Spend a Night at Fainting Goat Island Inn with Ghosts and Animals
August 25, 2021
Unexplained voices. Doors slamming without a cause. Footsteps when no one is around. Trumpet music in the middle of the night. These are just some of the things that visitors have experienced while staying at Fainting Goat Island Inn in Nichols, New York.
Thank you to Tioga County Tourism and Marnie at Fainting Goat Island Inn for hosting me at the inn – on Friday the 13th!
The History of Fainting Goat Island Inn
Built in 1850, the inn has had a very colorful history. The building originally served as an ice house for the area, where community members literally went to get blocks of ice to keep their food cold. Over time, as the building changed hands, it was also the town post office, a railroad hotel, a foundry, and even a brothel.
Marnie Streit, the innkeeper, came across the abandoned building when she was floating down the Susquehanna River. She quickly inquired about the property, thinking there was no way she afford it. But perhaps it was meant to be, because Marnie soon become the owner of a house bigger than she had planned. Years later she would turn it into an inn to share its charm and history with others.
In addition to the house and the land surrounding it, Marnie also owns the 17-acre island in the river behind the property. While the original plan was to let the goats roam free on Fainting Goat Island… that wasn’t to be the case. Fainting goats are afraid of water! So now it’s a place for Marnie and the dogs to relax and explore.
Where Did the Name Fainting Goat Island Inn Come From?
The story about Fainting Goat’s name is an emotional one. Marnie lost her sister to breast cancer while renovating the inn. Since they had such a close relationship with her, Marnie took the loss particularly hard. She didn’t feel quite like herself for a long time. Then one day she was watching Dan Rather on tv and he was talking about fainting goats. Something about the goats struck her, and she knew she needed to get some.
Marnie drove all the way to Tennessee to adopt two fainting goats. When she got home, she didn’t know what she was going to do with them! But she knew that she needed them. They were to be a part of her therapy in moving forward. Therefore, the goats served as inspiration for naming both the island and the inn.
When visiting the inn, you’ll also notice elaborate gardens surrounding the house. Those were planted by Marnie’s sister. Even through her struggles with cancer, she was determined to help make Marnie’s dreams come true. She was adamant that lilies and other flowers be planted around the property. Her legacy lives on there.
Meet Marnie, Bill, and the Crew of Animals
Originally from the Pierrepont, New York, Marnie eventually made her way down to Nichols. She took a job as the health and physical education teacher at Sayre High School. And while you’d think that means she gets time to relax in the summer, you’re wrong. Marnie is admittedly a proud workaholic, rising each morning at 4am and continuing to work on improving the inn and surrounding property.
When Marnie bought the house, she did so on her own, becoming one of many female business owners in the Tioga County area. A few years down the road, her partner Bill came into the picture. Together they live on the first floor of the inn and share the responsibilities – of both maintaining the property and sharing ghost stories.
To answer your question, yes, there really are fainting goats at the inn. It lives up to its name! And while the inn was named after the goats, the dogs steal the show. Four beautiful, fluffy Great Pyrenees – Stanley, Bertha, Archie, and Fiona – will beg you for pets during your visit. You may also see some of the five cats roaming around too. Plus there is Porkchop, the pot-bellied pig, and several ducks. It’s an animal lover’s dream!
The Ghosts of Fainting Goat Island Inn
One of my favorite things about visiting the inn is that despite all of the ghost stories, Marnie and Bill won’t tell them to you. Right away, that is. That’s because they want their guests to experience the inn, and whatever supernatural events occur, for themselves. They don’t want their stories to sway what visitors see or hear. But, in the morning you better be ready to share anything you experienced throughout the night!
Without giving too much away, the most famous ghost at the inn is said to be a little boy. He is commonly seen/heard in the Fainting Room, the most active of the 5 guest rooms. There are also women’s voices heard regularly throughout the rooms.
Has it always been haunted?
When Marnie originally bought the property, she didn’t know it was haunted. In fact, she’s quite the skeptic when it comes to paranormal occurrences. Even though she has video evidence to prove she has experienced ghosts. (Seriously. Ask her to see it when you visit!) Bill is more of a believer, and apt to agree to any stories the guests tell.
Before the building was opened as an inn, Marnie started to experience strange things happening. Things that couldn’t be explained by science or logic. But she didn’t want anything to do with ghosts. She didn’t want the inn associated with a “haunted” reputation. That wasn’t her plan for the building. But the ghosts – and the guests – had their own plans. After the inn officially opened in 2017, stories started spreading about paranormal experiences at the inn. So much so that the Haunted History Trail of New York reached out to Marnie to include the inn on the trail.
Can you do a ghost hunt at the inn?
Yes! In fact, Marnie and Bill encourage visitors to bring their own ghost hunting equipment. Spirit boxes, audio recorders, video cameras, etc. They also love to see/hear evidence that guests capture on their own. Of course, Marnie will be more likely to debunk the evidence, while Bill is more likely to believe.
Fainting Goat Island Inn has been featured in various magazines and tv shows for its paranormal activity. The Travel Channel featured the inn on an episode of Hotel Paranormal. The inn has also been voted among the most haunted hotels in the United States by USA Today – multiple times. Which makes it even more ironic that Marnie’s original goal was for this to be a peaceful retreat and animal sanctuary. Guess the ghosts had other plans.
To be clear, the inn is not a bed & breakfast. Which just means that you won’t get a full hot breakfast in the morning. But, the warm hospitality and inviting atmosphere is still a huge part of staying at the inn. Plus, Marnie’s cinnamon rolls in the morning have become more famous than the ghost stories with the guests!
Overall the house is quite charming. From the gardens and animals outside to the vintage furniture and decor in all of the rooms, it’s a beautiful place to stay. Marnie and Bill honestly couldn’t be more welcoming to their guests. And they are happy to stay up late chatting in the front parlor about the history of the place.
Guests at the Fainting Goat are treated like friends. You’re welcome to hang out in any of the common areas, and encouraged to browse through the old newspaper clippings and books. I highly recommend spending some time on the back deck with the dogs. It overlooks the Susquehanna River and Fainting Goat Island.