Preparing for a festive fall season


Dana Hockbein

photo by Dana Hockbein / Staff Reporter

Dana Hockbein, Staff Reporter

The City of Whitewater has a past that still haunts it to this day. During the month of October, multiple tour groups are lead through the city’s mysterious history. This eerie past contributes to its nickname of “Second Salem.”

It all began when the Morris Pratt Institute was built in 1889, which was notorious for teaching spiritualism (a religious practice based on supposed communication with the spirits of the dead). After 40 years of teachings and séances, the institution moved to Milwaukee. 

In the late 1800s, rumors spread about a coven of witches residing in Whitewater. The three cemeteries located throughout the city form a geographical triangular shape on maps. “The Witches’ Triangle” is comprised of Hillside Cemetery, Oak Grove Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of the Midwest. The buildings and houses inside of the triangle are said to be haunted.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus also has a few other landmarks supposedly related to witchcraft. The water tower in Starin Park is said to have had witches who would perform rituals around the water tower during the night long ago. The tower is now fenced off.

Supposedly, underneath the Wells residence hall towers, there is an altar and a number of bodies buried upright. This was also the same ground where the witch coven and the Morris Pratt Institute allegedly used to meet regularly.

In the Andersen Library on campus is a supposed witches book under lock and key in the basement in the special collections area. Apparently, the book contains such a dark content that it has driven students who have read it to madness.

The chamber of commerce is holding a fifth annual Spirit Tour October 12 and 13. There are only 92 tickets available for each night, and they sell out quickly. The price per ticket is $40. Students who present a school ID will receive $5 off.

Marie Koch, the executive director of Discover Whitewater, gave some details reagrding what visitors can expect during the tour. “Guests will be able to visit inside Starin Park’s ‘witches’ water tower, Hillside Cemetery to visit Mary Worth’s crypt, Oak Grove Cemetery and more,” Koch said.

The tour will begin at The Fuzzy Pig. Appetizers and beverages will be served and followed by a paranormal presentation, then guests will hop on a bus to visit the sites mentioned. In addition to the tour, “attendees will receive a book of stories from the tour and a souvenir glass,” Koch said.

Whether the legends are true or not, the Spirit Tour will be a spooky way to start off October.