Chasing Ghosts

After two hours on our Adirondacks road trip, with my best pal Joe’s Volkswagen Jetta having all but melted in the sweltering August sun, we decided to break from the congested Northway. Our detour has brought us to Gaslight Village, a small, abandoned theme park overlooking Lake George. N.Y.

Setting foot in this ghost town was hardly an impossible task. First, we climbed through gaping holes in the property’s beaten-to-death chain link fence. A quick hop over rusted turnstiles and we were there; in the former glory and wonder of Gaslight Village.

You can only see vague glimmers of the place from the main road. The property has been engulfed by vegetation. There are no longer sprawling roller coasters, dazzling Ferris wheels, freaky fun houses or charming cotton candy stands.

“As long as the snow cone guy is still here,” I jokingly said.

All that stands before us is a dilapidated building with a faded sign reading “Opera House.” I can imagine the sights and sounds of bustling tourists and loud, bouncy music. Now surrounded by only emptiness, the building has tremendous presence.

“I guess miracles do exist,” Joe says. “How the hell does this thing survive winter?”

As we wander into the building I can almost hear the laughter of rambunctious children scurrying past, can almost see the dreamy-eyed teens.

We are quick to clench our noses and cover our mouths. Before long the dust and debris and the stench of mold are too much, so we leave.

On the Opera House’s front stairs, we ponder the rest of our visit.

Check out the battered wooden shed at our left? Nope. See if we missed anything by the front entrance? Unlikely. Joe swears he saw a laser tag building here a few years back, but it’s nowhere to be found.

“Mission accomplished,” Joe proclaims.

“Yeah, I guess,” I said. “And what an exciting mission it was.” Not.

As we exit Gaslight Village, I think of stories I’ve heard about kids and families having the time of their lives here decades ago. I’m awestruck that something so special could become something so useless.

Joe breaks my train of thought.

“Seriously, dude, how the fuck is that Opera House still there?”

Andrew Carden

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