The Ghost of Recluse Island

by Adirondack Life | June 2023

Illustration by Jesús Sotés

When Steve Reynolds’s grandmother went to her reward in 1942, her last words were, “Oh dear, can’t I have another summer on the island?”

For years she arrived on Lake George’s Recluse Island in May and stayed until October. And since her death, many guests and family members have experienced the strangest occurrences in her old upstairs bedroom. Some have described waking in the morning to see her face watching them from her mirror on the chest of drawers.

Though Reynolds has remained a skeptic, he related the day in 1974 his skepticism suffered a severe blow, when he brought a young woman and her four-year-old son to the island. “We docked—I tell you, this is weird; you’re not going to believe this—I docked the boat down there and I carried a couple of bags up,” he began. “I unlocked the door and went back for more bags.” While he was gone the four-year-old ran into the front hall, where a spiral staircase rises to the second floor. “The boy came down to the dock and said, ‘Who’s the lady?’ And I said, ‘What lady?’ He said, ‘There’s a lady standing on the circular stairs,’ and I said, ‘Well, why don’t you go in and take another look.’” He did, and came back out and said, “Yes, there’s a lady standing on the front stairs, smiling at me,” and beckoning to him to follow her. Steve asked him what she looked like. “Well,” Steve told me, “this guy described my grandmother absolutely to a tee,” right down to the long purple dress she always wore, and of which the boy could have had no knowledge.

—adapted from “Dead and Gone to Your House,” by Christopher Shaw (December 1987)

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