In 1942, three young teenage boys were excited to be camping at Camp Onyahsa. Little did they know that this would be an experience that would have a lifetime effect upon them.
Camp Onyahsa is located on Lake Chautauqua in Dewittville, NY and is one of the oldest summer camps in the country. The boys participated in a number of activities including swimming, boating and hiking through the vast forest surrounding the camp. One of the favorite afternoon games was called hounds and hares. One group of boys were the proverbial hounds who would track the other group of boys who were the hares. The hares would have a bag of confetti that they would leave a trail through the forest.
One afternoon, three boys, who were the hounds, ran rampantly after the trail of confetti left for them by the hares. They were having such a good time tracking that they forgot the time it was becoming darker by the minute. Soon they became disoriented and lost in the woods. All of the trees and trails looked the same. After trying for several hours to find their way back to the camp, the boys knew they were truly lost. The sun eventually went down and the forest became very dark. The three boys walked for several miles and came upon a road with a split rail fence on both sides. The moon was full and illuminated the road. They walked for few minutes and came upon an old man wearing overalls, a straw hat and a tattered shirt leaning on the fence post. They asked the old man directions back to Camp Onyahsa. The old man just cackled and pointed saying, “Just follow the road”. The boys thanked him and continued on their way.
After a few minutes, the boys saw the same old man again, sitting on a fence post. They asked him how he got there so fast, but the old man just cackled. The boys asked him again how to get back to Camp Onyahsa. The old man replied, “Follow the road and when you see a meadow with a knoll, go over it and you will find what you are looking for.”
The boys found the meadow but as they started to cross the field they heard a low rumbling noise. The boys looked around expecting to see cattle, but there were none. Just a moonlit field. They continued to walk toward the crest of the hill. With each step the rumbling became louder and the ground began to shake under their feet. The noise became deafening. Cold sweat trickled down the boys faces in fear that a herd of cattle was coming toward them from the other side of the hill and that they would be trampled to death. The boys peeked over the crest, but to their astonishment there were no cattle. The boys ran like the wind as fast as they could and climbed over a fence at the top of the hill. The noise suddenly stopped. The three boys looked at each other and then turned and saw the lights of Camp Onyahsa in the distance. The old man was right.
When the boys finally got back to camp, they saw that everyone had turned on their car headlights hoping that the boys would see the lights and return. The camp counselors were furious. They demanded to know where the boys were for over 6 hours. The boys told the counselors about how they got lost, the old man and the sound of stampeding cattle. However, the counselors refused to believe their story.
The next morning, the boys and two counselors returned to the area where the incident had occurred. The only people around were a couple of farmers. The counselors asked them if they knew of an old man who lives in the area and also about a possible herd of cattle. The farmers replied that there had not been any cattle in this area for over 100 years. The last time that there was any cattle, “the whole herd had to be destroyed because of hoof and mouth disease. In fact, the herd was destroyed in that field over there”, pointing to the exact location where the boys claimed to have heard the cattle. “The farmer, who owned the herd, went crazy after they destroyed his cattle. In fact, the neighbors found him dead leaning up against one of the fence posts on this very road.”
The boys began to shake and they looked at each other in bewilderment wondering what exactly happened to them last night. Could it possibly be that the past and the present somehow came together for few brief moments ? What of this world or not of this world just happened right in front of them? And is the ghost of the old man and cattle still out there? It must be!