Though Teresa Stoker thought her husband was crazy for quitting his job to pursue full-time their goal of creating a Halloween attraction on their family’s property in Menan, she said she supported him the entire time.
James and Teresa Stoker are the creators, owners, and operators of the newest haunted attraction in East Idaho, The Haunted River. The freshman attraction is located on Stoker family property in the Menan area, a few miles southwest of Rexburg.
The Haunted River is built on an island in the Dry Bed River. Visitors are treated to a hay ride out to the island where a series of bridges connect a waiting area to the 18th Century-style haunted village constructed by hand.
“There’s no façade, these are all real buildings,” James said. “You’ll go through a village square, there’s a stable, there’s a general store, there’s a saloon.”
Going along with their theme, the Stokers have created a history for the island that adds to the already spooky atmosphere of the fog-laced river scene.
Teresa jokingly assures visitors it’s all true but really sees the added fiction as a way to create excitement around the attraction.
“We wanted to create something that was just a little different and maybe less blood and gore and more mystery and eerie spookiness,” Teresa explained. “The legend that’s on the website is not completely historically accurate, but it is if you believe it is.”
Visitors can see characters from a variety of historical settings, including a fur trapper, a revolutionary war soldier, Puritans, and more.
The haunted attraction idea was born five years ago but never went into motion until just over a year ago. James’ approach to creating the Haunted River was simple.
“It’s time to chase our own dreams,” he said. “The idea was to start small and grow big, but as we got into it, we just said we’ve got to go big and get bigger.”
James quit his job six months ago and started working from sunrise to sundown to turn their sagebrush island into The Haunted River it is now.
The Stokers don’t exactly have a lot of free time, as it is. James and Teresa have six children, the youngest born just months ago. Teresa also teaches online courses for BYU-Idaho.
“It was a big risk,” Teresa said. “I just had to trust him, and that was hard but a good thing. We both made sacrifices in different ways to make this happen.”
The Stokers already have plans to expand the attraction with a Christmas village next year and more buildings and extra surprises next Halloween.