Haunted Destinations:



By Steve Gehrke

October is the month many paranormal fanatics anticipate all year long, and it’s in full swing.

Haunted houses and corn mazes have opened their rickety and frightening gates to the public.

But the only particularly disturbing experience at some haunted houses comes after a couple of hours of standing outside in the cold waiting in line after paying skyrocketing admission fees.

So where does this leave poor, struggling college students who are barely scraping up enough cash for Ramen noodles and tips for the pizza delivery man?

Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and view the rich history behind some of Salt Lake City’s older, natural, more frightening structures.

There are a number of scary Salt Lake legends that many people haven’t had the opportunity to indulge themselves in.

The following are a few examples of local, ghastly locations and the stories behind them. Maybe they’ll give some students another reason to scream between all those midterm exams and research papers.

The Webster School: One of Salt Lake City’s first schools, this site has become a favorite among the select few blessed (or cursed) with the knowledge of its existence.

The school is ideal for those who enjoy exploring classic abandoned buildings.

Shattered glass, collapsed doors and inexplicable accounts of randomly broken silences are just a few highlights of the adventure. The school is accompanied by a rickety circular stairwell leading down to an abyss of darkness.

It has been rumored by local residents that echoes of children laughing and playing in the schoolyard still ring out in the tranquility of night.

Some have even reported seeing children in the windows as they drive by.

“I don’t usually get scared too easily. I mean, I’m a crazy guy, but let’s just say I wouldn’t recommend going alone. I went with a couple of friends once and we saw some pretty weird things. Mostly stuff like shadows of people who may or may not have actually been there. Unless there are some drifters calling this place home, it’s definitely haunted,” U student David Harrison said.

The Webster School is located at 9180 W. and 2700 South in Magna.

Emmo’s Grave: It’s been a highly acclaimed site-of-the-spooky for generations.

The remains of one Jacob Moritz are located inside an urn that is visible through a window at eye level in the mausoleum.

Rumors have circulated accusing Moritz of being one of the first devil worshippers in Salt Lake City.

Legend says that if a simple ritual is performed by circling the tomb three times chanting “Emmo, Emmo, Emmo,” Moritz’s face can be seen staring out of the window where the urn lies.

The urn was broken years ago, some say by vandals and some say by Moritz himself.

Perhaps over the years Mr. Emmo has become bored or tired with scaring his visitors off.

“The only fear I experienced at Emmo’s grave is that of being bored to death,” U student Alex Mendenhall said.

Emmo’s grave is located east of “P Street” in the Avenues, on a main path in the Salt Lake Cemetery.

Capitol Theatre: It may be more difficult to explore the paranormal intervention within the walls of this building, as it is still in business and obviously locks up after nightfall.

Theatre staff say that a ghost by the name of George haunts the area.

George worked as an usher in the 1940s until he died in a fire. Employees and security guards alike testify to abnormal occurrences within the building.

Everything from lights being tampered with to elevators operating on their own have been reported.

Shilo Inn (and surrounding area): This popular downtown hotel played host to a troublesome event which not many people know about.

It is rumored that a family of children was thrown off of the upper balcony of the Shilo in the early 1980s.

The mother apparently dropped them off before jumping to her own demise. There is a lot of inexplicable activity in the region of this 200 S. and West Temple area.

Most of it is accredited to the several murders which have taken place in this neighborhood, but some say that the ghosts of the murdered children still haunt the hotel.

The Old Mill: This structure is an old paper mill dating back to pioneer times and it’s located at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

The setting around the Old Mill is chilling. The mill, the trees and general area around the mill is aged and decrepit.

The actual building sits in a small valley carved out by the canyon river.

Driving by, even in the light of day, will provide a substantial shudder.

“The Old Mill? Yeah I’ve been there. As an avid movie buff with aspirations of film making, I would say this is one of the creepiest settings I’ve ever experienced. It would be difficult to rival the effects of this structure even by artificial means,” U student Matt Springer said.

As if the atmosphere wasn’t spooky enough, there is a story behind this eerie structure.

The mill burned down not once, but twice, apparently taking the lives of workers on both occasions.

Supposedly, the first fire ignited as a result of a fight between two drifters. One man and a dog that accompanied him died in this fire. Years later, after the mill had been rebuilt and abandoned, another pair of transients were apparently staying in the mill. They started a fire to keep warm and woke up to sounds of a barking dog accompanied by yelling?far too loud to have originated outside.

One of the men escaped and the other perished in the flames.

It is said that two men and a dog now haunt the structure. Some visitors have reported hearing faint yells and even growling and barking while in the courtyard of the mill.

Eventually the place was simply abandoned and left standing as a historical pioneer site. Many of the businesses and housing areas nearby are named after the building.

These are just five accounts of continuous paranormal activity in the Salt Lake Valley. Some other popular “haunted” sites worth inquiring about include the crematory, the old Primary Children’s Hospital, the grave of the 666 beast and a number of public schools (including Taylorsville, Cyprus and Alta High Schools) still in use to this day.

The admission is free to these haunted destinations and might give adventure seekers a bigger scare during the Halloween season.

sgehrke@chronicle.utah.edu

Visiting many of these locations after hours may be considered trespassing. For a more extensive account visit http://www.ghosts.org /stories/tales/haunted-mill.html.

smorton