On the Fort Ontario Lantern Tour, Listen to the Darkest Stories from its Past
October 20, 2022
With as much history at Fort Ontario has, it only makes sense that there are heaps of stories of the dark and mysterious nature. As one of the most popular attractions in Oswego, the fort staff are always looking for new ways to attract and entertain visitors. This year their newest addition is the Fort Ontario Lantern Tour: “Murder, Mystery, Mishaps, Maladies, and Mayhem.” Throughout the evening, guests will hear some of the darkest stories spanning multiple centuries at the fort.
Fort Ontario Lantern Tour Tickets & Information
The lantern tour runs Wednesday nights in October at 7pm. There’s still one more tour available for this season. And since they plan to change the stories for next year, don’t miss your chance to hear the current tales.
Tickets must be purchase in advance, and cost $20 per person. Guests are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes and a jacket to protect them from the Lake Ontario winds.
About the Lantern Tour
As a result of a winter project by Jonathan Kobelia, Fort Ontario presents its newest tour this October. Taking newspaper clippings, historical records, and personal notebooks found at the fort, the tour includes the darkest stories from its past. Tales of murder, mayhem, mutiny, mystery, and so much more are waiting to be told.
On a typical tour, the guides take visitors on a 1.5 mile walk within and around the fort, telling stories pertaining to the locations visited throughout the night. But, on nights of particularly harsh weather (like when I visited), the tour is adapted. The guides have created a visual presentation that they deliver in the barracks instead.
The lantern tour is led by four different members of the Friends of Fort Ontario: Jonathan, Danielle, Christine, and Jess. Each of them has an extensive wealth of knowledge about the history of Oswego and Fort Ontario. Throughout the evening, they take turns telling various dark stories.
The Ghosts of Fort Ontario
Throughout the course of the evening, the tour guides share stories, both about the haunted experiences they’ve had at the fort, and those that other people have reported. A couple “ghosts“ lingering the grounds include a ghost cat in the men’s barracks, a small child (who seems to be looking for a lost cat), and one of the former officers that was stationed at the fort.
But the tales they tell on the tour are not about these ghosts, but about documented events from history. On this particular tour, there were 22 different stories told throughout the night. Some of the most noteworthy ones included murder and mutiny.
Tales of Mutiny, Murder, Mayhem, Mishaps, and Mystery
For example, they tell the story about the Marks Murder. On June 17, 1869, one of the soldiers jokingly asked for $.50 to pay for a funeral of a fellow soldier if he wanted to kill. His comrades thought he was joking… Until he pulled the trigger and shot the man on site.
The last and longest story of the night is about the mutiny that happened at the fort in 1752. Rebelling against the demotion of one of the officers, a group of soldiers traveled east toward Albany in the dead of winter. Unequipped with any proper tools or survival skills, the group turns to cannibalism to help a few survive. Of the 11 men that initially ventured out, only two returned to the fort, following an unsuccessful mission.
After speaking with the staff members, I learned that they have hundreds and hundreds of stories to tell, both about the history of the fort and the city of Oswego. They admit that they had a hard time narrowing down which stories to include on the inaugural lantern tour this year. But, they added that there are so many stories that they can change it up each year, so the annual lantern tours in October will be different from year to year.
More Haunted Places in Oswego
Since Fort Ontario has several centuries of history, there are bound to be hundreds of stories from its past. The property has been a fort, a military hospital, a refugee shelter, veterans housing, and now a historical site. So if there were a place in Oswego where spirits were said to be lingering, this would be the place.