Beams of light pointed upwards against an older friend’s face. The crackle of embers in the fire at your feet. The haunting history that spills into the air as you are told stories of specters, phantasms, and balls of light. There is something about an old ghost story that stirs the imagination, bringing back our old memories and fears. Though we may not believe them, there still might be a shadow of a doubt lying in our minds...usually beginning with the words, “what if.” What if those spooky stories are true? The world is filled with scary stories of haunted buildings, and Idaho is no different. Explore haunted Idaho and it’s many different stories of ghosts that have stayed to instill a sense of wonder in the living.
Arco’s Old Cafe
Located in Arco, Idaho, is an old cafe that has been in existence for decades. In the afternoon, if you walk into the the cafe, and find a piece of paper and a pen lying on one of the tables, walk up to it and write a question - any question. If you leave and then come back, there will be an answer written on the piece of paper. Admittedly, this isn't spooky so much as it is quirky. However, people say that if you write on the paper the phrase “What is my name?,” hold it to your chest, and then pull it back and look, your name will be written in small, scrawny letters.
Wind River Reservation
A long time ago, on a cold winter’s night, Shoshone Indians chased a great herd of white buffalo. The chase was great and the buffalo, desperate for their lives, ran onto a frozen body of water. The herd pounded across the ice and the weight compromised the ice to begin to crack. Just as the herd was falling into the water, the leader of the herd, the Great White Bull, let out a thunderous roar that echoed through the air. Today, the horrendous roar can still be heard from the ghosts of the herd haunting the lake. Now, the lake is called the “Lake That Roars” to describe its mysterious sound.
Baker Creek Wood River Camp
In the 1920’s, the ghost of an extremely large man, Russian John, started haunting this creek bed. This ghost of an immigrant miner hides behind bushes and steps out to frighten all who crosses his path. The exact story of Russian John lends itself more to urban legend than anything, but there is a ranger station named after him as well as a hot spring, suggesting that he did in fact exist at one point. Why his ghost has decided to haunt the area, however, remains a mystery.
Located in the Payette National Forest in central Idaho, Bayhorse is a small settlement that boomed with activity in the late 1800's. In that settlement, there lived a man who was called Yankee Fork Bulgarian Monk. With both a long name and a scary story, the man was anything but a monk. He wore burlap robes with a hood, tied with a rope around his waist, which caused his nickname. Yankee was known in Bayhorse as cranky man who would chase away those who entered his property, like the local boys who dared each other to enter Yankee’s cabin. The old man would chase these boys away daily, until one day while chasing a boy, he slipped off a boulder into the Salmon River, where he drowned. In the early 1900's, reportings of an old man chasing boys started. Yankee Fork Bulgarian Monk still chases boys from his property and boys continue to dare each other to go into his cabin.
Boise State University
There are two places at Boise State University that are said to be haunted. The first is the fraternity dorm that is nicknamed “The Murder House.” Before it was part of BSU, there was a gruesome murder at the house, where a man was dismembered and dumped into the Boise river in plastic bags. It was one of the most grotesque murders in Boise’s history. Today, people report to see a silhouette in a window looking out at night and a stir of the blinds, as if someone was trying to escape.
Interestingly, the other alleged haunted house is in the girls’ dorm, though this one was instead a suicide. The girl who is said to haunt the dorm rooms discovered in life that her boyfriend was cheating on her, and hung herself after the news. Today, many people have said to have felt her presence in the dorm rooms.
Though just stories, the hauntings in Idaho create a mysterious intrigue for those who venture into the so-called haunted buildings. Ultimately, supernatural and other ghostly stories serve to maintain our local culture. By remembering our pasts, we are able to connect with very real fears that existed both then and now. Being thrilled by sensational stories that can chill our bones or cause shortness of breath is fun, educational, and above all, a way to preserve Idaho’s intriguing history.