by Emily Marcason-Tolmie
In Plattsburgh ghost tours are not reserved for October.
Matthew Boire, tour director of The Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company, calls it “haunted history.” He has always been interested in history and the paranormal. “While traveling on family vacations growing up, then later as an adult, I always remember seeing these amazing walking tours everywhere we went,” he said. “Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, St. Augustine, Florida, places with an amazing past, where visitors could be out on a beautiful evening, enjoying the sights and sounds of the community, plus a little spooky fun. I said to myself, ‘Why can’t we do this in Plattsburgh?’”
Tours started seven years ago as a special event in October. It was so well received Boire and his business partner, Wendy Cribb, decided to add a summer event the following year so “visitors and guests could get out on those beautiful summer evenings right here in Plattsburgh, and experience the amazing things our area has to offer. It really has just grown in popularity since then,” Boire said. This summer tours are every Friday and Saturday evenings departing at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. with four different tours to choose from. “For the history lover, our tours encompass three National Historic Districts, three different cemeteries, a National Historic Landmark dating from the War of 1812 (Plattsburgh was the site of the largest naval battle of the War), the grounds of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, and many other fascinating (and haunting) locales,” he said.
The summer tours are generally led by Boire, an 8th generation North Country native, except in October when other tour guides join the team to help with larger groups. Boire’s family tree is so deeply engrained in the North Country that perhaps his own family members might appear on a tour. “My 5th Great-Grandfather fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh back in 1814, and going back a bit farther: my 10th Great-Grandmother, 13 generations back, was a woman named Susannah North Martin, hung as a witch on July 19th, 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts,” he said.
According to Boire, guests are in for a treat and not a trick on his tours. For starters, Boire takes great pride in the authenticity of the tours. Guides wear accurate recreations of the clothing worn by people in the 19th Century. “This provides a unique and interesting focal point for guests, but more importantly it serves to make that connection between the past and the present and provides a sense of drama,” he said. The guides also lead the way using lanterns adding that their flickering glow and their smell only adds to the ambiance of the tour. “Guests are led on a guided journey through the history, mystery, and horror of Plattsburgh’s eerie past…a lantern-lit stroll among the darkened streets, and silent graveyards, where we reveal chilling stories of the macabre and spine-tingling tales of the paranormal,” he said. While Boire can’t guarantee visitors will have a paranormal encounter, he does always encourage enthusiasts to bring along their ghost hunting equipment and for attendees to take as many photos as they’d like. “You never know when or how something may make its presence known. Not all ghosts run around in a white sheet with holes cut out for eyes. Sometimes, their presence seems to be very subtle, an odd smell, a change in temperature, an object strangely out of place,” he said.
When asked about the hauntings people might experience on the tour Boire said the stories reflect the vast history of Plattsburgh, including a 19th Century “mad doctor” or as Boire said, “A real life Victor Frankenstein that once practiced in Plattsburgh.” He mentions the “lady in white” who wanders the Post Cemetery. “One of the areas we visit, the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, was actually named as one of the top ten “Haunted Bases, Boats, and Battlefields” in America by Military Times,” he said. Plattsburgh has local connections to the sinking of the Titanic, Jack the Ripper, and many other chilling ghost stories. “We like to think of our guided walking tours as a fun and unique way to experience the Lake City’s darker side,” he said.
The Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company is a combination of historic authenticity and passion, which is evident in the time and effort that is put into creating each tour. “Aside from the authenticity of our tours and events, one thing that really sets us apart from the rest is the depth of the research that goes into them,” Boire said. “All of our events are entirely fact-based and took about 6 months per tour to develop. If you multiply that by 4 tours (with another currently in the works) you can see just how much effort and pride we put into our guest’s experience, and I think that really shows.”
Boire hopes guests appreciate all the effort that goes into each tour. “We try to immerse the guests into the tales we tell, bringing them to the exact locations where these stories happened, and crafting them in such a way that people feel a connection, they feel like they’ve been transported to another time, or into the footsteps of the people in the story,” Boire said. “There’s very few places in the country that have the depth of history that the Champlain Valley has and we try to harness that power of place. The sense that we’re not alone, there’s this presence of the past, and what it leaves behind, around us all the time.”
Last year The Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company was added to the “Haunted History Trail of New York,” a collection of over 65 creepy, spooky, and downright haunted locations, spanning over 400 miles across New York. For more information about The Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company, including group and private tours, please visit its website: http://www.facebook.com/GhostandTourCo.
Photos courtesy of The Greater Adirondack Ghost & Tour Company.