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Wonders by the water: Inside Lake George’s most mysterious locations

Summer on Lake George

Wonders by the water: Inside Lake George’s most mysterious locations

Last Howard Johnson’s, ‘mystery spot,’ and ghost tour prove Lake George can be mysterious
Wonders by the water: Inside Lake George’s most mysterious locations
The “mystery spot” behind Lake George Visitor Center, where you can witness your voice echo back to you, June 20, 2019.
Photographer: Erica Miller

The Great Escape may be a blast, but some prefer the humble orange roof of the world’s last-surviving Howard Johnson’s restaurant.

The Lake George area isn’t just a destination for amusement parks and beaches, it’s also home to a few mysterious and strange locations, including the last of a once-popular chain restaurant and, fittingly, a place that could only be described as a “mystery spot.”

So before booking your all-inclusive boat tour for family vacation, you may want to check out these cheaper and slightly bizarre attractions in the Lake George area.

Lake George’s ‘mystery spot’ - Visitor Center

If you ever have a bad day at Lake George, that’s totally fine. When you shout out in desperation, however, just make sure you pick the right location to do it.

Right behind the Lake George Visitor Center sits a large circular platform with a painted-on blue outline of the lake. If you stand right in the exact center of the platform where an “X” marks the spot and position your body toward where an arrow points, you won’t find buried treasure (it’s concrete anyway, so digging is not recommended). You’ll find a reason to keep screaming.

The location’s acoustics make your voice sound quiet to your own ears, while passers-by take immediate notice of your stressful day and future laryngitis. 

Locals aren’t too sure of the reason for the natural noise cancellation, but Atlas Obscura documented the varying opinions. Some locals think the positioning of the lake and mountains creates the silence, while others point to an old Native American legend about an ancient god whose wisdom still echoes.

Either way, it’s a fitting place to let out your emotions while your kids ransack your wallet for quarters at the arcade.

The last Howard Johnson’s restaurant on earth - 2143 Route 9

Those who grew up in the 1950s, ‘60s or ‘70s most certainly know the name.

More: Your guide to summer on Lake George

And if you’ve watched “Mad Men” and have a poster of Jon Hamm on your wall, it still might ring a bell.

Howard Johnson’s was once a 1,000-plus-location restaurant franchise before it crumbled like a Hostess coffee cake in a plastic bag. In 2005, less than eight restaurants remained, as operators cited a “stale” menu and a lack of new ideas from the once-booming location.

But the Lake George location, even with a brief hiatus from 2012-2014, powered through. The restaurant, which Rachael Ray once worked at, became the last one standing in 2016.

The owners appropriately placed a sign at the eatery reading “Last One Standing.” Much like the final Blockbusters that came after it, pop culture junkies would want to see this location.

The building’s orange roof and nostalgic logo may be a special sight for older vacationers, but the mystery of it alone should make it a tourist hot spot.

ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER  
An 18-pound French Cannon on display, recovered from Lake George in 1954 at Fort William Henry in Lake George on Thursday, May 30, 2019.ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER
An 18-pound French Cannon on display, recovered from Lake George in 1954 at Fort William Henry in Lake George on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Fort William Henry Ghost Tour - Fort William Henry

Battles, disease and harsh climate plagued Fort William Henry’s surrounding area in the 1700s.

But what could be worse than those three things combined?

Well, arguably, ghosts.

The Fort William Henry Ghost Tour takes attendees through the spooky sights around the fort and shows them all the equipment ghost hunters used while trying to track down local paranormal activity, according to the tour’s website. The experience is big on storytelling and personal ghost stories, and even features some from those giving the tour.

The empty Howard Johnson’s parking lots across the country may not have translated to Lake George, but the area can still be pretty spooky.

Bloody Pond - Bloody Pond Road

There’s a lot of great places to swim in Lake George.

Bloody Pond is not one of them.

The pond was named after the alleged deep red tint it had during the Battle of Lake George.

British, Native American and Canadian soldiers' bodies were left to rest in the pond after a fight took the lives of roughly 300 men. A rock and a sign, both reading “Bloody Pond” now sit in front of the site and few online resources tell the story of the clash.

While this location may be the most surreal of the bunch, its name is certainly the most fitting. 

More: Your guide to summer on Lake George

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