Living Legends: Cache Valley Legend Tripping


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Living Legends: Cache Valley Legend Tripping


Several legend verisons of St. Anne's Retreat from student fieldwork collection assignments.
Living Legends:
Cache Valley Legend Tripping
Holly Williams
History 5700
Professor Gabbert
Utah State University
Spring 2010
• Living Legends
Holly Williams
HIST 5700
Assignment #3
In a culture of gossip and adrenalin, it's no wonder that legend tripping is such a popular
activity. Legend tripping, or the act of traveling to the location where the legend supposedly happened,
tends to be popular among the young adult age group. I spoke with three men, who had all experienced
legends, or supernatural happenings, personally, or who had heard of others experiencing them. All
these legends take place in Cache Valley. This paper will discuss why these men traveled to the
locations they, or others, did and why they tell the stories to others.
The first person I interviewed was John Reynolds. Each story that he told was a first hand
account of something that he had experienced. Why would John tell me stories that had happened to
him personally? Did they make the stories more scary? Did they make them more real? John, I believe,
• wanted to share his experience with others so that they could experience, too, what he had felt at those
The first story he told was from when he was in high school. He and some friends decided to
watch a scary movie in the old boy's gym at Logan High. They heard some creaking noises from the
dark corner, but ignored them. Then there was a loud metallic crash and everyone scattered. They later
found out that it was just some boys setting up a dinner for a school dance.
Why would John tell this story and then say what the real reason for the noise was? To start off
his story, he told of how the gym was supposedly haunted, since it was the floor above an old
swimming pool where several students had drowned. Naturally, watching a scary movie in a
supposedly haunted location, would give the gym the aura of spookiness. Similarly, in other legend
tripping adventures, the participants go to the location only when the conditions are right (i.e. on a full
• moon, at midnight, at a certain time of year).
John ended his story by giving a real reason for the noise, as opposed to a supernatural one.
• What does this mean? Bruce Jackson says:

