Park City Ghost Tours delve into local stories, sightings
Park City police officer Marty Howard avoids entering Daly Canyon at all costs. He doesn’t care if his fellow officers razz him — he knows what he saw.
Fifteen years ago, Howard was working a graveyard shift and drove up the canyon to get some fresh air. As he was walking around, he had the feeling that he was being watched.
"All of the sudden the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up," he recalls. "I couldn’t get in the car fast enough."
As he started the engine, Howard says he saw a yellow figure in his rearview mirror. "I was thinking that it was an animal watching me at first. Then it dawned on me that it actually looked like a person," he says.
Spooked, he accelerated down the hill. To his horror, the yellow apparition followed him, keeping his pace. "The faster I went, the closer it got to me," he says.
When he came within sight of the homes at the base of the canyon, it disappeared.
At first Howard didn’t tell anyone. A couple weeks later, he told a colleague about the experience and the longtime Parkite immediately thought of the story of the man in the yellow slicker.
As the legend goes, the ghost of a man in a yellow raincoat showed up periodically in the Park City mines. His appearance was seen as a bad omen as it almost always preceded an accident. He was reportedly spotted the day before the Daly West Mine explosion in 1902.
"I never was much of believer in ghosts until that happened to me," Howard says. "I have no question that’s was it was. To this day I won’t go up there unless I’m with another officer or I have to go up there on a call. The officers tease me a little bit, but it was real. It still kind of freaks me out.’
A few weeks ago, Howard approached Rob Newey, co-owner of Park City Ghost Tours, and shared his story. Now Newey recounts Howard’s tale during tours as one of the many first-hand experiences he’s gathered in Park City.
Newey started Park City Ghost Tours with his wife, Lela, and partner, Erik Hutchins, in July. "I’ve always been interested in the history of Park City," he says. "I’ve heard of a number of ghosts, but there’s also a lot of paranormal activity. I thought starting ghost tours seemed like a natural thing to do."
The Neweys have lived in Park City for 17 years and Rob has taught skiing at a local resort every winter for 33 years. Hutchins recently returned from England, where he was filming crop circles and exploring paranormal activity for a documentary.
The team spent six months researching local myths and collecting stories. It wasn’t difficult to find subject matter, Newey says. Park City’s history as a mining town is riddled with the consequences of gambling, brothels and heavy drinking: accidents, unexplained deaths and murder.
They started with famous ghost stories like that of man in the yellow slicker. Then they consulted the Park City Museum, historical books like Gary Kimball’s "Death and Dying in Old Park City," and longtime residents including the Santys, Bill Kranstover, Randy Barton, and Barbara and Ken Martz to expand their ghostly repertoire.
Local residents and business owners approach the tour guides with tips and tidbits on a regular basis. Tales of moving glasses, floating papers, slamming doors, cold spots, lights turning on and off, shimmers of orbs, and other paranormal phenomena are not uncommon, Newey says.
They have used a gaussmeter, which measures electromagnetic energy, to record frequencies of electrical impulses around Old Town. The impulses are believed to be the energy fields surrounding ghosts.
Newey and Hutchins hope to enter buildings like the Claimjumper, Washington School Inn and Alaska building and use infrared and ultraviolet filming and auditory equipment to supplement their research.
Most of the ghosts they focus on are not threatening, he says. In most cases, the ghost sightings have been reported in places where a sudden, traumatic death happened. Instead of trying to disrupt the spirits, the tour guides want to honor their existence by sharing their stories.
As evidence mounts, existing stories will be enhanced and new stories will be featured on the tours, Newey says. "We’ve got so much information that we have to do more research and tease out the stories," he says. "We fully expect this will be an evolving thing."
The tours start daily at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Miners Park on Main Street.
Tours last about 70 minutes and are recommended for children 8 and older. The cost is $16 for adults and $8 for ages 16 and under, with group discounts for 10 or more. The tours will take a hiatus in November and return in December with two tours nightly at 6 and 8 p.m.
For more information about Park City Ghost Tours, visit http://www.parkcityghosttours.com . For reservations, call 615-7673.
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