In Cambridge, New York, a trail cam photo caused a buzz around town. It wasn’t a mystery animal, it was a young girl marching defiantly. The camera was set up by new landowners who wished to use the area for hunting but, wisely, wanted to know if there were regular visitors across the tract. So, they get this picture.Wishing to identify the girl, they notify police with the picture. This May 1 reference by News10 is the first reference to the story but the report says the photo was a few weeks old and she was not yet identified. I checked the police department Facebook page and they did not have the photo up but may have removed it due to publicity. The story went crazy, first locally, and then nationally. People seemed to be perplexed at the idea of a young girl (probably around 8 or 9 years old) walking by herself in the woods. Then, inexplicably, some were sure it was a ghost. Why?
The picture is grainy and unclear, as trail cam photos usually are. There was only one photo available. Trail cams trigger via movement or take pictures at specific intervals. Neither setting is ideal and can lead to ambiguous situations.
The news reports used phrases like “deep in the woods” to describe the location but that seems unlikely. From a map of the route identified, patches of wooded areas are near homes and the road. It may not have been very deep at all. (Additional information on where this was suspected to be taken is welcome. I’m not going to bother the police. I’m just stating some obvious points that should be noticed before assuming that this story is anything mysterious at all.)The prevalence of “ghost” photos in popular culture may have conditioned people to assume that this photo fits that niche. This is irrational. The girl is not only wearing modern clothes and looks perfectly alive, but there has never been an authenticated ghost photo. It is absurd to jump to a paranormal conclusion when normal ones are readily available. But it seems that people think that a child taking a jaunt through the woods is so highly unlikely that this must be a ghost! One lady says, “Look, it’s definitely a spirit.”
Of course, the locals say there is a ghostly legend. Because there always is:
People that live in the area say legend has it; a little girl was hit and killed on the train tracks that used to run through the area, so maybe there could be some sort of apparition in these woods.
Obvious questions went unanswered in the press as even a paranormal group weighed in. What houses are nearby? Can we see the location and the camera? They also wanted to “research” to see if they could find paranormal activity, a ubiquitous error that all ghost hunting groups make – assuming that there is something paranormal to find. But even the paranormal investigator interviewed noted that interest in this as supernatural is sparked by the prevalence of TV shows.
The conclusion to this was obvious. A man called police to say that around this time in this location, he and his granddaughter were walking along a path. So, this was not a ghost and the child was not alone. Everyone calm the heck down. I do suspect that this story will eventually morph into support for the legend of Railroad Road (yes, it’s really called that) because people so badly want to believe this stuff.
I couldn’t help but wonder if Ptl. Ryan Buell was on the case.
May 3rd was National Paranormal Day. I have no idea what that means but it’s probably nothing extraordinary.
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