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Listen to ““URBAN LEGENDS AND TRUE TERRORS OF ST. ANNE’S NUNNERY” and more! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: While rumors abound about St. Anne’s Nunnery being haunted and a variety of stories can be found on the Internet, most have factual errors about the camp’s history that bring into question the tales of ghosts, abortions and nuns drowning babies in the swimming pool. Every single one is just an urban legend… aside from one very disturbing true event. (Urban Legends And True Terrors of St. Anne’s Nunnery) *** Where do urban legends come from? We’ll look at some of the most famous ones, and the history behind them. (The Legends Behind Urban Legends)
STORY AND MUSIC CREDITS/SOURCES…
“The Terrors of St. Anne’s Nunnery” from BackpackVerse: http://bit.ly/2X6LgCL
“St Anne’s Nunnery’s Haunted History” by Kelly Palmer for The Utah Statesman: http://bit.ly/34SEpiX
“Logan Canyon Nunnery Still for Sale” by Lis Stewart for HJ News: http://bit.ly/2O4zLYp
“The Legends Behind Urban Legends” by Jacob Shelton for Graveyard Shift: http://bit.ly/2rx0bKy
Background music provided by EpidemicSound and AudioBlocks with paid license. Music by Shadows Symphony (http://bit.ly/2W6N1xJ) and Midnight Syndicate (http://amzn.to/2BYCoXZ) is also sometimes used with permission.
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46 *** How to escape eternal darkness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IYmodFKDaM
URBAN LEGENDS AND TRUE TERRORS OF ST. ANNE’S NUNNERY
The Beehive State is a big place with a lot of stuff in it. Some places in Utah are full of natural beauty. Some are loaded with the rich history of our nation. And of course, some places in Utah are haunted. It happens everywhere. One such place is a former nunnery called St. Anne’s. It’s in Logan Canyon, and it’s been standing there since the 1920s. St. Anne’s is in rough shape these days, but it’s still there. It’s one of the most frightening places in Utah, despite being, essentially in ruins. Decaying walls and overgrown gardens, the occasional skittering of an animal you can’t quite see. The former retreat used to be a favorite hangout of local kids and teenagers who spray paint the walls and leave beer cans and garbage strewn about, but not everything that goes on there has such a prosaic explanation. Ghost hunters love St. Anne’s – always on the lookout for new places in Utah or elsewhere to ply out trade, and the dark history of St. Anne’s makes it a prime candidate for the paranormal. Oh, did I not mention what went on at St. Anne’s?
Murder was just the beginning. It’s a bad place, where bad things happened. Bad things are still happening there, some would say. Ghosts love a good, bloody story, and so do we. Back in the 20s, the Catholic Church owned the land and the building. St. Anne’s wasn’t a traditional nunnery where sisters would go about their normal duties. There were other places in Utah for that, places closer to civilization. St. Anne’s was more of a punishment, or a place for the Church to hide away embarrassments. Nuns who had broken their vows and committed sin were sent here. Most commonly, that meant the sin of indulging their carnal desires. In other words, pregnant nuns were shuffled off to St. Anne’s to carry their babies to term out of the public eye. After birth, the children were quietly put up for adoption at various orphanages and other places in Utah. This went on for some time without incident, but eventually one of the women decided she couldn’t stand for it. Holding her newborn infant son in her arms, she knew she had to escape before he was taken away. Sneaking out in the middle of the night, the nun took off at a dead run through the woods and underbrush. It wasn’t long before she heard the clamor of pursuers, and the shouts of the head nun. Overcome with blind rage and fury, the head nun bellowed at the top of her lungs that she would kill both mother and child when she caught them. The frightened new mother heard this and knew in her heart that the head nun truly meant what she said. Desperate to protect her child, she hid him under a bush and loudly took off in another direction. Deliberately making as much noise as possible, she hoped to draw her pursuers away from her precious baby boy. And it worked, for a time. The head nun and her search party took off after the mother. Eventually, they lost her trail. She had done it. She had won. She was free. Or so she thought. Returning