"Stories aren't just retrospective: they rationalize, compartmentalize, and
organize the past, but they also license the future. Our narratives provide
the charter for moral decisions, define the permissible and impermissible,
the good and the bad ...
With stories we know our world and where we are in it and where
everyone else is in it" (Jackson, 188).
So in Jackson's view, John was telling how it was something "real" that made the noise to find his place
in the world. He wanted to leave the possibility of there being a ghost open. Yet he rationalized his
character by indicating that the probability of it being something other than another person as being
very slight.
John's second story is similar in many ways. He starts his story off by telling the "facts" of the
story. These facts later justify his reasons for being scared at the house and for finding the house
creepy. After telling the facts about the story, John goes on to tell about visiting the house alone for the
first time, and then going back with friends and their reactions. To him, it didn't matter what time you
went to the house, it was always scary. He describes what the inside of the house looks like and why it
is so scary. He ends his story by saying, "anyway, it's the scariest house ever."
The Petersborough House, in a way, is Cache Valley's Winchester Mystery House. The house
itselfhas no paranormal stories associated with it. The only thing that makes it ''the scariest house
ever" is that fact that it is abnormal. While the main focus of the tours of the Wmchester Mystery
House is "a crazy lady", the main focus of the Petersborough House is the guy that "kind of lost his
mind over time" and disappeared, just like his wife (Goldstein, 100)
Just like the stairs that lead no where, or the doors in the floor of the Wmchester House, things
in the Petersborough House are strange too. The house looks completely abandoned, not moved out of,
just empty "as if they just left the house as is and and took off". This sense ofthings being unnatural,
• makes the house what it is, no ghost stories are necessary.
In John's last story, he explains why something isn't real, and why people think it is, similar to
his first story. This is a story about John and his friend going to the Weeping Widow, a famous statue in
the Logan Cemetery. He explains that the Weeping Widow is weeping because she had lost all of her
children in infancy. Supposedly on every full moon (although John was not quite sure) you can see the
statue crying real tears from her eyes. John explains that there are stains down the cheeks of the statue
from water, but that they could have gotten there from the rain.
His experience starts when he and his friend go out to the cemetery to look at the statue. They
shine their car lights on the statue to see it and then turn off the car and go look at it. Apparently "her
eyes are kind of glowing and her mouth is glowing a little bit too ... as if it was like stitched shut or
something, these like glowing lines or like a line between her lips." John was scared, showed his friend
who became scared as well, and they both jumped back in the car and turned back on the lights. They
• turned the lights off again and noticed that the statue was glowing more, and so decided that it must be
glow-in-the-dark paint or something on the statue.
I believe John told this story for the same reasons he told the first. He wanted to let the hearer of
the story (me) know that there was a possibility that this statue really cries, and he never really clears
that up. He justifies it as not being so scary because the statue was just painted and the stains were from
rain. I believe he told this story to indicate that he believes that supernatural things do occur, but that he
either doesn't believe in them, or has never experienced them himself. All three of his stories dealt with
why things were scary, even if there really was no "proof' of why it should be so (i.e. no supernatural
happenings at those locations).
I next collected stories from Kevin. He had three first hand accounts of the Alumni House on
campus and then just a retelling of the legend of the Caine Lyric Theatre ghost. The way Kevin told his
• stories is dramatically different than the way that John told his. Kevin's stories were not told to impress,
rationalize, or anything like that. They were told as fact, not as something to scare others.
• His first experience in the Alumni House, dealt with his computer. He was working in a room
that had two computers. While working on one computer the other started playing music, when he wen
to turn it off it turned offby itself and then turned on again after he had returned to his seat. It turned
off shortly after. All Kevin said of the experience was "kinda weird." He has no explanation of why this
happened except that, maybe, there might be a ghost in the Alumni House, but he wasn't sure. The way
Kevin leaves out all dramatics and fantastical words in his story, allows the listener to believe
everything he says. Nothing is said in a way to make the story feel scary, it simply is by the way he tells
it nonchalantly.
Kevin's second experience in the Alumni House, for many, is more terrifying than the first. For
many believers this story would be proof of a ghost (if not ghosts) in the Alumni House. Kevin tells of
hearing voices upstairs while working downstairs. When he went up the stairs the voices stopped. He
• looked in the office where the voices had come from and then heard them move into another office,
where he checked and once again found nothing. He said it sounded like two people having a
conversation, but at a distance. Once again his explanation for the happenings, nothing but that "it was
kinda weird."
His last experience in the Alumni House also dealt with things acting out of the ordinary. The
shredder in the office next to his started running while no one was in there. He went into the office and
it stopped. He looked around for someone, but there was no one there. He went back into the office
with the paper shredder and it started going again. This story is also told with little terrifying emotion
and almost as if it's not strange for things like that to be happening. In fact he calls the events "weird
disturbances", not hauntings or any of the like.
So why did Kevin tell this stories? And why did he tell them in the way he did? First off, I
• believe that Kevin, like John, was putting himself in his place in the world and trying to find some sort
of organization for the past events (Jackson, 188). Kevin had no explanation for why things happened
• as they did at the Alumni House. He did, however, characterize himself by indicating that these things
didn't scare him; almost as if he acknowledges them happening but disproving that they were caused by
a ghost because he doesn't believe in them (although he never states his beliefs on the paranormal).
Next Kevin told me the legend of the ghost at the Caine Lyric Theatre. The story is that a
traveling acting company came to the theater and during the play Hamlet, one grave digger gets more
laughs than the other. According to legend, the funnier grave digger never shows up for work the next
day and is never heard from again. It is believed that this actor was murdered and his ghost now resides
at the theater. He is a picky ghost and when someone sits in his seat he makes all things go wrong with
the performances that night.
This story is popular in Logan, and I have heard it told from many different people. Many
people tell it in a way that makes the theater less inviting to go to. Others tell it with more skepticism in
• their tale. I found that Kevin, however, told it just like he did his first hand accounts; as if nothing was
strange about a ghost in a theater.
The legend itself has much potential for study. It is very popular in Logan, and could be
classified as an urban legend. Similar to many of the vanishing hitchhiker stories, the ghost in the Caine
Lyric Theatre is always in the same location, experienced by many different people, and is protecting
something that is important to him. Many of the vanishing hitchhikers just want to make it home, or
complete the task they had set out to do. So too does the ghost in the Caine Theatre want to complete
his task. He wants to be in control of the stage, hold the audience in his hand, and he does (Brunvand,
One interesting side note about the Caine Lyric Theatre legend is that of the play that the actor
was in. The ghost that resides in the theater was playing a gravedigger in the Shakespeare play of
• Hamlet. The story of Hamlet is about a man who is murdered, who comes back as a ghost, to avenge
his own death. The ghost in the Caine Theatre was supposedly murdered, who has come back and who
• will avenge his death on any unsuspecting audience, by ruining their show when someone sits in his
seat. Could this legend just be drawing motifs from Hamlet, or are the two stories coincidentally nearly
identical? Kevin, nor anyone else who has told me the legend, has ever mentioned anything about it.
The last person I collected stories from was Ryan. Neither one of his stories were first hand
accounts, but rather second hand accounts; he knew the person it had happened to. Although this kind
of legend telling is different than the last two legend tellers, it is equally as affective in telling the story
and getting its meaning across.
The first story Ryan told was of how the Junction eatery on campus has a haunted basement.
According to Ryan a lady died in the basement and haunts it. He claims to have had a coworker who
refused to go in the basement alone because he was so afraid of it. Although Ryan never stated if he
believed the story was true or not, the way he describes his coworker as being, there is an indication
• that he believes that his coworker, at least, experienced something strange enough in the basement for
the legend to have some basis, and to pass it on.
The next story he told was that of an experience of some friends of his. Apparently one night
they took a trip up to the Nunnery (another famous legend in Logan) to check out the area. They were
playing in the empty pool when they claim to have seen, in the dark shadows of the deep end, a baby
crawling or walking around. They were more scared, when they came back, than Ryan had ever seen
them. He indicated that they weren't the type of people to "show fear or anything like that", implying
that their experience must have happened.
So why did Ryan tell these stories? Why not tell one of his own? Jackson discusses why people
tell other peoples stories, and I believe Ryan was following just as Jackson says. Ryan "populated an
event [he] knew little about with sufficient detail to make it more affective and dramatic so it would do
• what {he] wanted or needed it to do" (Jackson, 24). Ryan was telling his friends account so that he
could prove that the Nunnery really is a scary place. There was no need for a back story in this case;
• most everyone in Logan knows the story of the Nunnery. So the strange event that took place there
simple added to the intensity of the legend.

