The Colby Mansion - Tamaracks Country Villa

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The former Colby Mansion (now Tamaracks Country Villa bed-and-breakfast inn), was originally a turn-of-the-century stone farmhouse. In 1909 it was turned into a castle, and the Tamaracks Country Villa was born. Local teens tell the story of a rich man who lived here and was entangled in the occult. He murdered his family, and their ghosts are said to haunt the place.

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Geographic Information

85 Tamarack Rd
Byram Township, NJ 07821
United States

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40.9661169, -74.71768600000001
Sussex County, New Jersey
Nearest Towns:
Andover, NJ (1.9 mi.)
Hopatcong Hills, NJ (2.9 mi.)
Hopatcong, NJ (3.8 mi.)
Stanhope, NJ (4.4 mi.)
Netcong, NJ (4.7 mi.)
Lake Mohawk, NJ (4.7 mi.)
Mount Arlington, NJ (5.1 mi.)
Allamuchy, NJ (5.7 mi.)
Budd Lake, NJ (6.6 mi.)
Newton, NJ (6.6 mi.)

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Please note: It is your responsibility to acquire appropriate permissions before investigating any location listed on this site. Private property should be respected at all times, as should all posted signs concerning trespassing, hours of operation and other local regulations. Many "ghost hunters" have been arrested because they failed to contact property owners and/or local authorities ahead of time.

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Comments (14)

  1. Not true at all. My aunt owns this place . I spent lots of time there and my brother worked a LOT on renovating the building. It was NEVER haunted and nothing bad ever happened there- it was all stories. The true story is that a wealthy stone mason from Tuscany built it for his wife- which is why the entire building is cement- even the stairs. Coming from the sunny Tuscan region she hated the NJ winter (like most of us ) and was home sick. So, they abandoned the house and went back to Italy. End of story.

    • I disagree with john I grew up in forest lakes and walked or biked past it daily and was 1/2 mile from my house now I’m not sure about the history I never had any desire to go on property I’m hyper sensitive to places like this say spirits friendly or not were present also there was 2 or 3 headstones on the property like smack dab in the middle of the forest if I remember rite they were servants or hired help the whole area has past history which is still present today

      • Actually it’s not real. I know the one of the “Ghosts”. What really happened was her family knew the care takers and got permission to go inside. A group of trespassers came in s so they yelled at them to leave. People believed it was haunted and the care takers didn’t deny it so people would stay away.

      • I grew up in forest lakes too. I used to hang out with the boy who lived in the trailer on the property. His dad was the guy who would shoot you with rock salt if he caught you trespassing. The place is there. Mansion and factory and grave yard in the woods closer to forest lakes. I still have old coins and little things I thought were cool.

  2. I grew up around the corner from Colby Mansion, walking distance from the place. Took many walks as a teenager in the woods from my house to the mansion. In 1982 a friend of mine had the bright idea of going inside to check it out. It was a spooky place for sure, there was a room or two with what seemed like the family story painted on the walls, old books from around the turn of the century circa 1900 and late 1800’s. I saw a lot of strange things, we found a stairway that went from the 2nd or 3rd floor directly to the basement, but the place was definitely was not haunted. All the stuff on the internet comes from made up stories over the years. Unfortunately half my high school class had the same bright idea on that same weekend and kids broke and stole some stuff, we all got questioned by the police. So embarrassing to think about it now! I still live in the area and would love to see the place again.

  3. My brother worked at the mansion in the 60’s, he would come home and tell different stories. My daughter spent weekends there in the 90’s she was best friends with the caretakers daughter. I lived in Byram most of my life, it as more going now then any body would believe, just live with a child that can see things that nobody else does.

  4. I grew up in Forest Lakes as well and as many of us did at that time in the 1980’s you heard stories, fabled tales and you still found a way to sneak in when the caretaker wasn’t looking. Kids would say that the caretaker would shoot you with rock salt pellets or something from a shotgun! lol! The TRUTH is, there is a grave site at the edge of the property only accessible from Forest Lakes where there are 3 headstone/graves of Mr. & Mrs. Colby and their servant. They lived there, they died there and they were buried there as most were back in those days. They all died at different years so that in itself rebukes all the tales of murder & mystery. The tale I heard as a child until we viewed the grave site was that Mr. Colby murdered his wife & servant & then killed himself or something to that effect…it’s all just childhood rumor and made up nonsense. There graves are where they are and the dates don’t lie. It was just a spooky old castle with gargoyles and a beautiful staircase that should have been turned into a museum not a bed n breakfast! There was an additional house on the property back then believed to be the servant’s quarters. Gone. When I was a child in Byram schools, it was believed that the nurse at Byram Elementary School was the last surviving member of the family and had ownership. Maybe another rumor, I couldn’t say. But it was a beautiful structure and in my opinion, should never have been destroyed. It was a piece of history that many people would have enjoyed seeing how life was like back then in this part of NJ.

  5. Actually it’s not real. I know the one of the “Ghosts”. What really happened was her family knew the care takers and got permission to go inside. A group of trespassers came in s so they yelled at them to leave. People believed it was haunted after that.

