When the original Erie Canal was completed in 1825, it was hailed as “The Eighth Wonder of the Western World”–an “engineering marvel”–but it was far from perfect. It was downright dangerous at times, especially for the boys, “Hoggees,” who rode horses along the towpath to help pull boats from one lock to another. Hoggees were only paid eight dollars a month, and that was if they weren’t cheated out of their wages entirely.
Matthew Malloy was a Hoggee just like any other. He worked along Lock 60. Only, when a captain denied him his wages, Matthew decided to strike back. While the captain slept, Matthew snuck aboard his boat, and into his quarters, where he tried to take his earnings from the captain’s purse.
The second he held the money in his hand, the captain awoke, and whacked him on the back of head, knocking him unconscious. Fearing the repercussions, he picked up the boy and through him over board. Matthew ‘s body was found the next morning, floating facedown in the water. The papers reported that his death was an accident. The night had been a “New Moon,” and was unusually dark. He must have misjudged his relation to the canal, fallen in, and hit his head.
Of course, the captain knew what he had done, and he tried his best to forget it in the following months. In a year’s time, his life was back to normal. Unfortunately for him, Matthew’s spirit had other plans. On the first anniversary of his death, Matthew’s spirit arose from its watery grave and found out the murderer of its mortal form.
Just as before, the captain was asleep until he sensed someone in the room. When he opened his eyes, he saw Matthew standing over him, pale and drenched.
“Hoggee on the towpath don’t know what to say,” the spirit sang in a gargling voice, “Tortured in the after-life, all the live-long day.” This was enough to give the captain a heart attack, and greatly please the spirit.
Matthew was so pleased, in fact, that to this day he still haunts the grounds of Lock 60. The area is now a park with roofless passageways that once held water, and plenty of places to hide. If one is dishonest, it is not recommended that he or she go there. Matthew could be lurking behind any corner, preparing to attack.
Written by Alex Schattner 8/28/12