In every town, there is usually at least one “haunted house or building.” There are quite a few rumors in our local area that some would say, is proof that haunted houses exist, while others say it is just a fabrication of someone’s mind. Fact or fiction, the thought of personages from the grave strikes fear in the hearts of many and is a source of much speculation. This time of year, whether it is fabrication or fact, it is fun to consider the idea of haunted places due to Halloween.
Halloween is an interesting holiday. It actually started out as a Christian celebration honoring those saints who had passed on. However, when the Catholic church mixed with different cultures and religions, others created the Halloween tradition of dressing up. The poor and children would dress up in disguise on All Hallows Eve, and go door to door asking for food or money in exchange for singing songs or offering prayers for the homeowners. Today it is a much different holiday. There is a commercial side of the holiday which features cartoon-like ghosts, goblins, and pumpkins. People spend as much on decorating for Halloween as they do for Christmas. My kids’ favorite part of Halloween is Trick-or-Treating to dress up and beg for candy from all the neighbors. There is also the scary part of Halloween that Hollywood likes to focus on and that is the possibility that those ghosts and goblins are real and are lurking somewhere in the shadows.
Holly Fuller wrote an article for our history piece this month about a haunted house right here in our neighborhood. We were also curious about local tales of hauntings from around the area and did some research. Below are the accounts we found but it is up to you to decide if you believe or not…By Hunter Draper. Local legend states that in the 1920s, Al Capone rode the train into Ogden looking to expand his mafia empire. He got off the train, walked up 25th Street and declared that Ogden “is too rough a town for me.” He turned around, boarded the train and left. With the advent of the transcontinental railroad, Ogden became a hotbed of legitimate and not so legitimate activities. You could step off the train and along “Two-Bit” street you could see a host of unsavory activities. You would have been able to see gambling, prostitution, robbery, drug sales, rape, and even murder. The following are some stories that have been passed down. Some are not for the faint of heart, so proceed with caution!
The Union Station
What started off as a small railroad platform and wooden building during the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad transformed into the original Victorian style Ogden Union Depot. The original building, however, was soon seen as too small and no longer suitable for the busy railroad activities. Fire ruined the interior of the original building and the railroad began to rebuild it. One fateful day, one of the employees was struck in the head by a large decorative stone when it fell from the roof, killing him instantly. His name was Frank Yentzer. There was a public outcry, and it was then decided that the building would be completely rebuilt; that is when the Union Station that we know today was constructed. Over 41 people have died at the station since the transcontinental railroad was completed. During World War II, the Union Station served as a strategic advantage, as massive amounts of men and equipment were moved through the area. However, soon after the men and equipment moved out, the dead and wounded came back in. Furthermore, in 1944 two trains collided 17 miles west of Ogden killing 48 people. It has been said that the Union Station was used as a temporary morgue until the victims could be identified. Reportedly, many of these visitors never left. Faces in windows, unexplained voices and footsteps, the laughter and voices of children, lights turning off and on by themselves, and staff members being stopped from going into certain parts of the building by unseen forces have all been claimed. Visitors and staff have also claimed to have seen military men in old-fashioned uniforms, a woman in a brilliant blue dress walking the old rail yard, a male entity (called Yehudi, who is perhaps Frank Yentzer, or one of the soldiers, who entertains himself by playing with the lights and alarms, touching female visitors, and opening hard-to-reach windows), and a woman walking the second floor who only talks to men.
Historic 25th Street
Due to the number of violent deaths on 25th street, local legend says that ghosts still roam the street and patron the local shops in the dead of night. Shop owners are aware of objects that have moved by themselves overnight, motion sensor alarms being set off when no one was there, doors locking by themselves, and a host of unexplained phenomenon. Rumored underground tunnels may have served as opium and gambling dens and bootlegging hideouts. It would have been a great place to operate illegal activity without alerting the local law enforcement. All known tunnel entrances have been cemented shut, bricked up, or boarded over. Who knows what other secrets remain in these sealed off tunnels? As you stroll down the street, be aware that you may be being watched by those who have long since been deceased!
