This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
When it comes to legends and tales of scary monsters, Utah can’t compare to the vampires and werewolves of the Transylvanian Alps. But believe it or not, Utah has its own stories about demons and monsters.
Like many such tales, most are likely based more on fantasy than reality. In some, however, there are shreds of truth. Here is a partial listing of Utah’s most intriguing beasts of myth, folklore and reality.
The subject of Boy Scout campfire tales for generations, this monstrous grizzly bear was 100 percent real. It terrorized livestock owners around Logan Canyon for a decade, killing as many as 150 sheep in a single summer, according to historical accounts.
Sheepherder Frank Clarke killed the bear in August 1923. After its death, the bear’s skull was sent to the Smithsonian Institute until 1978, when it was loaned to Utah State University. According to information from the Smithsonian, the bear was estimated to weigh 1,100 pounds and stood 9 feet, 11 inches on its hind legs.
You can read all about the bear in a digital history collection of Utah State University Libraries.
Bear Lake Monster
Accounts of a serpentlike monster in Bear Lake preceded modern, published accounts of the Loch Ness Monster by more than 65 years. In an 1868 Deseret News article, Charles C. Rich, namesake of Rich County and an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, verified several accounts of eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen the monster.
“The Indians say there is a monster animal that lives in the Lake that has captured and carried away Indians while in the Lake swimming; but they say it has not been seen by them for many years, not since the buffalo inhabited the valley," Rich also wrote. "They represent it as being of the serpent kind, but having legs about eighteen inches long on which they sometimes crawl out of the water a short distance on the shore. They also say it spirts (sic) water upwards out of its mouth.”
In recent history, Provo Canyon has had multiple Bigfoot sightings. In fact, Outside magazine published an article on “The 10 most convincing Bigfoot sightings,” and two of them occurred in Utah County.
The most infamous was a 2012 event where two brothers shot video of what they thought was a black bear. When the animal stood up, they got frightened and ran away.
Here is the video.
Great Salt Lake whales
According to an account in an early Utah newspaper, in 1875 an Englishman named James Wickham transported two whales to Utah in specially equipped train cars. The whales were reportedly released in the Great Salt Lake in the hope they would breed and become the foundation for an inland whale oil industry.
A Deseret News investigation in 1995 found a plethora of inaccuracies in the original account. No sightings of whales were reported in subsequent years (unless they somehow made their way upstream to Bear Lake).
In Navajo folklore, skinwalkers are harmful witches who can disguise themselves as animals.
“To become a skinwalker requires the most evil of deeds, the killing of a close family member,” states navajolegends.org. “They literally become humans who have acquired immense supernatural power, including the ability to transform into animals and other people.”
A ranch in northeastern Utah has been dubbed “Skinwalker Ranch” because of unexplained phenomena that occur at the remote location. It’s been the subject of a book and numerous articles.
Unidentified flying objects
Whether at one of its remote military bases or along the Wasatch Front, Utah has long been connected to UFO sightings. The National UFO Reporting Center keeps track of sightings, including plenty from Utah. You can report sightings at the organization’s website as well as view accounts of others.
In case you don’t believe, you can view video evidence of UFOs in Utah, like this one. Or, here is another video of a recent sighting. With hard evidence like this, how could anyone not believe?
If a run-in with a real-life hazard has left you injured, contact the law offices of Robert J. DeBry & Associates to discuss legal representation.