August 2, 2013

Writing About Utah's Haunted Old Mill

Images copyright Steven Symes
This August 12 marks the four year anniversary since the first time I wrote and published something about the Old Mill. You can see my original article here. Since then I think about the Old Mill often. There is something about the old building nestled up by the mountains that is mesmerizingly creepy. I've thrown around the idea of writing a book about the mill a few times, but it seems something always comes up when I do.

I think that finally is about to change.

Pretty regularly I have people email me about the Old Cottonwood Mill. If you type "haunted Old Mill Utah" in Google my article is the top result. It's a topic that fascinates many people in Salt Lake City and the surrounding area. I have never been inside the mill since by the time I first heard about it the building had been closed down. I have visited the outside of the mill from beyond the tall chain link fences that surround out and have felt there is something different about the building.

And by different I mean evil.

I have been in many at least reportedly haunted locations. During my life I have experienced some inexplicable things, some of which make my skin crawl. But the Old Mill is by far one of the creepiest buildings I have ever even been near. The building seems shrouded in mystery for many reasons: there is scant information about it, it has been the site of several tragedies since not too long after it originally was built and nobody has been in it for years.

My wife used to work on the production crew for Touched by an Angel, which was filmed in Salt Lake City. She told me that once they filmed at the Old Mill and the crew experienced an unusual amount of equipment failure. I have heard on the radio here a famous DJ, Chunga on 101.9 the End, talk about his time as a guard at the Old Mill and how the batteries in his flashlight would quickly fail. This is not an unusual phenomena in severely haunted locations. Some theorize the spirits feed on the energy from different devices, storing it up so they can do something powerful later.

A while ago the family of one of the workers tied to the tragedy of the mill contacted me. The worker I mention is the caretaker who accidentally shot himself in the head early one morning. I have looked and looked over the materials they sent me about their brother and uncle, and every time I feel a heaviness. The story of the Old Mill needs to be told and told well, and I feel that I need to be the one who does the work. Part of me dreads wading neck-deep into the details of the Mill because of the feelings I have experienced standing a hundred feet from it. I have contemplated pushing for permission to enter the mill and experience it for myself, which is probably a good idea if I want to write this book. The idea of doing that scares the hell out of me, and trust me when I say that I don't scare easily.

So it's time to tell the story of the haunted Old Mill in Salt Lake City, a site some people claim is the most haunted in the state. I will keep everyone updated about my progress on the project, so stay tuned.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You need to write it. And get permission to enter the building. Take a buddy though. A big buddy.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

This does sound like something you need to write. It's like when I first visited the cemetery with the caged graves. No, I didn't get a sense of evil there ... just a sense of sadness and tragedy and an untold story.

But like Alex said, don't go in alone!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That place looks so creepy cool. I'd explore it. During the day of course.

Steven said...

Alex, one thing I've learned is size matters not when it comes to these matters. Maybe I will take a demonologist with me!

Dianne, it's funny how compelling the morbid things can be.

Diane, I was thinking of going there at night if possible since that's when the action would likely be.

Robin said...

Before you go in it might be a good idea to take pictures from outside the fence during the day and at night. It is interesting what appears in pictures that our eye misses. There is a haunted place in Ohio that is close to where some of my family members live. They have captured some amazing things on film. It's stuff that you don't see with the naked eye. That place also elicits a visceral emotional feeling (and not a good one). It was an asylum at one time and the rumors were heavy about the inhumane practices that occurred there.

Anyway, I agree that you should go inside if you decide to write the piece. And I would take someone experienced in supernatural phenomena, too!

Steven said...

Robin, don't worry, I will cover my bases. I think I know exactly which asylum you're talking about. There are actually some specific things I will do before entering somewhere I know is really active.

randi lee said...

I'd love to explore a place like that! We have an old prison near us called Old Newgate Prison. Well, I deign admit it, but a bunch of friends of mine and I (in high school) snuck in in the middle of the night and ghost hunted! Ahh, the fun of youth.

VR Barkowski said...

I agree with the other commenters, you clearly need to write this story. While I don't believe in ghosts in the traditional sense, I do believe in dark energies. If one believes in positive energy, one must accept the reality of negative energy.

To write the story of the Old Mill, you will need to enter the site. Approach the assignment with the respect I know you feel.

VR Barkowski

Steven said...

Randi, teenage ghost hunting is like a rite of passage, that's for sure.

VR, I know quite a few paranormal investigators who don't think there is a light and a dark. Experience has taught me that's just not true, but we don't all have the same experiences. This assignment is one that definitely warrants a mountain of respect, which is why I think it has frightened me in the past.