Death Ship of the
On the Platte River
between Torrington and Alcova,
a legend persists that a "Ship of Death” continues to sail upon the
sometimes dangerous waters. The phantom ship is said to rise out
of a strange mist that quickly becomes a massive rolling ball of fog. As the ship grows closer, witnesses report that its sails and masts
are covered with frost. Upon its deck stands the crew, also
covered with frost, and huddled around a corpse lying on a canvas
sheet. The legend continues that the ship always foreshadows the
death of someone who will die on the day that it is spotted. As
the crew steps back, the identity of the corpse is revealed as a
person known by the witness.
The first alleged
sighting was made in 1862 by a trapper named Leon Weber. When
the crew stepped back, the corpse revealed the body of Weber’s fiancé
who died later on that same day. Another sighting of the phantom
ship was made by cattleman, Gene Wilson in 1887, when he saw the body
of his wife laid out on the canvas. In 1903, another tale
describes that when Victor Heibe was chopping down a tree on his
riverfront property, he spied the ship. Laid out on the deck was
the body of a close friend.
Every case was
reported in the late fall, and in all cases, the person seen upon the
deck of the phantom ship died on the very same day.
of the sighting allegedly occurred six miles southeast of the town of
Guernsey, near Casper,
Wyoming. Another sighting was said to have occurred at Bassemer Bend on the
of America, updated February, 2009.