All in all these three men told stories that helped them locate themselves, and their believes, in
the world. They indicated to the listener, who was a believer in ghosts and the paranormal, and who
was not. They included stories about going to a certain location (legend tripping) and legends about
locations that they may not have been to themselves, but each story had a location attached to it.
Legend tripping and telling of legend tripping will continue for years to come. Each time
something new or strange happens at a legend location that legend becomes more alive and it continues
to grow in the area. This living legends become a part of everyday life for those who have experienced
them. They are a conduit for story telling and belief rationalizing. And they will live on forever.

Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings. W. W.
Norton & Company: New York, London. 1981.
Goldstein, Diane E. Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemponuy Folklore. Utah State University
Press: Logan, Utah.
Jackson, Bruce. The Story Is True: The Art and Meaning of Telling Stories. Temple University Press:
Phi Ii delphia. 2007.

My name is Holly Williams, I'm here with Ryan Kimball, it is May 4, 2010 .
My name is Ryan Kimball, I am 29 and I was born July 17th 1980. I'm a computer engineer. And I am
roommates with Holly's fiancee.
C9 This story was told to me by a coworker. So I worked with a guy at the Junstion up on campus and he
claims that there was a lady that haunts the basement of the Junction where the coolers and freezers are.
And he was so convinced of that that he was afraid to go down there by himself and so he was one of
the chefs there. And we would go down and get stuff for him and accompany him to the basement
when he had to go down there. And I guess the story is that this lady died down there or something and
haunts it.
And this other one I was, actually some friends of mine went up to the nunnerY to check it out. And I
guess there's a pool there, at the nunnery. And they were playing around in the pool, it was empty of
course. And they looked at one of, the opposite end, I guess as it got deeper and kind of in the shadows
down there, they saw, it looked a baby kind of crawling around or something. Anyway, I don't know
exactly kinda what the baby or whatever they saw was doing. They like came back, and they were like
scared out of their minds the rest of the night. Like they were like really scared, I haven't seen them like
that, ever, because they're pretty, I don't know, not the type to show fear or anything like that. So they
were pretty scared .

