The Condemned Cottonwood Paper Mill

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The Condemned Cottonwood Paper Mill

Cottonwood Paper Mill

The Cottonwood Paper Mill, or the Granite Paper Mill as it was later called, was built in 1883.  Located in the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake Valley, Utah, it was once a busy site for paper making.    Workers used paper making equipment to grind logs from nearby canyons into pulp.  They also added rags and other materials to get the correct consistency.  The Mill made up to five tons of paper each day.  The Mill provided jobs ad paper for over ten years.

(images:sgauvin/flickr) Cottonwood Paper Mill

(images:sgauvin/flickr)
Cottonwood Paper Mill

The Cottonwood Paper Mill was sold in 1892 to Granite Paper Mill Company.  It ran for just a year before catching fire on April 1, 1893.  The story goes that two caretakers were having an argument.  One caregiver struck the other.  The victim fell over and hit a nearby table, knocking an oil lamp to the floor.  He and his dog did not make it out of the house, but his body was never found.

The abandoned mill was rebuilt in 1927 as an open air club.  The Mill was declared a historic site in 1966.  It served patrons until the 1940s.  In the 70s and 80s, the mill was the site of a popular haunted house.  A second fire happened shortly after.  Some rumored that it was a result of ghostly presences in the mill.  Official reports show that it was likely started by transients who started a fire in the fireplace to get heat during cold winter months.  Only one transient made it out of the house and described hearing barking and yelling coming from an empty room.  When he went to investigate, he saw a fire running across the floor, even where one was not originally started.  He also noted a body curled up in the fireplace.

Due to safety concerns and ongoing unexplained occurrences, it was condemned by the city of Utah in 2005.  After being condemned, the area was abandoned and the area was restricted, surrounded by a fence.  Broken headstones are littered in the back, underneath shrubs.  Courageous law breakers risk a fine of $500 for entering the grounds.  A fine, however, is probably the least of wary trespasser’s issues.

(images:jertheanderson/flickr) Cottonwood Paper Mill

(images:jertheanderson/flickr)
Cottonwood Paper Mill

People courageous enough to tour the site of the old mill have had multiple sightings of disembodied spirits.  They describe doors that were open suddenly closing and locking behind them.  Unluckier visitors describe having to crawl through windows because the doors they entered through would suddenly no longer open.  Upon inspection they find a large object placed in front of the door but heard no movement or any other people at the site.  They describe leaving the building and then noticing lights on inside- even though the building has no electricity.  Investigating crews also note that electrical equipment commonly fails in the mill and batteries drain much faster than normal.

Much of the disturbances comes from the third story of the central building.  This is the site of both the fires and considered the heart of the mill.  People describe sudden drops in temperature and having a feeling of panic or unease suddenly overwhelming them.  In that area they also see black figments moving around and hear barking or growling.  The stories suggest that the mill is still haunted with the poor souls who died within, including the caretaker and his dog.  The dog is argued to still keep watch over the mill and the body of his owner that was never found.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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