OGDEN — To hear Kristen Clay tell it, there’s a whole lot more spirits on Historic 25th Street than just the alcoholic kind.
And Clay should know. Back in 2002 and 2003 she founded Story Tours, which uses professional storytellers to give tours of haunted places in Ogden and Salt Lake City.
“We are the original ghost tour in Utah,” she said.
Clay describes her organization as a group of storytellers who began collecting stories through oral traditions. They recently released a book, called “Haunted Salt Lake City,” and Clay says they hope to come out next year with a second, “Haunted Two-Bit Street.”
“When I came to Utah there weren’t a lot of opportunities for professional storytellers, so I decided to create a venue for us to perform,” said Clay, who lived in Utah when she was young, but then moved away and spent a number of years living in Hawaii. “We also wanted — at Halloween — to offer an an alternative to being chased by a chainsaw.”
Salt Lake has its share of haunted places, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Ogden, according to Clay.
“We have to work hard to keep our tours at an hour and a half,” she said. “Ogden is considered one of the most haunted cities in America. Almost every single building on 25th Street has at least one ghost associated with it.”
Clay claims that, at one point in time, there were more murders on 25th Street between Wall Avenue and Washington Boulevard than anywhere else in the country.
“That’s why there might be so many spirits of unrest in Ogden,” she said. “We like to joke that we could spend three hours just sitting in front of the Ben Lomond Hotel, telling ghost stories about it.”
Indeed, Historic 25th Street is home to so many disembodied spirits that Clay says they eventually had to split up the walking tour along 25th Street. Story Tours currently offers an “Eerie East” tour that starts at the courtyard just south of Peery’s Egyptian Theater and explores the east end of the street, while a “Wicked West” tour meets across from Union Station at the Pearl Milk Tea Club and works the western blocks.
There’s also a third tour, conducted by bus, that starts at the Village Inn on 12th Street and circles around the city.
Clay describes the ghost tours as “thrilling enough for your teenager, but safe enough for your child.”
“And all of our stories are real — they’re true stories,” Clay insists. “All are first- or second-hand accounts, or are historically documented. … We’ve spent a lot of time at the (Utah State) Historical Society, researching and trying to find out who these ghosts were.”
So then, if you don’t have time for all three tours this Halloween season, which does Clay recommend? Why, the bus tour, of course.
“The bus tour is only available in October,” she said, “where our walking ghost tours are available all year ’round. So I’d pick the bus tour, because the other tours are always available.”
Ghost tours are open to groups of four or more year-round, any day but Sunday, according to Clay.
“We even do holidays,” she said. “As long as a story guide is available, we’ll do one.”
Tours range from $15 to $25, and Clay strongly recommends reservations — as the October ghost tours tend to fill up quickly.
For more information, visit storytours.com or call 801-888-8551.