As Halloween approaches, thrill-seekers gravitate towards haunted attractions. From sites of horrific murders to a historic military base that housed prisoners of war, these five attractions separate themselves from the pack as being the scariest places in Salt Lake City.
Fort Douglas Military Museum
The Fort Douglas Military Museum is open to the public and located at 32 Potter St. on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City.
“We have one of the largest collections in the country for a single military museum,” said Beau Burgess, historical curator and director of the museum.
During the Civil War, Fort Douglas served as a crucial post for soldiers. Following the Civil War, the site became a central military post, housing German, Japanese and Italian prisoners of war. Unfortunately, abuse occurred within, and the bodies were buried near the museum.
The museum is also frequently named one of Utah’s most haunted locations. Hundreds of paranormal encounters have occurred among the museum’s personnel, volunteers, and visitors.
Similarly, Burgess has hundreds of stories and numerous experiences of his own, so many that he has come to expect it.
“It is never something that you get used to. Having a paranormal experience is never a pleasant thing,” Burgess explained. “It is like when a friend jumps out from around a corner and screams, ‘BOO!’ It startles you for a minute.”
One of the more well-known ghosts at the museum is Clem, a Civil War-era soldier. He patrols the museum and was allegedly recently captured on a visitor’s camera.
Surprisingly, the museum also claims to be home to several child spirits, some of whom have appeared in photographs taken by visitors. People do not typically link children with the army, but according to Burgess, soldiers housed their families here, and several accidents involved children.
Visitors claim to hear children playing, and one employee claimed to have had a conversation with many kids that were not there.
If you are looking to experience some of the paranormal events at the museum, they always need volunteers.
Rio Grande Depot
Rio Grande Depot is an old train station turned historical landmark. The location has been a site of so many unexplained events that KSL hired a Ghost Hopping crew to investigate.
Reports of paranormal activity came in after the station closed in 1947. The building’s security guards have reported footsteps on the upper balcony, heavy breathing, and shadowy apparitions.
One well-known spirit, known as the “Purple Lady” by employees, still haunts Rio Grande Depot. She is the spirit of a young woman dressed in a purple gown who died trying to retrieve her engagement ring that had fallen onto the tracks. She is most often seen in the women’s restroom, sending terrified visitors screaming from the bathroom.
The Rio Grande Depot is currently closed to visitors because of the damage done by last year’s earthquake and will not open again for at least a few years.
The Capitol Theatre, located at 50 W. 200 S. in Salt Lake City, opened in 1923. The theater is well-known for hosting plays and concerts, but it also hosts some paranormal activities.
A fire broke out at the theater in 1949, killing a 17-year-old usher named Richard Duffin. Employees claim that his spirit now enjoys playing pranks on theatergoers.
Security personnel at the Capitol Theatre would frequently smell smoke coming from somewhere, but no source was ever discovered.
Similarly, the theater’s employees stood and watched as each of the file drawers opened and slammed shut, one by one. In 2006, two police officers quit due to the haunting, making this one of Utah’s most well-documented hauntings.
The Shilo Inn
The former Shilo Inn now stands as the Holiday Express Inn at 206 S. West Temple, but the new name does not take away the spook. The 12-story hotel in downtown Salt Lake has a thirteenth floor that stores the boiler and other equipment.
The haunting of this hotel seemed to stem from one very tragic incident in 1978. Rachel David, a mother of seven, forced her eldest daughter to help throw her six younger children over the balcony before throwing her eldest daughter over and then jumping herself. Rachel and six of her children died, while her 15-year-old daughter survived the fall.
Since then, guests and employees claim to hear footsteps and the screams of children. Some have also experienced a woman’s laughter in the pool area.
In addition, employees say the children have liked the pinball machine and can often be heard playing it at night.
According to the hotel maintenance man, the entities enjoy hanging out on the thirteenth floor, often playing tricks on him by unscrewing light bulbs and moving his maintenance tools.
Entrepreneur Alfred W. McCune built the McCune Mansion in 1898, later selling it to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the 1920s. It’s currently used as a venue for weddings and receptions.
The beautiful stone red house sits atop a hill at 200 N. Main St. and is extremely popular with locals and tourists because of the hauntings.
Two of the most prominent spirits are those of an older man and a 10-year-old girl. Those who have seen the manly apparition say he usually shows himself to those who are alone and describe him being a tall man wearing a black cape. However, he appears to be friendly, just closely observing the happenings of the mansion. Some even claim that the male spirit is Alfred McCune himself.
As for the 10-year-old girl, she is believed to be the spirit of a young girl whose picture hangs in the house. She is very playful and will often join in with celebrations hosted at the mansion and has even been caught on film a few times. She is also said to like to help to decorate for weddings hosted at the location.