GHOST LIGHTS OF MAPLE LANE
In times gone by, before
1880, there was an old peddler who had a wagon and who sold his wares in and
around the hamlet of Monterey in the Town of Orange in Schuyler County. There
were lanterns attached to the well-equipped wagon so he could vend his products
after dark. His route encompassed various remote dirt roads around the
countryside including Maple Lane which was a narrow, steep path of a road that
rambled up a local hillside.
Along Maple Lane there were several farms that were quite distant from each other and to which the old peddler traveled to sell his goods. It was in this remote area this elderly man was, supposedly, murdered and his goods stolen. His wagon and his team of horses were never found and it was supposed his body had been buried somewhere in the nearby woods off Maple Lane.
According to the local legend that soon arose after his disappearance, lights were seen on that particular hillside usually in the very late evening. These lights rocked to and fro as if they were still attached to the peddler’s wagon as it wound its way up the difficult terrain of that hillside.
The lights would make their appearance for a short while before disappearing behind some trees along the road and would then reappear rising ever higher on the hill. After reaching a point nearly three-fourths of the way up Maple Lane, the lights would disappear completely. Locals, some of whom were very superstitious, considered this last disappearance as an omen indicating the peddler had reached his burial place.
Through the years these lights would randomly reappear only to disappear again, and the Maple Lane area was thought to be haunted.
In the 1940s, long after the peddler’s murder, a Mr. Rutledge owned a modest farm on the upper part of Maple Lane where he had a large apple orchard. He was considered to be an upright and honest man, not given to lying. Although his neighbors had warned him not to travel down Maple Lane after dark for fear he would come face to face with the ghost of the old peddler, Mr. Rutledge scoffed at this idea. One evening, it seems, he had to do business in Monterey, probably taking some apples to the local store, and, so, hitched up his team of horses for the 2 mile trek. Nearly halfway down Maple Lane he quickly halted his team after spotting 2 lights in the dark far ahead of him. They were swaying to and fro as if on a wagon struggling to make its way up the steep path that was Maple Lane. As they approached nearer to him, almost frantically he got his team turned around and headed directly back to his farm.
It is a widely known fact that Mr. Rutledge talked about his encounter with the ghost lights although he had, in the past, been a man who did not believe in ghosts. Whatever it was he saw that night, he could not rationally explain it to himself. One thing is certain; Mr. Rutledge would never again travel down Maple Lane after dark.
This tale of the murdered peddler was still being told around the hamlet of Monterey as late as the 1970s. Maple Lane is now surrounded by State owned land and borders land owned by the Camp Monterey Correctional Facility. It cannot be approached at its southern end but one can travel the Pine Creek Road from Monterey to its intersection with the Sugar Hill Road. A right hand turn at this intersection will take the driver up a steep hill and to where Maple Lane crosses the Sugar Hill Road. Another right hand turn puts the driver on the northern end of haunted Maple Lane. Drive slowly down it in the very late evening if you dare.
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