My name is Holly Williams today is May 4,2010 and I am here speaking with Kevin Crouch.
My name is Kevin Crouch. I am 26 borne on March 30th 1984. I'm a student. I know Holly from work
and I am roommates with her fiance.
Well the first one, because it happened to me. I work at th~lumni House on campus and there's been
several occasions where I've been there working late at night. And I had kind of unusual things happen.
I've never been able to determine if there's a ghost, like if there's any kind of back story, but I wouldn't
be surprised if there is some kind of paranormal things going on. One night I was there working late
and I had, in my office there are two computers, and I was working on one, and I had the other up with
Pandora running and I had paused that to concentrate on something on the other computer. And in
doing so, I went back and was working on the other computer, and the other computer had gone into
like a sleep mode. And all of the sudden I heard a noise and turned around and the computer had come
out of sleep mode and had started to play music again off of Pandora. And when I got up and walked
over to the computer, it paused again and went back into sleep mode. And then, when I went to sit
down again it ~ame ba~k up and started playing musi~ again. And then went ba~k into sleep mode
again, kinda weird. Another experience, I was there late and had gone downstairs for something. When
I was coming back up the stairs, in the office I work in, it sounded like I could hear voices talking. And
I came upstairs and I didn't have, none of the computers were on or anything, but I could here these
voices. And when I came upstairs, the voices kind of stopped for a minute but then they went into
another office and so I went over to that office and looked and nothing, and then the voices
disappeared. It just sounded like two people having a conversation, kinda, it sounded like at a distance.
But it was kinda weird. And the last experience I had, I was working, and we have a paper shredder in
another office, next to mine, by where the copier is. And I was working, and I thought I was there
working by myself, and all of the sudden the paper shredder starts going. And I thought, oh maybe
someone else is here, so I got up and I went in. And no one was in the room but the paper shredder was
going and then it stopped. And so I looked around the comer to see if anyone was there, no one was in
the building. And then when I came back into that office, the paper shredder started going again. So
just kind of weird disturbances kind of things. I don't know. I'm still trying to figure out if there is any
kind of story, per say, of there being a ghost that presides at the Alumni House. So that's story one.
The ~t story I've heard from friends that have worked down at the Caine Theatre. They say that there
was, that there's a ghost there. And the story behind that was a traveling acting group that would come
through. And one year they came and they were doing Hamlet. And in Hamlet there's the grave digger
scene. And the two grave diggers are kind of this comic relief duo. And one of the grave diggers was
getting a lot more laughs than the other grave digger. And the story that I've heard is that there were
kind ofjeleousy issues going on with that. And the next day the grave digger that was getting more
laughs the night before didn't show up for work and supposedly no one saw this person again. And it's
was believed that maybe this individual was murdered and their ghost now haunts the theatre. And the
ghost has a certain seat he likes to sit in, in the balcony and they leave that seat open for him Because
when someone sits in his seat, performances that go on have a lot of issues that arise. Lights that
become unplugged, sound systems that don't work, a lot of unusual technical issues that arise. And so
they try and leave that seat open for this ghost that apparently resides at the Caine Theatre and
apparently likes watching shows in his favorite seat.
So those are kind of two stories I have. ----

