Horse-drawn trolley rides set for this weekend

“One of the most beautiful cemeteries in Western New York is Forest Hill…” So begins a history of the cemetery located in Fredonia.

On Friday and Saturday, FestivalsFredonia – noted for its History & Ghost Tours – will host horse-drawn trolley tours every half hour through the historic cemetery. The tours begin at 7 p.m. and run until 10 p.m.

The trolleys will load passengers at the Gazebo in Barker Commons Park on West Main Street and return to the same area.

Last year the trolley tours sold out. Don’t be left standing in the cold, call now for reservations.

If you think that cemeteries are just places where the departed rest, you are quite mistaken. Apart from preserving the memory of those near and dear, cemeteries are art galleries, horticultural gardens, history museums, and puzzles to be deciphered. And no better place to experience this than Fredonia’s Forest Hill on Lambert Avenue.

Forest Hill Cemetery, adjacent to Pioneer Cemetery with its origins in the early 19th century, is in many ways a time capsule of the town’s history. Forest Hill Cemetery is still an active cemetery where our dearly departed are still placed for final rest each day, as they have been for almost 200 years. From monuments commemorating our founders’ families, Fredonia’s national heroes, Revolutionary, Union and Confederate soldiers, and artists, to entrepreneurs and industrialists who also gained wide recognition, each turn in the cemetery’s pathways uncovers stories that should not remain a secret.

Take, for example, the story of the Koch family, Otto Koch was a prominent businessman and undertaker in Bradford, PA, but was originally from the area. In 1906 Mr. Koch became a major share holder in the Kendall Refinery and was known for introducing the slogan “Kendall, the 2,000 Mile Oil”, which helped propel Kendall as a leading manufacturer for the automobile oil industry in the 1920’s and 30’s. Another founder of the Community, Dr. Squire White, is also laid to rest in Forest Hill. He was the first physician to set up practice in Chautauqua County and was an Uncle to the Cushing Brothers who served bravely in the civil war. The property now occupied by The White Inn, which was once the exclusive domain of the Indians, came into the hands of Dr. Squire White early in the nineteenth century. In 1811 he erected a frame house on the site, making it the permanent residence of the White family. Hear tales of the White Inn’s grisly murder/suicide and a former owner who can’t bare to leave – hauntings, sightings and occurrences -all recent. Care to book a room with more than a view??

Ever wonder why is there a large oval pattern within the cemetery? How about the “hauntings” as a result of the Normal School fire, the notorious hanging of Joseph Damon that failed – once – or the sightings and cries of those who died too young? For nearly two hundred years Forest Hill has been a place for souls at “rest”, souls who have “gone home” and some who aren’t quite sure yet!

There are tales to excite, amaze, and unnerve even the most enlightened history buff.

The tour winds its way through the dark cemetery- through heroes, founding members and some of the most notoriously scary villains. This year join Lt. Colonel Alonzo Cushing, portrayed by our Town Historian Todd Langworthy, as the knowledgeable guide on the tours departing at 7, 8, 9 or 10 PM or be captivated with the telling of the tales told by knowledgeable guide Wayne Ashley at 7:30, 8:30 or 9:30 PM. The tour is recommended for those ages 8 and up, but on occasion even some of the local residents from Forest Hill older than 108 often enjoy joining us for the tours. The tales and atmosphere of the ride are in keeping with the season, as are the refreshments, which will be provided in the Gazebo in Barker Commons West to sweeten the end of the tour. Once again, reservations are a must and seating is limited on the trolleys so don’t wait to book your tour into the past! Call 716-672-4818, TimePieces Gift Shop, to get the details and make your reservations now. The cost for tickets is $12.50 which includes refreshments.

But wait there’s more happening- Also on Saturday, October 19 from 8 PM – 12 AM taking place in East Barker Commons Park will be the 6th annual Fredonia Zombie Crawl produced by the “Zombie Fans” volunteers. When the night falls, the dead will walk the earth. All ages are welcome to attend; human or zombie! “Zombification” will be from 8-9 PM including Zombie Make-up and clothes , provided for $2 Suggested Donation, followed by the Zombie Olympics at 8:30, at 9:30 pmZombie Mass Photo and judging for Zombie King and Queen will take place, to cap off the festivities in the park there will be the Zombie Crawl at 9:45 PM-a shamble/promenade through downtown Fredonia, all hailing our Zombie King and Queen ending at 10:15 PM with aZombie Party at EBC West, the Zombie Party headquarters. This year the “Zombie Fans” volunteer group will be accepting donations for the local Food Pantry and the Pet Pantry including; bags, boxes, treats or cans of food, (animal, human or brains for the undead) pet beds, crates, carriers, bowls, or toys (new or used). All food must be unopened. For more information on this event please visit the Zombie Fans facebook page at:

To learn more about FestivalsFredonia or about upcoming events in Fredonia you can check out or website at or you can find us on facebook at FestivalsFredonia is a volunteer organization in partnership with the Village of Fredonia, the Town of Pomfret, area merchants, organizations and volunteers. We are a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing quality events and entertainment for the community and our supporters and are always interested in new volunteers or event sponsors.