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 child-eating ogres.
Idaho urban legends were born from Native American lore and real-life historical tragedies, 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.
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 a native 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 people enlisted the help of Coyote (a central figure in Nez Perce mythology), who devised a plan for them with his friend Fox.
On the path they knew the giants would take in their child-nabbing travels, Coyote, Fox, and other animals with claws dug seven massive holes and filled each with a boiling hot liquid. When the giants began their voyage as expected, they fell into the massive, scalding pits. Coyote then transformed the squealing, trapped giants into mountains to punish them for their wicked ways. He opened a canyon at their feet, known as Hell’s Canyon, to keep other giants from crossing over to the village. Thanks to Coyote, the children are free to roam.
Before this building housed the Lewiston Civic Theater, it was a Methodist Church built in 1904. In 1972, it became a theater, and in 1982, two women and one man all disappeared from the theater on the same night. Both women were found dead off the property two years later, victims of a suspected homicide, while the man was never found. His mystery remains unsolved.
Whether or not these three people haunt the building, there have been numerous sightings of other ghosts in the theater. Actors and theater-goers have seen apparitions of a red-haired man, a spectral presence in the mail room, and an elderly gentleman in the doorway. 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?
The legend of Sharlie the lake monster was first recorded in the early 1920s when railroad workers in McCall, ID, noticed what they thought was a log beginning to move in Payette Lake. Then, in August 1944, more than two dozen people saw what they described as a long, undulating, crocodile-like creature that one witness described as being 35 feet long and having a shell.
Later, in 1954, the Payette Lake Star newspaper 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 has been seen less and less frequently.
The "Murder House" of Boise was the site of the vicious murder of Preston Murr more than 30 years ago. After an argument broke out in the basement of the house between Murr and two men, Murr was shot and then hacked into pieces that were dumped 100 miles away in Brownlee Reservoir. His body parts surfaced and led investigators back to the house, which is allegedly still haunted today.
Many former residents and visitors of the house have said that the basement has a creepy feeling. Footsteps from an invisible person have been heard. There are also legends about the house that say blood stains appear and disappear and a woman in old-fashioned clothing has been seen looking out the window.