back to the bush where her son lay, the former nun found nothing but a scrap of blanket that had caught on a thorn. Fearing the worst had happened, she snuck back to St. Anne’s. Her fears were confirmed. The worst had happened. Floating face down in a pool just outside the nunnery was the body of her infant son. Sinking to her knees and crying out in anguish, the mother cursed the head nun, the Church, and the world that had brought her baby to this end. After a time, she came to a decision. She could not live in such a world. The young mother grabbed up a handful of poisonous berries from a nearby plant and swallowed them whole. She joined her son in death. As any paranormal enthusiast knows, a story like this in a place like this is more than ripe for ghost infestation. Treading the grounds of St. Anne’s today, one feels the dark energy almost as a physical force. It pushes down on you, makes you feel heavier, makes it harder to move around. They congregate in places like St. Anne’s, unable to exert much influence, but hanging around the stronger entities. Every element of that black story from years ago is still standing. Walking through the grounds itself, you can trace the path of the chase through the woods. Some say that the sheer cruelty of what went on at St. Anne’s makes it a locus for supernatural inhabitation. That same force that is so palpable to human visitors acts as a magnet for ghosts and spiritsaround other places in Utah. It draws them in, binds them, and makes them stronger when they are on the grounds of St. Anne’s. More than most other places in Utah, St. Anne’s is home to the restless souls of those who died too young. Wandering the grounds, it’s not uncommon to hit a sudden strange cold spot. The weather is often quite warm in this part of the state, and it’s all too noticeable to feel a sudden chill. Some say that these small drops in temperature represent the influence of smaller or weaker spirits. Using an EVP recorder, it is possible to hear the frantic cries of babies and children. Late at night during certain times of year, particularly the warmer summer months, and you might even hear them unaided. There’s another strange story… The story goes that on especially haunted nights, the air surrounding the pool area will be ice cold. That’s ice cold even on a warm summer night in the middle of July. It makes no sense, and it’s a shock to the senses. Cold as the grave, some might say. The ghost of the poor mother herself still lingers, too. Walking through the woods at night, you might hear her terrified, quiet sobs echoing through the trees. If you’re very lucky, or perhaps unlucky, you’ll hear the barks and snarls of the guard dogsthe head nun employed to hunt her. A feeling of being watched has been reported by many travelers, especially when walking along the riverbank. Many people experience the urge to look up at the opposite bank, fully expecting to see someone standing there watching. There’s never anyone there, of course. At least no one visible. Many people say it’s the ghost of the poor mother, watching out for the search party. Perhaps staring at you, wondering if you’re there to help her or to bring her back to the cursed St. Anne’s. It’s downright unsettling, and one only hopes that she can someday find peace. Most people today choose not to travel to St. Anne’s at night. It’s a little too disturbing, a little too scary. They go to other places in Utah for their nighttime walks, places where they don’t feel the spirits are on their tail. Of course, as a listener of this podcast, you might have a different view of things.
A bit more research, unfortunately, shows that the legendary stories are just that… stories. Urban legends.
Some Logan residents have heard of the former nunnery that resides in Logan Canyon and the urban legends that surround it – making the nunnery the source of curiosity and ambiguity it is today.
Local filmmakers, Burke and Rhett Lewis, said they have studied the retreat for a film they are making which will be called, “The Nunnery.”
Rhett said, “[‘The Nunnery’ is] really not that scary, but if you go there wanting to get freaked out, you will.” He said it’s scary because no one really knows what happened there.
The Legend of the former nunnery that makes it such an intriguing place, Burke said, and it is the reason the kids were drawn there that night in 1997 – which I’ll tell you in a few moments.
The nunnery was built during the 1920s, Burke said, by an architect named Boyd Hatch.
