Exhibit - Legends and Myths surrounding the MSU Campus
Michigan State University is a very old campus. Because of its age, it has a lot of myths and legends associated with it. Listed below are just a few accounts of the tales that surround prominent places on campus.
Dungeons below campus:
While there are tunnels running under campus, they are far from dungeons. They are actually Steam tunnels that were built to house campus utilities. In the 1960s, it was common for students to go “tunneling.” Tunneling was a popular pastime for students until campus police began to patrol and ultimately had locks placed on tunnel entrances. A particularly popular site to explore while tunneling was a spot underneath Olds Hall that was a partially excavated area of the basement.
Another campus legend surrounding the steam tunnels stems from an incident in the 1970s. In August 1979, James Dallas Egbert III, a MSU student and child prodigy, disappeared from his Case Hall dorm room. Egbert frequently entered the steam tunnels to play a live action version of the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. According to one rumor, Egbert was so distraught over the death of his D&D character that he attempted suicide. In reality, Egbert suffered from depression, which led to a suicide attempt using Quaaludes on August 15, 1979. Following this Egbert went on the run to Louisiana. A second suicide attempt on August 16, 1980 was successful.
“The Rape Trail":
The river walk runs along the Red Cedar from West to East Campus. The portion of the walk located behind Shaw, McDonel, and Holmes dorms has been dubbed the “rape trail.” No one really knows where this nickname came from, only that it has been perpetuated throughout MSU’s history. MSU has repeatedly assured students that portion of campus is as safe as any other, yet many students maintain that the poor, flickering lighting and the presence of the woods at night adds to the eerie feeling.
Many myths surround Beaumont Tower, most likely because it is one of the most prominent places on campus. It is said that unless you have experienced a kiss in the shadow of the tower, you are not a true Spartan. A ghost of a student killed during World War II is said to haunt the tower. He allegedly stays on in the Earthly world searching for his lost sweetheart he left behind. The bells have frequently been seen and heard ringing by themselves.
The ghost of a little boy is said to be seen wandering through the seats of the auditorium. It has also been reported that the face of a boy has been seen looking out the third floor windows of the auditorium. He is frequently heard laughing and bouncing a ball. Visitors to the auditorium have reported hearing whispers and footsteps through the halls.
Beal Botanical Garden:
Screams are sometimes heard coming from the garden. Figures have also been spotted in the garden. Old Horticulture Garden (middle of East Circle): Screams are also heard in this garden area. Students and employees have seen male apparitions dressed in clothes from the 1920s or 1930s.
The urban legend of a “Halloween Massacre” that was supposed to happen caused a lot of students to return home for the Halloween Weekend in 1998. Supposedly a student dressed as Little Bo Peep would be killing students. A call into a talk show from a psychic predicting this event happening at a big ten school is supposedly what prompted the rumor.
Mary Mayo Hall:
One of the most widespread legends on campus is the haunting of Mary Mayo Hall. A portrait of the buildings namesake hangs on the first floor, with eyes that are reported to follow you through the room. Though Mary Mayo died almost 30 years before the hall was built from illness, her spirit is said to walk the halls. A woman’s figure is seen in the West lounge and a piano that plays by itself are some of the unexplainable occurrences reported in Mary Mayo Hall. The fourth floor, often referred to as the “red room” has been completely sealed off. Satanic rituals are alleged to have taken place, as well as a young woman hanging herself. Unexplained lights and figures can sometimes be seen in the windows of the fourth floor.
The site, located east of the present day Museum, is said to be haunted by the original students housed in the dorm. The building burned down in the winter of 1876. There were no injuries or fatalities, but the students are said to appear in the early morning and evenings, searching for their lost hall and personal belongings. Through excavations of the site, campus archaeologists have discovered student belongings, ceramics, glass, and the dorm's trash pile.
Professors have seen apparitions of old professors visiting their offices.
Both the sixth and twelfth floors of Holmes Hall are reported to be haunted. A man has been seen entering the elevator on the sixth floor, the doors close, and then re-open to an empty elevator. Two mysterious men have been seen on the twelfth floor. Lights are frequently turning on and off, as well as windows and doors slamming shut and flying open.
The twelfth floor of Hubbard is also supposed to be haunted. The lights will turn on and off by themselves. Residents have also reported hearing running and laughter coming from the empty halls. It has also been reported that an entity will get on the elevator on the 12th floor and exit on the 9th, at which time a cold breeze can be felt leaving the elevator.
Students have reported banging on their doors and the doorknobs being turned and tried, only to look into the hall and see no one there.
Figures have been observed dancing in the old cafeteria. Strange noises coming from empty rooms and appliances turning on by themselves have also been reported.
Exhibit Created by Sarah Bicsak May, 2013 University Archives and Historical Collections