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Second Salem improves spirits with haunted tour

Lauren Fedorovich, Staff Writer

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The third annual Spirit Tour will take place on Friday Oct. 13 and Saturday Oct. 14. and costs $40.The tour begins at the Fuzzy Pig for appetizers and presentations on local lore, a stop at Second Salem Brewing Company and a guided bus tour to various haunted sites around Whitewater.

Some of the tour sites include the crypt of self-proclaimed witch Mary Worth, the Starin Park Water Tower nicknamed “The Witches Tower”, and the  burial ground of spiritualist Morris Pratt, according to the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce website.

“I was always interested in the folklore of Whitewater and the many stories I heard as a student here”, said Dave Saalsaa, one the Spirit Tour guides.

This is the second year Spirit Tour attendees can go into the Starin Park Water Tower. Before, no one was allowed inside, said Saalsaa.

The City of Whitewater was nicknamed “Second Salem” after all the witch stories in the late 1800s and after the Morris Pratt Institute, which focused on the study of spiritualism, became associated with witchcraft.

Saalsaa dispelled the myth and said the institute had nothing to do with witchcraft. In reality, the institute taught people how to get in touch with the dead.

Saalsaa, along with others, tried to get tours going in the late 80s to encourage tourism, but the city didn’t want the “stigma” of witchcraft. “The climate has changed now,”said Saalsaa.  

Stephanie Mepham is a Whitewater Freshman, the social media representative and one of the event planners for the Second Salem Paranormal Investigation Team (SSPIT) on campus.

“We actually have a lot of skeptics in the club, so they want evidence and we do too”, said Mepham. “We want solid evidence and it’d be awesome if we got it”

Mepham has been apart of the club for nearly three years. She, along with other members of SSPIT, will give a presentation at the Fuzzy Pig on their club and the equipment they use for paranormal investigations. This will be Mepham’s second year attending the Spirit Tour.

“They take you to all these great places, in the dark”, Mepham said. “It’s very spooky.”

A ghost, that is speculated to be Mary Worth, has even been witnessed at Hillside Cemetery.  The ghost of an old woman, wearing a tight-fitting black coat, was seen by Saalsaa and a few others.

Worth was buried in a crypt in the cemetery because, as a witch, she wasn’t allowed to be buried in hallowed ground, Saalsaa said.

Attendees also have the opportunity to try craft beers named after local legends at the  Second Salem Brewing Company. Some of the names include: “The Beast of Bray Road Amber Ale”, “WitchTower Pale Ale” and “Second Salem Coffee Porter”.

“It’s been fun playing off the history”, said Second Salem Owner Christ Christon. Christon is a second-generation business owner in Whitewater and launched Second Salem Brewery in 2014.

It’s the brewery’s first year as a stop on the tour, and participants will learn about the legends behind the beer names and try some of the brewery’s signature beer.

Due to increased popularity of the tour, a second night was added this year. The tour has grown steadily since it started three years ago.

The tour had two busses the first year, three busses the second year, and four busses this year that’s spread over two nights, Saalsaa said. Last year the tour sold out.

For more information visit the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce Website

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The student news site of the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
Second Salem improves spirits with haunted tour