Burke said it wasn’t originally owned by the Catholic church and was actually used by movie stars as a hotel during its early years. When the Catholics bought the property, they named it St. Anne’s Retreat and used it as a summer retreat for nuns and priests to practice and study their religion.
Jacob Jensen, a physical education major, has researched the legends that encompass the old nunnery.
According to the legend, Jensen said murders took place in the ’40s on the property.
The nunnery is located about a quarter mile past Preston Valley campground in Logan Canyon. The property is run-down and consists of seven small, separate cabins that circle around the main lodge, which stands slightly bigger than the other cabins.
The pool on the property is now empty. Currently, there are security guards who patrol the area for trespassers who are consequently ticketed, Jensen said.
Rhett said the “freakiest” thing about the nunnery is the children’s playhouse hung on the wall next to the stone fireplace in the main lodge.
Many are skeptical of the stories of the nunnery and believe it is no more than a mere legend – but others disagree.
“Hauntings occur when injustice has taken place,” Jensen said. “What people don’t know is that places are marked by experiences that happen. Those impressions leave a permanent stain if something wrong has occurred there, and that place will forever bear record of the things that have happened there. Particularly, when evil is conjured up by ill intention and conspiring thought, it potently resonates wherever it eventually transpires. That place becomes its birth place, there is virtually no cure and it can potentially infect anyone who encounters it.”
Burke and Rhett said there have heard many made-up stories about the nunnery – none of which are verifiable… except one… and it’s about as horrific as any of the unverifiable urban legends.
According to a story in the Herald Journal, in October 1997, about 30 teenagers were ambushed, shot at, handcuffed, tied together by their necks and threatened with their lives by three men who claimed to be security guards at the area formerly known as St. Anne’s Retreat, in Logan Canyon.
Groups of teenagers in separate increments went to the old nunnery that night, and as each group arrived the three men surrounded them with guns, tied them up and forced them into the empty swimming pool that resides on the property, according to the Herald Journal.
The hostages were strapped together by ropes around their necks which the guards told them were linked to explosives and would, “blow their heads off,” if they tried to get free.
According to the article, one boy was butted by a shot gun, several girls were sexually molested and all of the kids had wrist marks from plastic, store-bought handcuffs.
The guards shouted obscenities at the teenagers, according to the article, and told them if they tried to run they would, “shoot off their legs.”
According to the article, after several hours of holding the teenagers captive, the guards called the cops on the kids for trespassing. When the cops arrived, they replaced the plastic cuffs with real ones and escorted them to the sheriff’s office where they were cited for trespassing and then released.
When the victims’ parents found out what happened, the trespassing charges were dropped and the guards went to jail for several months.
THE LEGENDS BEHIND URBAN LEGENDS
Unless you’re a total square, you’ve spent at least one night sitting around with your friends trying to freak each other out with secondhand stories about the guy hiding in the backseat of the girl’s car , or the man in the bunny suit who carries an axe. Urban legends are usually stories that are meant to teach you a lesson while giving you the heebie jeebies – they’re kind of like Aesop’s fables if Aesop were Edward Gorey.
But where do urban legends come from? There are multiple cases of similar stories popping up across the country in the pre-Internet age, so that means they must have a kernel of truth. Maybe. Most of the meanings behind urban legends are very simple: don’t do illicit substances, don’t hook up in public, and don’t put spiders in your hair. But rather than simply say those things, urban legends say something extreme as a way to hammer home a truth you can apply to your life.
If all urban legends are meant to teach people a lesson, then what do urban legends mean? What are people supposed to take away from stories about alligators stalking the sewers? Don’t buy an exotic pet? Some urban legends stories are rooted in truth , some of them are incredibly scary , and at least one of them is going to keep you from going into your bathroom for a couple of weeks.
How many times have you stood in front of a bathroom mirror in the dark and chanted “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…” until you’ve scared yourself senseless? Or were you too scared to even try because you heard that a kid a couple years older than you played told Bloody Mary and then the next day he was hit by a car?
