These Are the Strangest Utah Urban Legends

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Dark, leafless trees on a foggy day.

In the United States, we’ve created the legend of Bigfoot and made history during the Salem witch trials with made-up charges. Urban legends become part of our culture and sometimes become the truth for some individuals. There are probably numerous people in Scotland who truly believe they’ve seen the Loch Ness monster.

The state of Utah has its own folklore. These Utah urban legends may not have really happened, but that doesn’t diminish the tales. Let’s dive in!

What Is an Urban Legend? 

An urban legend is a story that has been told so often that it’s considered true by a community. This folklore may be humorous, but more often, it’s troubling.

Perhaps it’s a story about a serial killer hitchhiker or spirits haunting the lakeshore. Although one of the least populous states in the country, Utah boasts a variety of urban legends to entertain you around the campfire for hours.

What Is Utah Known For? 

When you think of Utah, you probably immediately think about the huge Salt Lake or the Church of Latter-Day Saints. You might know that Utah has a strong economy or that it’s home to the “big five” national parks.

The Sundance Film Festival happens here every year, and tourists flock to enjoy skiing on Utah’s slopes. The experiences you can have in Utah are as varied as the urban legends that haunt Utah’s history.

These Are the Strangest Utah Urban Legends

From Native American folklore to tales of murder, disappearance, and paranormal activity, Utah can hold its own as far as urban legends. Below are some of the strangest Utah urban legends that have been circulating for decades or more.

You decide what you believe, but those who call the Beehive State home will swear by their truths.

Bear Lake Monster

In the late 1800s, Joseph C. Rich, a reporter for the Deseret News, wrote about a serpent-like creature in Bear Lake after interviewing numerous eyewitnesses. However, about 20 years after the reports, Rich admitted he made everything up.

This didn’t quiet the legend. Citizens stood by their recollections of this Loch Ness monster-type creature, and this Utah urban legend remains very real to the people of Bear Lake.

Traveler’s Tip: The urban legends aren’t the only strange thing in the state, have you broken any of these weird laws in Utah?

Hobbits in Sugarhouse

Along Allen Park Drive in Sugarhouse, Dr. and Mrs. George Allen built their home in the 1930s. He built some small homes on his property and rented them out to earn more cash to support his bird sanctuary.

This Utah urban legend claims that today evil hobbits live in those tiny houses and worship the devil.

Whale Carcass in Farmington

A much more recent story began in December 2014 when a farmer supposedly found a whale carcass in a field on his property. However, this made-up story was in World News Daily Report, a spoof site similar to The Onion.

Although the sheriff’s department explained that the tale was not true, it went viral, and people began to accept it as truth. Whales can live in the Great Salt Lake, right?

The Disneyland Hearse

According to this Utah urban legend, the old, horse-drawn hearse that sits at the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland transported the body of Brigham Young to his funeral. Glen M. Deseret News interviewed Leonard, the director of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Museum of Church History and Art in 2001. He explained how this Utah urban legend wasn’t true.

Young’s body was on a platform carried by men because these were the instructions per his will. Other experts explain how Young died in 1877, but the hearse was manufactured in the 1890s.

Escalante Petrified Forest 

In most national parks, it’s illegal to take anything from sea shells, rocks, and petrified wood. This is also true for state parks. In Utah, authorities have received numerous mailings of petrified wood returned to Escalante Petrified Forest.

The owners apologized in letters and claimed back luck and curses befell them because of their illegal activity. Stories of accidents, job losses, and other misfortunes circulate yearly.

Although there’s no correlation, it’s a widely popular belief that an ancient curse protects the petrified wood of Escalante Petrified Forest and punishes wrongdoers.

A juniper tree in the Escalante Petrified Forest in Utah.

The VooDoo Caves

Located in the Beaver Dam Mountains of southwestern Utah lies a pipe known as the VooDoo Caves. This urban legend tells of dark magic rituals and lingering evil energy traps those entering the pipe.

A worker who entered to unclog the pipe was pinned down and drowned, thus contributing to the “truth” of this Utah urban legend. People who live nearby say that only people who denounce Satan die when they enter the pipe.

The Devil’s Highway

Originally named Route 666 and now called the Devil’s Highway, this highway that crosses through the Four Corners of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah is known for paranormal activity. Ghosts, maniacal animals, mysterious apparitions, and all other types of evil lurk along the road.

Specific urban legends tell of hellhounds chasing cars and slashing tires, a young woman dressed in white walking down the road, and a phantom semi-truck driving 130 mph. The gravestone of Lilly E. Gray, buried in Salt Lake City, says, “Victim of the Beast 666.”

Two ghostly figures standing on a road on a dark, misty evening.

The Salt Lake City and County Building

Finally, another Utah urban legend tells of ghosts that haunt the Salt Lake City and County Building. Built in 1896, the building was once the Capitol building. Today people claim to have seen children running in the halls, referring to the Mormon pioneer camp that was located there in 1847.

Others explain how the former mayor wanders around, and a woman peeks through a window. Although nothing malicious in nature, employees believe they’ve heard strange noises and seen apparitions.

Are Utah Urban Legends Real?

These Utah urban legends may not be true, but they are very much real to many people. Perhaps they can’t be proven, but those who have experienced the paranormal activity or sensed the evil energy will attest to their validity. 

What about you? Have you ever witnessed the truth of an urban legend? Do you think these Utah tales are true?

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