An old paper mill dating back to
pioneer times, located at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The setting
around the Old Mill is perfect, an aged slightly decrepit surrounding dropped
down into a small valley carved out by the canyon river. It has the right mix
of ancient tree's and dead undergrowth. Because of the building's odd nature
it never has had too much care given too it, just the minimal. Needless to
say, it is definitely a place which gives you the willies, even driving by it
in the daytime.
I'll just cover the Old Mill's history now, and then go into more personal
stories in later.
ASCII Map: .
. - Mountainside '
- ' --------
|Central | ..........
| * |.. ... ..
| |------------- ..
` |Building| | ..
\` | | Courtyard | ..
\` | -- | ..
\ \` ------| |------------ ..
\road\` -- ::.........
\ \` - - - - - - Fence - - - - - - - -
* This is where the room is for the Heart of the
Old Mill is (explained later)
It has been burned down a few times, being rebuilt again. It's latest form is
broken into two major portions, as you can see above. It is several stories
tall, with the main floor being a much taller than normal height. The
Courtyard was at one point part of the main building, but was not ever rebuilt
in the last fire, and is now a cement courtyard with crumbling walls which make
it look almost like a castle wall due to the window holes which have lost their
arches. The Central building is broken into 2 major portions, with the south
end being a large open room with a tall balcony. Both the main floor and the
balcony have locked doors to the tower which was condemned years ago. The
northern end is more economical, broken into 3 stories. The central section of
the northern end is divided by a stone wall. It has massive fireplaces on each
floor, but is only two stories as where the middle one would be, it is an open
space to the large entrance chamber below (the ceiling is ornately painted, but
they are hard to see due to age).
The 3rd story of this section is considered the heart of the Old Mill, where
most of the ghosts are supposed to reside. From personal experience I can say
that simply walking through the room the temperature is noticeably colder, and
if you stay in it for more than a few minutes your skin begins to crawl. On
the wall facing the outside the rock is unusual. Rather than the normal large
bricks, which are approximately 1-2 feet thick, it is mottled and covered with
twisted cement and other stones leaving a jagged surface. In the evening when
the sun is setting and the shadows are long you can watch this wall, and you
will begin to see movement which cannot be pinpointed. Sometimes you can even
make out forms of some type.
I have forgotten the exact date the Old Mill was built (I did some research on
it, at one point), but it was back in the 1800's. It served for quite a few
years as a productive paper Mill. Then, one winter's night, it burned to the
ground. The official historical entries I could find simply said some oily
rags caught fire from a lantern. However, one of the folklore stories relates
a conflict between two of the evening caretakers. They were up in the central
room to the Old Mill having an argument. One of the two struck the other, who
hit the table knocking the oil lamp the the floor. The second caretaker's dog
began barking at the first one, as the fire ran out of control he fled. The
second caretaker and his dog never survived the fire, although their burnt
bodies were found in the fireplace (presumably to escape the flames). More
than one person working in the Old Mill at night has heard a faint barking
which couldn't be tracked down.
The Mill stayed that way for a few years, until just after the turn of the
century when it was rebuilt to be a dance hall. It had a bit of activity
through the twenties and thirties, but when World War II hit it shut down. For
years it stayed empty, until one night it burned to the ground again. The
official historical sources once again simply record it as a fire started by
transients, but the folklore recounts a story from the transient who survived,
which was ignored by the officials. He said they had started a fire in the
fireplace up in the 3rd story room (the Heart), to keep themselves warm. Early
in the morning he woke up hearing a barking and what sounded like yelling. He
looked around himself confused, as it was much too loud to be outside but he
didn't think anybody else was in the building. That was when he saw the fire
run across the floor. He insisted it did not start from their own fire, but
needless to say it engulfed the room and destroyed the building again. The
transient that did not escape was found curled in the fireplace. One version
of the story says there was also the remains of a dog, even though the two
transients did not have one.
When it was rebuilt the last time only the western section was finished. Since
then it has had many roles, from that of a disco in the 70's to what it is now.
The building even is riddled with catacombs below, which were at one time used
to channel water around.
There is also a story of a caretaker. the evening
caretaker committed suicide in front of his wife. They lived in the northwest
corner. His wife said he had been torn for a few months, as a part of the
north east corner on the courtyard was very unstable, and he was afraid it
would crumble and fall on somebody with the upcoming haunted house. They had
both known the Mill was haunted, and he told her he felt the Old Mill didn't
want the portion of the wall destroyed. But one day he made his decision. He
left their living quarters almost as if he was upset. She heard the tractor
start and drive around the building, then it idled for a few minutes. Before
she was about to go check on her husband he suddenly appeared in the apartment
and made a beeline for the cabinet housing his weapons. He withdrew a
revolver, filled all the chambers and pointed it at his head. He looked at his
wife and stated, "lets play russian roulette," then stroked the trigger once,
The easiest way to get there is if you are on Fort union Blvd. Driving toward the canyon make a left on to E. Big Cottonwoodd canyon RD.