Wouldn’t you know it, a spooky urban legend about a screaming woman jumping out of a mirror and killing whoever’s taunting her comes from the Catholic Church – sort of. Queen Mary the First became known as “Bloody Mary” because she burned almost 300 English Protestants at the stake for heresy in her five years on the throne.
The version of the urban legend that says you need to chant “Bloody Mary, I’ve got your baby” likely comes from the fact that Queen Mary I had multiple miscarriages and never had a child.
The Beehive Hairdo urban legend was about 10,000 times more popular in the ’50s and ’60s, when beehive hairdos were all the rage. Still, variations of stories about spider eggs hatching in a woman’s hair after she brushes a spider web (that’s also how you get pregnant by a warlock, btw) still float around.
Stories about women and their damn hair have been circulating since the 13th century, when a sermon was given about a “lady of Eynesham” who spent so much time on her hair that she barely made it to mass. As embarrassing as that might be, her hair probably looked great. Anyway, in order to teach her a lesson, the Devil turned himself into a spider and dropped down onto her head, totally freaking her out. According to the sermon, “Nothing would remove the offending insect, neither prayer, nor exorcism, nor holy water, until the local abbot displayed the holy sacrament before it.”
Why was the Devil working with the church? Doesn’t he have something better to do, like play guitar on top of a mountain or help produce the new Danzig record?
Regardless of the Devil’s follies, it’s obvious to anyone who has taken a feminist studies class that these stories are nothing more than an attempt to remind women that they should look good and do it fast, or their heads will be turned into spider nests. Thanks a lot for the nightmares, men.
Everyone knows someone who went to college with a girl whose lab partner knew a girl who was rooming with someone who was slain in her room while the roommate was out partying. And the roommate would have been wiped out too, if when she got back to her dorm room she had turned on the lights. Luckily, the totally real and not at all fictional roommate wasn’t nosey, and when she heard her nerdlinger roommate being murdered, she assumed that she was just having rough sex and went to sleep. The next day she woke up to a dead body across the room and the words “AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU DIDN’T TURN ON THE LIGHTS?” written in blood – or ink, or whatever was handy in this very real and not made-up story.
Originating in the ’60s , it’s not exactly clear what this urban legend is trying to say. It’s obviously a cautionary tale, but what are you being cautioned against? Staying in and studying when there’s a whole world of friends out there who (probably) won’t murder you? Living in a dorm with lax security and apparently, doors without locks? Maybe this is a story that’s meant to tell young people that it doesn’t matter if you’re good, bad, a studious bump on a log, or a party girl, you’re going to meet the axe and it’s best to just never turn on the lights.
The Hook Man is one of those classic urban legends that people seem to inherently know, like how to high-five or the steps to the Macarena. If you’re from Mars and aren’t sure what this is about, here’s the condensed version: two teens go to make out at Lover’s Lane, they hear a news report on the radio about an escaped prisoner from an insane asylum who has a hook for a hand, they get scared, leave, and when the guy gets home, he finds a hook stuck to his door. Phew, that was a close call.
While this story of teens making out to the news is pure fiction, it’s based on the Texas Moonlight Murders that occurred in 1946 in “lover’s lane”-type spots around Texarkana.
The Hook Man is essentially a precursor to slasher films, especially in the way that it posits that the only people who are in any kind of danger are people who put themselves there by being unchaste. Although you could argue that there’s nothing cooler than being offed by a psycho with a hook for a hand just after you finish hooking up in the back of a car.
Unlike most urban legends, there are no lessons to learn from the Bunny Man of Virginia other than if you see a guy in a bunny costume with an axe it’s time to get the heck out of Virginia.
The legend began in 1970, when a couple who were visiting their uncle outside of Fairfax, Virginia, had the passenger side window of their car smashed in with a hatchet just before a man in a bunny costume leaned into the car and screamed, “You’re on private property, and I have your tag number.”
