Third Winchester (Opequon) Battlefield

The Battle of Third Winchester (or Battle of Opequon) was fought in Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864 between Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s Army of the Valley and Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah in the American Civil War. The battle resulted in approximately 8,600 total casualties.

Like other battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley, the Third Winchester battlefield is a result of piecemeal purchases of private property, spurred by donations from preservationists. The Civil War Trust has preserved 222 acres of the 567-acre battlefield. The most recent acquisition was made in 2009 by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

Third Winchester was the largest Civil War battle, in terms of importance and number of troops engaged, in the Shenandoah Valley. 40,000 Union soldiers fought 10–12,000 Confederates, with predictable results. The Union soldiers, however, were inexperienced and fighting Jubal Early’s veteran divisions. Despite losing the battle, the Confederates inflicted a disproportionate number of casualties.

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Lost Souls of Decatur’s Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery is rumored to be one of the most haunted locations in central Illinois. According to Troy Taylor, a popular author on haunted locations in the Midwest, the land that would become Greenwood was originally an American Indian burial ground, and was later used by the first white settlers to bury their dead until the late 1830s.

These graves have since disappeared. The oldest visible marker on the grounds dates to 1840, and Greenwood Cemetery was officially established in 1857. Between 1900 and 1926, the cemetery was the premier location to be buried in Decatur, but by the end of the ‘30s the cemetery association ran out of money and the grounds were barely maintained.

In 1957, the city of Decatur took over ownership of the cemetery to save it, but they estimated that repairs would cost around $100,000. Volunteers gathered, and after much effort, the cemetery was restored. Vandals plagued the grounds, however, and rumors circulated regarding ghost lights and eerie sounds that emanated from the old public mausoleum.

To control who went in and out of the cemetery, the city sealed two of the three entrances and closed a road that ran through the woods west of the cemetery.

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Camp Beechwood Remains

An abandoned Girl Scout camp deep in the woods is something from a horror movie, and you can experience it yourself in Upstate New York. Though it feels like you’re trespassing through these eerie ruins, they’re actually part of a public park enjoyed by thousands of visitors a year. Beechwood State Park, along the shore of Lake Ontario, is located about 20 miles east of Rochester, New York near the small town of Sodus.

In 1929 the Girl Scouts of America purchased 150-acres between Maxwell Bay and Sill Creek for use as a summer camp. A bluff overlooking Lake Ontario, called Sprong Bluff, was an attractive focal point for gatherings. The camp had an in-ground pool, enclosed dining hall, sleeping cabins, and other amenities. Unfortunately, rising tax rates, declining membership, and environmental factors led to the camp’s closure and sale in 1996.

New York State bought the land but budget cuts forced it to designate the site as a preserve. The buildings were left to rot. In 2010 a partial solution was found when the Town of Sodus took over management and operation of the park. It now has several miles of trails and is popular with hikers and fishermen, and of course the curious who come to see the camp ruins.

There are two parking lots off Lake Road: one leads to a camping and fishing access site adjacent to Salmon (Maxwell) Creek. The other is located about 200 yards west near the ruins of the old caretaker’s house. A former road, now a trail, leads straight back to the Girl Scout camp’s remains.

The camp is remarkably well preserved for having been abandoned and accessible to the public for over two decades. I think the presence of other visitors, often heard but not seen, added to the eeriness of this place. It’s certainly worth a detour if you ever find yourself near Rochester.

Danny’s Diner

Danny’s Diner, at 151 Main Street in Binghamton, New York, is a classic Sterling model from 1939. According to Roadfood.com, “Danny’s is very popular today, due in large part, we’re sure, to the efforts of owner Pam, whose personality is a perfect complement to Danny’s. Danny and Pam were once married, and when that marriage ended, Danny’s became Pam’s (in ownership, if not in name).” Guess she didn’t want to take down this glorious sign!