After a fight with her fiance, Gloria threw her engagement ring on the tracks in a fit of rage, the last and biggest mistake of her life. When she ran to pick it up...
Storyteller, Nannette Watts starts her SLC Ghost Tour with the story of the Gloria, the Purple Lady, who haunts the Rio Grande Cafe. The business was once part of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Station, a rival to Union Pacific.
"After she was hit, she probably ran where most girls run when they're upset," Watts says. Now, employees say they see her in the Rio Grande Cafe's bathroom. Sobbing, always in purple.
Story Tours started their ninth season last weekend, driving ghost enthusiasts to SLC and Ogden's best hauntsâ€”storytellers tell the ghostly history along the way.
Kristen Clay started the ghost tours after she moved to Utah from Hawaii, where she ran a similar business. "When she came here, she'd drive me around, pointing out all the places that she thought were haunted," said Becky Nalder, tour ticket seller.
The Story Tours group has a subtle set up, just a sign-up table with T-shirts and candy behind the Rio Grande. A rented out Le Bus awaits passengers.
"People come up to us all the time and ask if the bus is going to Wendover," Nalder says. "But really we have two tours that go through Salt Lake. So, you'll probably hear about different stuff in each one."
Watts, who was my tour guide, is incredibly knowledgeable and engages the audience in her tours. It was a pleasure to ride on her bus, even though the driver did zoom by some hot spots when she told him to slow down.
She tells the story of one time she talked about the Purple Lady and made the entire bus gasp. Passengers saw a lady, dressed in purple, washing her hands through the Rio Grande bathroom window.
"We've also had experiences on the buses where the lights flicker, and obviously nobody is touching the switch," she says. But storytellers agree, the best moments are when the passengers find out what they once experienced might have been a ghost-an "Oh-I-saw-that-happen" moment.
"I just love the personality of the ghosts. Charlie is one of our favorite at the Masonic Temple, because he's just a friendly ghost," says storyteller Cassie Howard. "But Clem at Fort Douglas, he's a teasing ghost”he just likes to play with people."
Tours don't go into the buildings they cover, but point them out and tell stories of suicides, murders, accidents and souls that seem trapped for an unknown reason. Guests can stretch their legs and search for ghosts at the Fort Douglas and the Salt Lake Cemetery, where the guides explain the stories of Emo's Grave and Lilly Gray's tombstone, which reads "Mark of the best 666."
Tours run Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. All prices go up $3 on Friday and Saturday. Bring a can of food and get $1 off your ticket price. Tours run two hours. Story Tours is planning a walking tour through Ogden later this month. Visit stoytours.com for more info.
Some of the Ghosts:
Richard (George) at the Capitol Theatr- Richard Duffin smelled smoke in the theatre, so he rushed everyone out of the building, but died from inhalation. Now, actors hear his whispers before each show.
Nuns at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center-Catholic nuns haven't been employed at the hospital for a long time, but they still visit make ghostly visits to patients in rooms 117 and 118, fluffing pillows and passing out aspirin.
Emo's Grave at Salt Lake City Cemetery - No, he wasn't a devil worshiper like you heard from the girls at your U sorority. Jacob "Emo" Mortiz was actually a devout Jewish politician, but his ghost activities were never really noticed until his rival, Simon Bamberger, was buried near his remains.
Photographs by Elise Phipps.