July 27, 2011

Old Mill: The Most Haunted Place in Utah?

Tucked between the 215 beltway and the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon is a structure is hidden from casual view. The aging stone and adobe mill sits near the intersection of Wasatch and Fort Union Boulevards. The Old Mill has an interesting past which makes it – some argue – the most haunted site in all of Utah.
Old Mill was first built in 1883 by the Deseret News. Paper was in short supply in the valley so the mill was established to make paper out of logs from the nearby canyon, old paper, and even rags that were collected from residents. The completion of the transcontinental railroad made paper cheap as it increased the paper supply in Utah. No longer needing the mill, Deseret News sold it to Granite Paper Mills Company in 1892. One year later, on April 1, a fire broke out. The employees thought the alarms were part of a bad April Fool’s joke, allowing the fire to spread quickly. The structure was badly burned, especially in the southeast end where only the lower level stone walls were left.

The mill was renovated and used as a dance hall in 1927. The club was popular until the 1940’s, when it failed for a number of reasons. Since it has been used for various purposes, most notably as a haunted house. Tales have circulated about former caretakers of the mill who have died violently, piquing peoples’ interest in the site.

Many who have visited Old Mill have reported strange events. Cold spots, growling, and a general creepy feeling are commonly reported. One woman, Kelly*, had some strange experiences while working for a film crew that was shooting at the location over the period of several days. Kelly and others in the crew thought the building seemed “heavy” and “filled us with dread.” Equipment failures, which happened from time to time, occurred “much more than on any other shoot I had ever been on, before or since,” said Kelly. One night, after the whole crew had exited the building and all the equipment had been packed up, lights came on inside the mill. Baffled, the crew made extra sure upon returning to the warehouse that all the lighting equipment was accounted for. More baffling was the fact the building had no lights nor electricity running to it for lights to turn on. Kelly said everyone seemed glad once they finished filming at the location.

Old Mill was condemned by the City of Cottonwood Heights in 2005. The current owners have stated they have no plans to renovate the building. Old Mill is private property and there is no trespassing allowed.
Have you had any experiences with Old Mill or know anyone who has? Post your comments below.

* name changed to protect identity.

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