by Deb Anderson
We have all wanted to make a wish list of haunted places we would like to investigate and Colorado has enough to keep us busy for the next few years, when we’re not doing residential investigations.
Some of Colorado’s haunted places are famous and you probably already know about them, but I will touch on them and we will then move on to local places that we can get to in one weekend,
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park is one of them; it is haunted by its owner and his wife, F.O. Stanley, inventor of the Stanley steamer and his wife Laura. A little-known haunt of the Stanley, is Lord Dunraven, who actually built the hotel. He may be encountered at room 407, where he stands in the corner of the room near the bathroom door. Witnesses have reported that a light in the corner turns on and off and the elevator is heard operating even though it is not running at the time.
Other rooms that are haunted our 217 and 401, and children are apparently seen in room 418 and leave impressions on the bed when no one is staying in the room. Guests who stay in room 418 complained of children playing in the hallway at night even when there are no children registered at the hotel.
Another famous Colorado haunt is Cheesman Park in Denver, which began in 1858 as Mount Prospect Cemetery and became Boot Hill. In 1873 the cemetery was renamed City Cemetery and buried only criminals, transients and epidemic victims there.
In 1893 the city gave notice all bodies must be removed in 90 days. The city hired a local undertaker to dig up the 6,000 to 10,000 remaining bodies not claimed by family, put them in 1′ x 3.5′ pine boxes and deliver them to the Riverside Cemetery.
Workers hired by the undertaker broke corpses into pieces to get them to fit into this miniature caskets, unrelated bones were thrown together and many of the graves were looted.
Spiritualists at the time warned workers that the dead would return unless a short prayer was uttered for each casket, but no one listened to them. One worker removing valuable brass coffin handles ran hysterically from the graveyard saying that a ghost jumped on his back. People in neighboring houses and apartments reported confused spirits wandering through their homes and appearing in mirrors.
A huge scandal erupted and Mayor Platt Rogers ordered all work halted for an investigation. No one was able to sort the mess out, so the remaining bodies were plowed under and grass and trees were planted over them.
As you walk through the park is said that you can still feel a sadness and confusion at the site and some say you can hear a low moaning sound coming from under the ground.
Denver International Airport was built on land considered sacred by the Native Americans and opened later than expected due to all sorts of unforeseen problems. This was confirmed by experts in Feng Shui when they surveyed the airport said the site was “full of images of death and grief”. In spring 1995 Colorado Indian tribes held a ceremony to put their ancestor’s spirits to rest.
Molly Brown house also in Denver was built in 1889 by Molly and her husband James Joseph Brown in 1894. Molly had survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and become a national heroine. Her ghost and that of her husband have been detected in the gray brick mansion since then. Ghost lectures are held in the house in October and tours are given daily.
Union Depot on 22nd St. in downtown Denver has the ghost of a man called the soldier by employees who since the unmistakable presence of a military officer in the great Hall. In the 1930s a shadowy operation was reported several times in the station, but the confuse ghost which seem to be seeking a way out of the building eventually found his way out. Union Depot replaced the original Denver Depot in 1880 which was torn down because of the dozens of apparitions reported by telegraph operators and agents who worked there. Among the ghost at the Denver Depot was a three fingered hobo who harassed agents by tapping on the glass petitions at ticket counters. He was seen scores of times over a ten-year period at around 2 AM and would appear on train platforms, in the lobby, and inside the offices of the Denver Depot. Several agents quit rather than work with the ghost.
Also in Estes Park, the Baldpate Inn a 12 room, log cabin lodge is haunted by the couple who built it 1917. The ghosts of Ethel and Gordon Mace walk the hallways of this inn and have been seen by both guests and employees. Ethel is seen mostly in her old bedroom and a small stateroom called the Key Room which houses the largest collection of keys in the world. The collection was begun in 1923 when Clarence Darrow donated one of his keys. The collection of celebrity keys has grown to over 12,000 and includes Edgar Allen Poe’s dorm room key (number 13) and Stephen King’s key to the hotel room where he wrote The Shining.
Mesa Verde National Park in Cortez houses the ghosts of the Anasazi Indians, the mysterious “ancient ones” who suddenly disappeared around A.D. 1500. They are seen among the ruins of their 220 room dwelling known as Cliff Palace. The apparitions are encountered most frequently near the 23 pit houses or kivas, on the floor of the canyon. Each of these ceremonial buildings has a hole in the floor that serves as a spirit gateway or “Earth Naval”. In one building known as the Sun Temple, there is a great sunflower carved in stone. Called the “Sun Shrine”, the 2 foot diameter stone flower is mounted on an altar. Geologists say it was not carved by human hands, but was formed by the natural erosion of a sandstone boulder. The sacred symbol is painted on the walls of pueblos throughout the Southwest. In all of their architecture, the Anasazi express their belief in spiritual links that connected all things. Perfectly straight roads link Mesa Verde with its sister city in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Silver Cliff Cemetery near Rosita, in south-central Colorado, is said to have the ghosts of deceased pioneers showing up as shimmering blue lights that hover over the graves in this old cemetery. The haunting lights were first reported by silver miners in 1882 and are still seen to this day. It is believed the lights are the dancing blue spirits of sacred hilltop that are spoken of in Indian legends.
A 1967 article in the New York Times caused the site to become a tourist attraction and hundreds of people reported seeing a strange floating lights. Edward Linehan of National Geographic, investigated the site in 1969 and observed “round spots of blue white light” glowing over the graves. When he approached one, it disappeared and slowly then reappeared in a different area. The lights are not reflections of car, train, or airplane lights as they appeared long before these inventions were in wide use. A Geiger counter survey revealed no radioactivity in the area.
One last haunting you may not be aware of in Grand Junction takes place on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad tracks that run between Grand Junction and Gunnison.The phantom of the old steam locomotive, Engine 107, haunts these tracks with a ghostly whistle.
At the turn-of-the-century, engineers avoided the unlucky locomotive, dubbed Dread 107. This steam engine was the instrument of death for scores of people. On one of its first runs the train went off a trestle, killing several trainmen and many passengers. The engine was restored to the line and rebuilt and then struck a massive boulder, tossing passengers from their seats like dolls. Dozens of people were killed or injured. Repaired once again, Dread 107 hit a snow slide in the Black Canyon which claimed more lives. The railroad finally scrapped the cursed locomotive in 1909 after several more accidents which claimed even more lives. The phantom train or rather its ghostly whistle, are still seen and heard along the tracks that run between Grand Junction and Gunnison. It is most often encountered near the Gunnison River and Crystal Creek.