Cache Valley’s Local Legends
Updated: Jun 10, 2020
What makes a good story?
With three historic theatres on a single block radius and a thriving arts community, Cache Valley has a flair for storytelling. Countless tales have been rehearsed and performed on these stages, but what gives this Valley its knack for narrative?
Fact or fiction? Keep reading to uncover the stories behind Cache Valley’s most famous urban legends.
What great beast roamed our mountains? Do mysterious witches with menacing dogs wander Logan Canyon? Is that the cry of the canyon wind or the cry of babies’ voices from long ago? Has the natural beauty of Cache Valley attracted the attention of supernatural beings too?
All we know, is that true or not these legends have become permanently engraved in Cache Valley’s story.
The Weeping Woman
Where’s the best place to find some haunting scares? A cemetery of course! And Logan’s cemetery doesn’t disappoint. Located next to Utah State University, this graveyard inspires tears from the living and dead.
In a position of deep mourning, the Weeping Woman cries above the other graves surrounding her. Why is she so sad?
The monument lies over the grave of Julia Cronquist who died January 8, 1914. In the days of Julia’s life, the scarlet fever ran rampant and Julia’s family was not spared. In a 12 year span, Julia lost 5 children of her 8 to the fever, including her twins.
Plagued by the heartache of her loss, Julia would spend hours weeping over the graves of her children. Thus, upon her own death, her husband Olif erected this monument in her memory.
Julia’s mourning did not end with the grave however.
According to legend, the weeping woman still cries tears. Some say you must approach her at midnight, others say during a full moon, and there’s also a belief it’s only on the anniversaries of her children’s deaths.
Sources differ on the night, but agree that the next step is to say “weep woman, weep.” Then reach up your hand and see if you feel the tears on this mourning woman’s cheeks.
Roaming the mountains of Cache Valley and the Wasatch Front, an old grizzly slowly picked off his food from the herds of sheep grazing among the green pastures. In the early 1900’s, Grizzlies caused sheepherders and cattle ranchers heartache and grief. It was man versus beast in the battle of establishing territory and protecting your livelihood.
But, one beast ruled them all.
His name was Old Ephraim and not only was he the biggest, he was also the smartest grizzly bear who called this place home.
Originally christened “Old Three Toes” due to a foot deformity, this bear was easily recognizable not only for his unique paw print but also his enormous stature. Believed to have stood at a whopping 9’ 11’ and weighing 1,100 lbs’, this grizzley was renamed “Old Ephraim” after a PT Barnum story.
Unsuccessful after unsuccessful attempts were made to trap Old Ephraim. In fact, bear hunting parties were even formed in some counties, but to no avail.
Finally, a sheepherder from Mallad, Idaho lucked out.
In August 1923, Frank Clark heard a noise around one of his traps. Upon his approach, he was surprised to find Old Ephraim after being outwitted by the bear multiple times.
Was this the end of Old Ephraim? Not at first. It’s said that the bear stood up on his hind legs with a 23 lb trap on his front paw and a 14 ft chain wrapped around his arm.
Attempting to escape, the great bear started climbing the mountain when Clark took aim and shot the bear down. The bear eventually died from his wounds, but his legend would live beyond his years.
Filled with regret, Clark later admitted that if he could have done it over, he wouldn’t have killed Old Ephriam. This famous bear was one of the last of his kind in these mountains, where they used to be plentiful.
Did you know you can visit Old Ephraim’s grave?
In 1966, Scouts placed a monument in Logan Canyon where, following Clark’s instructions, it is believed Old Ephraim took his last breath. The stone stands at the bear’s full height of 9’11’’ and is inscribed with this quote by Nephi J. Bott:
“Old Ephraim, Old Ephraim, your deeds were so wrong yet we build you this marker and sing you this song. To the king of the forest so mighty and tall, we salute you Old Ephraim the king of them all.”
The hike to Old Ephraim’s Grave remains a popular one for those of Cache Valley, and stands as a reminder of the great grizzlies that once called these mountains home. His skull is housed in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
St. Anne’s Retreat (The Nunnery)
St. Anne’s Retreat, or better known as The Nunnery, is one of Cache Valley’s favorite haunts. Situated a short drive up Logan Canyon, the Nunnery and her secrets sit hidden among the trees.
Is the Nunnery alive with its haunting past or is it simply a creation of the prejudice against a minority in a paranoid community?
Let’s dive into what we do know.
The first cabin was built by Hezekiah Eastman Hatch in the early 1900’s. Then the Boyd Hatch and Floyd Odum families added an additional 20 buildings to the complex, creating a recreation camp for their families to vacation to.
The eventual stories of the complex are worthy of Hollywood, but in its early years famous Hollywood and political figures actually visited the camp on invite of the influential Hatch family.
When did a happy family cabin retreat get painted over with a dark and cynical history?
In the 1950’s, the family sold the complex of cabins to the Catholic Church and it was renamed St. Anne’s Retreat.
Here is where fact begins to possibly mix with fiction.
There are many tales, accounts, and differing experiences that surround the history of the Nunnery since the Catcholic Church gained ownership of the property.
The Catholic Church didn’t use the cabins consistently so this combined with the novelty of nuns in a dominantly Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint community, sent curious and reckless trespassers into the area. Due to the unwelcomed and often drunk guests, the nuns placed guard dogs around the cabins for protection.
