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URBAN LEGENDS OF OLMSTED COUNTY: History Center unearths spooky stories from our region

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Rural Olmsted County road near New Haven Township

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Halloween is a time for a little scary fun.

Yet with many haunted attractions closed for the season due to the pandemic, people are having to find their own ways to celebrate the occasion.

One way is exploring the spooky stories that linger around our area.

Olmsted County has some unique looking geography and unique urban legends. Many places in Rochester can trace its history back to something else.

"Quarry Hill Nature Center is actually on the lands of the old state hospital. They have over 2,000 patients buried there," said Abby Currier, events coordinator at the History Center of Olmsted County.

At least one person was murdered at that hospital. They are buried at Oakwood Cemetery which is home to many famous Rochester residents. The grounds are rumored to be haunted. A ghostly woman in white has been seen near the graves near Dr. Joseph Edward Mayo and his wife, Ruth. Both died mysterious deaths.

"We also know a story out in Farmington Township of a blacksmith that was killed while he was working on the old windmill," Currier added. "That's kind of a creepy area to visit."

Other townships in the county also have tragic stories behind them.

"New Haven, the township, was established after a flood wiped out the city of Durango," Currier explains. "They were going to name the township Durango, but the citizens had to flee to an area they called New Haven. That's how the township got its name."

Back in Rochester, one landmark has a little known past.

"The Kahler Hotel was built to serve double duty, as a hotel and hospital," Currier said. "The top floors of the hotel originally had operating rooms and a 210 bed hospital there. The hotel has been renovated. They are no longer offering surgeries but that is creepy that it happened there."

Even the Stoppel Farm on the grounds of the History Center is also rumored to be haunted. So far, nothing has been proven.

"Not that I've found. I've only been here a short time but we do know some of the children are buried out there. We're not sure where," said Currier. "The farm is old so we invite people to check it out as well as our creepy doll collection."

Even if the places have changed, the spirits might still be haunting our area.

Alex Tejada

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