5 of the Spookiest Places in the Chippewa Valley

paranormal investigator Chad Lewis offers his list of top scary spots.

Chad Lewis

Sheeley House Saloon
Sheeley House Saloon

As you prepare to engage in the splendid Halloween traditions of putting up decorations, carving jack-o’-lanterns, and deciding on which terrifying costume best suits you, don’t forget about the more sinister side of the holiday.

According to legend, as Halloween approaches, the veil that separates our world from the spirit world gets thinner and thinner, eventually allowing us a quick peek into whatever else may be out there. However, this also means that whatever creepiness is on the other side has free range to explore our world as well.

With that spirit in mind, I have put together my top list of spooky places in the Chippewa Valley. These places provide you with the opportunity to experience a Halloween filled with strange ghosts, bizarre monsters, and enough puzzling mysteries to get you into the haunted spirit of the season.

1. Half Moon Monster

Eau Claire

The story of the sea serpent inhabiting Half Moon Lake first surfaced (literally) during the summer of 1886 when fisherman witnessed a giant seven-foot monster lurking in the depths of the lake. Skeptics tried to slow the panic from a terrified public by explaining that the monster was nothing more than an overgrown sturgeon, an immense turtle, or simply a fictional creation drummed up by over-imaginative anglers. However, with several more sightings and the fact that the creature also began appearing in the Chippewa River, theories of a prehistoric beast swimming up from the ocean took over the city. Whatever the aquatic beast was, it was never captured, meaning that you should think twice before dangling your toes in Half Moon Lake.

2. Sheeley House Saloon

Chippewa Falls

You can go to any bar in Wisconsin and see weird things happen, but if you want them to be paranormal you should drop in at this historic establishment as many odd things have happened to both the staff and customers. Bartenders routinely report items moving on their own, customers see the faint apparition of a woman descending the stairs, unexplained footsteps have been heard, and disembodied lights appear throughout the entire restaurant. Since the 1860s, numerous businesses have occupied the building, and several deaths have occurred, yet the majority of the haunted activity gets blamed on James Sheeley’s daughter, Kate, who met her end soon after tumbling down the home’s narrow staircase.

3. Lakeview Cemetery

Eau Claire

Graveyards were once considered portals between the living world and the spirit world, so when your loved one passed away it would be much easier for them to travel from our world to whatever world exists beyond. Yet some people visiting this large boneyard believe the process is working in reverse – meaning the dead continue to come back to the living. It is here that many unsuspecting visitors have noticed a dark shadowy figure lurking from gravestone to gravestone. Others have heard a mysterious rapping or knocking coming from one of the markers. It is said that if you are brave enough to visit the cemetery at night, and if you sit still and watch, you will catch glimpses out of the corner of your eye of spirits wandering the grounds.  

4. Devil’s Punchbowl

Menomonie

There are some places around the world that seem to act like a paranormal beacon attracting all kinds of supernatural activity. Luckily for you, the aptly named Devil’s Punchbowl is one such place. For decades people have reported strange balls of lights changing in size, shape, and color as they maneuver around the woods. Strange apparitions, disembodied voices, and unexplained noises are also commonly reported. But my favorite story involves visitors coming face-to-face with a creature they believe to be a gnome or goblin. Seemingly straight out of folklore, these creatures are reported to be around 3 to 4 feet tall with pointed ears and a pointed cap. Unfortunately most of the people who encountered these creatures did not stick around long enough to gain a better look.

5. Lowes Creek Road

Eau Claire

Like most great legends, the bizarre stories coming from Lowes Creek Road have been around for quite some time. In 1908, the Leader-Telegram reported that three “steady” young men got the scare of a lifetime when their peaceful nighttime horse ride home was interrupted by a mysterious flashing bright light that raced after them, ensuring they made it home in record time. Fast forward to a cold early morning in 2006, when a young woman driving into town noticed a strange-looking dark-haired woman lurking on the side of the road wearing nothing more than a flimsy pink dress. The mysterious woman stood motionless as she lifelessly stared at a nearby hill. The driver noticed that the woman showed no signs of the cold and began to wonder if the woman was ever really there.

Paranormal investigator Chad Lewis makes frequent presentations about the weird and unexplained. He will hold a discussion about “Wisconsin’s Most Haunted Locations” at 1:30pm Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Menomonie Public Library, 600 Wolske Bay Road. Learn more about this and other presentations at chadlewisresearch.com.

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