Park City Ghost Tours

Erik Hutchins waits for his tour group with a wooden sign across from Bistro 412 on PC's Main, just in front of Peter Fillerup's statue honoring the city's mining heritage and modeled by engineer Jim Ivers, who passed away ten years ago.

He looks almost like Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing, dark cloak, hat and a satchel full of supernatural gadgets, among them a gaussmeter to measure magnetic fields, a plumb-bob to question ghosts and, of course a magical, portable credit card machine.

The outfit is actually period dress from the early 20th century, thanks to Mask Costumes in SLC. "I think it adds to the experience," he says. "It's dramatic. You want it to be entertaining and dramatic."

THE TOUR

Main Street is full of restless spirits.

Hutchins and his business partner Rob Newey, who also gives tours, originally set out to write a book or film a documentary on those ghosts in Park City's, but they decided to make it a tour instead when they noticed none existed already.

They collected stories of Main Street's ghosts for about six years ago. After hearing about a haunting, they'd set up shop to experience it personally, using infrared cameras and cameras to photograph orbs. "If an orb is in the foreground, it's probably the flash reflecting some dust," Hutchins says. "But if it's 30 feet away, there's no way your flash is reaching that far."

They also dug through back issues of The Park Record to find each haunter's name. Luckily, they were also blessed with Gary Kimball's book, Death and Dying in Park City, which lists people buried in PC, but not in the cemetery register.

"Kimball Junction is named after his family, and they've been here since the beginning of Park City," Hutchins says. "His book and the rich reporting history played a crucial role in our research."

The tour starts across from Bistro 412, goes up Main Street toward Daly Canyon and then back down passed the Egyptian Theatre to the Kimball Art Center, and then across and south on Park Avenue.

"It's a historical tour," Hutchins says. "If we called it 'historical,' 10 percent of the people who sign up would sign up, but it's really 70 to 80 percent history."

Throughout the tour, the guide mentions fun facts about Park City and asks the crowd trivia questions. "Of course, most of them are centered on death and accidents," Hutchins says.

THE GHOSTS

Just about all of the ghosts on the tour have two things in common:

1. The person died suddenly and unexpectedly with little time to prepare for death

2. The spirit has an attachment or addiction to a specific location, a reason to be there

Lizzy at the Imperial Hotel

Her husband didn't know it, but Lizzy was a prostitute. One night, he set out to play cards with the boys at a local saloon (now Red Banjo Pizza Parlour), but realized he forgot his lucky silver coin. When he came back to his room in the Imperial, he quickly learned how Lizzy was earning all of her extra cash. So, he pulled out his shotgun and killed Lizzy and the man in her bed.

The john that night must have had a beard, because Lizzy loves men with beards. Manager Jeff found this out in the '90s. Now, he's clean shaven. Make sure your man is, too, especially if you're staying in room eight.

Black Jack Murphy outside the Kimball Art Center

Sometimes a short cut is actually a death trap. A miner cut through Iron Canyon on his way home in 1892, but when he stumbled on Black Jack's property, Black Jack killed him.

Scared of vigilante justice, the sheriff brought Black Jack to the middle of a cow pasture for two days until locals' rage died down. It didn't. When he was returned to his cell in Coalville, Black Jack was quickly broken out by the vigilantes and hung. People who have the sixth sense will catch a glimpse of Black Jack Murphy hanging, just about where the Kimball Art Center's kilm pipe is today.

The Man in the Yellow Slicker in Daly Canyon

"I was giving a tour, and a cop pulls up on his motorcycle," Hutchins explains. "I thought I was in trouble, but I've always been on the straight and narrow. He says 'Are you Hutch?' and I said, 'That depends.'"

Turns out, Officer Howard just wanted to tell Hutchins about his experience with the Man in the Yellow Slicker, Park City's most famous ghost.

Howard was on patrol one night near Daly Canyon and got sleepy. So, he stepped out for a walk around his patrol car to wake up. He suddenly had the feeling he was being stalked, probably by a cougar. He jumped back in the car and saw the figure in the yellow slicker in the rear view mirror, floating.

As he pulled away, the image stayed the same size in the mirror, following until the dirt turned to pavement. "If there's a call at Daly Canyon, they know not to call him," Hutchins says. "He still won't go up there."

The Man in the Yellow Slicker is a death warning to old miners. If you see him, you die, but the story now has a Medusa-type spin to it. Howard was lucky enough to see the man through a mirror.

Jack at the Centennial House

In the early 20th century, it was a brothel, but in the '60s became a house for ski bums. Jack was one of the skiers and probably one of the near dozen people who died in the house from drugs or alcohol.

Hutchins and Newey stayed over night to investigate, but couldn't find any evidence until they went to sleep. They both dreamed about someone named Jack, and when they woke up saw the name Jack carved in the floor.

"I thought we must have seen it the night before and it stuck in our heads," Hutchins says. But his friend, who actually lived in the room, said the carving was new. It was never there before that night.

At first the duo was discouraged. The records show someone named John could have died in the room, but they later realized Jack is actually a nickname for John.

Blanche at the Egyptian Theatre

Born in the 1880s, Blanche was one of the town's best musicians and played the piano at the theatre for 40 years- weddings, silent films, whatever was going on. Unfortunately, the theatre's ghost is commonly known as Edwina, not Blanche.

So, now it's up to Hutchins and Newey to re-educate people on what they've heard about the Egyptian Theatre's ghost, who can still be heard playing the organ.

OTHER SPOTS YOU'LL FIND PC'S GHOSTS

Washington School Inn

One of Park City's last remaining historical treasures, where the miners used to send their kids. Some of those kids never left.

The Alley toward "China Town"

There used to be a bridge over Park City's China Town, so the white locals wouldn't have to go through it. Still, spirits of old Chinese miners remain.

ALL IN ALL

Typically tours have a max of about 15 or 20 guests, but have gone up to 40 or so. They last about 70 minutes.

Bring a camera, warm clothes and an open mind.

Every bit of praise the tour has gotten is well-deserved. Instead of just showing people what they've heard about, the tour guides are serious researchers in the subject, knowledgeable, funny and friendly.

"If you're on vacation with the family, what do you do in Park City when the sun goes down?" Hutchins explains. "We have found a niche that was unbelievably not filled, and I love when we get people who start to question their own reality. I think that's one of the biggest thrills."

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