By far my favorite place to investigate has always been Ogden’s Union Station. It’s close to where I live, has amazing architecture, has a decent amount of paranormal activity, and it’s one of the first places I ever investigated. The Union Station has quite a few stories to tell, most which remain untold, but their most well-known ghost story is about the man who was supposedly killed by a falling clock tower. His name was Frank Yentzer, and if you ask Union Station employees about their ghosts, his is usually the first story they tell.
Before the building that currently sits on the end of 25th Street, there was a large Victorian depot that also had a few hotel rooms at the South end of the building. It’s most distinguishing feature, and an important part of this story was the large clock tower that stood in the center of the building.
It opened in July of 1889, and by all reports, the people of Ogden wanted a new “modern” station by the early 1900’s stating it was too small, extremely dark, and outdated. Union Pacific, however, did not want to invest money into a new building and so it remained until the evening of February 13, 1923.
At approximately 7 pm that evening a porter who was staying in the dormitory on the second floor of the southern wing of the building came running into the telephone operators office to tell them there was a fire. While no one knows if the fire was his fault or even the identity of this man, what is known is that someone was pressing a pair of pants, the iron got too hot and caught the pants and eventually the building on fire.
The Ogden Fire Department arrived quickly and by 2:30 the next morning the fire was extinguished. Amazingly there were no injuries or deaths during the fire. The people of Ogden immediately assumed they would finally get a new depot, but their hopes were quickly dashed when Union Pacific announced a few days later that they would only repair the damaged depot.
Frank Yentzer had been employed at the Union Depot for four years and had only been promoted to cashier a few months before the fire. He had moved to Ogden with his wife and young daughter from Illinois, and by the time of the fire, their family had grown to include a 6-month-old son.
Monday morning, February 26th probably started like any other day for the Yentzer family. Frank would have made his way from his house on nearby 28th Street over to the depot to begin his duties as the cashier. His wife Helen would have started her day at home with the two young children. The only difference this day is that instead of the cashier’s office being inside the depot, it had been moved temporarily to the train platform until they could finish repairs on the interior.
While they tried to keep the depot running as smoothly as possible, they had workers throughout the building trying to repair the damage quickly. One of the most damaged portions of the building was the large clock tower that was right in the center of both wings. Right behind the clock tower, located on the edge of the platform was the facade of the building which had large decorative stone cones on both corners, near the roof. On that particular day, there was a crew of men working on the opposite side of the building trying to repair the roof.
Shortly before 2 pm, a gust of wind blew the roof support loose, and as it fell it knocked one of the large stone cones (estimated to weigh 250lbs) loose sending it crashing through the skylight of the temporary cashier’s office, striking Frank on the head. He was killed instantly. Two other men were working in the office at the time, one was slightly injured on the hand, and the other escaped unharmed.
The public outcry after Frank’s death finally forced Union Pacific to demolish the damaged depot entirely and rebuild. The new Union Station was built on the original stone foundation and can still be seen in the basement today. While Frank Yentzer might be the popular choice for the resident ghost of the Union Station, I believe he is simply one of many that still roam the depot.
During a recent trip to Chicago we took a slight detour and stopped at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa, Illinois to pay our respects at Frank’s grave.