My name is Holly Williams it is May 4,2010 and I am talking to John Reynolds
Hi I'm John Reynolds I am 28. I was born on January 16th of 1982 and I am self empolyed and I am
Holly's fiancee. I am also from Logan, and so I know several stories. I'm going to start with a story r, ~
about the Logan High old boys gym. V
There used to be a gym at Logan High that had a label on the front that said Brigham Young College.
And it was built inlike 1820, no not that early, like 1890 or something like that. Anyway, the gym,
when I went to high school was actually haunted. It had a pool underneath that had a big crack going
through it and so it was not working anymore, obviously. And it used to work when I was little. I used
to go swimming in it a lot, my dad was a teacher at Logan High, and he would take us and I was always
so scared because there were all this scary paintings of like clown faces in the bathrooms and stuff and
it's just the freakiest place with all these bare pipes everywhere and just like rusty cement walls and
everything. Probably the scariest place you could ever find yourself in. Not to mention it's underground
and so it's completely pitch black, really scary. And there were all these stories about people seeing
ghosts down there because students had drowned in the pool. I don't exactly know the story about the
drowning but I just know a lot of people would talk about how they heard voices or sounds from that
basement. So anyway, one day me and my friends we decided to go watch a scary movie in the old
boy's gym, we didn't watch it downstairs, we watched it in the gym part and we're sitting there
watching the movie in this gym and we start hearing all these creaking noises coming from like the
back where it was all dark. And everybody was freaking out. And I was just thinking "it's probably just
the heater ducts moving" because the heaters would turn on and you know how metal expands when it
heats up and it makes noises. So I didn't think anything of it, I wasn't scared at all. But then all the
sudden we heard this loud crash noise of metal and everybody just dispersed and ran right out the door,
wetting their pants. And my friend and I we were like "oh no the TV's still in there" so we went back in
and grabbed the TV and brought the TV out and everyone was just like "I'm out of here" because we
were so freaked out. Even I like, my heart was just like, that was not the heater making noises, it was
like something moved in the back in the dark and made this loud noise and we were freaking out. And
we're sitting outside in front of the school wondering what to do and it turns out that these guys were
setting up for like a school dance downstairs in the pool to have like their dinner in the pool downstairs
for the school dance or something and they were just trying to get in the door and stuff. But that was
really scary. I'll never forget that. The old boy's gym is torn down now and it doesn't exist anymore so I
was pretty lucky to be able to experience the haunted old gym, old boy's gym before they tore it down.
Another story I have is one that I learned in, probably about 2004. I have a friend of mine who was (9
really into ghost stories around here and he was like, "John", he went to high school with me also but I
was in college at the time. And one day in the student center he was like "John I have this new place."
He started telling me about all these other new stories that he knew about, but he was like "there is this
one that is the ultimate scariest place I've ever been to in this area." And so he told me the story and he
told me where it was and so here's the story:
On the west side of the Valley in PetersboIDugb there is this house that kind of stands alone and it
belonged to the family, the Chase family. And there was a father and a mother and their children had
already moved out, they were older, and they had already moved out. And the father was a working
man still and one day, Mary his wife, his name was John and his wife's name was Mary, Mary
disappeared one day mysteriously. And they couldn't find her anywhere. They searched and searched
and they even looked through, you know, through, they looked everywhere they couldn't find her. And
so after years, they just, she remained on the missing persons list and to this day she is still on the
missing persons list. This was probably about in the 70s I think. So they didn't know, they never found

