The U.S. Military Academy's buildings are covered with textured granite, turrets and perched gargoyles that gaze over cadets as they go about their day. Inside the large wooden doors, they walk through dimly lit hallways with triangular stone arches and wrought iron windows.
Cadets over the years said they have a shared feeling as if they were being observed by an unseen presence just to find no one there, while others have reported encountering apparitions in the middle of the night. This was frequently documented during the 1970s when a ghost visited the barracks.
In 1972, West Point experienced an explosion of national inquiry and publicity because of a well-documented apparition that attracted famous demonologists, ghost hunters and psychic mediums of the last century to investigate but that is just one of West Point's ghostly tales. The stories below were sourced from more than 40 years of correspondence, articles and book excerpts collected by USMA historians.
Lt. Col. Timothy R. O'Neill gave a thorough perspective in his book, "Shades of Gray." The following story was inspired by details from his research.
Room 4714 & The Pusher
In October 1972 at 2 a.m. in Room 4714 of the North Barracks' 47th Division, two male cadets were sound asleep when a ghost Soldier manifested in front of the younger cadet and the closet against a wall. The Soldier stared with menacing eyes made of light that stirred the cadet to consciousness. Upon waking, the cadet screamed, and the Soldier immediately vanished. The cadet's roommate did not see anything but said there was an otherworldly coldness in the room.
The ghost was described as a middle-aged Soldier donning an antique uniform from the 1830s, a musket, shako hat and handlebar mustache. The ghost earned his nickname "The Pusher" because his ice-cold presence forced other victims to lay immobile until the pressure of his hazy, glowing physique disappeared.
According to The New York Times, The Pusher appeared a second time in an area known as the Bureau. One cadet they interviewed shared that the ghost walked out amidst a group of cadets which caused them to scream, clutch each other and say the rosary. Reports of seeing him were sporadic over the following years, but The Pusher has not revisited where he first appeared.
Room 4714 is no longer occupied by cadets; the room was converted into a study area and seemingly exorcized due to no other paranormal accounts being documented since 1972. The building has since been renamed Scott Barracks.
Quarters 100-Molly & Greer
Over 217 years have passed since West Point opened its doors as an Army institution of higher learning, but the land hosts a complex history that comes with an abundance of stories. One can imagine there are plenty of other haunted areas on post besides the barracks.
The superintendent's house is known as Quarters 100. For paranormal believers, it serves as a supernatural hotel given the variety of spirit personalities that come and go. Based on several reports, there are two permanent ghost residents to this day.
Former Superintendent Lt. Gen. William A. Knowlton invited married clairvoyants Eric and Lorraine Warren to perform a psychic investigation and séance at the house in 1972. The wife revealed her psychic impressions of those living in another dimension as she toured the rooms of Quarters 100.
The superintendent noted detailed accounts of Warren's psychic impressions that she picked up during her investigation. They included descriptions of the spirits and energy present in each room. He wrote them down in a memorandum to the librarian requesting them to search West Point archives and find evidence that supported her claims.
Warren described a woman who could be the ghost named Molly, an Irish cook who served Sylvanus Thayer. She is known to rumple bed linens and knock wine bottles to the floor in the kitchen.
"She is not old, very domineering, athletically inclined, and really not quite a lady. I get a feeling of no man; if she had a husband, he was dominated while at home," Warren said.
Others who've worked at Quarters 100 have said that although mischievous, Molly does not mean any harm and is more playful than hurtful in nature.
Another ghost that struck Warren with a strong psychic impression was an African American man named Greer. She shared that Greer is the one responsible for moving objects throughout the home. One example was written in Knowlton's memorandum.
When the former superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy and his wife stayed at the house as guests and they woke up early in the morning and found a wallet that belonged to another occupant in the home carefully placed between them in bed.
Warren described Greer as tall and slender in a gray uniform, that he was an orderly to a superintendent and communicated that he carries a deep burden of guilt and sadness from committing murder.
In the librarian's response to the superintendent's request for verifiable information, archivists were able to find documented evidence of several African American men who came through West Point with Greer's name. One of the descriptions that potentially best fits that of the ghost Warner encountered was Lawrence Greer, a Buffalo Soldier who turned out to be a criminal.
"General prisoner Lawrence Greer was definitely black, formerly a private in Troop C, 9th Calvary. He escaped from confinement at Fort Leavenworth in June of 1931 and was apprehended the following April near Albany, New York. He was brought to West Point and court-martialed for his escape and subsequent desertion," Chief of USMA Archives Stanley Tozeski said.
"Found guilty, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years of hard labor. However, the sentence was disapproved by command of Maj. Gen. Connor because the prisoner was judged insane at the time of his trial. We have no record of what happened to Pvt. Greer after these events."
The librarian seemed motivated, but he said most of Warren's descriptions would require an extensive search of reminiscences from past superintendents which are not part of the archive's holdings. Today, West Point archivists can provide memories from past graduates and professors when they lived at another haunted house.
Quarters 107B & The Lady
It was reported in email correspondence between several former cadets and the Association of Graduates that a ghostly occupant named "The Lady" resides at Quarters 107B on Professor's Row, a home overlooking the Hudson River.
A professor once lived there with his young wife, but their story does not end happily ever after. The couple was struck with tragedy when she became fatally ill in the 1920s. To help ease her sickness and keep the house tidy, her mother came to live with them. The story goes that the professor and mother shared an attraction that grew into love which devastated the wife; perhaps her untimely death arrived even faster due to a broken heart.
They say "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." She made her husband pledge not to remarry her mother, but once she took her last breath, he took vows shortly after with the mother anyway.
The ghost was left by a man she was in love with for her own mother, and their affair began in the same home she was bedridden in. Some mediums say her intense emotional distress began while she was alive, but keeps her soul gripped to this world from a lack of finding peace. This is what has prompted chaotic paranormal activity over the years.
It was reported that items were thrown and turned upside down, a clock that was frozen for years abruptly chimed to life and a former tenant said they heard "horrendous sounds in the night like someone riding a big wheel across the wooden floor overhead." The haunting was so frequent the post engineer had to seal the ghost's bedroom off at one point because she scared people out of it, but the room was eventually reopened in the 1950s.
Although these disturbing actions were not very lady-like, the ghost received her name from the 8-year-old daughter of a Class of 1960 graduate. The family lived there between 1971-75 and the little girl and her younger sister occupied the haunted room during that time.
The girl woke her parents up in the middle of the night on multiple occasions. They heard their child having a conversation, but after getting out of bed to check on her, they discovered she was not speaking with anyone they could see. When the parents asked her who she was talking to, she called her The Lady.
Share your paranormal experience with us
Aside from West Point's most famous spirits, there were reports of other paranormal activity throughout the installation. An extra head in a cadet's group photo peered in from a MacArthur Barrack's window. Frightened pets barked at nothing in officers' quarters. A cleaner on the night crew quit his job after being thrown by a malevolent spirit in Building 606.
If you have experienced paranormal activity during your time at West Point and would like to share your story with us for future publication, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.