October is the ideal time to indulge in ghoulish activities. Salt Lake City’s history is ripe with intrigue and mystery. A haunted tour of the city is just what I needed to scratch my supernatural itch. Grimm Ghost Tours offers a few different ghostly experiences, I selected the Old Town tour, which covers the heart of downtown along with a few of my favorite historic buildings.
As night fell, we drove around the city. Creepy music accompanied the ghost stories told by our tour guide, The Preacher of Truth. With a booming voice and a flair for the dramatic, he shared Salt Lake’s dark history. Our first destination was the Rio Grande Depot. Built in 1910 as a train station, it currently houses State agencies and a mediocre Mexican restaurant. Our group stood outside listening to the Preacher share the sad story of The Purple Lady. According to legend, she was struck and killed by a train trying to reclaim her engagement ring that her fiance tossed on the train tracks. A restless soul, she walks the grand halls of the building in search of her lost love. Her spirit appears dressed in vibrant purple in the mirrors of the ladies restroom, peering out windows and wandering the halls.
The city is full of history and hauntings, some more unpleasant than others. We stopped outside the Shilo Inn to gawk at the 11th floor, where the matriarch of the David family threw her seven children out of the window to join their father who committed suicide in 1978. One girl survived. The rest of the children haunt the hotel, giggling and playing in the pool, leaving tiny wet footprints.
Every minute of the tour was filled with ghost stories, even when we didn’t stop and get out of the bus. Driving by the Capitol Theatre we heard the legend of George, the mischievous spirit who delights in messing around with ballerinas and stage hands. I was especially entertained by these stories as both my dad and grandpa had worked security at the Capitol Theatre and enjoyed scaring the hell out of me with George’s playful antics.
With its spooky gothic architecture, it seems logical that the City and County Building, built in 1864, is purportedly one of the most haunted spots in Salt Lake—it just looks haunted. The EMF meters that measure fluctuations in electromagnetic fields (science-y jargon for “ghosts”) were blinking wildly while the Preacher told us of the many spirits haunting the building. A few former mayors still call the place home among other entities, including a dog and a few children. City employees working late at night have had quite a few supernatural experiences.
Established in 1848, there’s too many scary stories in the Salt Lake Cemetery to count. In fact, Grimm Ghost Tours offers an eerie summer tour of just the cemetery. Members of the tour group huddled together while the Preacher of Truth divulged that we were standing among a mass grave of felons as well as relocated remains of American Indians (Poltergeist, anyone?).
The night was dark, and the tour was getting scarier and scarier. The Preacher shared stories of devil worshipers and hauntings of Memory Grove, located right by the cemetery. As the tour members grew more uncomfortable, we pulled over to the side of a dark road where we were told the haunting tale of the Hoppity Lady. Killed in a car accident with her husband, she walks the road, dressed in white. To summon her, flash your headlights three times and chant her name five times. She appears holding the head of her decapitated husband.
Grimm Ghost Tours are worth every penny, part ghosthunting adventure but mostly entertainment. Participants are urged to take many pictures at each stop and submit them to Grimm Ghost Tours’ website. Sign up on their website or give them a call at 801-508-GRIM. Tours are held year round, and for those of you brave enough, they also offer paranormal investigations.