Spooky sprits and local haunts!

The month of October isn’t just about plastering your life with pumpkin spice. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s the season for ghosts, goblins, sprites and spooks. Luckily, Logan has a rich history of all things that go bump in the night and Utah State University folklorists have been keeping tabs on those things since 1966.

“Cache Valley is a hotbed of supernatural legendary,” says Utah State folklore professor and former TEDx presenter Lynne McNeill. “We just have … unending numbers of supernatural legends.”

Apparently, ghouls and specters are more lousy than dairy cows in this valley. There are accounts in Fife Folklore Archive of witches in the woods. Accounts of ghosts haunting a wide variety of buildings including the county jail and multiple local theatres. There are even spirits — not those kinds of spirits — living amongst the Kappa Delta sorority girls. And the archive has over 50 accounts of hairy, bipedal hominid sightings![1]

“We tend to assume people jump to supernatural conclusions and they almost always don’t,” McNeill said. “People almost always resign themselves to supernatural conclusions.”

Maybe there’s validity to some of these tales of terror. Then again, maybe not. One thing is for certain though — everybody knows somebody who has seen something spooky they couldn’t explain, and their stories are totally fascinating.

[1] Like a finger shoved too far up the nose, these accounts tickle the squishy brains of Bigfoot hunters nationwide. The television show Finding Bigfoot came to Logan in 2011 after being prompted by a youtube video supposedly depicting a figure lurking around a Cache Valley campsite.

Hekedah: The Witch of Logan Canyon

Like most accounts of legendary apparitions, details tend to vary. By some of the archive’s accounts, Hekedah was a tried as a witch by Cache Valley locals in the “early 1800’s”. She was convicted of witchcraft and sentenced to be eaten alive by dogs.[1] Other accounts say Hekedah was a wealthy recluse who lived in a small cabin in Logan Canyon who was murdered for her money and now seeks vengeance. McNeill said there are versions of the legend which say Hekedah was actually a nun from St. Anne’s Retreat.

According to McNeill, most accounts agree on a few details. The witch is often seen near the third dam of the Logan River with a green lantern and two dogs. Dogs that appear to be Doberman Pinschers with glowing red eyes.[2]

“It’s never quite explained what will happen if she gets to you,” McNeill said.

One account hints Hekedah may have omniscient power.

“Hekedah will come in her long black robe with her flaming red hair and glowing eyes,” the writer details. “You can ask her three questions, but if you ask for that which you must not know the dogs will eat you alive.”

Super spooky, dudes.

[1] Cache Valley was settled in 1856.
[2] “Just as an amusing side note — the bigfoot people tell me those are probably Bigfoots,” McNeill said about the witch’s dogs. “Because Bigfoot’s eyes glow red.”

The Weeping Woman

Most folks around Utah State know of the weeping woman. For those who don’t, the weeping woman is a statue located in the southwest corner of the cemetery near Utah State. McNeill said the weeping woman is a traditional funerary statue know as a “surrogate mourner” — there to forever mourn for the deceased. Despite being fairly traditional, the statue is unique to the local cemetery and gains lots of attention from passersby, which may explain its popularity in local legends.

The weeping woman is said to cry tears when prompted on full moons, at midnight or on Halloween.

“I will say it’s pretty freaky,” McNeill said. “There is clearly evidence of water staining around the eyes.”

While McNeill has never actually seen the weeping woman cry, she has her own scary story around the event.

McNeill researches and lectures on ghost hunting which goes hand-in-hand with her passion for folklore. While giving one of her lectures on the topic, she began demoing a new application she had found for her phone.

McNeill explained the app, EchoVox, works on the same supernatural principle as a Ouija board. It serves as a medium for something located in another plane to communicate through.

After her lecture, McNeill and her husband decided to catch up with other folklorists at an event being held at the weeping woman statue. She said everyone from the event had since gone. It was an inky, black night with a light rain gracing the cemetery. She said her husband suggested trying out the app near the weeping woman.

“All the sudden — no joke, clear as day — a woman’s voice says, ‘You all should go,’” McNeill recollected.

McNeill said both her and her husband heard the woman’s voice and didn’t want to stay around to ask questions.

“We looked at each other, and I turned that thing off, and we just booked it out of the cemetery,” McNeill said. “I’ve never had anything like that happen to me personally before.”

For more information about local legends, or folklore in general, go visit the Fife Folklore Archives located in the basement of the USU Merrill-Cazier Library. For extra credit, go pick up a copy of McNeill’s book, Folklore Rules, for an introduction to the topic.

Jackson Wilde | Project Management and Communications | Office of Research and Graduate Studies | jackson.wilde@usu.edu