Growing up in the shadow of West Mountain was a treasure. Throw a leg over your bicycle and ride for 45 minutes and you arrived at the base of the mountain – which to this day remains partially undeveloped. The paved road turns to dirt and the dirt road winds up and around the mountain. The mountain is home to three reservoirs which supply water to the local community. It is managed land because of this and remains close to natural Adirondack woodland. 50 years ago it was a place to hunt, fish and enjoy the woodland. It was also the suggested site of the grave of Abigale West and anyone who grew up in Queensbury, NY will have heard of Abigale West.
The Legend of Abigail West is one that flourishes through Queensbury, a medium-sized town in Upstate New York. Like all towns they have a distinct story that is told to everyone by everyone. In this case, their story is the Legend of Abigail West. Abigail West, originally Abigail Platte, became a part of the West family after marrying William Barber West. They lived happily on the isolated part West Mountain on what was once a potato farm with their six children, until her death. Some claim that she was a witch and that her soul would leave her body while she was sleeping and her she would roam the woods. One night while she was out her house burnt down and her body burned in the fire but her soul remains and now haunts the area of West Mountain.
To get to the grave one progresses up the dirt road through heavy foliage until arriving at an open area. On the right is a reservoir and to the left a faint trail leads further up the mountain to another reservoir. Just after turning to the left one steps off the trail and walks into the woods 30 or so meters to a grave site. There was and perhaps still is a grave stone that is unreadable. It was here that it was rumoured that Abigale was first buried and it is here that it became popular for barely of age young men to gather and drink beer. The grave marker was a slab of white stone that was flat on the ground, obviously broken and the text was illegible. There is nothing quite as dark as to stand in an Adirondack forest on a moonless night and contemplate the legend of Abigale’s ghost while drinking cold Budweiser with your buddies. Yes, I am sure we shivered and of course denied it. There is no question it was a spooky place to be.
Many that live in the town of Queensbury claim to have heard and seen signs the ghost of Abigail West is in fact real and that she haunts West Mountain, which was named after her family who owned the land. One source indicates in his story of his own experience that “People have said for ages that on a stormy night that Abigail can be seen on Butler Pond Road and residents living at the base of Butler Pond Road have reported having things in their house moved, and another resident stated that his wife’s sewing machine would operate all one its own at one point.
As recently as 2006 the local news paper reported:
The testimony of Howard Miller West suggests this could be the former West family plot. In the 1930s, he wrote, “I have not been there for many years, but there used to be the broken stubs of many slate headstones … and one white marble stone marking (William Barber West’s) wife.”
The area is now a party spot where young people get together and try to scare one another.
It is interesting that 50 years later kids are still going there for the thrill of being frightened. As the recent article suggests, I too recall the broken stubs of many slate headstones.
If a young man was fortunate enough to have a car and even more fortunate to have a willing girl friend it was a good place to go parking with the hopes of getting lucky. A car could get close enough that it was reasonable to tell the young lady of the ghost and be readily available to take her mind off her fear.
I never saw the ghost but confess to feeling strange on those nights. It is easy for the imagination of a young guy to run wild when standing in the dark Adirondack forest beside a grave and drinking copious amounts of Budweiser while ingesting other substances that would encourage the mind to expand.
Boys will be boys! If plans work out I will return to the area this Summer and intend to visit the grave of Abigale West. Up this road I will go.