The Lady of The Lake

‘ In the late 1800s, in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, there were what were called great Adirondack camps which were these big, elaborate, retreat type of things for wealthy families from New York City and they would spend a few months here during the summers. In one of these families at the campsites, there was a woman who went out onto Lake Placid to go kayaking. Legend has it that she never came back, and the family never found her or solved the mystery of where she was. But, in the late 1900s, at the base of Pulpit Rock, which is now a cliff jumping site, it is also the deepest part of Lake Placid, a team of divers were exploring this area. In the gloom of Lake Placid, there’s no sunlight that reaches the bottom in this part. It was completely dark, and the pair of divers had reached the bottom and found what seemed to be a mannequin… until they realized, there was a chain and anchor strapped to the “mannequin’s” legs, making them aware that this was in fact a real person. At the time, they didn’t know this was the woman who went kayaking decades before and never returned. But they found this woman at the bottom of Pulpit Rock… so, one of the divers went back up to the boat to call for help while the other stayed behind to keep the location of the body. Essentially, because there was no sunlight, and the mineral content of the water at that depth and temperature was just right, such that the skin was preserved almost perfectly, looking like a wax sculpture… But it freaked out the second diver so much that he decided to bring the body back to the surface because he didn’t want to stay there in the dark with this horrifying figure. When he starts bringing the woman up to the surface, the sunlight coming in, the temperature of the water growing warmer, and the changing mineral content caused her body to melt away in his arms… it disintegrates and falls apart. It fades into nothingness right in his hands. So now, in today’s world, when you are climbing out of the lake after cliff jumping, many people say they can feel the lady of the lake grabbing at their feet as they step onto their boats.’ – NZ

This story was told to NZ by his father, during their first family trip to his favorite place on earth, Lake Placid. He and his family went to their cottage up in the Adirondack Mountains and decided to spend their summer day cliff jumping at Pulpit Rock. As they hiked towards the rock his dad shared with him and his brother this legend of the Lady of the Lake. As a little boy, he was horrified of this ghost that lives beneath the water, but also curious as to wether or not he would feel the Lady of the Lake pulling at his ankles when he got back onto his boat. His curiosity got the best of him and nothing could hold him back from cliff jumping. Even to this day, every time NZ goes back he jumps in to try and feel the Lady of the Lake grabbing at him as he escapes the cold water. Now, whenever he takes his friends or family to this spot, he never fails to share and pass this legend onto them to add to their folklore repertoire.

I had never heard of this specific legend, but I have heard many similar ones in the area I grew up in. This piece of folklore offers a legendary tale, a ghost story meant to capture the imagination of those who heard it, a “enter if you dare” tale. It also follows the supernatural elements read in many folklore myths and legends, something that while you can’t prove that it exists, its been told and passed down so many times, there is no reason not to believe it. This legend allows for the local superstition to become tradition and a ritual storytelling experience for those who visit and families who are raised in this area. This story originated as an oral piece of folklore, one can imagine that it was even acted out around campfires in Lake Placid, in which performance is a key aspect of folklore. NZ also noted that he has heard multiple variations of this tale, as when they are passed down orally, they are often changed or even misremembered, thus altering the story for those who continue to share it. The Adirondacks have many myths and legends, and this tale only adds to the mysterious environment the Adirondacks have to many.