Another bunny attack occurred a few weeks later, when a security guard approached a guy wearing a bunny suit who was standing on the porch of an unfinished home holding an axe. The Bunny Man then started smashing at the porch and shouting, “All you people trespass around here. If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head.”
From there, the Bunny Man stories grew to staggering heights. Some people believe that the Bunny Man escaped from an insane asylum in 1910, which would have made him 60 years old at his youngest (if he were born in the asylum), and close to 80, if you want to be more realistic. It’s now believed that if you hang out at the Bunny Man Bridge (or the Fairfax Station Bridge, if you’re the least fun person in the world) at midnight on Halloween you’ll be gutted and hung like a rabbit from the bridge for all the world to see. YIKES!
Aside from the weird supernatural element that the story has taken on in the 21st century, the spookiest thing about this urban legend is that anyone who wants to wear a bunny suit and go throw axes at people can just do it. Who needs to make the Bunny Man into a supernatural figure when there are legit crazy people out there?
If you live in a state where there’s not much to do outside of drive around on back roads with your friends then you probably have a crybaby bridge or three. If you haven’t had the joy of being freaked out while listening for the sounds of crying ghost babies who were allegedly drowned by their mothers then you haven’t lived.
In most of the CBB urban legends, a mother, usually of triplets, loses control of her car late at night while driving over a bridge and everybody drowns. Years later, if you drive to the bridge, cut your lights, and honk three times, you’ll hear the cries of the dead children.
What purpose does a myth like this serve? Is it a reminder to drive safely? Or is just meant to give teens something to do other than go down to the basement and sniff glue?
When it comes to places like DeKalb, Lufkin, or Brownwood, Texas, those towns are all situated near bridges where it’s possible that someone could have actually eaten it in the past, but the stories are always similar in a way that suggests that it’s a mutation that’s moved from town to town without ever actually happening.
Every few years or so, a copy of copy of a flyer comes out warning parents, teachers, and various authority figures about someone giving children packets of temporary tattoos featuring cartoon characters like Bart Simpson or “blue stars” laced with LSD/PCP/whatever hallucinogen you can think of that would be terrible for children to accidentally ingest. Anyone with a brain knows that this isn’t a thing. Not only is it a terrible way to build a customer base, but it’s predicated on the idea that drug dealers are just going to be giving their product out to people for free. Have you met a drug dealer? They hate doing that.
This urban legend dates back to the early ’80s, the beginning of everyone being afraid of everything all the time, when the New Jersey State Police released a memo about LSD that featured a photo of blotter acid with a picture of Mickey Mouse on it. From there, a Seventh-Day Adventist church wrote and passed out a flier in 1980 using information that they gleaned from the police memo and the rest is herstory.
Even though the urban legend of DreamWeaverGrey about some creep luring women to their deaths via AOL Instant Messenger isn’t exactly true, that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn something from it, or that people haven’t been slain by someone they met online .
While the DreamWeaverGrey urban legend still circulates under different names, it should probably just point to the news on any given day to remind people that anyone you meet online is putting forward a fake persona that, at best, is just the version of themselves that they want you to fall in love with, and at worst is a mask of humanity that’s meant to disguise the monster that lies beneath.
The one thing you know about traveling outside the safety of the United States is that if you’re not careful, someone is going to drug you and that you’ll wake up in a tub of ice sans kidneys. There’s a theory that this story comes from a series of organ donation scams, and the growing need for organ transplants in everyday life, but it should also be noted that all of these stories all contain a heavy dose of xenophobia.
If you are worried about someone nabbing your organs after a wild night out, the best way to deal with that is by preemptive partying. You’ve got to ruin your body beyond all recovery so no one will even want your disgusting kidneys or pickled liver.
You’ve heard stories of alligators crawling through the sewers of New York City, chomping on ninja turtles, and huddling up in a nest of leathery creepy crawlies that are always moments from bursting to the surface to slurp down your tickets to Hamilton. But was that ever true?
