We stopped in Craig, Colorado on Wednesday night. It was a beautiful drive from Provo, Utah. We drove up through Heber Canyon and then across Hwy 40 that passed through beautiful mountains and desert vistas. Vernal, Utah, also known as “Dinosaurland,” is home to the largest quarry of prehistoric Jurassic dinosaur bones. Dinosaur National Monument is located 20 minutes east of Vernal in Colorado and Craig is another two hours west.
Craig, Colorado is known as the “Elk Hunting Capital of the World.” And, although I can’t verify that claim, I can tell you that when I was driving down the streets of Craig to a find a restaurant, I saw a female elk standing in a vacant corner lot grazing. I slowed my car down, not wanting to startle the elk and have it try to sit on the hood of my car. But, the fellow behind me must have been from the vicinity and used to the large animals making their way around town, because he laid on his horn when I slowed down. It didn’t bother the elk in the least.
We ate dinner at a barbeque place called J.W. Snacks that originated in Indiana of all places. The food was amazing and our waitress was great. Even when I asked her about ghosts. She explained that she didn’t know any ghost stories about Craig, because she hadn’t grown up here. But she asked me if I knew about the ghost in Helper, Utah. I shook my head and said I’d love to hear it. So, she told me about the White Lady.
Helper, Utah is southeast of Provo and is at the foot of Spring Canyon. Spring Canyon was once a coal mining mecca. But now it’s filled with ghost towns and ghost stories. It’s rugged terrain of mountains, boulders, dilapidated mining structures and abandoned coal mines makes it the perfect stage for a scary legend.
Our waitress told us that many of her friends had seen the white lady floating along the canyon ledges near the old mine at night. But she wasn’t sure which of the stories about the ethereal woman were true.
I did a little research and here’s what I found about the solitary specter.
The first story was told by a retired coal miner from Spring Canyon. He told the story in the 1950s, but the incident took place in the 1940s. This miner said that he knew and worked with the woman’s husband and also knew the wife. Here’s his version:
There was a couple living in the town of Peerless, (further into the canyon than Helper) next to a store that had overalls displayed in the window. The couple had one infant child.
The woman lost her husband in the mine, but not due to a mine accident, but from blood poisoning caused by an infected tooth. Since the death was not mining related, the mine company did not have to pay any compensation or benefits to the widow. At this time, there were also no welfare programs available. Destitute and starving, the woman did not want her child to suffer and starve to death, so she took her child down to the wash (river) and drowned him.
The woman then lost her mind and was instituted in the Provo Mental facility. She eventually escaped and returned to Peerless searching hopelessly for her child. She eventually died and to this day still searches for her baby.
Another, equally as sad, version of the story is that the woman and her husband had a son. The son worked with his father in the mine. One day there was a mining accident and both the father and the son were caught inside. The woman pleaded with the mining company to try and rescue her family, but they deemed it too dangerous to try. So, dressed in her nightgown, she climbed up to the mine herself to try and rescue her husband and son. The mine collapsed on top of her and she was killed. But she still searches for her family to this day.
There are others who feel that her presence signifies something. Some say that if you see her, an explosion or cave-in is eminent. Some say that she tries to entice miners to follow her and leave the mine, avoiding a disaster. Finally, there is the belief that she roams the canyon seeking revenge on the mine officials. (And really, if any of the above scenarios are true, I think she deserves all the revenge she can get.)
In the meantime, if you happen to be driving in the canyons near Helper, Utah and look up at the old mines, keep an eye out for the White Lady… because she’s probably keeping an eye out for you.