Getting Weird

Wisconsin’s best urban legends

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

By the light of the full moon, aided only by the faint glow of a single candle, I sit and write this week’s installment of “Getting Weird.” All Hallows Eve is upon us, my friends, and you can bet I’m channeling all the spooky energy available on this plane of existence.

This week, I’ve chosen to explore the vast world of Wisconsin urban legends.

When I was a young girl growing up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, I was obsessed with urban legends. Even though these tales usually kept me up at night, cowering in my bed with all the lights on, I always demanded to hear them.

From Resurrection Mary, a ghostly girl who appears on the side of the road, to Homey the child-snatching clown, Chicago’s urban legends both terrified and excited my young, oddly-morbid brain. So, when I moved to Wisconsin, I knew I had to get the low-down on all the states’ spookiest tales.

What I found during my research was more than I could have dreamed for — this state has some seriously weird history. Keep reading to find out what my favorite Wisconsin urban legends are, and as the famous author R.L Stein used to say, “reader beware, you’re in for a scare.”


Just outside of Milwaukee in Muskego, Wis., is a strange little place called Haunchyville. Legend has it that if travelers follow a worn-down gravel road, they will discover a town populated by dwarf people.

Now, these dwarfs are no Dopey or Sleepy — they won’t take you in and sing songs while you clean the house. In fact, the dwarfs of Haunchyville don’t want you around at all. When a person trespasses into their territory, the dwarves get so mad they cut off their legs, forcing them to live as a dwarf like them.

Predictably, the local law enforcement denies the existence of any such place. They urge people to stay away from the area and even regularly patrol the outskirts of “Haunchyville” to make sure curious kids stay away.

Are the police just doing their job? Or, is the law enforcement in cahoots with the dwarfs trying to keep people out? Perhaps we’ll never know.

The Goatman of Hogsback Road

In Richfield, Wis. there is a peculiar stretch of pavement called Hogsback Road. Since the 1870s, people have reported sightings of a half-man, half-goat creature wandering around at night. They call him The Goatman.

The Goatman is not afraid to strike, according to legend, and a dismal fate awaits those who cross his path and the only warning of his presence is a pungent, blood-like odor.

The tale of The Goatman originates from Native American folklore and is a popular story throughout the country. Apparently, the legend of The Goatman is a popular one and even inspired one of my favorite creepypastas.

Nevertheless, individuals in the area swear they have seen the hominid cryptid lurking around under bridges, on the side of highways and in abandoned buildings. Anyone want to go find The Goatman? Me either. If I’ve learned anything from watching horror movies, it’s not to trust a goat. If you don’t know what I mean by that, I strongly suggest watching the movie “The Witch.”

Hotel Hell

In 1900, the Maribel Caves Hotel was built in Maribel, Wis. Ever since its opening, the hotel has been the subject of terrifying rumors.

Allegedly in the 1920s and 30s, the building caught fire and burned down twice, killing all hotel guests in their sleep. Some say the bones of the victims can still be found on the third floor.

Many years ago, one hotel guest lost his marbles and murdered everyone in the hotel, leaving their ghosts to forever haunt the place. Due to the intense spiritual activity, the hotel attracted a group of witches who conducted rituals to curse the hotel, ultimately terrorizing the entire town of Maribel with evil spirits.

However, a good witch was able to come to the rescue and banish the evil spirits back into the walls of the hotel, where they remain trapped to this day. The name “Hotel Hell” came from the numerous sightings of blood on the walls, disembodied voices and apparitions.

In 2006, the building was gutted. Now, only the castle-esque stone walls stand as a memory of Hotel Hell.

Happy Halloween!

Anderson can be reached at [email protected].