Real Haunted Houses: Local Ghost Stories


Maybe you don’t believe in ghosts … but you can’t deny that many other people say they’ve experienced them. Maybe it’s you, or maybe you have a friend who swears that they heard footsteps while alone at home or saw a grey silhouette of a humanlike figure around a house. SLUG certainly has a few friends like that, people in our community who’ve lived in or visited houses with ghosts, which could be in your neighborhood. Here, they share their tales. Believe them or not, they know what they’ve seen, heard and felt. What do you believe?

Rachel Hayes

Photos by @jbunds
Photos by @jbunds

House hunting can be such a drag. It was 2003, and after searching for months, we had finally found the perfect mid-century fixer-upper in the heart of Holladay. It had the coolest built-in shelves in the living room, a gorgeous view of the valley to the west and the mountains to the east. It needed a ton of work but had so much potential. It was our first house, and it was a steal of a deal. Looking back now, maybe there was more to the bargain price than the fact that the house was badly in need of an update and some serious yard work.

Soon after we moved in with our two young children, we started to notice some strange occurrence, just little things like the stove burner being turned up from low to high when I swore I hadn’t touched it. As the weeks went by, more alarming things began to happen. One day, I was looking down the hallway at my son, Jack, sitting in his room watching a movie. He was just a toddler at the time, and his favorite, Baby Einstein, was on constant repeat. Suddenly, a ball flew across the room over his head, landing a few feet away. Perplexed, I walked down the hall to see if my daughter or husband was in the room out of my line of sight. A cold chill ran up my spine when I realized that my son was alone in the room.

I was a stay-at-home mom during this time, so after I dropped the kids off at school, I always took advantage of the few kid-free hours to get some chores done. Our laundry room was already a bit spooky with its bare cement walls, and it was dark in spite of the flickering fluorescent lights. As I was sorting out the clothes, my thoughts were elsewhere (as they usually are while I complete household drudgery) when I suddenly felt something soft hit me in the back of the head. My back was to the door, and I straightened up and spun round, expecting to see my husband home early or my sister who was renting our basement … but there was no one there. All I saw was a lone sock on the floor behind me where it had fallen after the ghost threw it at me. Fighting the urge to scream, I ran out of there and up the stairs as fast as I could.

Not too long after that, we sold that house, but I’ve always wondered what could have happened there and who that spirit was.

Rebecca Vernon

Photos by @jbunds
Photos by @jbunds

About eight years ago, a ghost became active in my house, and was active for about two years after that.

The first thing the ghost did was push one of my friends—we’ll call her Kate—to the ground. My friend, Lindsay, was staying with me for a few weeks and was with Kate at the time. The movement looked so strange that Lindsay laughed and asked, “How did you do that?” But Kate turned pale and said, “I didn’t do that—something pushed me.” Kate crawled to the top of the stairs to leave with difficulty because the force was pushing down on her as she crawled. She went down the stairs on her butt because she was afraid it would try to push her down the stairs. Kate left my house and didn’t step foot in it again for many months.

The next day, Lindsay came into the house before a belly-dancing class she was drumming for. She went upstairs to her bedroom to grab her backpack. That morning, she had closed all the doors upstairs, and had zipped up her backpack and put it neatly away in the closet. Her backpack was out on the ground with all the stuff that was inside scattered everywhere, and all the doors upstairs were open. She started putting the clothes in her bag, but heard a footstep to the side of her and said, “Rebecca?” and turned, but no one was there. She ran downstairs and turned off the light in the living room by the front door while she was leaving, but it turned back on by itself. She turned it off again, and it turned on. She reached again for the light switch, and this time, the lights started flickering rhythmically . At the same time, the door upstairs to her bedroom started slamming over and over again.

Things settled down a bit after that. A couple of weeks later, I was alone in the house, and had just turned out my light to go to sleep. All of a sudden, I heard a weird popping sound from upstairs, and then footsteps walking around overhead. Then the footsteps started coming down the stairs. They were not little, demure footsteps, nor the soft creaking of a settling house. It sounded like a 300-pound man lumbering down the stairs. My bedroom door was right at the foot of the stairs. My heart sped up, and I lay there, not knowing what to do and afraid it would try to come in my room. Even though I believed Lindsay’s stories about it, that was my first time actually hearing a ghost myself. The thought that popped into my mind was, “Wow, ghosts really are real!” It walked around the living room for a few minutes and then stopped, and I got up, left and slept at a friend’s house.

