The Buffalo ghost trail

A day's trip to Buffalo's most haunted locations

The Spectrum

Every city has its secrets. Buffalo's stories are just well hidden.

Despite all the graffiti, caged storefronts and general urban decay, Buffalo was once a hub of travel and architectural style. With its great history, come many terrifying tales and legends.

These are the hauntings of Buffalo.

This past weekend I went on a trip around Buffalo in an effort to uncover the urban legends and ghost stories of the city.

My first stop was Iron Island Museum, located on a small side street off of Bailey Avenue in the middle of a tiny impoverished neighborhood. Built in the 1800s, the building was originally a church and then adopted a new front in the 1950s as a funeral home.

During 2000, when the Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy acquired the ownership, some members discovered 24 unlabeled, cremated human remains stashed away in the corner of the basement.

I walked up the steps and immediately felt the chills crawl up my spine.

Walking in, you could feel something strange about the place. I walked through the building on my own and did not find anything strange but leaving the museum was the most eventful part of my stop.

A tiny, warm shadow passed by my feet. I figured it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but I left the Iron Island Museum with a perplexing question stuck in my brain: why was the shadow warm?

As if to answer my question a tiny gray cat appeared in the window of a neighboring house. It's tail twitched violently as it watched me crawl back into my car.

Since the museum's creation, paranormal events have been reported. The museum's webpage has 18 audio recordings of ghosts. Several include children, but the strangest recordings are of Edgar Zernicke, a ghost of one of the cremated remains who had made his home in the attic of the museum. The other is of a ghost cat that is talkative compared to some of the house's spirits.

This gives me a mini-heart attack. I'd love to think that I could explain the shadow away with hard science, but the idea of the ghost cat nags at the back of my mind.

Next, I traveled down to the theater district and learned more about the resident ghost of Shea's Performing Arts Center. I couldn't stay long inside, but it was fitting Ghost The Musical was playing at the time.

Currently, Shea's is under renovation. Some have said the deceased Michael Shea appears to customers and volunteers asking, "Isn't it wonderful?"

When it comes to the paranormal, Michael Shea is decidedly a friendlier ghost than most. That sounds like my kind of ghost.

The USS The Sullivans was my third stop along my journey to uncover ghost stories of Buffalo. The ship is named after all five Sullivan brothers who enlisted in the U.S. Navy. They sailed out on the USS Juneau into the fray of battle. Unfortunately, the ship was lost and in the initial explosion four of the Sullivan brothers perished. The fifth brother was George Thomas Sullivan. Though wounded, he managed to escape the wreckage on a raft where he survived for five days more.

No one is sure of the exact cause of death, but George's life would expire on that raft. Now, he haunts the USS The Sullivans in search of his lost brothers.

The idea that some spirit would attach themselves to this empty metal shell of a ship is depressing. I always figured that when someone dies they find peace. Somehow the idea of George wandering the ship endlessly looking for his family doesn't seem to be a serene afterlife.

People have seen George walking the docks and looking for his brothers, according to the Paranormal Ghost Society. Others say the ship's doors often slam and lock by themselves, burning and disfigured bodies appear and disembodied voices pour out from the crevices of the ship.

While I didn't see him, there is no doubt in my mind that if he is here, he is suffering.

My last stop turned out to be the most interesting part of the trip.

I went on Beyond Ghost's candlelit tour of Buffalo Central Terminal. The Buffalo Central Terminal was where many soldiers left home on trains and most would return home in coffins. The terminal operated from 1929-79. This entire building was one large center of emotion and travel.

When I arrived they checked off my name, gave me a hard hat and put me into a room of about twenty people. Then the film started.

"They call me Zachary."

A chilling quote from a child's voice caught on tape.

His voice would haunt me as I traveled through the different parts of the terminal. When we stopped in a back room on the second floor, I noted the small, green ball on the floor. Amy Campbell, my tour guide, explained that many volunteers and ghost hunters would leave Zachary toys to play with.

The next location we went to was the apartment on the second floor of the station.

In the Fedele Apartment within the terminal, there have been recordings of communication with Tony Fedele, a previous owner of the Buffalo Central Terminal. The story goes that one of the first recordings of ghost voices is believed to be Fedele's voice on EVP, saying, "Bring back the ladies."

Though I did not witness any strange occurrences, there have been many investigations that get a lot of ghostly activity in this apartment, according to Campbell.

After the tour, I talked with John Crocitto,a para-historian for Beyond Ghosts,about the different places I visited. His words to explain the spiritual world were comforting.

He said that though spirits are not tied to places, they might stay different dwellings that hold significant meaning to them. Ghosts cannot harm you, unless you think they can, he explained.

"We create our own demons," Crocitto said. The idea that ghosts can harm you and want to harm you is a Hollywood created version of the paranormal.

It's up to the individual to break his or her predetermined concepts of the spiritual world and ghost stories.