Everybody loves a good ghost story, and believe it or not, Tooele County is home to numerous stories that can make even the most cynical person think twice about believing in ghosts.
Some stories have become a part of Tooele County’s culture — think of the old Tooele hospital that’s now been turned into a haunted Halloween attraction — while others are very personal to those who live in houses they know to be haunted.
Clara, the Resident Ghost
Grantsville resident Corrie Anderson has lived in a home on Clark Street for 22 years with her husband Byron, the former mayor of Grantsville. The home was in 1897 and is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. While this is unique, it’s not the most unique thing about her home. You guessed it — her house is haunted.
Anderson said one of the home’s previous owners, whose name was Clara, is the ghost she believes to be wandering the rooms. Clara lived and died in the home, was also laid to rest there before her burial.
“I think she’s never left,” Anderson said. “I’ve heard that she just truly loved her home.”
Anderson said she’s the only one in her family who’s seen the ghost, but many other people, including some of the home’s previous owners, also had sightings. Anderson’s first encounter with Clara was before she moved into the home.
“I was there at the house alone to do some cleaning, and I walked into what is the front parlor of the house,” she said. “It was like she scurried out of there. I kept thinking she’d cut me off while I was on my way back out of the house, but she went upstairs and I went outside.”
After moving in, Anderson had many other sightings. She described Clara as a white, floating vision. She could tell the ghost had her hair pulled back and was wearing a long dress that covered her legs and feet.
“One time I woke up in the night and she was standing at foot of our bed,” she said. “I couldn’t talk or move and she just stood there. She was just a bright, white vision. She looks like she’s floating.”
Besides sightings, Clara has also been known to turn on the television in the loft and flush the toilet when no one else is upstairs.
For the past few years, Anderson said Clara has been more elusive.
“We haven’t had many dealings with her for a while, but I think she’s still here,” Anderson said. “We finished the room that used to be her sewing room [about 15 years ago], and since then we haven’t had as many sightings of her. It seems like she’s more at peace.”
The Story of Charlie Ping
The story of a headless ghost who wanders the Stockton Cemetery at night was printed in the Transcript-Bulletin on Oct. 13, 1978. Although the article’s only evidence of ghosts comes from nameless sources, the story of the headless ghost known by many as Charlie Ping is a sad tale of a heroic and tragic death that’s been romanticized over the years.
Charlie Ping’s untimely demise is supposed to have taken place in the 1800s. Charlie, who was said to be an immigrant worker from China, worked on the railroad when it was being built through Stockton. One day, his wife was bringing his lunch to him.
For some unexplained reason she was walking on the tracks when a train was coming. Charlie could see that she was going to be hit, and he tried to save her. The grisly result was that both were killed and Charlie lost his head. The story goes on to say that Charlie’s wife was buried in the Stockton Cemetery, but Charlie’s grave is nowhere to be found.
However, legend says if you visit the cemetery at night and you happen to be near Charlie’s wife’s grave, Charlie will appear and begin looking for his head up and down the railroad tracks. Charlie only appears after 10:30 p.m. and before midnight, because he’s afraid of the trains that pass through before and after those times.
According to the article, many people have seen the ghost. They say he appears as a yellow-orange light that resembles nothing modern, but looks exactly as an old-fashioned lantern would look.
If a flashlight or car lights are played on the location, the ghost disappears, the light sinking into the ground and rising again when other lights are turned off.
A Haunting in Lake Point
Lake Point resident Travis Parkinson, 19, said since moving into his newly-built home on Canyon Road with his parents and siblings four years ago, he’s experienced a lot of ghostly activity. Before his family began building their home, they found a few things that made Parkinson believe his home was built on an old pioneer home or road.
“When we were building our house, we found a potato cellar in our backyard and also there were a bunch of rocks in our yard when they dug the foundation,” he said. “We think that’s because pioneers had a road going through the property.”
Parkinson said he knew his house was haunted right away. Before his family even moved in, he went to check on the builder’s progress. He heard the pantry door in the kitchen open and slam shut, but no one else was in the house with him. After moving in, he, along with a couple of his older siblings, frequently heard loud, heavy footsteps in places where no one was.
“I used to have the bedroom next to the staircase, and at night I’d wake up to the noise of someone sprinting down the stairs,” he said. “I’d look out at the stairs, but no one in the house was ever awake.”
Although these kinds of occurrences happen often, Parkinson said nothing has been creepier than what happened to him a year ago this month. Parkinson was having a sleepover with a friend in the room he shares with his younger brother. In their room, they have a bunk bed on one side and a twin bed on the other. His friend was sleeping in the twin bed, while Parkinson was sleeping on the bottom bunk of the bunk bed.
“I was asleep, but I woke up to someone walking into the room,” he said. “I thought it was my little brother so I ignored it. Then I felt a food step onto my bed to climb onto the top bunk. I was irritated because I thought it was my brother. Above me, it felt like someone was crawling around the bed was shaking a little. So I opened my eyes, and someone in a white nightgown with long, curly blonde hair and a big nose had their head bent over and was looking at me from the top bunk.”
Parkinson said he panicked and yelled to his friend to turn the bedroom light on. When the lights turned on, no one was in the top bunk, but his friend told him he too had heard someone walk into the room. Parkinson said he still isn’t sure if the ghost was a boy or girl, and he hasn’t seen it again, but now it’s become one of his most vivid memories.
“I’ve always believed in ghosts, but that’s probably the most vivid thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “A lot of weird stuff happens in this house.”
The Ghosts of Tooele’s Old Hospital
Most people who live in Tooele County have heard at least one eerie story about the old Tooele Hospital. Built around 1949, the hospital at 140 East and 200 South has been closed for about 12 years. Rocky Mountain Care converted the bulk of the old hospital into a nursing home.
The western portion of the hospital — consisting of the original entrance, admitting facility, emergency rooms, maternity ward and nursery, hospital lab and doctors lounge — remained vacant and unused until 2006 when Tooele resident Kimm Andersen founded Asylum 49.
Since then, Andersen — who said he’s always been a skeptic about ghosts — has had many ghostly encounters.
“I’ve had some personal experiences,” he said. “I had one during our October season two years ago. The cast complained to me about a little girl in the hallway that was scaring them. I went out to the hallway and saw a little girl standing in the doorway of a patient room crying. I could see her like a real person.”
Because the little girl seemed so real, Andersen decided to try to talk to her.
“She kept saying, ‘It’s not fair, it’s not fair,’” he said. “I asked her, ‘What’s not fair?’ She said back to me, ‘I want to be able to do what the other kids are doing. I want to scare people.’ I told her she couldn’t because she was scaring the cast. But then I told her if she hid under the beds in the room, she could grab at people’s legs and scare them. She immediately stopped crying and went under the beds.”
Andersen said the girl was about 4 feet tall, had long black hair, and was wearing a white dress that went from her neck to the floor. He guessed that she’s between 8 and 10 years old.
Besides these vivid ghost sightings, Andersen said many of the haunted house’s cast workers have seen shadows, and when people come through for ghost tours about twice a month, Anderson said they typically end up getting a recording of ghosts talking to them and answering questions. Andusually if they ask the ghosts to move an object, they’ll oblige.