SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — First opened in 1910 as a popular hub for train travel, many Utahns may not know that the Rio Grande Depot in Salt Lake City is the site of many paranormal stories, including the famous “Purple Lady.”
Rio Grande Depot, located downtown at 300 S Rio Grande Street, once served as a central destination for travelers around the nation. Trains came and went every day with all varieties of passengers, from families to soldiers, strolling through its chambers.
As years passed and more began traveling by car, the depot slowly died out, with final passengers having departed long ago — or so we thought.
In the decades since its closing, there have been multiple reports of strange sightings and unexplained incidents at the historic Rio Grande Depot.
There are many strange stories shared by security guards at the depot who’ve described hearing disembodied footsteps on the mezzanine at nighttime and heavy breathing noises on the first floor of the station. Some guards have told of a shadowy figure that approaches during the late hours before suddenly disappearing.
Perhaps the most famous paranormal sighting in the Rio Grande Depot is that of the “Purple Lady” and her sorrowful story.
The origins of the “Purple Lady” are reportedly tied to a young woman who died there during the early 1900s. According to local tales, the woman and her fiancé were in a heated argument at the train depot, and her engagement ring was allegedly thrown onto the tracks. In a panic to retrieve it, she’s said to have jumped down to look for it before being hit by a train and dying instantly.
Those who’ve had run-ins with the “Purple Lady” say that her apparition can be seen roaming multiple locations within the Rio Grande Depot — describing her as a beautiful woman with dark hair, a long dress, and a look of despair.
While seemingly harmless to those who’ve witnessed her apparition, many locals and guards still tell of sightings dating back all the way to 1947.
Today, the Rio Grande Depot is home to the Utah State Historical Society, where archives of photographs, manuscripts, and films from our state’s past are collected and digitized. While normally open for visits, the building is currently undergoing a seismic retrofit after the earthquakes in March of 2020.