I grew up in the Avenues here in Salt Lake City, just a couple of blocks from the venerable city cemetary. So we played hide and seek around the tombstones, ran circles around Emo’s Grave and dared the night watchman to chase us down after hours. I didn’t get the full respect and fear for the resting places of the dead until I went on a ghost hunt at the Mercur Cemetery in my teens.
(photo credit: Andy Wilkes)
Speaking of ghost hunting…
Ghost Hunt Etiquette:
- Many areas are private property, without getting permission, you run the risk of trespassing.
- Do some research on the spooky spot first, so you’ll have a better idea of where the phenomenon comes from.
- Double-check all your recording sources afterwards, many things are picked up on tape that can’t be heard live.
- Be respectful: don’t trample on gravestones, stir up sod, disturb flower arrangements, etc.
Now that we’re entering the crisp days of fall and our thoughts turn to all things creepy, it’s the perfect time to explore some truly terrifying spots here in our Pretty, Great State.
Utah’s 5 Creepiest Graveyards
(photo credit: Niki Chan)
1. Mercur Cemetery: the mining town of Mercur started in the 1870’s, but it was a disasterous fire in 1902 that destroyed the entire town. The graveyard stubbornly persists, though no one’s been buried there since 1913. Picket fences surround 20 of the graves–but walk carefully, you’ll stumble over random tombstones if you’re not watching the uneven ground. Ghost hunters report seeing phantasmagoric flames rising from the graveyard and when taking pictures, terrifying faces would suddenly appear in front of the lens. Close enough to touch. EEEEEEEEEEE!
(photo credit: Norm Thomas)
2. Pleasant Green Cemetery: I find nothing “pleasant” about watching tombstones glow when a train passes by, but those of us screeching like a barn owl that night certainly witnessed the phenomenon. Pleasant Green’s graveyard was established in 1883, perched on a hill over Magna. The grave of “Sarah J” is often photographed with disturbed earth–like something is trying to dig out–not in.
3. Salt Lake City Cemetery: I have decades-worth of stories about the scariness of this place – where to begin? Emo’s Grave is likely the most famous – run around the grave 3 times chanting “Emo, Emo, Emo!” and the scary old phantasm is supposed to leave his urn and chase you. There’s all kinds of creepy, crumbling tombs that look uncomfortably open and accessible. But the spot that scares ghost hunters the most has to be Lilly Gray’s tombstone: where her grieving husband had carved “Victim of the Beast 666.” Legend states poor Lilly was the victim of demonic possession. All I can tell you is that the sod around her grave can suddenly turn spongey and soft where you’re standing, winds blow up from nowhere and wordless howling will send you screaming out of the cemetery.
(photo credit: Scott Law)
4. Ephraim Pioneer Cemetery: this graveyard wasn’t really intended to exist – a settler in Fort Ephraim passed away and was set to be buried in the nearby Allred Settlement. But after a warning of an Indian attack, pioneers hastily buried the man just outside the walls. He was joined by dozens more, including several children who died in an Indian massacre. Sad little voices will ask you to “take me home!” and the wails of mourning parents echo through the tombstones.
(photo credit: Holly Murdock)
5. Logan Cemetery: wait for the night of a full moon and watch tears pour down the face of The Weeping Woman. There’s scores of soldiers buried here, and there’s sounds of battle, shouts and screams that rise from nowhere to a deafening roar, then suddenly stop.