  6. Kymberli Roberson-Coggin  |  

    I grew up 8 miles from Colby’s Mansion, and I spent many a day,and night adventure touring to and from the place with my childhood friends, trying to confirm the suspicions of the old place.
    None of which were confirmed although we did scare ourselves a lot thinking of the possibilities.
    Looking back over those times as a youth I also remember the one armed man from the railroad tracks , who was supposedly hit by an train while carrying a lantern and then walked the tracks at night looking for his arm.
    not finding it he was known to cut off the arms of anyone he encountered on the tracks, especially by the track trestle on Brooklyn/Stanhope Road.
    Again not confirmed, however it was always adventure and good clean fun, during those hot days of summer in the years from 1970-1973.
    Thanks for the memories.

    • LeeAnn Costentine  |  

      I grew up in Hopatcong and always heard the stories of Colbys mansion. We would always drive around looking for all these “haunted” places. I remember looking for the “hookerman” who walked the railroad tracks. I was only 14 scared the crap out of me. We use to have keg parties up on the old railroad tracks, I guess it wasn’t that scary!!
      Thanks for the memories, I left NJ in 1988.

  7. Much of this is bunk. My family owned the property from the late 40’s to the late 90’s. Mr. Colby was an engineer for the Lackawana cut of the railroad and had a house built while working. Many railroad empliyees built the house when not working on the railroad. The sand came from a pit near the C.O. Johnson field. Problem was the sand was “dead.” Dead sand is sand that has had the sharp edges rounded by glaciers. It is not as structurally sound as regular sand. His wife Josephine Colby was an accomplished artist. Colby lost his fortune in the great depression and he lost some of his grip on reality. The servants stayed out of loyalty and are buried, or were, as the graves have been massively disturbed near forest lakes. He murdered no one. He did reportedly shoot in the air when locals tried to bring him food occasionally. The property was ravaged by kids and looters who destroyed quite a bit of the furniture, etc.. We had a friend who served as caretaker during the summers and he would chase off trespassers. My father had a few benign experiences,when working in the mansion some nights but nothing nefarious.

    • thanks Derk, is the mansion standing today, why was is abandoned from the late 60 till ??

      did your family buy it from the colby estate in the 40s??

      around 1970, i snuck back there and was very impressed , the flow of the cement house house was elegant. the stalls for animals built into the basement was so practical. The art work left behind was such a mystery to me.

      any history would be appreciated and “Better New Year” to you and family


  8. These posts have been great fun to read the past few years! So many fun and scary theories or stories purported to be true. Thanks to each contributor! I am the great grandson of Franklin Green and Josephine Wood Colby. My maternal grandad was their son, Franklin Horner Colby, the Hornor name a tribute his dad’s first wife, Jessie H, who had died. There was an older daughter, Emily, who never marriied and spent most of her later years near Carmel, CA. I knew her. According to my grandfather’s 40 page “autobiography”, which acknowledges probable gaps and minor errors as he wrote it at age 76 in 1978 (I was then 27), his dad was a self-made businessman who accumulated a small fortune thru various “ventures”, one of which was exporting lubricating oil from America to the spinning mills in England (where GP was born in Liverpool). In 1901, the senior Colby purchased… “an old rundown farm iwth a stone farmhouse in 1901, as a place to spend the summers, which were hot and uncomfortable (living) in New York (City).” Grandad recounts many happy summers there learning to fish, exploring, and even hunting. Again from his memoir… “About 1915, Dad decided to build an Italian villa on the site of the old farmhouse. At that time, the Lackawanna RR had been building a “cut” (right-of-way) across part of our land (It had been gradually expanded to approx. 1500 acres) nad they used Italian labor(ers) almost exclusively. As the RR completed its work, Dad hired some 30 of these Italians, many of whom were expert stone masons. Without the help of an architect (noted… unfortunately!!), he designed and built an elaborate three story concrete and stone villa (nothing found about “Dead sand” tho I loved the idea !!)” Lots and lots of concrete reportedly used without understanding it’s capacity for expanding and contracting, resulting in later numerous leaks throughout the place! Massive 12″ x 12″ beams to hold things up, which naturally later sagged under the weight. Colby lost much of his “fortune” in a financial panic in 1922. I don’t read or remember anyone talking about him going crazy or firing weapons. He grew old, I believe, living at Tamaracks full time later in life, and passed away, near penniless in ’40 or ’41. The old villa may have been sold before then, I don’t know. Interestingly, at least to our family, his son Franklin H., then called Lin, became the oldest pilot in the 8th AAF and “Pappy Colby” flew 25 missions early in WW2 from England in B17s as part of the 94th Bomb Group. Possible photos to follow when I find them.

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Disclaimer: The stories posted here are user-submitted and are, in the nature of "ghost stories," largely unverifiable. makes no claims that any of the statements posted here are factually accurate. The vast majority of information provided on this web site is anecdotal, and as such, should be viewed in the same light as local folklore and urban legends.