It had been almost five years to the day since I had last driven on Mount Misery Road. Then, in November of 2015, I was traveling with a large pack of paranormal enthusiasts, collectively known as the Brooklyn Paranormal Society. We had made the trek from New York City in a caravan consisting of three cars.
We went of course, in search of ghosts, phantoms and other nefarious creatures that legend claimed, haunted this lonesome mount near Oyster Bay, Long Island. We descended upon the forest, a dozen strong, armed with flashlights, EVPs, spirit boxes and all the latest in ghost hunting technology. We even dragged along a professional hypnotist.
Our fearless leader, Ant Long, had a vision. For the sake of (pseudo) science, Long was willing to submit himself to hypnotism, in the hopes of attaining an altered state of consciousness that would allow him to commune with the spirit world.
A worthy goal, no doubt. What transpired in fact was what one would expect to happen under the circumstances.
The group hypnotism rendered some faint giggles but not too much consciousness raising. Someone opened a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and shots of Fireball were passed around.
The doomed affair descended into revelry, jokes and cheap jump scares.
Still, as we made the trek through the dark forest, in search of the remains of the asylum that was allegedly burned down by an inmate known as Mary, we could sense there was something unsettling in the air.
Were we under surveillance?
Someone heard “something” moving in the woods.
Conversely, there was an unsettling stillness in the air. You could hear a pin drop. Or was that a crypt door opening?
No one wanted to venture too far away from the group. We’d all seen too many horror films. We knew how those things invariably ended.
To put it mildly, Mount Misery Road is creepy as hell. And being as such, the place is worthy of a return visit. Which is exactly why it came up in discussions last week.
Sophie and I were planning to visit her family in Colorado for Thanksgiving but COVID 19 put the kibosh on those plans. Which left us with some time on our hands, and nowhere to go.
A creepy local is number one on the agenda. The previous month we’d filmed at Montauk Point with the production crew from Radio.com. Amityville was old hat. The security at Brookhaven Laboratory was too tight to broach. But Mt. Misery Road? Now that is an often overlooked gem in the dustbin of the paranormal.
It was time for our return.
There was little to discuss. We booked the motel. We rented the car. We were off in a puff of smoke.
After living my whole life, off and on, in New York City, and the past ten years in Brooklyn, which is on Long Island proper, I’ve come to appreciate the paranormal offerings Long Island has to offer. The fact of the matter is, Long Island is a paranormal hot spot. Often overshadowed by the bazaar legends surrounding Montauk Point, there are many spooky locals on this island. Mt. Misery Road is a case in point.
Mount Misery is located inside of West Hills County Park, which is part of Huntington township. At 400 feet, Mount Misery is the tallest peak in all of Long Island. It has a long and storied past. Walt Whitman was born in the area. Walt Whitman Trail runs through the park and is named after the famous poet, who wandered the trail in search of inspiration.
In 1653, the Matinecock Indian tribe sold the parcel of land which included Mount Misery, to three men from Oyster Bay, named Daniel Whitehead, Richard Holbrook and Robert Williams. Apparently, the Native Americans who had settled nearby believed that the area was cursed and overcome by negative forces. For the most part, the Indians avoided the area, who often found dead or mutilated animals there.
Geographically, perhaps due to its sloping hills, the area was difficult to cultivate. Apparently, this is how “Mount Misery” got its name. As a result, most people set up shop along the shoreline, creating towns like Cold Spring Harbor, Oyster Bay and Huntington. This left the area around Mount Misery relatively sparse, a crossroads in fact, between farming communities and the sea.
The Indians advised the settlers to stay away, warning of evil spirits, supernatural creatures and strange lights seen in the sky.
As the years and centuries rolled by, more and more strange tales and general weirdness were attributed to the area. Perhaps the Indians were right. They often are. Maybe there was a malignant force that possessed the land? One of the earliest, and most popular tales regards a hospital built in the 1700s.
The hospital was used as an asylum to house the mentally insane. Suffice to say, psychiatry was not at its apex in the 1700s. At best, it was a way to keep the crazies away from the locals. The farther away, the better. At worst, these “hospitals” were places of abuse and neglect. The asylum in question fell into the latter category. Screaming and moaning could be heard emanating from the hospital confines.
One of the abused female patients, suffering from mistreatment and depression, set fire to her room, subsequently burning down the entire hospital, with the patient dying in the process. The “Lady in White,” a ghostly visage seen by many wandering Mount Misery Road in a white dress and wild hair, is attributed to this patient.
Ten years after the hospital burned down, a new one was built on the same location, only to burn down again just a few months later. In the 1900s, the government built a new hospital to house injured soldiers from World War II. This hospital closed at the end of the war.
According to some researchers, the government re-opened the hospital in 1947 to run secret drug tests on people and conduct brainwashing experiments. Information on the subject is scant, but one former patient claimed that after he left the hospital and recovered, he remembered seeing a sign that read “Area 5.”
The hospital legends were merely the tip of the iceberg. There was more craziness lurking in this bedroom community outside of New York City. We were about to find out how weird things could get in the ‘burbs.