A Wyoming Ghost Story: The Haunted Tower of St. Mark’s Church
On the busy corner of Central Ave. and 20th Street in the heart of Downtown Cheyenne rises a stone building reminiscent of medieval castles better suited to the moors of England than the American West. St. Mark's Episcopal Church may look medieval, but the structure has only stood for just over 135 years.
Still, that's more than enough time for this stately church to have gained a ghost or two.
The Haunting of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming
St. Mark's Episcopal Church's ghost story begins before the house of worship ever opened its doors to parishioners. Known as the 'Pioneer Church of Wyoming,' St. Mark's is the oldest church erected in Wyoming. The haunted legacy of the church began in 1866 when two stone masons - immigrants from Sweden - set about laying stone and mortar for the bell tower.
One day during construction, the then-rector of the church, Dr. Rafter, popped in to check on the progress of the tower. During his chance visit, the honorable rector noted that one of the stonemasons was missing...and his partner was acting mighty strange.
Thinking nothing of it, Rafter left the singular mason to his work. Shortly thereafter, the remaining stonemason disappeared. The tower was left unfinished for nearly fifty years, left as a study room until new construction began in 1927.
As with any renovation project, the endeavor to finish the tower stirred up dust...and ghosts.
The workers completing the tower heard whispers and the sound of hammers coming from within the walls. The workers spoke to the rector of the time, Father Bennett, urging the church to build the ghost a room of its own - perhaps that would stop the haunting.
It did not. The bell tower would sound off in the early hours of the morning - ringing when no one was there to pull the bell chord. The pipe organ would sometimes sound, though no living hand touched the keys.
In 1980 a psychic from Denver visited the church for a radio special. It didn't go well. The psychic, Mrs. Wright, fled the scene with her escort after the trademark signs of an angered spirit appeared - oozing walls, ghostly lights, clanging bells, and a dire warning from a ghost - "Get out while you still have your mind.”
The rector on hand that night in 1980 was Father Todd - the man who discovered the source of the haunting back in 1966.
A Deathbed Confession Reveals the Origins of St. Mark's Bell Tower Ghost
It was an abnormally urgent call that summoned Father Eugene Todd (1928-2014) to the nursing home. He had been called to fulfill the dying request of a resident - an immigrant from Sweden with a dark secret to share.
The aged man admitted to the rector that he knew who the ghost of St. Mark's Church was and how exactly the bell tower came to be haunted. He was the second stonemason, the one who had acted strangely when Father Rafter came to check on the tower's progress all those years ago.
It was on this man's deathbed that Father Todd received confirmation that, yes, indeed, there was a body in the wall of the church. It was the missing stonemason. He, according to the old man, had slipped and fell - dying from the fall. Unable to defend himself, being an immigrant who spoke little English and of no means, the second stonemason chose to bury his friend in the wall, sealing him up with stone and mortar.
On the haunted ghost tour of the Cheyenne Trolley, this story is told with a surprising anecdote - according to the tour guide, the body has been found on the wall using x-ray x-technology (though...Rector Veit notes that no one has ever found the x-rays.) The story goes that the church chose to leave the body there in the walls after much debate - it was, after all, already buried on holy ground.
A Ghost with City Views Haunts St. Mark's Church
Today you can see where the construction of the bell tower suddenly stopped in 1866. The quarried stone shifts color, changing from the original stone of the first project to the more recent stone from 1927. You'll know exactly where the ghost of the bell tower calls home - simply look for the slim windows about halfway up the bell tower marking the small room set aside for the misfortuned stonemason. Perhaps if you listen closely enough, you'll hear him mumbling through the walls.
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Gallery Credit: Nicole Sherwood