1) Bear Lake Monster: There’s a scary monster living in Bear Lake.
The urban legend of the Bear Lake Monster goes back to at least 1868, when Deseret News reporter Joseph C. Rich ran a series about the serpent-like creature. The series quoted many well-known citizens who all claimed they’d seen the monster. However, in 1888 Mr. Rich admitted that he’d made all the stories up. The legend continues, however. Every so often, someone claims to have seen the Bear Lake creature, which bears a resemblance to the Loch Ness monster in Scotland.
2) Hobbits Live in Sugarhouse: Vicious “hobbits” live in a community of tiny houses on Allen Park Drive in Sugarhouse. The hobbits are magical, evil creatures who worship the devil.
There is indeed such a community of tiny houses but it originally housed birds, not people. Dr. and Mrs. George Allen lived on the property in the 1930s and were bird lovers and collectors. Dr. Allen build many housing structures for his birds, some of which looked like tiny houses. When he needed an influx of cash to fund his bird sanctuary, he added some small human homes to the 8-acre property and rented them out. You may still find some of the houses on the property for rent, but you won’t have hobbits as neighbors.
3) 6-Year-Old Utah Girl Loses Her Hands: Her father punishes her with a hammer, causing both hands to be amputated.
The child was playing, “mechanic” in the garage, pounding on the family’s new car with a hammer. When her furious father caught her, he used the hammer on her, beating her hands until two fingers fell off. The attack did so much muscle, tissue and nerve damage that she had to undergo amputation. Allegedly, the mother refused to press charges, stating that the father was “responsible for discipline in the home”, so the child would be returned to her abusive parents. A Utah reporter received an outraged letter about this “true case” in 1986. A quick call to Primary Children’s Hospital determined that there was no such patient there. While horrific child abuse really does occur, luckily this Utah story was simply based an urban legend that had been circulating across the country.
4) Whale Carcass in Farmington: In December 2014, a farmer found a dead whale in his field.
This rumor got started when World News Daily Report, a spoof site similar to The Onion, wrote the story. Someone read it and didn’t realize it was posted on a spoof site, so he/she shared it on social media, where it went viral. People thought it made perfect sense that whales could live in the Great Salt Lake — somehow forgetting that the lake is way too shallow to house such large creatures, let alone feed them. Davis County dispatch received dozens of calls but the Sheriff’s department verified that it simply wasn’t true.
5) The Disneyland Hearse: The old, horse-drawn hearse that sits at the entrance to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland was used to transport the body of Brigham Young to his funeral.
No one is sure how the urban legend got started but it’s alive and well today. It would be a great addition to Church history, but sadly, it’s not true. The Deseret News spoke to Glen M. Leonard, the director of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Museum of Church History and Art back in 2001. Mr. Leonard said that records show Brigham Young’s body was moved from the Lion House to the Tabernacle on a platform carried by men, as instructed in Young’s will. After the funeral, the same men carried Young’s casket to the cemetery on First Avenue. Other experts have determined that the hearse at Disneyland was manufactured some time in the 1890s — Brigham Young died in 1877.
6) Escalante Petrified Forest: Take home a piece of petrified wood from this state park and you’ll suffer bad luck due to an ancient curse.
The state park receives as many as a dozen letters from previous visitors every year, returning petrified wood and telling stories of accidents, lost jobs and other misfortunes. It’s illegal to remove anything from a state park, including pieces of petrified wood. However, there’s no proof that a curse has anything to do with visitors’ misfortune.
7) Provo Teen Cooks Herself in Tanning Bed: Over-tanning leads to the death of a teen who cooked her internal organs.
The story goes that a 17-year-old girl won a trip to Hawaii, and wanted to get tan before her trip. The tanning parlor told her she could only tan for 30 minutes per day, so she went to seven different parlors to get the tan she wanted in just one afternoon. She ended up at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center — blind, and with her internal organs shutting down — because she had cooked herself in the tanning beds. A woman wrote a letter to Dear Abby about the Provo teen. Abby quickly disproved it with a call to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. A version of this urban legend circulates around the country every so often, but is just a story; it’s never happened.