New haunted attraction tells story of 105-year-old unsolved murder

Outside of The Bootlegger’s Grave haunted attraction.

Outside of The Bootlegger’s Grave haunted attraction. (Andrea Olson, EastIdahoNews.com)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

DUBOIS, Idaho. — A new haunted attraction opens Thursday in Clark County at the Civil Defense Caves, and organizers promise the historic venue will scare you.

It's called The Bootlegger's Grave, and it's named after a criminal who was brutally murdered in the early 1900s, and at least some of his body was stashed in a nearby cave to be found decades later.

Sheree Farr, one of the organizers for The Bootlegger's Grave told EastIdahoNews.com the attraction has been a few years in the making, and now it is being brought to life.

"I've always wanted to haunt this cave," she said.

Part of the mystique about the attraction is the fact it's based around a real unsolved murder that has puzzled investigators for a century. A cave near the venue is the final resting place of Joseph Henry Loveless. His headless body was found among the Civil Defense Caves in 1979, and researchers discovered his body had been there since 1916. It wasn't until 2019 that investigators were able to prove the identity of the man and his colorful criminal past.

"We don't know who killed the bootlegger. We'll leave some options for you as you go through the cave," Farr said

Composite image of what Joseph Henry Loveless may have looked like.
Composite image of what Joseph Henry Loveless may have looked like. (Photo: DNA Doe Project)

Farr said the cave has 10 different rooms that she's decorated with many others that tell the story of Loveless during the early 1900s. Representatives from Idaho State Police, the Clark County Coroner's Office and Clark County Sheriff's Office all have helped decorate some of the rooms.

"We are going to begin by meeting the bootlegger. He's a charming gentleman. We will meet him a couple of times. There are lots of dark corners and lots of dark spaces that let your imagination run wild. You will take a trip through his mind," she said.

When the body was initially found in the 1970s it was just a torso. Loveless's arms and legs were found some 12 years later by an 11-year-old who was exploring the cave.

"His head was never found," Farr said. "So you might keep an eye out for it (in the caves)."

Loveless was an outlaw with many aliases who repeatedly escaped from jail after committing major crimes. At the time of his death, Loveless was wanted for killing his wife with an ax.

The Bootlegger's Grave attraction is being presented by the Dubois Lions Club. Its grand opening kicks off at 5 p.m. Thursday. Earlier times are suggested for children if they want to be a part of going through the caves. The venue is less scary during the early hours.

The haunted attraction starts in a dirt lot across from Ikes in Dubois. As people wait, there will be a fire and a cowboy poet named "Bob Jackson" who will be telling scary stories.

A bus will come at the time of the scheduler's request. People will then take a short ride through the town of Dubois, then be dropped off at the caves to explore the various rooms throughout The Bootlegger's Grave. Be prepared to walk through the horrors of history, in an attempt to find clues, to help locate Joseph Loveless' head.

Anyone who is interested can buy tickets online. General admission is $20 plus a small fee. Anyone can buy a zombie pass too for $25 plus a small fee. With a zombie pass, you will get a paintball gun on the bus ride to the caves and shoot at zombies.

Farr told EastIdahoNews.com to dress warmly as the caves do get cold and to also wear appropriate shoes. Visit the Facebook page here.

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Andrea Olson

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