|Paranormal Focus: Salt Lake City|
For 17 days, the eyes of the world will be trained on the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics - Salt Lake City. Nestled in a valley between Utah's Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City has its share of paranormal phenomena: lake monsters, ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, mystery spots and mystic visions. While you're watching the Olympic hockey games, figure skating or curling events - or if you're lucky enough to be visiting Salt Lake during the games - keep in mind the many strange goings-on taking place in and around this friendly desert city.
Born of Mystic Experiences
Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by a group of pioneers led by Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more familiarly known as the Mormons. Seeking a place where they could practice their religion free of ridicule and persecution, the Mormons found the valley ideal, and Salt Lake City today remains the headquarters of the church. The foundation of the Mormon religion, like many religions, is steeped in mysticism, miracles and visions. According to Mormon history, in 1820, a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith, while praying for spiritual guidance in a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, New York, beheld a vision of both God and Jesus Christ. In this vision, Smith was told that his destiny was to restore the true church of Jesus Christ. Over the next 10 years, Smith claimed to have been visited by several other "heavenly messengers," including the angel Moroni, who presented him with golden tablets in a strange, Egyptian-like language that contained the Book of Mormon - "another testament of Jesus Christ." The Mormon church formally organized in 1830, and today its officials continue to make official church policy through revelations directly from God.
Ghosts and Hauntings
Salt Lake City and surrounding towns have no shortage of ghosts and hauntings:
- A book store in Ogden, a small city north of Salt Lake, is said to be haunted by several spirits. The Utah Ghost Hunters Society says it is one of the most haunted locations they have ever investigated, and they have recorded many EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) there.
- A Victorian-style house, also in Ogden, is filled with classic haunting phenomena: cold spots, unexplained footsteps, fleeting shadows and fearful reactions to certain rooms by dogs. EVPs, including one from a voice calling herself "Olivia," were also captured here.
- The old Utah County Jail, a facility that is now abandoned, has been the site of such anomalous activity as: lights going on and off by themselves, doors opening and closing, and even voices emanating from the now-empty cells. One EVP recorded here warns: "Get out of here!" A video clip shows an orb floating around one room of the jail.
- The Capital Theater in downtown Salt Lake City is the site of several ghost accounts. Allegedly, an usher was killed there in a fire in the 1940s. Since then, lights switch on an off, doors lock and unlock themselves, toilets flush unattended and a Coke machine exhibits strange behavior. The Utah Ghost Organization has recorded EVPs and video there.
- The residents of a private home in Holladay, Utah have reported such activity as: an organ playing by itself, phantom footsteps in an upstairs room, motion alarms that are inexplicably triggered, disembodies voices and the eerie feeling of being watched.
- Promontory Point, Utah is famed for the spot where the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad were joined in 1869, forming the Transcontinental Railroad that linked the eastern and western U.S. One of the main workers' camps at Dove Creek, once inhabited by Chinese laborers, is said to be haunted by unusual phenomena: a phantom steam locomotive, ghostly voices (in Chinese) and footsteps, and unexplained lights.
- The Brigham Young Forest Farm House is part of a restored Mormon pioneer settlement, called Old Deseret, in Salt Lake. Some claim that the home is still haunted by Brigham Young's 14th wife (the Mormons were a polygamous group in those days), Ann Eliza Webb. Staff members at this tourist attraction have reported the apparition of a woman in the dining room, staring out the window. Doorknobs rattle, footsteps trod the wooden floors, smells of cooking are in the air, and the voices of children playing can be heard.
- The Old City and County Building is a site of repeated ghostly phenomena: giggling and apparitions of children on the fourth floor, unexplained temperature fluctuations, doors slamming, lights flicking off and on, and footsteps. One security officer claimed his hand was grabbed by some unseen entity.
One legendary ghost story concerns one of the first grave diggers ever employed by Salt Lake City, John Baptiste. Known as a hard worker, Baptiste lived in a small two-room house and was said to live comfortably - perhaps too comfortably for a man of his station. After many years, it was discovered that Baptiste had been stealing the clothing and other affects of the bodies he buried. Tried and convicted, he was branded and exiled to an island on the Great Salt Lake. When officials later visited the island to check on him, Baptiste had vanished. It is unknown whether he took his own life or somehow escaped the island, but stories persist of his ghost being seen on the shores of the lake - clutching a bundle of wet, rotted clothing.
You can find more information about these and other Salt Lake hauntings at:
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