Irondequoit, New York, is known for being a large suburb of Rochester, the one-time home of major league baseball manager (and dad of two major leaguers) Cal Ripken Sr., and the place where a White Lady ghost haunts a nearby lake area. Now tourists have one more reason to visit Irondequoit – a tree damaged in a recent storm shows what many believe is a life-size image of its most famous resident.
No, not Cal Sr. … the mysterious White Lady, who seems to have moved from rising up out of Lake Ontario to rising up out of the roots of a tree in Durand-Eastman Park near the aptly-named White Lady's Castle where she reportedly once lived. The eerie tale and many sightings, including the aforementioned rising out of the water that has given the ghost the additional Arthurian appellation “Lady of the Lake,” have made the area a popular haunted attraction and the subject of a 1988 movie called “Lady in White.”
The story, like the ghost’s name, has some variations, but the characters stay the same. Her actual name is unknown but most agree that the ghost is a woman who lived sometime in the 1800s in an isolated estate on land that is now the park. The protective mother had a beautiful daughter who attracted the young men in the area, but the woman kept her psychologically locked in the castle with warnings of their bad intentions.
You can predict the rest. The girl snuck out one night and never returned. The more horrific stories say she was murdered by a frustrated suitor or a gang, while others say she drowned or just ran away. The mother was said to have wandered the area alone every night, wearing a white dress (of course) and sometimes accompanied by two white dogs. She allegedly died without ever finding her. The estate was left empty and eventually deteriorated to just a foundation, which is the “White Lady’s Castle” where haunted tours, high school kids and lovers’ lane seekers hang out in hopes to see the ghost walking the grounds or rising from the lake to walk across it (for those who believe the daughter drowned).
Good tale … if it’s true. There’s no record of a home being on the grounds but there are records that the foundation was once under an early 20th century dining hall or refectory. The ghost has reportedly been seen by many, and ghost hunters have allegedly verified the story, but the photos in recent stories are not of this White Lady.
Which brings us back to the tree. The damage has been verified by Durand-Eastman park officials as being storm related and not due to vandalism. Depending on the viewing angle, those that see an image describe it as a skull head and upraised arms that may or may not be holding a baby. That would be strange since there was nothing in the tale about a baby, was there?
If you’re checking off things on your “It could be an image of the ghost” list, you have a dark and stormy night and an image found in a tree in the very park where the ghost has reportedly been seen before, near the “ghost” castle. On the “It’s just pareidolia” list, you have no record of the woman or her daughter ever existing, the “castle” actually being a dining hall and some disagreement on the looks of the image in the tree, which also looks like the inside of a tree.
Can you see the image? Would you check it out in person? Alone? In the dark? Would it attract more tourists if it looked like Cal Ripken Sr.?