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The Incest Butterflies of Oriskany Falls

Welcome to Oriskany Falls—the incest capital of the world—or so the stories go.

A popular legend at Colgate University says that Oriskany Falls, a tiny quaint village near the university and home to less than 800 people, is actually the home of a secret cult, whose members are all united by familial bonds and the practice of incest. The cult is so well known on campus because its members supposedly hate the nearby university and its students and faculty. Students warn each other not to set foot in the town, lest they face the wrath of the cult’s members, who do not want to be gawked at by the curious prying eyes of

local college students. They would prefer that their strange customs remain secret, and they mark their territory to identify themselves and to warn outsiders that they are stepping onto dangerous grounds.

The student newspaper of Colgate University, the Colgate Maroon News, explored the legends of their school in an article published on February 21, 1997. The paper first laid out the legend, mentioning the ornamentation members of the incest cult place on their homes: “Oriskany Falls is the incest capital of the world and the butterflies on many of the houses represent membership in a secret incestuous cult… This rumor is one of the oldest at Colgate… We, the writers of the article, did not go to Oriskany Falls and question any of the town's residents for various reasons, mainly because we were afraid.”

When traveling through Oriskany Falls, beware—secrets lurk beneath the surface of this seemingly peaceful town. Be on the look out for butterflies… because it is said that the incestuous cult members are never far behind.

You can read more about New York’s Fabled People and Places is Weird New York.

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