According to the story, vacationers from New York City who were visiting Florida would buy a baby alligator as a souvenir, thinking that they could raise it as a pet, and when it got too big to take care of in a studio apartment in Queens, they would flush it down the toilet. Real wackadoo versions of the story suggest that the alligators who survived the Great Flush would mate and their allibabies would grow up to be albino because of the lack of sun in their underground sewer lairs.
In actuality, the only New York City alligator sightings have all been above-ground, and most of them happened in the early 21st century, at least 50 years after the original stories began to circulate.
You’ve been there before, driving on an empty, Magic Marker-black highway when a car passes by without its headlights on. Do you flash your lights to let them know they’re cruising for a bruising? Or do you let them go by, just in case they’re members of a gang who are going to pull a U-turn and smash into your car so they can show off how down they are with Satan’s Devils?
This ridiculous urban legend was gifted to the world in the early ’80s, when a local paper in Montana suggested that this is how the Hell’s Angelswould be initiating new members. By 1984, the legend had spread to Eugene, Oregon, and the Hell’s Angels were changed to Hispanic and Black gang members because white people are trash.
Fast forward to the early ’90s. Everyone was covered in gak, Urkel was king, and fax machines were sending out this story to people across the country, making sure that everyone who worked in an office got freaked out all over again. Also, a murder took place in Stockton, California, after a school secretary flashed her lights at a car full of teens (UGH TEENS) who took the flash as a “sign of disrespect” and sprayed the car with bullets. According to local police, the murder had nothing to do with a gang initiation.
Japan is off its rocker – take for example, the legend of the Slit Mouth Woman; it involves a woman wearing a surgical mask walking up to you and asking, “Do I look beautiful?” If you say yes, she takes off her mask and reveals a Glasgow smile, and then says “What about now?” Then she chops your face up if you give the wrong answer. Hint: There is no right answer.
Where did this insane urban legend come from? The story of the Kuchisake-Onna (“mouth cleft woman,” according to Google translate) comes from the Heain period (794 to 1185) and it begins with a vain woman cheating on a samurai, who then slices her face up before asking “Who will think you’re beautiful now?” Yeesh.
In the 1970s, the Slit Mouth Woman made a comeback in a big way when a story about a woman who was hit by a car while chasing children began to circulate because she had a similarly disfigured face to the Kichisake-Onna.
Look, you’re among friends, you can admit that you’re going to Hell when you die. No one’s judging you for that. (Well, except God – of course.) But what if you didn’t have to wait to travel to the fiery pit of lies until your body slowly decays into nothing? What if you could walk straight to Hell right now? If you find yourself near Hellam Township in York County, Pennsylvania, you can walk down Toad Road and pass through the seven gates of Hell.
Depending on which legend you believe, either a poorly-run insane asylum burned down, thus opening a vortex to Hell, or an eccentric physician who lived on the property built several gates along a path deep into the forest that also somehow opened up into a Hell dimension. In the latter version, only one gate is visible during the day.
The people of Hellam Township have gone out of their way to make sure you know there’s not really a gate to Hell in the woods just outside of their charming little town, but no matter how hard they try, the legend still persists. Maybe because Hell isn’t actually a place, but rather the feeling of unease that’s created when a local government doesn’t know how to have fun.
People can debate which urban legend has affected people the most throughout the 20th century, but the killer hiding in the back seat of a car who’s thwarted by headlights might be the goofiest. Maybe it seems silly in the 21st century because everyone is either driving a tiny car that no axe murderer could hide in unless they chopped off their legs first, or because people have heard the story so many times that they instinctively check the back of their cars without realizing it.
Surely this is a made-up story though, right? No dum-dum is such a ding-dong that they would hide in the back of someone’s car and try to kill them, right? Wrong. In New York, 1964, an escaped murderer hid in the backseat of an off-duty police officer who promptly shot the guy in his backseat. Be safe out there, Weirdos.