Seven years of spooky stories: Park City Ghost Tours
Offering local lore for Parkites and tourists alike
November 22, 2016
Although Halloween has come and gone, there are still scares to be had in Old Town every night thanks to Park City Ghost Tours. Owners and founders Lela and Rob Newey partnered with Erik Hutchins seven years ago to create the business.
"Just when we think we've hit the top, it gets better," says Hutchins.
Whether you are a tourist or local, the lore of Park City's past is captivating. In the late 1800s, Old Town Park City was the real Wild West. With the silver boom, came prosperity but also greed, murder and mine disasters, creating a perfect backdrop for ghost stories.
Each ghost tale begins with extensive research at the Park City Library and the Historical Museum on Main Street. "We try to honor and respect the ghosts," by getting the facts straight says Rob. Both he and his wife have spent countless hours thumbing through obituaries, history books and time-yellowed Park Record articles, getting names and dates correct. The couple say they cannot express how thankful they are for the local resources because, "Without them, we don't exist," Hutchins says.
Once the team has concrete information about a particular person's life (and untimely death), they'll visit the modern homes and storefronts that person's ghost may still frequent. According to Lela and Rob, spirits will remain at a location of great importance to them.
Sometimes locals will seek out help from Park City Ghost Tours to explain the mysterious things that are happening at their home or business. Rob says the owner of Flanagan’s repeatedly asked him to visit after staff members began to quit due to "things getting too weird."
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According to Flanagan’s general manager, Greg Walsh, "it doesn't matter if you believe or not, when you hear footsteps when there's no one else in the restaurant," or see something rush past your periphery, "you get goose bumps."
Walsh and many other employees have reported seeing the ghost of a young girl after hours in the basement. According to Park City Ghost Tours, it is 17-year-old Hope Daisy, who used to live upstairs in the now-restaurant and was shot and killed by her uncle in 1892. "We feel pretty confident about our stories," says Lela. "The tales are about real people that lived and died here."
The tour owners say they have been approached countless times by television ghost hunters who want to bring their production to Old Town. "Every time I say 'no,'" says Hutchins who knows how invasive and disrespectful television crews can be to small town businesses.
"We really owe the businesses of Main Street a lot," says Hutchins who knows that 30 people on a walking ghost tour can be a little disruptive to other foot traffic. The tours have been growing every year and the company tries its best to give back to the community as much as it can by offering discounts to resort workers, concierges, and city employees.
Park City local, Annalise Margarita, was impressed by the tour. As a native to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, she's no stranger to haunted tales.
"We've walked by these houses hundreds of times, and now I'll never look at the buildings the same," she says.
"Not only is it scary and fun, but you learn a lot of history," says Joe Roberts, who recently took a ghost tour. After learning about the spirits that frequent Main Street, he wants to "go home and dig deeper into the stories."
At the heart of every tour is the story. "Why do people go to the movies and read books? It's for the stories," says Rob. "When people learn more about a place, they feel more attached, more connected to it," and Park City Ghost Tours hopes to continue to make those connections for many years to come.
For more information visit parkcityghosttours.com
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