We have all heard ghost stories, often around a campfire late at night when a snagged branch or an ominous breeze can feel like a crooked hand on the back of your neck.
It’s fun to get spooked from a scary story, but what if the stories are real? Here in Utah, we have a handful of houses where hauntings have been reported over the years. Are they just stories, or is something paranormal at work there? Science tries to explain many spooky events, but there is much about the cosmos that we just don’t understand.
Could souls with unresolved deaths get trapped in a purgatory between this life and the next? The following are three houses in Utah that have been reported as haunted, and we’ll let you be the judge.
Park City — Claim Jumper Steakhouse Building
The former Park City Hotel, a three-story edifice built in the 1880s, is one of the few structures that survived the great fire of 1898. In the 1970s, the hotel was renamed the Claim Jumper and included a restaurant on the first floor and a saloon in the basement that had the look and feel of an elegant Old West hotel and saloon. When the hotel became apartments in the 1990s, the restaurant portion of it stayed vacant for more than a decade. The restaurant, now called the Claimjumper Steak House, is again live and bustling at the same location.
Many of the building’s staff and guests have experienced the supernatural over the years. A friendly presence has been felt by many who have entered its walls, and an apparition has been seen by staff and guests just out of the corner of their eyes. Doors open and close by themselves and footsteps are heard going up and down the stairs. Items are rearranged in a different order than left by staff. Candles are also known the re-light themselves, and the TV in the basement saloon goes on and off by itself.
Salt Lake City – McCune Mansion
Alfred W. McCune built one of the first mansions on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City in 1900. McCune was one of the big, early American entrepreneurs who made his fortune in the mining and railroad industries. He was born in India and came to Utah as a child. He and his wife would later donate the mansion to the LDS Church when they moved to Los Angeles.
The 21-room, three-story home was built by the most skilled craftsmen and with the finest materials available including onyx and Nubian marble; walnut, oak, mahogany and cherry woods; and handmade red tile shingles imported from Holland. The ballroom includes balconies and columns with custom seating in four alcoves. Mirrors were placed on every wall of the room. Hidden inside the grand staircase is a small room where musicians would play for parties to be unseen by guests.
The LDS Church housed the McCune School of Music there from 1920 to 1953, and afterwards it was used as the Brigham Young University Salt Lake City Center for 20 years. It then became the Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School until it was restored in the late 1990s and has been used as wedding and reception hall since.
Over the years, people have heard voices in the house when no one else was present. Doors open and close and are locked and unlocked, even if they don’t have locks on them. Lights also turn on and off without explanation. A non-threatening man in a black cape has been seen by visitors when they are alone in a room, and the image of a 10-year-old girl has been seen multiple times. She has been seen walking out of a mirror on the first floor, and her footprints have appeared in several rooms. The girl likes to attend weddings and receptions, and her image has actually been recorded on film.
Ogden – Hi-Fi Shop
In the 1970s, the Hi-Fi Shop on Washington Boulevard in Ogden was the location of a horrific robbery in which the assailants took hostages and performed some gruesome murders, rape and torture. An account of the Hi-Fi murders by a survivor says that victims were forced to drink Drano before being shot. The event received national attention and a book and movie were made about the crime.
For years after the event, many people could still smell blood and smoke when they walked in the shop. Some people have heard women crying and reported mirrored tiles falling randomly to the ground and breaking. The Ogden City Mall, which includes condos above first-level shops, was built over the site of the Hi-Fi Shop in last few years. Do people who live there now still feel the presence of haunted spirits?
The reality of spooky experiences such as seeing ghosts or other transcendental or metaphysical events is debated by many. However, the haunted stories that surround old homes and locations have become part of the history of their communities. Ghost stories connect us personally to those who lived before – whether we want to feel their presence or not. Happy Halloween…Boo!
Do you have a favorite ghost story or paranormal experience to share?