Southwest Idaho has a long history with trouble, and trouble, stress and traumatic moments are the ingredients--for whatever causes spirits to be restless or leave an impression in this reality. Here are some of the more publicly known local hauntings.
•The Idanha Hotel is said to be haunted by a number of ghosts. Several years ago during remodeling to convert the rooms into apartments, many construction workers and employees in the building reported strange phenomena. The ghost of a bellman shot by a guest in the 1970s, is said to move the elevator up and down. In the early 1920s a man allegedly killed his wife with a pair of scissors and buried her body beneath the building where Basement Gallery is now. The second and fourth floors are said to be the most haunted. Word has it that ghost activity has quieted down post-renovation.
•Boise Little Theater is rumored to be inhabited by the spirits of two men who died in a fire
•The basement of the Idaho Historical Museum was the site of a murder in the 1940s. During construction of the building, a patrol officer found the body of a teenage boy at the site. Rumors associate the victim with the Boys of Boise incidents. Today, employees say they get a creepy feeling there at night but Ken Swanson, Administrator of Historical Museum and Historic Sites, has been there for over two decades. He says he has spent many late nights working and has never felt a presence.
•In addition to the aforementioned spectral soldiers, Mountain Cove High School is rumored to be haunted by some restless spirits displaced when a nearby cemetery was relocated. Several years ago in the same area, construction workers discovered some skeletons and a casket in a culvert. The bodies were reburied in a cemetery.
•Mulligan's, a popular bar on Main Street, is said to be haunted with strange smells (yeah, what bar doesn't have strange smells?) and moving objects. The abandoned second-level is said to be particularly spooky.
•The Boise High School green room in the basement is said to be haunted by the spirit of a young woman who died in the 1930s. Abandoned tunnels and passageways beneath the school add to the legend.
•"Dinah" is said to haunt the Boise State Communications building and several ghost investigators have confirmed there is definitely something strange going on. Apparently the spirit will interact with male investigators only. The spirit received her name when someone once asked what her name was and a piano began playing "Someone's in the Kitchen with Dinah." Many students and faculty report computers and lights turning on and off and when the attic was used as a costume storage area, fabric would be pulled out and bolts left standing in the room. Other reports include disembodied giggling and strange writing on chalkboards.
•Some say you can hear the sounds of a horse running along the banks of the canal near Dry Creek Cemetery at 2:15 in the morning.
•Night Moves Gentlemen's Club on State Street has been the location for several sightings of apparitions, some of which resemble a little girl. Others report poltergeist activity.
•The Kit Kat Klub in Meridian is also said to have apparitions, strange pounding noises and sightings. But one could say that about any strip club.
•There are reports of haunted dorm rooms at Boise State. Allegedly a young girl hung herself there after discovering her boyfriend with someone else.
•At a place called "The Field," near the intersection of Fairview and Milwaukee by the Alsace Crematorium, people claim to hear strange laughing at night.
•The ghostly figure of a young girl who was killed while skiing, has been sighted on Gots Point on Lake Lowell. She disappears when approached.
•Canyon Hill Cemetery in Caldwell is haunted by a legless jogger who will tap on car windows when people park around the cemetery at night.
•According to Shoshone and Bannock legends, the Owyhee mountains are said to be haunted by naked cannibalistic dwarves who have been known to kidnap children and eat them.
Silver City has been the site of several suspected hauntings over the years. The Idaho Hotel, still an operating hotel from Memorial Day through October, is said to be haunted by at least three spirits. In the late 1800s, J. Marion Moore and Samuel Lockhart had a shootout on the front steps of the hotel. Both died inside the hotel. Their spirits are said to roam the hotel. The third person who died in the hotel was former owner O.D. Broombaugh who killed himself in the south saloon while suffering from pancreatic cancer. His original room in the hotel was number 27 on the third floor and people who have stayed in that room have reported being touched on the leg at night. Several people have seen a man, always in and around the stairwell to the third floor, in a duster coat. Roger and Jerri Nelson, who have worked at the hotel since 1991 and owned it since 2000 have never seen any strange phenomena and don't really believe in the hauntings, but will admit that lights and water will turn off on their own ... even after the hotel had been rewired several years ago.
The winter watchman and several Silver City residents have reported seeing a young boy and girl, in clothes from around the turn of the previous century (tailed coat for the boy, dress for the girl) playing marbles on Washington Street. The sightings occur in the evenings in late fall and early spring when tourists aren't really around.
While many old buildings creak and moan, one popular explanation is that it is "Screaming Alice." Apparently Alice, who had lost her husband and both children to measles in the matter of just a few weeks was staying at the old War Eagle Hotel in Silver City. She packed her bags, went to catch the stagecoach and was never seen again. Her bags, including one filled with her babies' clothes, were left behind. No one ever found her and it was said she died of a lonely heart. Locals tend to embellish the story and one version has her falling down the front steps of the hotel, breaking off both arms and running back through the hotel screaming and waving her bloody stumps.
Jerri Nelson said that although she has never seen a ghost, one time at the Stoddard House--an ornate old house seen through the windows of the bar at the Idaho Hotel--she took a photograph of an archway inside. There was a strange "energy" in the photo right in the middle of the archway.
Jerri believes that, "Part of the ambiance of ghost tales is where you are at." While she has never seen a ghost in Idaho City, she finds it strange that all but three of a large number of Chinese graves have been exhumed and the bones sent back to China. The last exhumation, she said, happened in 1993.
If you would like to elaborate on any of the above hauntings or contribute more ghost stories, legends or first-hand accounts in either public spaces or private residences, feel free to contact Boise Weekly (firstname.lastname@example.org) to relate your story. We would like to collect these and possibly work on investigations of the hauntings for future columns. Your confidentiality will be respected.