But just like our innate need for a place to live, sometimes that new life in a new place required new stories to make it all come together. Folklore evolves, it grows, and sometimes it’s invented from scratch to help a people feel a better sense of community. And one place in particular is famous for its stories, both in the ones they made up and the ones that are too amazing to believe.
In the latest episode of the Lore podcast, host Aaron Mahnke leads listeners on a tour of weird Wisconsin. The various tales related range from the interesting (e.g. an anecdote concerning the rescue of a famous sideshow figure from a hotel fire) to the unnerving. There are ghost stories galore, including one involving reported sightings of an executed murderer whose postmortem condition will put you in mind of a legendary Washington Irving character. A wild outbreak of seeming poltergeist activity results in the blaming of a girl named Mary with possibly Carrie-like abilities. The longest stopover here is in the haunted town of Whitewater; nicknamed “The Second Salem” and featuring a water tank of unsavory repute known as the Witches Tower (pictured above), the place certainly justifies the attention Mahnke gives to it. The only issue with the episode’s narrative is that it breaks off in its back end to promote and present an extended clip of a new podcast (Haunted Road) from Mahnke’s production company. “From Scratch” shifts ground abruptly and lacks closure, but its first half mines a rewarding vein of lore in the Badger State.