Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ghosts from the Whaling Days

Having investigated over sixty presumably haunted locales over the past several years, it's nice every once in awhile to go back and revisit some of these wonderful ghost stories. The very first place I had written about appeared in one of my earlier books on Huntington's history, and later, I re-investigated it for my book Ghosts of Long Island; Stories of the Paranormal. It was the story of three ghosts who haunted an old inn in Cold Spring Harbor, and it remains a fascinating tale filled with history, ghosts and intrigue.

Way back when in the 1980's and early 1990's, it was known as the Old Whaler, and it had been converted into a pub-style restaurant. It was a fun place to visit, and I recall being there one night for dinner when I ran into Davey Johnson, manager of the '86 Mets. I was a huge Mets fan back then, so it was a thrilling experience to meet him and get his autograph. During other visits to the Old Whaler, I overheard conversations about ghosts. Could it actually be haunted? Who would have thought that years later I would be there ghost hunting with a paranormal investigator!

During my first interview at the Old Whaler, I was primarily interested in the building's history, since the Ghost of Long Island books weren't even a thought in my mind yet. Still, I couldn't help but ask about the rumors I had heard about the ghosts. Once I was told the stories, I was hooked! I decided to write about its history and the ghosts and it turned out to be a huge success; something I would pursue with other places years later. So it was the Old Whaler that started this whole ghostly quest of mine.

Located across from the picturesque seashore along Route 25A, the Old Whaler has changed hands many times, and I've had the opportunity to interview the various owners throughout the years. Currently, the upscale restaurant is known as Harbor Mist, and is owned by a delightfully friendly couple, Michelle and Barman. Although the names and owners have changed, the ghosts have most certainly remained.

It all began back in the mid-1800's. Cold Spring Harbor was a bustling whaling port, and a man by the name of George Van Ausdall purchased a tavern and inn from Oliver Jones for $2100. Shortly thereafter the name was changed to the Van Ausdall Hotel, and whalers from around the world would visit the inn when they were in port. Throughout its history, many have claimed the hotel was also used as a brothel. Several women from the town would work there because their husbands were away at sea for long periods of time and they were lonely, and they needed money.

On one occasion, a tired whaler came back from his long voyage a little earlier than expected, and decided to have a drink at the tavern before going home. Well, to his surprise, he found out his wife was working at the inn! Before anyone could stop him, the whaler ran upstairs and killed both the wife and the seaman she was with. The seaman's name was Van Whether, and he became the first ghost to haunt the place. The wife is believed to possibly be the second.

A strange story surrounds the third ghost. Through my research, I uncovered a newspaper article which spoke of a terrible accident that took place in the building in 1960. The article indicated that "a woman slipped in the ladies room and cut her throat on the ragged edge of a soap dish". That sounds very odd indeed. Perhaps it was a suicide, but in any case, the woman died in the bathroom before the ambulance arrived. This woman's presence, as well as the ghosts of the two who were killed there, have been strongly felt by many psychics over the years.

All sorts of phenomena has been reported. Doors would open and close, lights would turn on and off, faucets would run on their own, and a stereo would play music when no one had turned it on. This type of phenomena, on occasion, still occurs today.

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go back to Harbor Mist with clairaudient medium and paranormal investigator Joe Giaquinto, and well known Long Island medium Richard Schoeller. This was Richard's first time at the "inn" and we were interested in what he'd pick up. Without any prior knowledge about the resident ghosts, Richard spoke about the types of ghosts who haunt the place, as well as the possible locations of where certain events took place, including the ladies bathroom!

Twenty years have gone by since I did my first interview there when it was the Old Whaler. Although much has changed over the years, one thing is for certain. Harbor Mist remains a hot spot for not only good food, but for the spirits who have haunted it since Cold Spring Harbor's infamous whaling days.

For more information on this story and others, visit www.ghostsoflongisland.com.