Madison's mysterious tales and oddities
When I was living in the dorms in 1987, a group of adventurers students from Sellery B, 3rd floor ELY house, traveled in the steam tunnels below campus on a routine basis. One night, in a tunnel below Bascom Hill, we spotted another person following us about 30-40 ft back, always at the edge of our visibility. When we stopped, the other person stopped and when we walked towards them they moved away. After calling out a few times to see who it was, we decided to lay a trap at the next turn. We left our friend Jim hiding behind the main steam pipe and the rest of us proceeded down the tunnel. When we had traveled a short distance we heard Jim call out "got'ch ya!" and then "Holy S$#@". He came running towards us yelling "RUN LIKE HELL!" We all took off at best speed and ran to the nearest exit just to the west of the hill. When Jim came out of the tunnel he was white as a ghost and pretty shaken up. He would not tell us anything until we got back to the dorm. After a few shots of rum, he told us that he saw what looked like another student come around the corner of the tunnel and when he jumped out and tried to grab him his hand went right through the arm. From that night on Jim refused to go back to the steam tunnels. We went back a few more times but never saw the "student" again. After a while we all felt like something bad was going to happen when we explored the tunnels and decided to find other things to do. Paul Gilmartin '90
I attended UW Madison from 1992-1996 and heard quite a few ghost stories. A young man was living in the first floor of the dorm. I guess he had brought a glass of water from the dining hall and left it on his dresser before he went to bed. Apparently he woke up to a strange sound like someone had thrown something across the room. When he turned on the light, the glass which he had left on the dresser was now in front of the door unbroken. I remember him saying he swears he did not move it. I also remember hearing reports from other residents (men and women) that during the night, they would see a dark shadowy figure at the end of the hallway of the second floor of that same dorm. I never encountered anything out of the ordinary at this particular dorm...
2110 Old University Avenue.
I interned for a morning show at one of the television stations and got up fairly early. Early one morning- when I opened my bedroom door to go get some breakfast, I am positive I saw a young woman sitting on our couch and looking towards the window in the living room. At first I thought it was my roommate, but the girl was very blonde and my roommate was a brunette. I assumed it probably was a friend of hers that had spent the night, so I turned on the living room light, and the figure disappeared. When I told my roommate about what I had seen she told me that she on more than one occasion had heard voices within the apartment. I guess once when she was alone and studying she heard a loud laugh coming from my bedroom. She thought I was home and reading something funny. About ten minutes later I came home from class. The look on her face when she saw me come in was priceless. I had not been home all day, so she couldn't explain who it was she heard. I cautiously opened my bedroom in case an intruder or something, but no one was in there. I can't explain what I saw, or what she heard, but it freaked both of us out.
Chi Psi Lodge 150 Iota Court
The house mother suite in the basement of the Lodge, of which nobody was living in for a while since the lodge didn’t have a house mother. But the story goes that a brother, who was down in the kitchen cooking at the time saw an older lady come through the exterior door, take a right and pass through the wall into the house mother suite. Despite the fact that he was considerably spooked by this, he later found out that the suite’s door, which was down in the kitchen at the time, used to be where the ghost passed through the wall. The ghost was later attributed to Maggie, a house mother that lived in the lodge for the first 30 years it was there and died in the suite in the 1940’s sometime. This story was one that was passed down from bother to brother, so how much embellishment there is, I don’t know, but this is the way I heard it. There are other stories about doors closing by themselves and other strange sounds coming from the old lodge, and some rooms being haunted more than others, but nothing like the stories above.
Theta Delta Chi 144 Langdon Street
The story goes that a young female fell to her death down the back stairways years ago (apparently this is a true/confirmed story; not sure of the era of her death)…….the vibe around that back hallway stairway is very odd….members of the fraternity whose beds faced up against this wall (like me) would wake up in our sleep banging our arms/hands against the wall many times…. Members who were in the house alone would tell stories of being scared to hell by hearing running footsteps all around the back stairway to the attic…..NOBODY else was in the house upon searching and looking everywhere….two good friends of mine had this happen….they were CONVINCED someone else was there so they took off running after the sounds but found nobody….. On occasion in a small vestibule off to the side of the stairway (which use to be the house telephone “booth”) an old time phone would ring…..there was/is NO phone connected or even located in this small vestibule anymore….all of us have heard the phone ringing… The stairway led to a 4th floor attic where there was a workout room…..several different people (including me) had been there working out (w/ head phones on) when off to the side there was an intense and real sensation of someone standing there watching you! I remember literally throwing off my ear phones and jumping up from the workout bench to find no one there………. Perhaps among the scariest and most mysterious is an incident that I witnessed…..a few of us were in the house …the back stairways lead to the basement where the house kitchen/cook area was….to the side of the kitchen is a storage room for food, boxes, freezers etc…..one of the members called down to me and a couple others…..we came down to find that the door to this side room was completed blocked by something…..we pushed as hard as we could for a long time and could only get it to open a few inches…..standing there, right up against the door was one of the huge and heavy old freezers of that back storage room….. Upon getting more help when more house members were around we finally were able to push the door and freezer back enough to be able to squeeze into this storage room to see who/what was in there and who had done this…..there was nobody in there….how then did this freezer get pushed up against a door? A room w/o only one way/door out (which was the door it was blocking). WHO could be strong enough to this?
John Allen, associate editor of On Wisconsin, is collecting campus ghost tales.