Van Cortlandt Park

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Van Cortlandt Park is thought to be haunted. Witnesses say dolls walk, doors close, whispers come from nowhere, and apparitions abound here in the Bronx’s oldest building, Van Cortlandt House. The park, back in 1778, was the site of the Stockbridge Indian Massacre, when British soldiers hunted and killed nearly 40 Native Americans. Their bodied were eventually buried in the northwest corner of the park.

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Geographic Information

Van Cortlandt Park
Bronx, NY
United States

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40.8979346, -73.88595140000001
Bronx County, New York
Nearest Towns:
Yonkers, NY (2.4 mi.)
Mount Vernon, NY (2.7 mi.)
Eastchester, NY (2.9 mi.)
Inwood, NY (3.1 mi.)
Borough of Bronx, NY (3.5 mi.)
Englewood Cliffs, NJ (3.6 mi.)
Bronxville, NY (4.0 mi.)
Pelham Manor, NY (4.1 mi.)
Pelham, NY (4.2 mi.)
Tenafly, NJ (4.4 mi.)


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Comments (10)

  1. A good friend of mine has worked on the site for more than 15 years. He says the site actively discourages serious talks of haunting and such, except for the silly stuff around Halloween, but the site is unpleasant. He said several people have reported seeing a small boys face looking down from an upper level window when there was not supposed to be anyone in the house.

    Further my friend said he spent the night there once, sleeping on a 2nd floor landing and NOTHING will ever make him do that again. He flat out refused to discuss it but this is a man not easily rattled.

  2. The Indian massacre took place in the northeast section of the park, east of the Thruway and west of Van Cortlandt Park East roadway in the section north of E. 233rd Street. The monument memorial is right near Van Cortlandt Park East but the massacre took place a little further into the park area. So saying that the Indians were buried in the northwest area is likely not correct.

  3. My sister’s boyfriend and I were taking a walk one evening with my family. It was August of 2013, nice warm night. Out of no where, he and I both experienced a freezing cold wind sweep past us. No one else felt it but he and I. We were on our way out of the park, on the path that runs in front of the tennis courts and the old house, walking towards broadway. It was pretty weird and that wind was freezing!!!!!!!!! Abnormally freezing.

    • I’ll tell you a story about Van Cortlandt. I moved to Yonkers, from Edenwald in the Bronx, at 5yrs old in the mid-80s. As kids, we always heard stories, from the older kids, of devil worshippers in the woods. There was an entrance into the woods on Forest Ave, northern part, just east of Major Deegan. Not far into the woods, there was this big dirt ditch we knew as Devil’s Ditch, that we’d ride our bikes in and a long rope hanging down from a HIGH tree branch that you could use to swing across the ditch (we always wondered how they got it up there because it was that high up, farther than any ladder could reach). Further into the woods, there was a stone structure, I believe it was an old aqueduct weir, that we knew as Satan’s Castle (I’ve heard others call it Devil’s Tower). The only way into this structure is to go down an open manhole a few feet away, leading down into the aqueduct tunnels. Inside this structure, there was a noose hanging from the ceiling, weird symbols and pentagrams all over, & what looked to be old dried blood all over. We were never scared to go there or inside because we always thought the stories were just that, stories, & it was the older kids always trying to scare us by telling us to stay away from it & not wander in the woods. But one day in the late 80s (around ’89 I’d say, maybe ’90), we brought a friend’s cousin, who was visiting, to see Satan’s Castle. On our way there, we heard the sound of a chainsaw off in the distance. We just figured it was employees of Parks & Recreation doing some work in the woods somewhere, so we continued on. While we were inside the “castle”, we started to hear sounds echoing from deep in the tunnels, so we decided to leave. We climbed down the little ladder that was there and walked around the corner back toward the manhole ladder to go back outside. All of a sudden, we started to hear faint whispering and a soft laughter in one of the tunnel directions. We stopped for a second to listen. After a few seconds, we started to hear water splashing like someone was walking (there was always a little water on the floor down in those tunnels). Within a few seconds, the splashing got faster like whomever it was started running and was no longer walking and it sounded like it was getting closer. Needless to say, we scrambled up that ladder back outside to where our bikes were. We got on our bikes and started to pedal away, fast. After a few minutes, we stopped to take a breath due to how fast we ran out of Satan’s Castle and how fast we tried to pedal away. Once again, we heard the chainsaw, but this time it sounded closer than earlier. Even though we’d never heard a chainsaw in all the times we were in those woods, we figured we were just closer now to wherever the employees were working. All of a sudden, off in the distance, probably around 100yards, give or take, we suddenly saw someone standing there. They had something over their head, almost looking like a potato sack or something, but hard to tell exactly with the distance. Again we hear the chainsaw, coming from the direction of where this person is. Of course at this point, we assume this person is the one with the chainsaw. This person starts walking in our direction, carrying something, maybe the chainsaw. After several steps, out pops another person from behind a tree and starts walking alongside the first, both now in our direction. Then they start running. We turned and started to pedal for our lives. We heard a loud scream/roar and scary laughing from far behind. We continued pedaling as fast as we could until we reached the underpass that goes under the Major Deegan to cross to the east side (northbound side). In that underpass there are a few doors, one which had an upside down pentagram on it that we called Satan’s Door. We had heard it led into the tunnels and back towards the “castle”, but none of us had ever opened it before. After catching our breath and not hearing or seeing those 2 people for a while at that point, we decided to keep it moving JUST IN CASE someone wanted to pop out that door. We crossed to the other side, went up the little hill there, and followed the Major Deegan North back toward McLean Ave. Needless to say, none of us ever ventured into those woods again. We visited the ditch a few more times after, but then stopped. I guess we just didn’t want to be anywhere in those woods ever again.