We did things to try to help the ghost move on, including having two ghost hunter groups come in to try to make contact. I feel like it has truly been gone now for about six years. Even though I love the idea of ghosts, having one living in your house sucks.

Nate Abbott

After high school, a few friends and I created an amateur “paranormal research team.” We’d search for locations in Salt Lake City and outlying areas for rumored hauntings. We never had much happen, at least until our visit to the Herriman House.

A friend of ours originally told us about it. You know how these ghost origins go: husband hangs himself from the top balcony, wife soon finds him and murders the kids and then herself out of grief. These are the stories you should take with a grain of salt, something exaggerated.

There were six of us who went to visit the house that night. The house’s condition, for the most part, is exactly what you would expect from any long-abandoned building: walls torn down, windows broken, graffiti covering the available drywall. We made our way through each floor, not seeing much other than the remnants of what was once an interesting home.

We worked our way to the basement, which comprised a few bedrooms connected by the narrowest hallway I’ve ever walked through. We explored the basement, where everything was in disarray, too. We reached the final door at the end of the hallway: one of the only bedroom doors in the entire house still intact, tagged in red spray paint with the words “Don’t Fucking Enter.” Ignoring the warning, we opened the door and walked in. No spray paint—the carpets, closet doors and windows were all still intact. Immediately feeling a sense of uneasiness, someone mentioned that we shouldn’t linger.

Photos by @jbunds
Photos by @jbunds

My sister, the last to leave the bedroom, began to scream as the bedroom door slammed behind us the moment she stepped out. We frantically made our way back to the vehicles. Four people piled into one car while I jumped into the other with the guy who originally told us about the house. While starting his car, he asked, “Do you see him? On the balcony?” My eyes scanned the house to the balcony where a man stood, not looking in our direction—just staring outward, to the mountains.

We all met up at a Smith’s parking lot, where we decided we had to return to investigate the closing door. Some of us were convinced that it was just a breeze that pulled the door behind us. I had to know more about the figure on the balcony, too. Upon returning, three of us went inside. After searching, we could find no possible cause for the door closing behind us, no sign of anyone else in the house who could have closed it or could have been standing on the balcony. The house was empty.

Travis Smith

Upon purchasing my 1930s-era house, there was much work to be done in order to pass inspection for my home loan. My first experience with the house’s inhabitants was around midnight, when I was alone on the property. I was installing electrical in the dining area of the kitchen, when I heard a huge crash sound come from a small nook area of my living room. I immediately jumped and yelled, “Hey!” in my tough-guy voice as I headed for the front door to check the perimeter. I expected my brother or my ex-wife to be in the driveway trying not to laugh, hiding behind my truck, but there was no one there. Once I walked back into the house, the hair on my arms stood up, and I felt like I wasn’t alone. I made it about three more feet of wiring before throwing my tools down and going to my erstwhile home. I reported to my wife what happened. She was intrigued but definitely not thrilled.

A week or so had gone by, and my ex-wife and I were mudding drywall, me in the kitchen and her off in the living-room nook. It was the middle of the afternoon, and we were in our groove when we heard a door slam shut in the house. We both immediately jumped into each other’s line of sight and stared eye to eye, tools still in hand. A door slamming could be a gust of wind or an animal walking through, but for that to happen, there have to be doors in the house to slam. The morning we began mudding drywall, we also took all the interior doors off the hinges and prepped them for paint—all the doors were in the backyard.

With the deadline for the city inspector quickly approaching, I called on my brother to help finish up with the tile and carpet. My ex-wife and I told my brother about our new roommate(s), and despite he and I being involved in another ghost situation, he wasn’t buying it. As we set the

Photos by @jbunds
Photos by @jbunds

new tile on the kitchen floor, my ex-wife was taking a break from cutting tile to have a beer while the classic country station played on an old ’90s-era boom box that had become a work radio. The country station, which hadn’t been changed all day, went to static, bounced a few signal blurps and stopped on the Spanish pop station. My brother and I turned our heads in the radio’s direction, the same direction as my wife, who said, “It wasn’t me.” My brother walked over to the radio to turn our station back on. It took three swipes of the dial to get it back on our previous station—it had been deliberately changed, and he knew it wasn’t any of us.

I have been living in the house for close to 10 years now. In that time, there has been a drum kit that plays itself in the basement, a phantom record player and someone who walks the kitchen floor with boots on in the middle of the night. The dogs bark at the nook every once in a while.