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small spinning bearThe Bear Witch Projectsmall spinning bear

During the founding days of Cornell University, a brilliant scientist named Dr. Alden Thorne sought to impress Ezra Cornell and gain prestige at the newly founded institution. Dr. Thorne believed in blending arcane lore with the latest scientific methods to create an entity that could serve as a guardian of the university—a being both majestic and fearsome, symbolic of nature and knowledge.

To carry out this audacious experiment, Dr. Thorne captured a local bear and attempted to infuse it with elemental magic and arcane wisdom using esoteric rituals and early scientific machinery. Unfortunately, the experiment backfired, leading to a creature cursed by dark magic, thus giving rise to the dreaded Bear Witch. Realizing the gravity of his mistake, Dr. Thorne vanished under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind a diary that detailed the creation of the creature and how it may be stopped.

Angry, confused, and bound to the land it was meant to protect, the Bear Witch began its reign of terror and mystery, haunting the Cornell campus to this day.


1865: The Thorne Experiment

Professor Thorne with his diaryDr. Alden Thorne conducts his forbidden experiment, aiming to impress Ezra Cornell and secure his place in the academic world. The experiment goes horribly awry, leading to the birth of the Bear Witch. Shortly after the experiment, Dr. Thorne vanishes, leaving behind a diary that becomes a part of Cornell’s hidden archives. The diary is incomplete, though. It is missing one page.

1870: A Professor’s Warning

faculty memberA faculty member is rumored to have had a vision of the Bear Witch. Whispers among the faculty claim that Cornell insisted that a particular grove of ancient trees remains untouched as a peace offering to the Bear Witch.

1902: The Midnight Roar

Students living in the oldest dormitories report hearing a guttural roar in the middle of the night, a sound that was neither entirely animal nor entirely human.

1934: The Sage Hall Incident

Several students go missing while studying late at Sage Hall. They are later found in a trance-like state, claiming to have been led away by a figure resembling a bear.

1955: The Mysterious Markings

Strange claw-like markings appear on the McGraw Tower. Though initially dismissed as a prank, the markings are later found to contain elements of ancient rune symbols.

clock tower ruins

1964: The Great Libe Slope Mystery

Large, bear-like tracks appear overnight on Libe Slope after a snowfall. Students make light of it at first, creating a makeshift snow bear as tribute. However, the mood shifts when the snow bear is found destroyed the next morning, replaced with a circle of mysterious symbols in the snow.

1973: The Library Labyrinth

The university library is temporarily closed after several students get inexplicably lost in the stacks for days. They insist they never left the building. Witnesses report seeing a shadowy bear-like figure lurking between the shelves.

police report

1980: The Dairy Disappearance

A group of CALS students and dairy cows disappear without a trace. The students’ belongings are found in a circle formation with bear paw prints in the middle.

1985: The Winter Howl

During an unusually harsh winter, students report hearing eerie howls on the coldest nights. Some claim they saw a figure that was part-bear, part-witch wandering near the frozen Beebe Lake.

1993: The Fraternity Haunting

A fraternity house near the edge of the campus experiences a series of unexplained events, from mysterious power outages to strange symbols appearing on windows. A rumor circulates that the house was built near the site of an old grove considered sacred to the Bear Witch.

1999: Release of “The Blair Witch Project”

Following the release of the film “The Blair Witch Project,” the Bear Witch legend gains nationwide attention. Paranormal investigators visit the campus, but no concrete evidence is found.

2002: The Botanic Gardens Omen

Cornell’s Botanic Gardens staff report an unusual growth of invasive thorny vines that form the shape of a bear paw, sparking renewed interest in the Bear Witch legend among students.

2009: The Ezra Cornell Statue Incident

The Ezra Cornell statue mysteriously faces the opposite direction overnight. Campus security footage shows a large, shadowy figure near the statue but provides no conclusive proof.

2015: The Relic

During the university’s sesquicentennial celebration, a mysterious relic is anonymously donated to the University Archives. It is the missing page of Dr. Thorne’s diary. Shortly after its arrival, strange occurrences spike around campus, reigniting interest and fear in the age-old legend.

2020: The Zoom Hauntings

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornell classes shift to remote learning. Students and professors report seeing a bear-like figure in the background of their Zoom calls when discussing Cornell’s history or folklore.

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