While every state has its local lore, the oral traditions and ghost stories from Idaho are as unique and eerie as they come. When these tales are taken collectively, Idaho becomes a place full of ghosts, gems, sea monsters, potatoes, evil cannibalistic dwarfs, a fish woman, murderous water sprites, and, apparently, mountains that were originally savage, child-eating ogres.
Idaho urban legends were born from Native American lore and real-life historical tragedies such as murders and suicides, with a little conspiracy theory thrown in for flair in the more modern legends. Tales of white stallions, Bigfoot, and creepy X-Files-level secrecy can all be found in “The Gem State.” This list explores some of the strangest and most popular tales out of creepy Idaho.
Coyote And The Seven Devils
The Seven Devils are a series of mountain peaks in Idaho’s Hells Canyon Wilderness that form a portion of the Idaho-Oregon border. According to Nez Perce legend, these peaks were once seven fearsome, giant monsters, infamous for their penchant for eating children. In hopes of keeping their children safe, the townsfolk of legend enlisted the help of Coyote (a central figure in Nez Perce mythology), who devised a plan for them. On the path he knew the giants would take in their child-stealing travels, Coyote dug a massive hole and filled it with boiling hot water. When the giants began their voyage east as expected, they fell into the massive, scalding pit. Coyote then transformed the squealing giants into stone to punish them for their wicked ways. He opened a canyon at their feet, known as Hell’s Canyon, where they stand even now, trapped as mountains. Thanks to Coyote, the children are free to roam.
Haunting At The Lewiston Civic Theatre
Prior to the theater that stands today, the Lewiston Civic Theater was once a Methodist Church that dates back to 1902. In 1971, it became a theater, and in the 1980s, two women and one young man all disappeared from the theater on the same night. Both women were found dead off the property, and the man was never found. Police believed an employee of the theater was responsible for murdering all three but never had enough to indict him.
Some believe the man’s body is buried beneath the theater, and that he still haunts the building. There have been numerous sightings of a female apparition fading up the stairs and many odd occurrences all throughout the theater. The chandelier spins on its own, the trap door flies open and slams shut, a ghost of a director has been seen in the balcony, and, apparently, a bride weaves herself through the seats. Who wants to go to a movie?
Sharlie: The Dragon Of Payette Lake
The legend of Sharlie all began in 1920 when settlers of McCall, ID, noticed what they thought was a log beginning to move in the nearby Payette Lake. Then, in August 1944, multiple groups saw what they described as a dinosaur-like creature that was at least 30 feet long with shell-like skin and humps along its brownish-green back materializing in the water. Two years later, twenty people saw the beast diving into and popping back up out of the water. Later, in 1954, the editor of Star News held a contest challenging readers to come up with a name for this elusive creature. The winner was Le Isle Hennefer Tury of Springfield, VA, who came up with the name “Sharlie.” Sharlie continued to be spotted over the years, but she hasn't been seen since 2002.
The Murder House At Boise State University
What’s known to Boise locals as the "Murder House" is now home to a fraternity. Go figure. More than 30 years ago, this infamous house was the site of the brutal murder and mutilation of Preston Murr, whose body was dragged across the porch, down the sidewalk, and dumped 100 miles away in Brownlee Reservoir.
The blood trail led investigators back to the basement where Preston Murr’s body was hacked into thirteen pieces and, allegedly, the bloodstains can still be seen today. Sometimes, it's said, the stains even appear and disappear randomly. In the house, the window blinds open and shut on their own, and – most chillingly – there’s an apparition of an unknown woman in 19th-century dress frequently spotted looking out the window of the house.