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‘Haunted History Tour’ promises evening of spooky, educational fun

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IDAHO FALLS — The nights are getting longer and the leaves are falling from the trees. That means the Museum of Idaho’s “Haunted History Tour” is right around the corner.

Now in its sixth year, “Haunted History Tour” combines the thrills and chills of a haunted house attraction with the educational value of a history lesson. The museum’s staff digs into Idaho Falls’ history, unearthing long-forgotten gems from the city’s rowdy past. These stories illuminate the fact that there’s far more to Idaho Falls than meets the eye.

“People are surprised by how many good stories there,” museum spokesperson Jeff Carr told EastIdahoNews.com. “And sometimes how many crazy, sometimes terrible, stories there are, too. Stories of bad things that have happened, murder and whatever else. So it’s an opportunity for us (at the museum) to get people interested in local history while also having fun with it.”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced planners of the tour to change things up a bit this year. Instead of walking around downtown from venue to venue as in past years, this year’s tour will take place at a single outdoor venue, with tour groups moving to different locations within that venue to hear different macabre tales.

“It actually works out really well,” said Carr. “We love exploring downtown buildings but the place we’re going is potentially creepier and has more stories and a whole bunch of stuff we’ve always wanted to do but just haven’t done yet. So COVID has, in an ironic way, given us an opportunity to explore some cool new stuff.”

Finding cool new stuff to explore is a job that falls to the museum’s Education Director Chloe Doucette. She pours through old archived newspaper articles and the like to find stories juicy enough to be told on the tour. She says it’s surprising to see how much Idaho Falls has popped up in publications from across the country through the years.

“Idaho Falls was reported about in a national news sector, especially in its early days,” she said. “I found stories that we have used in ‘Haunted History Tour’ in papers that come out of Philadelphia and New York and Chicago and places all around the United States. Idaho Falls isn’t just its own little microcosm, it’s not a little place where nothing interesting ever happens. It is sometimes the site of national news.”

Both Doucette and Carr said the best part of the tour is sharing these old stories with people who are hearing them for the first time and watching them react.

“Idaho Falls is an interesting place to live and it always has been,” Doucette said. “When I started working for the museum and learning more about not just the clean-cut history that we learn about in our fourth-grade class, it became so much more interesting to me. So my favorite part of (‘Haunted History’) is getting to share those stories with people and seeing how they feel and what their faces look like when they realize that Idaho Falls really isn’t the place they might think it is.”

“So many people, including some people who have lived here for decades, have an image of this city that’s like ‘It was probably founded by religious people and it was probably always squeaky clean,’” Carr added. “That’s just patently false. Many of the smaller towns in eastern Idaho are more that way but Idaho Falls was very much a rough-and-tumble Old West town for many, many decades and all sorts of stuff went down here.”

Local history buffs who don’t spook easily can join the Museum of Idaho’s “Haunted History Tour” on October 23, 24, 30, and 31. Tickets are available at the Museum of Idaho website and once your tickets are purchased, you will learn the location of this year’s “Haunted History” venue.

Proceeds from the “Haunted History Tour” go towards children’s education programs in eastern Idaho.

“You’re gonna get scared and it’s for a good cause, too,” said Carr.

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