them to live there. “Other paranormal activity: A nearby garage door opening and closing; an invisible spirit knocking a knife down in the kitchen; a pig-like creature with red eyes staring down at George Lutz and his son Daniel from a window; George waking up to wife Kathy levitating off their bed; sons Daniel and Christopher also levitating together in their beds.” (taken from Biography.com) The series of events that have taken place at this house has been the truth behind many horror movies and novels, the latest one being Amityville: The Awakening.
One of the oldest legends found on Long Island is that of Lake Ronkonkoma. There is said to have been a beautiful Native American princess who never found love, because her father, the chief forbade her from marrying. She was forbid to marry her lover, she took her own life in the Lake bv stabbing herself in the heard on a boat. Because of this suicide, she is said to return back each year to haunt the Lake of Ronkonkoma. She was said to have been heard making whirlpools, moaning noises, waves and claiming the life of a young man in hopes of finding eternal love. The drownings since the year 2000 have decreased, though the statistics show that the majority of the deaths have been male. This is only one of the mysterious myths surrounding the Lake Ronkonkoma.
Katie’s Bar, a location that is found right here in the heart of Smithtown. Some background of Katie’s is that in the late 1800s, the building served as a hospital, and later on in 1909 burned down. It is unknown if there were any deaths, but if there were, are their spirits still there? The Long Island Paranormal Investigators, in 2008 went to Katie’s to further the proof stacked against the paranormal activity. It has been reported seeing figures in 20th century clothing walking in/out, glasses flying off shelves and hearing breathing and footsteps throughout the bar. I don’t know if you would want to stop in for a drink here, but if you do, you might feeling something breathing down your neck.
Washington Square Park, located in Greenwich Village on West 4th Street, it is said that before the area was established as a park, it was a burial ground for the Indian Lenape Tribe. Years later, during medieval times where using gallows for the hanging of criminals was encouraged, the Washington Square Park was one of the executing spots. After the Revolutionary War, there was an outbreak of the yellow fever epidemic which killed thousands. With the resulting outbreak resulting in so many deaths, there needed to be a mass burial ground housing over 20,000 bodies. Because of this parks brutal past, it’s understandable that there would be paranormal activity. “The park is also famous for its particular tree which is known as ‘Hangman’s Elm’. It is located in the Northwest corner of the park. Legend has it that a woman named Rose Butler was hanged from this tree for committing a treacherous act where she burned down a house she worked in. Some people have reported that they have seen a shadow swinging from the tree,” from the Gothic NYC website. Combined with the gruesome past, and present experiences, what lies beneath the ground here, creates a haunted park.
Last but not least, possibly the most involved conspiracy to plague Long Island, the Montauk Project. A project that many conspiracy theorists have flagged as a government issued project experimenting in mind control, time travel and psychotronics experiments on young boys. This “project” has many twists and turns the deeper you get to the said truth. Conducted at Camp Hero in Montauk, the ultimate goal being to develop psychological warfare techniques and exotic research including time travel. The Montauk Project has been assimilated with the Philadelphia Experiment, many believe it is a spin of of that conspiracy. For those that don’t know, “So goes the story of the Philadelphia Experiment, perhaps the most famous and widely retold example of secret government experiments with teleportation and time travel” Dave Roos, Howstuffworks.
Stories of the Montauk Project have been speculating since the 1980s when Preston Nichols, who has claimed to been experimented on in the Montauk Project and have repressed memories of everything, wrote a book series exposing the project. Within his book, he touched upon the topics “ including United States government/military experiments in fields such as time travel, teleportation, mind control, contact with alien life and staging faked Apollo Moon landings, framed as developments which followed a successful 1943 Philadelphia Experiment. These culminate in “a hole ripped in space-time” in 1983.” It is said the the Netflix Stranger Things is based upon this “project”. The list goes on while talking about this conspiracy, but now it is up to you to determine whether fact or fiction.
Long Island, a beautiful island that is encapsulated by death, secrets, and things that are better left untouched. Who knew that this place we call home is founded upon death?