Monday, October 31, 2016
The Stone Curse - Halloween Series 2016
The long story of the Erie Canal may have come close to never being told all on account of a phantom that plagued the survey crew. Surveyor and crew often witnessed the ghastly figure along their path and several times sightings occurred just prior to catastrophe.
One such instance occurred as the survey reached the outskirts of Rome in 1816. As the crew set up camp for the evening – on an oddly humid May evening – several members of the group reportedly witnessed a gaunt figure lurking along the edge of the trees. As the air hung dam and the sun began to set, the sightings aroused greater concern by flickers of lanterns and campfires. A few sturdy axe men volunteered to take vigilant watch during the night.
It seemed a calm settled into camp by this gesture, along with a hearty supper and a few doses of whiskey. As the night deepened and the air thickened even more into a wispy fog that descended upon the party. No one could have imagined what morning would bring…
A remarkably quiet night passed and at daybreak fires were stoked to brew strong coffee. It took several minutes for the camp to revive into the new day, but it became quickly apparent something was amiss. Three men were missing, and uneasiness overcame those that remained. The search did not last long however, as a laborer was discovered curled up behind a large oak tree…shaking, mumbling, and as white as a fresh snowfall. His hands trembled and when he was taken to the fire for warmth and coffee, his skin turned grey and blood trickled from his eyes. The rest of the crew watched as his lips turned purple and then to black, his skin darkened and his limbs clenched inward and stiffened. Everyone stood dumbstruck as they witnessed his body lurch slightly and the poor soul died.
This rattled even the meanest of crew and a silence fell upon the camp. A moment passed and the group realized two others were still missing, yet stricken by what they had witnessed and fearing for their own safety no man moved to search for them. When two of the crew began the process of burying the dead man, they noted how his skin seemed to have turned to stone.
Along with several other strange happenings, this terrifying instance during the survey of the canal was never put in official reports and the crew members refused to discuss it. The only references to these matters comes from a journal kept by one of them that was disclosed to an itinerant canal pastor in 1834. Upon growing fears and religious fever, the former crewman sought to repent sins and clear himself from what he felt was a curse laid upon them all by disrupting the landscape.