London Ice Cream Parlor
The unruly activities that spread across the streets found their way into the London Ice Cream Parlor. What probably started off as a legitimate boarding house quickly degenerated into a brothel, run by Mrs. Dora B. Topham AKA Miss Belle London. Locals and visitors alike have reported seeing an unexplained female entity in the upstairs windows. Cold spots have been felt on the upstairs floor, and orbs have appeared in photographs. This building is now home to Pepito’s Philly Cheese Steaks. It has been said that for many years a portrait of Belle London hung on the wall on the main floor. A man in old-fashioned clothing would come in from time to time. He was heard to say things like, “when will they take that awful picture down.” Eventually, the portrait was taken down and the man was never seen again.
The (new) Bigelow Hotel, formerly known as the Ben Lomond Hotel and Formerly known as the Bigelow Hotel
All of the crime and unscrupulous behavior on “two-bit” street was watched over by the Bigelow Hotel. Originally a 5-floor structure stood were the Bigelow is now. It was called The Reed Hotel, it was torn down and the current building was constructed in1927. From the very get-go, this hotel experienced several mysterious and unfortunate deaths. In 1933 Marriner S. Eccles bought the property and it remained in the family for many years. Local legend has it that a woman was staying in Room 1102 when she drowned in the bathtub. Her adult son came a few days later to collect her belongings and died in Room 1101. Also, a woman who was staying at the hotel during WWII waiting for her son to return home from the war died of a broken heart when she learned that her son had been killed in action. These stories are not substantiated by any local newspapers; however, several other untimely deaths have been recorded since it was opened. It is speculated that the ghosts that haunt the hotel are that of Mrs. Eccles, a hotel clerk who was murdered in the lobby, or the other persons who died violently in the hotel. Occurrences include phone calls from unoccupied rooms especially on the 11th floor, the scent of old-fashioned perfume, supposedly Mrs. Eccles’. One visitor commented that they smelled the scent of cigar smoke that dissipated quickly, which is interesting because smoking is not allowed in the building. There are reports of the elevator operating by itself and it seems to stop on the 11th and 5th floors. Guests have reported having feelings of uneasiness and of being watched. Guests can no longer stay on the 11th floor as it is now home to Restaurant 1107. The beauty of the building, coupled with its chilling past, make the Bigelow Hotel an intriguing place to stay (if you are brave enough). If you would like to stay in Ogden’s very own haunted hotel, I suggest you make a reservation!
The Grave of Flo
Northeast of 25th Street sits the Ogden Cemetery. Many tales of hauntings have come from this area. One of the most famous is that of Florence Grange. Flo most likely caught Spanish Flu in 1918 and died. The widely told version, however, is that she was struck by a car or choked on a piece of candy in the cemetery and died. She has been haunting the Ogden Cemetery since. It is said that if you flash the headlights of your car three times near her grave, a green orb will appear and move toward the car. Some have stated that if you wait around long enough the orb will take on the shape of a girl and will approach the passenger side, eventually reaching out for the door handle.
The Soldier Statue
Also in the Ogden Cemetery, the soldier statue is said to be haunted. It is claimed that if you walk or drive around it three times in a row at night, its eyes will begin following you or the statue will change positions.
Peery’s Egyptian Theatre
The daughter of one of the workers died here during the initial construction. Her name was Allison and she fell from the scaffolding. Staff and guests alike have seen her in the theater. She seems to enjoy the view from the stairs leading up to the private box seats. She also likes to play the theater organ and play with the lights. Occasionally she will sit by a patron, only to disappear from view suddenly.
Ogden Exchange Building
West of the Union Station and old rail yards, is the beautifully designed Ogden Exchange Building. Having been originally used as offices for the Ogden Union Stockyard, it later became Weber County’s mental health services clinic and the basement was used as the county morgue. Rumors circulate of horrible experiments and deaths happening there. The former owner claims that there are several resident ghosts that like to hang around. Several electronic voice phenomena (EVP) have been recorded here. One of the clearest and famous EVPs ever recorded is from the Ogden Exchange Building.
The North Ogden Divide
Continuing up north, the North Ogden Divide has had its fair share of ghost sightings. Several reports have been made over the years of people sighting Native American Ghosts and strange animals that are “not of this world”. Some people refuse to drive the road at night.