her. Then one day, John, the father, he started like talking to himself and kind oflost his mind over
time. And his coworkers talked about how they'd heard him talking to himself sometimes and they
could hear him talking to himself inside of his house. They thought that was kind of weird. And then
one day at work John told his coworker that he was going to go join his wife, that he knew where she
was and he was going to go join her. But he was kind of acting weird and he didn't know what to think
of it and then he disappeared. They couldn't find him anywhere. So they looked everywhere and they
found his EI Camino crashed into the Benson Marina, which is a body of water, it's not very deep,
maybe like 4 feet deep max. And so they combed the Marina looking through the water for a body and
they couldn't find a body anywhere. So they couldn't really close the case, so to this day, John also
remains on the missing persons list. And they took the car and dragged it back on the property and the
car is still up there on the property.
So my friend told me, you know, just go up there, and you'll be, everyone will be freaked out because
it's the scariest place ever. So I told them this story, there aren't really any ghost stories, this is just the
story of what happened, very real story. And we, so I took some people up there and I didn't really
know how to get there so I went there in the middle of the day to try to find it, like at noon. And just so
that I wouldn't ruin the whole feeling when I'm like fumbling around trying to find this house at night
time because it's harder to fmd. So my friend gave me the directions, he said that if you're going west,
just past the train tracks you take a right on this road and then you take the second left and go up this
hill. And about part way up the hill on your right side you'll see this lone house, that's kind of nestled
against some trees and it's this really old house made of stone. And so I went up there and it really was
pretty easy to find. And I saw this house and I started driving up the drive way through this alfalfa field
and I got up next to the house and I was going to get out and maybe walk around, check it out. But my
heart was just racing. Mid-day, I couldn't stay there more than two minutes, no more than a minute. Just
immediately I put into reverse and drove away as fast as I could because the house looked so scary .
And so that night I took my friends there. One of my friends started crying as soon as the car lights like
shined on the house, she started crying and people were freaking out, no one would get out of the car.
Usually when I took people there nobody would get out of the car, let alone go inside of the house.
Once in a while I would get a daring group that would go inside of the house. And inside of the house
you'll fmd clothes allover the floors, upstairs and downstairs, really old clothes like old timey
suspenders and stuff. There are like dishes on the counters. There are like beds. It's as if they just left
the house as is and and took off. There weren't any couches there, I assume people took the couches,
but the beds are still there. There was even dishes on the counter. The fridge is like, you can tell it's
from the 70s, trying to all futuristic, you know those round fridges? You go upstairs and there are beds.
And upstairs in one of the rooms there's this creepy children's wallpaper that's like half tom off the wall
with these like paintings of children with empty eyes and stuff, really scary. All the windows are
boarded up so it's completely dark inside. Anyway, it's the scariest house ever. ~
The other story, I have this other experience. The same friend that told me about this house told me
about, we decided to go check out the Weeping Wj.Q.ow one day, and this was when I was in high school
also. So we went up to the Weeping Widow and the story, there are a lot of stories behind the Weeping
Widow, but the one that we were kind of focusing on was how basically she just had several children
that died in their infancy and they were all buried. And then when she was buried with the children,
they had this statue put up of this lady crying, and so hence she's called the Weeping Widow. The story
goes that on a full moon, I think it's just every full moon you can look and see her crying, from her
eyes. Or maybe it's, yeah I'll just go with that, every full moon you go up to her and you can see her
crying from her eyes that are carved out of the granite. So we went up there and we had car lights
shining on the statue and everything and we're looking at the statue, in the Logan Cemetery, and you
know she's not crying or anything. But you could see streaks down her face from her eyes, where the
-------------------------------_._ _ .. _.. ....

stone is stained from like water. So clearly the water runs down that part of her face. So we're like
"that's kind of spooky, I wonder if rain just runs down that part of her face" or whatnot, I don't, you
know, very speculative, not believing. And so I'm looking at the face really carefully and I noticed that
her eyes are kind of glowing and her mouth is glowing a little bit too, as if it had, as if it was like
stitched shut or something, these like glowing lines or like a line between her lips. They were like
glowing and I was like, I like jumped back a little bit and like shuddered, and I was like "oh my gosh"
and so I kind of looked to see if it was like the stone was reflecting somehow off of the lights in the
background down the street. And I looked and they weren't, it was like truly glowing, it wasn't a
reflection. So I like grab my friend and I was like "come over here", my hearts like racing, I was like
"what is this? Do you see this?" and he like looked and he was like, and he jumped back, and he was
like "oh my gosh!" and he got so scared. And we went and turned the lights back on from the car,
because during the time the lights were off. We went, got back in the car, turned the lights back on for a
while, and freaked out a little bit. And then we decided to go look at it again. And then we turned the
lights off again and it was glowing even more after that. And so we think that maybe someone put some
glow in the dark stuff on her face. But who knows, we'll never know. Anyway that's my story .


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Reproduction for publication, exhibition, web display or commercial use is only permissible with the consent of the USU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, phone (435) 797-2663.


Utah State University undergraduate student fieldwork collection, 1979-2011 FOLK COLL 8 USU
St. Anne's Retreat





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