      I’d like to point out that this occurred during the day in broad daylight on a sunny day. I’m not saying there never were any, but back then in all the times we’d been in those woods, we never saw any park rangers, cops, etc patrolling through those woods like I hear there are nowadays. MANY years later, while discussing those woods and locations with another local friend, we looked stuff up online. I remember we came across a site, similar to this one, that talked about those locations and the urban legends surrounding them, the woods, etc. I found this site because I was talking about all of this with my 16yr old daughter and was trying to find some site similar to the one I found yrs ago talking about these places. I find it quite funny that I can’t find one thing mentioning these locations, the names they were known as by the local kids, or any of the stories/urban legends surrounding them. I also find it funny that Paul above says that Park officials discourage any serious talks of haunting at Van Cortlandt. I wonder if that has any effect on why I can’t find anything on the web like I did in the past.

      Now you can take what I said and look at it like we were just some stupid little kids whose minds got the better of them. But I’ve never been one to get scared, even as a little kid. I’ve always seen ghosts/spirits in my home, even before that day. But that day, the vibes/feelings we were getting, the sounds we heard in those tunnels, and those two people we saw who started to run in our direction, really scared the living ish out of us and I feared for my life that day.

      Lastly, many years later, I had found out that David Berkowitz, of Son of Sam fame, had said in an interview that the cult of Satan worshippers he got mixed up with not only hung out and did stuff in Untermyer Park, but in the woods of Van Cortlandt Park as well! Also, on numerous occasions, we had seen animal carcasses in the woods with their insides missing. We honestly never thought they were used in rituals and were just animals that died and had been eaten by other wildlife. So although this day was many years after him, after reading what he said in the interview and thinking about all the carcasses we had seen throughout the years, I even more so believed there was truth to what the older kids always told us and warned us about and what happened to us that day!

      • Jay – On YouTube there is a guy named Manny Grossman who is filming locations which involved Son of Sam and any cult activity. He had a walking video tour a few months ago along the old croton aqueduct trail going to that weir. Some called it Frankie’s castle. He has moved his future investigations over to the channel but he has interest I n eye witnesses. Look him up on you tube.

