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.


  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.

  2. Zohar valley deaths are due to dangerous conditions and a lot of people do drugs and drink up there which contributes. Also the falls are up there which can pull u under and kill u. Haunted from dead bodies possibly. But the town never voulentarily died off. And birth defects were common from when the glue factory was torn down and from all the chemicals when it was up and running contaminating the water. If u want a real haunted place go to to perrysburg and sneak in the j&adams up there. Old mental

    1. I have not been to zoar valley in over forty years but I do know some of your claw people Richard. Might still be alive and Patrick would be in his forties they used to live at the top of the hill outside of arcade and only used to visit old nib once in awhile speaking nib when did he die and did anyone ever find the money he buried from the sale of his land if you don’t know about old nib Norbert Allison you don’t know anything about zoar valley he had a two headed piglet in a jar that was born on his farm he had the biggest bull I have ever seen he bought it at the Ohio state fair in the late sixties or early seventies I was only twelve but he showed us the news paper clipping he also had a human skull that he and my grandparents thought might be some one that woody may have killed you do know who woody is right he raped that young girl and got nib involved but I think he used some of his money to buy his way out of it my grandfather told us where he thought nib buried his money our great uncle that he thought that he knew to but he didn’t say where I have my own idea based on a couple of times catching nib at spot he never went but that’s all history I’m fifty four years old now and will probly never see new York again so if your going to talk about something know what your talking about

  3. To the last person who posted, the J&N Adams hospital was NOT a mental hospital. It was a Tuberculosis Hospital for children used in the 40’s which eventually was shut down and used for offices into the late 90’s, funding was cut totally it was determined that letting the government land rot was more economical than tearing it down.

    My grand mother worked as a nurse there. Please verify your info before posted incorrectly.

    1. Pete, you need to verify your info before posting. The J .N. Adams Center (abandoned) was a large state complex in which multiple buildings housed a wide range of state funded services, including a hospital for the mentally ill.

  4. Malcolm, Pete is correct. Started as a Tuberculosis Hospital, by Adams, due to it’s elevation and view of Buffalo, then became part of West Seneca Developmental and housed the mentally ill. West Seneca Developmental, Gowanda and JN Adams all state funded facilities.

    Now, it is a mess. Cheaper to let it decay.

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