Perhaps the ultimate testimonial for making a life in New York's northern suburbs manifests in remaining here into the next one. We're sure you can understand why we're not too keen on discussing haunted houses, but as longtime locals we can't help but love a good ghost story about our area. After all, it's really, really old, and our wealth of history and centuries-old building stock provides plentiful fodder to fuel reports of paranormal activity. Here are some of our favorite spectral anecdotes in the Hudson Valley from Westchester northward (that don't involve any active listings).
Could the writer behind the greatest ghost story of all time be one himself? The real "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was Washington Irving, the writer and Westchester resident behind the classic tale. Irving was a consummate celebrity for his time, and both he and the characters he created, from Ichabod Crane to Rip Van Winkle, were renown on both sides of the pond. He made his home in what ultimately became his eponymous neighborhood, Irvington, constructing an eclectic manse he carefully curated over a period of several years to reflect his affinity for Scottish Gothic, Spanish and Dutch Colonial influences. Many believe he never left his beloved abode by the Hudson River, where he's said to remain a playful spirit with a penchant for pinching female visitors! A 2010, a 14-year-old girl snapped a photograph purported to show the writer's apparition through a window with quill in hand, hard at work wordsmithing his next classic. (If you want the house without the haunting, perhaps this ghost-free modern replica in Somers might interest you).
And you thought you'd heard every Metro North nightmare. In April of 1865, Abraham Lincoln's funeral train followed today's Hudson Line en route to the President's final resting place in Springfield, Illinois—and some say it still does. Folklore holds that, when the veil fades between this realm and another, an ancient spectral steam train reappears in a strange blue light to retrace its solemn journey, draped in black bunting with a skeletal crew and Lincoln's coffin on a car trailing behind. If a local on this track of existence encroaches on its right-of-way, the phantom train simply passes through, silencing it as they cross. Th next morning, all clocks on the division are left six minutes behind, because the ghost train stopped as it passed. We speculate the story originated around a pot-bellied stove in the old Harmon rail yards from track workers with too much time on their hands, but we find it awfully coincidental Metro North trains aren't officially classified until they're six minutes behind...
Beacon's Bank Square Coffee House draws a boisterous crowd of latte-sipping locals and guitar-strumming scenesters well into the evening, but it seems at least one regular is a little less lively. After a series of odd after-hours occurrences, the cafe's owners, suspecting vandals, installed a security camera that revealed objects being shuffled by invisible forces. Besides stealthier poltergeists, baristas on closing shifts have also encountered the shadowy presence of a man they mistook as a straggling customer, only to realize all doors were locked and they were the only (living) person in the building. Maybe steamed ectoplasm is the secret to those amazing dirty chais?