This could explain why dogs are involved in many of the hauntings rumored at the Nunnery.
So, what are the tales? Tall or not, what stories circulate around this legendary location?
As stated, there are many differing accounts, but these are some of the most popular rumors that have spread over the years.
There are stories that St. Anne’s Retreat was used to send off nuns who had found themselves pregnant where they’d have their illegitimate babies, but what happened after the baby was born? Some say they were put up for adoption, while more sinister stories say they were drowned in the pool and ponds to hide the shame of the birth.
In a hair-raising account, people describe the feeling of their ankles being grabbed as they walk pass the ponds by the tiny hands of the drowned babies. Or they hear their wails ringing through the canyon.
Another account describes a pregnant nun who decided she wanted to keep the baby, so upon the birth of the child the Mother Superior drowned the baby in the pool. Then, as the mother frantically searched for her child the Mother Superior drowned the distraught nun in the same pool to cover up the child’s murder.
Does this nun still wander the woods searching for her lost child? It is said you can still see her ghostly frame diligently searching around the pool.
Another nun is said to still walk the property of the Nunnery. One story describes the nun Hedeka and her two red-eyed dobermans walking around the mountain with a lantern and chasing your car as you leave. Is that the cry of the canyon wind, or is that the whining of her hounds?
Accounts and stories exist beyond these. The Nunnery’s history is full of strange and haunted tales, but how much logic lies in this legend?
Our accounts remain our source of evidence for these chilling tales, but let’s take a step back into history. Could these sinister stories be the way for the members of a majority to explain the presence of a minority religion? Could it be a way to disrepute a group of outsiders from the locals? Could it be ignorance over a culture they didn’t understand?
The piece of truth we can agree on is that whether or not the hauntings are real, the legend will continue to haunt the history of Cache Valley.
A word of caution, this location is private property so please respect the current owners and don’t trespass.
Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, but one of Cache Valley’s urban legends makes this tragedy a little more tragic.
The year was 1913. Downtown was buzzing because the Caine Lyric Theatre was celebrating their opening with their original production of Hamlet. Everett, a performer, received the minor role of “second gravedigger,” and was ready for his debut.
In Hamlet, there is a famous clown scene where the “first gravedigger” is supposed to be funnier than the “second gravedigger.” Everett had a knack for pleasing a crowd however and earned more laughs from the audience than the first.
In a jealous rage, the “first gravedigger” confronted Everett for upstaging him and his bigger role. Suddenly, Everett stopped showing up for performances, but he never left.
While his role as a gravedigger placed him in a grave, the spirit of Everett decided his performing days weren’t over. Everett prowls the catwalks of the place where his performance was cut short, and he calls out to the rehearsing actors and technicians of the Lyric.
Where are you most likely to find Everett? His favorite seat is in the house right loge. You can tell you have some ghostly company when the chandelier above his seat starts to sway.
In one of these shows, a young actress was featured as the star. This little girl was feeling the nerves of opening night, and decided to slip into a side room to rehearse her lines. Unfortunately, she had slipped into the boiler room and found the door locked when she tried to leave.
She wasn’t discovered until much later and now her youthful spirit plays in the theatre’s halls. She can be heard laughing while playing jacks or singing during rehearsals.
Many performers and technicians have witnessed the child or have felt her tugging on their coats or sleeves.
While taking a tour, people have seen a little girl suddenly run away from the group. Filled with concern for her, some will pursue her only to find she disappears before they catch her.
We love sharing these urban legends, and Cache Valley makes an ideal backdrop for such rich storytelling. With great tales as these to build on, no wonder we thrive in the theatre! These narratives are pieces in Cache Valley’s own storybook, and the story is far from reaching its ending.
When traveling to Cache Valley, the Wind Caves remains one of the most popular hikes and activities for locals and visitors alike, but you might find more than just great views in her caves.
Did you know the Wind Caves has another name? It is also known as the Witch’s Castle, and who is the Witch?
According to legend, the Greek goddess of witchcraft and magic, Hecate, loves this trail as much as the locals. All you have to do is chant her name and she might receive you into her castle. It is said that she appears with long white hair and a pair of dogs as companions.
This witch’s power reaches beyond the boundaries of her castle. It is said that she also has the ability to kill car engines. If you’re driving down Logan Canyon and your engine suddenly dies, Witch Hecate might be around.
Are there aliens among us? These accounts may just leave you believing in extraterrestrials. If there really is life out there, apparently they are as attracted to Cache Valley’s beauty as we are.
There have been approximately 10 crop circles reported in Utah, but between the years 1996 and 1998, 7 of those 10 were found in Cache Valley.
You could say crop circles were cropping up everywhere!
From Cove to Smithfield, strange shapes and figures were appearing in the wheat and other fields throughout the Valley. The first to appear was the “Glyph” Crop Circle on August 23, 1996. It spanned 240 feet long in Seth Alder’s field in Providence.
Then, almost a year later, another appeared and was deemed “The Smithfield Joe” due to it looking like the name Joe spelled out.
Joe, if you’re reading this, I think the aliens were looking for you.
Told by the owner of the wheat field, he describes his daughter celebrating her birthday when she heard a buzzing and beeping noise around 11:45 pm. The next morning they found the elaborate design in the middle of their wheat.
What made these crop circles? And furthermore, why did they go away? It’s a mystery we may never know the answer to.