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5 Utah ghost stories

By Stephanie Grimes | Posted - Oct. 31, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns have plenty of legends and ghost stories to share:

The legend of Jean Baptiste

Jean Baptiste was a 19th-century Salt Lake City gravedigger whose badly timed robbery led to his discovery. Baptiste had robbed the grave of Moroni Clawson, a man who was fatally shot while attempting to escape the penitentiary. When Clawson's family had him exhumed to move him to a family burial plot, it was discovered he was nude.

Police went to baptiste's home to question him, where they discovered the clothing Baptiste had taken from the graves of 300 men, women and children.

When the community found out what Baptiste had done, they gathered at the jail and the courthouse, threatening to lynch the graverobber. Determining that even the safety of the prison could not be guaranteed, city officials placed Baptiste in a wagon one night and took him to Antelope Island, and later Fremont Island to avoid him swimming to shore.

Three weeks after Baptiste was moved to Fremont Island, a cattle herder went to the island to survey his animals and found that one of the animals had been killed and his hide tanned for leather. Wood had been torn from a ranch house on the island, presumably to make a raft.

Baptiste was never found, although a skeleton with an iron clamp on his leg was found near the Jordan River in March 1893. Police confirmed Baptiste had not been wearing a ball and chain when he was exiled, though. Some claim Baptiste still haunts the lake today, walking along the shore, clutching a bundle of wet, rotting clothing.


The legend of Dead Horse PointDead Horse Point, in Moab, is a peninsula of rock atop sheer sandstone cliffs. The peninsula is connected to mesa by a narrow strip of land called the neck. The point was used around the turn of the 19th century to corral wild mustangs roaming the mesa top. Cowboys rounded up the horses and took them across the neck of land to the point, then fenced off the 30-foot-wide strip of land with branches and brush.

Legend has it the horses were once left at the waterless point for an unknown reason until they died of thirst, all within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below. The horses are still said to roam the area.

The Capitol Theater hauntings

The Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City is said to be haunted by multiple ghosts, including that of a 17-year-old usher that was killed there in a fire in the 1940s. Lights are said to switch on and off and toilets flush unattended. A Coke machine is also said to exhibit strange behavior, and staff report equipment malfunctioning without explanation.

The elevator at the Capitol Theatre reportedly opens sometimes without anyone having pushed the buttons, and reportedly regularly takes people to the wrong floor. Some people have reported seeing shadowy figures in various locations throughout the theater.

The old Utah County Jail

Photo: Paranormal Investigations Team of Utah

Originally built in the 1950s as a hospital for long-term illness, the old Utah County Jail was in service from 1979 to about 1997. The building has been abandoned ever since, but lights are said to go on and off by themselves, doors open and close and voices have beens aid to emanate from the empty cells.

The cast of the 2012 film "Inside" reported haunting experiences while filming at the jail.

"The basement in this place is quite heavily haunted," Luke Goss said. "We've had lots of haunted activity, apparitions and banging. And one of the production designers was alone and literally heard 15 bangs, then it stopped, nothing. I hadn't been there yet, and I was like, 'You know what, this story is already too intense.' We were shooting a scary movie in an already haunted prison."

The Salt Lake City and County Building

Rumors have often circulated that the Salt Lake City and County Building is haunted. The building was originally constructed between 1891 and 1894 and served as the state's capitol building between 1896 and 1915.

The upper levels if the building have always been shrouded in eeriness, as employees have shared their offices with bats and have shared stories of haunted activity.

One story tells of a mysterious voice warning a security guard patrolling the fifth floor of the building not to enter an elevator. He didn't, and the elevator plunged to the bottom of the shaft.

Top images of the old Utah County Jail. Credit: Paranormal Investigations Team of Utah.

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