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Friday, February 23, 2024

Haunted campus walking tour displays history of UW buildings, ghost stories

 

On a chilly fall Tuesday night, UW-Madison students and community members gathered at Memorial Union for a haunted campus walking tour, put on as part of Wisconsin Union Directorate's Shriek Week. 

 

I've always loved the spooky part of Halloween,"" said Madisson Delaney, a UW-Madison freshman. ""I heard 'ghost stories' and I was up for it.""  

Hoofer Council President Kyle Olsen, whose organization coordinated the events, said he expected a great success.  

 

Elise Gorchels, vice president of Salty Trips for Hoofers SCUBA, guided the tour. Eager for some eerie tales, the group zipped their coats and trekked up Bascom Hill to the first stop, North Hall.  

 

North Hall 

Built in 1851, North Hall is the university's oldest building. 

 

In 1889, stories circulated about an eerie figure roaming through the building's halls. After fielding students' concerns, university President John Bascom formed a committee to tackle the issue. The poltergeist, it turns out, was nothing more than a white sheet draped over a student. 

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Today, people report seeing a well-dressed man walking the halls alone or standing next to a custodian. Sources claim it is the spirit of a political science professor who died of a heart attack in 1956. 

 

Bascom Hall 

Honest Abe guards the doors of this old building. According to Golchels, two men - William Nelson, who died of typhoid fever, and Samuel Warren, who died of a lightning bolt strike while constructing the Capitol - were buried beneath the statue.  

 

Although construction surrounding Abe prevented a peek Tuesday, Golchels said two brass markers signify the graves of the two men. 

 

Science Hall 

""If any of you have ever heard of any stories about the university being haunted, it has probably been about Science Hall,"" Golchels said.  

 

It has a bit of a morbid history. Bodies were moved from the loading zone to the attic - which housed a cadaver lab - using a pulley system, Golchels said. 

Objects are often moved around and eerie noises are heard throughout the building.  

 

""Typical, creepy ghost stuff,"" she said.  

In 1974, someone supposedly found a foot and human leg bones in the attic. Golchels said sources were not sure how they got there.  

 

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