There are no shortage of ghost stories across the north country, and city resident Mary T. Lajoie says Ogdensburg has more than its fair share.
For the past six years Ms. Lajoie, 63, has been gathering crowds of people in front of the Frederic Remington Art Museum and taking them on a multi-block walking tour of city streets, stopping along the way to point out historic sites of rumored odd, disturbing and creepy occurrences.
Dubbed the Shadows of Ogdensburg Ghost Tours, Ms. Lajoie’s first paranormal promenade will be held each Friday and Saturday through Halloween, with the starting point and time remaining the same. The cost for the 90 minute tour is $10 for adults and $6 for children under 16, although Ms. Lajoie recommends leaving young, impressionable youngsters at home.
“They can get really scared if they hear a story that they don’t like, and start crying,” Ms. Lajoie said. “The adults come to get scared. It’s fun. But with children it can be a totally different thing. It can be really, really scary.”
Ms. Lajoie’s haunted tour of Ogdensburg encompasses between 15 and 18 city blocks, depending on the route she takes. She said there are two different tour routes, both departing from the Remington Art Museum and ending at the same location.
The event begins at the Remington museum because it is one of the most noted landmarks in the city, and a building rumored by some to be visited by the spectre of Elena “Ameriga” Vespucci, a descendent of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, according to Ms. Lajoie. The museum, once the family mansion of financier and land baron George Parish, was Ms. Vespucci’s home for 18 years, where she lived with Mr. Parish during the 1800s.
Ms. Lajoie said she has personal experience involving the apparitions rumored to haunt the old mansion, having in the past worked there as a museum aide. She recalls a number of strange incidents, including unexplained slamming doors, voices and the sound of loose change or keys being rattled.
“I was working there once on a very stormy and windy Saturday,” Ms. Lajoie said. “You could hear men talking, and the sound of change, like it was jingling in somebody’s pocket.”
When she went to check the room where the sounds were emanating from, no one was there, she said.
Other locations included on the ghostly city tour include the old Fort La Presentation site, a number of historic homes and businesses, the parking lot next to Phillip’s Diner on Ford Street, Lighthouse Point and a murderous plot of land along the Oswegatchie River.
Surprisingly, Ms. Lajoie said one of her favorite ghost stories from the Fort La Presentation area does not date back to the historic site’s heyday in the 1700s, but instead finds its origins in the early 1900s, when the former French encampment was used as the city dump.
“It has to do with a man who lived there when it was the city dump site in the early 1900s. The whole story is really weird and it turns out to be a ghost story that is kind of fun and creepy at the same time,” she said.
Ms. Lajoie, who has also worked as a paranormal investigator, said people taking her ghostly walk can expect stories and historically accurate information from each of the sites visited. She said cameras and recording devices are encouraged, as are good walking shoes.
“The tour is about 90 minutes but lots of times people want to stop and ask questions, or see if they can get a picture of something at the spot,” Ms. Lajoie said. “Sometimes it might go as long as two hours.”
For more information on the Shadow of Ogdensburg Ghost Tours call 315-393-4041.