Haunted Western New York-Zoar Valley (Cattaraugus County)

no-buy check in: i’ve used 8 skeins in the past week, either through projects, cleaning out partial skeins, or gifting. the only skein i bought was part of a commissioned project and some gift yarn. so…i’ve earned a balance of 1 skein that I don’t intend on using soon.


Laying on the edge of Erie and Cattaraugus counties, Zoar Valley is a bit of a mystery.

I became aware of Zoar Valley recently, and through a minor twist of fate. I was planning on writing something else for this column but I noticed that my entry on the Van Horn Mansion was getting a lot of traffic from people looking for information on haunted woods in western New York.

Okay. I’m game. The problem was that I’m not from here, and most of my time has been spent in very specific locations. It’s only been in the last 6 months or so that I’ve started venturing out of my comfort zone. But! Most of my friends are local to the area. When I asked about the haunted woods, the first name that came up was Zoar Valley.

Supposedly, Zoar Valley is heavily haunted. It’s made at least one national list for paranormal activity.

However, it’s hard to find information on anything more detailed than, Zoar Valley is haunted. The one story that I did keep hearing was about the crab or clawhanded people. In the early 20th century, a large amount of individuals were being born with birth defects that left them with fused fingers and toes. The reasoning behind this ranges from curses to contaminents, but legend has it that the town voluntarily died out rather than continuing to pass along the birth defect.

The theory that I’ve heard first hand is that the area is known for being exceptionally dangerous- there seems to be a higher than average number of accidental deaths in the area. That may make it haunted in and of itself.

If nothing else, it may be an interesting day trip. It looks like an attractive area.

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  1. I live at the old girl scout camp at the bottom of butter milk falls. This place has been here since 1930s. I can tell you yes its haunted and you need to be careful out here. We have been here 3 years and this is home to us but we don’t go into the woods at night… hope this helps the reports are true and then some.

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