  4. There was a video on YouTube and spread widely throughout social media which was later taken down by the government it was about a girl who disappeared at the age of 7 in the woods and reappeared at the age of 13 walking out van cortlandt woods but she could not speak due to what has happened . Many do not believe this story but she told the story about how she was walking and all of a sudden a tree branch grabbed her back but she kept walk but all of a sudden it wrapped of her legs pulled her on the floor and fell on her face she said she felt it wrap around her body and pulled her . She couldn’t move or scream but she saw people throughout the day just walking and laughing like it was all normal and at night she saw white things/dots playing in a circle. She said she saw trees form itself together to look like a human made out of tree and start walking. Then she said all of a sudden 6 years later she woke up in the floor . The same spot the tree branch pulled her and the tree on her face. Her shirt was dirty and the bottoms I do not know about . If you find the story please let me know

    • that’s terrifying. I really would like to see the video u are talking about or at least read the story about the girl. Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Thank you Lord! Somebody is with me on this! I also live on the edge of the woods. Only thing separating me from the woods is a black gate. I might as well just say I live in the woods. I just moved to Yonkers and I used to frequently walk those woods alone unbeknown to me that it was basically an Indian burial ground (my goodness). I don’t do it anymore because of the story Im about to tell you. Im 23 years old and this happened two years ago. I went in there at night with my cousin. Just a normal night. Before I begin, I want to start out by saying I would always get bad vibes in those woods. All the trees look like they have seen horror like you said. I took a shortcut into the woods coming home from the city. Its a thirty minute walk from the open field on 242nd st where you get off the train station and walk inside the park pass the landmark, pass the tennis courts into the woods. I would then take a right pass the bridge (if you know which bridge im talking about in the woods near a lake or a pond that would freeze over in winter) and continue where most jog or ride bikes. Before this, I used to take walks at night back home with a flash light. I’m happy Im alive! But I take this walk tonight with my cousin. At the end of our walk just at the end of the gulf course is where I live. Its pitch black and all I hear is our footsteps. Out of no where. A large bark that sounds nine feet tall and inches away from us sends me and my cousin running the other direction. We run as far as we can from whatever it was. At this point we have tears in our eyes and shaking uncontrollably. I never believed anything like that would ever happen to me. We gain the courage to go back the same direction after 10 min or so in pitch black with just our cellphones light low on battery. Just before we reach my house my friend jumps out and tries to scare us. That should’ve scared us but we were relieved to see another face. Crazy thing is. When we asked him if he heard the bark that easily echoed the entire woods he said he didn’t hear a thing. We couldn’t believe it. My cousin and I haven’t spoken much about it since then and he doesn’t come by my house anymore. Cause I too find the circumference around my house to have this bad energy that creeps up on you.

    A few months back I decide to go back in there with a friend. We’re sitting by a very creepy water tower that doesn’t run anymore but used to when I first moved in. A strange rastafarian man came up to us and started to tell us amazing wildlife stories he had throughout his life. But nothing would beat what he heard in these woods in BROAD DAYLIGHT a year after my experience. It was the same bark that I heard him describing but this time it came from behind him. But when he turned around there was nothing there. He was also terrified. He also brought up a great point. The water stream next to the water tower used to run beautifully. He suggested someone had stopped the water from running so that whatever it was wouldn’t go feeding at that stream due to families coming by and things like that. He also came across some white older man chanting something crazy nakedly through the woods. Theirs also detectives on horses that come by early in the morning. I don’t know what they patrol but they also look very suspicious like something out of the 1800s. Its not until I finally took to the internet to find out why so many weird things was happening to me in those woods. Now I know. It was a massacre. Who knows whats lurks in there. I urge anyone who goes in there to NOT GO IN ALONE! Or after dark! Its dangerous to go into any woods alone. Especially the one I live by known as Van Cortlandt Park Woods.

  6. William Lawrence  |  

    I was in Van Cortlandt park on the fall solstice of 1992 with my mother, her friend Judy, and my friend Killian. We walked past the soccer field, up the hill and to the museum ( the old mansion) that day. The museum was closed that day. We decided to check out the cemetery..I opened the iron gates and walked inside. There was a square marker with cemetery candles in a circle there but they were smashed into dust with the bases still intact at the bottom. To the left there was a copper top rectangular grave marker that was dug into. You could see two coffins set up like bunk beds inside of which the bottom one looked like it was opened up. Just after I noticed that my mother said ‘I think we’d better leave’. I had a funny feeling and looked over my left shoulder to see a guy with a camcorder filming something up in the sky. I looked in the direction that he was filming to see a flashing light in the sky that kept changing colors. The memory of this still haunts me to this day. Why was this guy filming this and is this video somewhere online?? I have googled maps of the cemetery and things look slightly different now but we all saw the saw the same thing. Have things been changed or destroyed? Looking for answers.

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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.