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Vortex at Thompson Park among 50 paranormal destinations highlighted by tourism website


WATERTOWN — A source of intrigue for more than a century, the so-called vortex at Thompson Park is among 50 paranormal destinations on a “haunted trail” across New York state featured at

Twenty tourism promotion agencies across the state, including the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, cooperated to launch the website and a trail map brochure to promote hauntings for visitors. The website includes summaries of each haunted destination, accompanied by audio tours detailing their spooky history.

The website’s launch comes as the Watertown community has taken a renewed interest in the so-called vortex at Thompson Park — a legend about odd disappearances that have happened since the park was opened in 1905. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a famous American landscape architect.

Gary S. DeYoung, executive director of the 1000 Islands Council, said the website will help grab people’s attention about the vortex in Watertown.

“The renewed interest in the Thompson Park vortex made for a good fit with the Haunted History Trail program,” Mr. DeYoung said in a news release. “The trail is a great way to bring together all of these spooky locations into one promotion to get people’s attention. For the park, it complements the city’s investment and gives people a unique reason to visit a really great asset that visitors should see.”

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said he was happy to hear that the vortex and the city were getting more attention.

“What a great investment it was for the city,” he said.

On Oct. 18, about 250 people gathered to observe a partial lunar eclipse at the park near a cluster of trees on its eastern side, where people reportedly have disappeared and then reappeared. City officials put up a sign that evening to dub the site “Watertown’s Area 51,” a reference to the secret Nevada military base called Area 51, where UFOs allegedly were kept. Last year, the U.S. government revealed that the code name for Area 51 was “Watertown,” because former CIA Director Allen W. Dulles was born in the city.

The vortex — a portal that allegedly sends people into different time warps — has been popularized by published articles, along with a book about eerie sites in the U.S. Some witnesses to the phenomenon have claimed the portal seems to move within the park’s boundaries.

A printed map of the haunted trail, made available by tourism agencies, highlights haunted locations in the Greater Niagara, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Capital/Saratoga, Catskills, Hudson Valley and 1000 Islands-Seaway regions.

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