By Helen Colella
October is synonymous with Halloween, ghosts, goblins, spirits, and supernatural occurrences. During this time many costume-clad folks often roam the streets looking for a glimpse of anything resembling a paranormal event. They search for spooky parties and hold séances to contact those whomhave crossed over. They seek out suspenseful, spine-chilling tales and fright-filled films. They never hesitate to hunt for areas known to be haunted. They explore and examine to expose the elements of the unknown.
But what you might not consider is that ghosts aren’t restricted to cemeteries, haunted houses, or ghost towns. Sightings, apparitions, poltergeists, and hauntings have long been reported in many different locations, indoors and outdoors alike. From dark corners of public buildings to museums, tearooms, hotels, restaurants, gardens, and along shorelines, it’s been reported they’ve been seen, heard, and felt.
But have they? Perhaps they’ve been imagined by the power of suggestion and folklore?
Metaphysical studies claim to have proof that spirits exist. Paranormal buffs believe spirits exist. Curiosity seekers want to really know if spirits exist. Like beauty, perhaps, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. But whatever you believe, know that Colorado has a history of hauntings all its own, especially in historic hotels.
Visitors and employees, paranormal buffs and curiosity seekers have in the past, and still do experience unexplained, spooky adventures:
1. Strange and untimely sounds, like bumps, thumps, weeping, wailing, footsteps, and squeaky doors, have caught the attention of many hotel guests across the state.
2. The sensation of being surrounded by cold air, chills surging through your body or being overcome by an unexpected gust of wind have made visitors mindful of their surroundings.
3. Being conscious of someone standing behind you, brushing against you, touching your hair when no one’s in sight, have also put folks on alert.
4. Visual sightings, reflections in mirrors, objects disappearing then reappearing in different places and the unexplained rearrangement of furniture in a particular room have given some pause for thought, too.
All these happenings are said to be common characteristics defining the presence of a lingering spirit; perhaps one that needs to finish something here in the real world, impart a message to someone, or finds it difficult to let go of a special place. Who knows? Yet testimony from people who have visited, worked at, or owned one of these Colorado haunted historic hotels has corroborated years of reported accounts.
Believe what you may. But the only way to know for sure is to check into one of these historic hotels and share your good energy with the ghostly guests. An overnight stay in one of Colorado’s haunted hotels can make an unforgettable experience. Getting up close and personal to a few restless spirits can make or break your belief in the supernatural.
The following haunted historic hotels are found throughout the state. The brief description may just help you choose the right ghostly adventure and learn a little bit about the blend of architecture, and history. That is if you dare…
ASPEN - HOTEL JEROME: Legend has it that a child had drowned in the hotel’s original swimming pool. A soaking wet boy was seen in Room 310. When a staff member came to help, the boy vanished; wet footprints remained. FYI: this room is built over the location of the original pool.
BLACK HAWK - GILPIN HOTEL & CASINO: Lucille Malone, who jumped from the building to her death a century ago, when she learned her lover was run over by a wagon in front of the hotel, has been viewed wandering around the second floor.
COLORADO SPRINGS - HEARTHSTONE INN: Piercing blues eyes of a woman in a picture hanging on the wall forced one guest to leave a room and another to remove the picture from the wall and place it face down on the floor. The next day a custodian discovered a mirror face down on the floors it left and unanswered question whose reflection was in the mirror?
DENVER - MOLLY BROWN HOTEL: Molly went from rags to riches by investing in the silver mines. Because she was never fully accepted in Denver high society, rumors have long persisted that her spirit haunts her cherished home. For many years after her death, the house was a boarding residence, and some of those inhabitants died while living there. Many feel the spirit of those who passed away have joined Molly’s afterlife presence in the home, which is now a museum.
DENVER - BROWN PALACE HOTEL: Witnesses recount the sounds of babies crying in the boiler room. Others tell of unexplainable cold drafts. There are also unexplored tunnels.
ESTES PARK - THE STANLEY HOTEL: Two sets of spirits are believed to be present; neither of which are connected to Stephen King’s “The Shining.” One: children playing in the halls on the fourth floor servant quarters; Room 418 is most active, even when there isn’t a child in the building. Two: the ghosts of the owners are still around. Mrs. Stanley plays the piano in the music room while Mr. F.O. Stanley keeps an eye on his favorite space, the Billiard room.
FAIRPLAY - HAND HOTEL: Grandma Hand is said to visit her room to make sure it’s just as she left it. Once guest tried to take a nap in his (Grandma’s) room, but couldn’t get to sleep. He kept hearing a woman’s voice asking for her rocking chair. After searching other rooms, he brought back a rocking chair and the voice was stilled and he got his rest. The ghost of a dark mastiff has been seen repeatedly at the Hand Hotel. One guest saw and felt the dog pull the bed covers off her. When she tried to re-cover herself, the dog bared its teeth and disappeared.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS - HOTEL COLORADO: It’s not unusual for guests to report having seen a little girl in the hallways, bouncing a red ball, even though no children were staying in the hotel.
LEADVILLE - DELEWARE HOTEL: The spirit of Mary Coffey, who was shot in the back and paralyzed by her husband in their room at the hotel in 1889, roams the hotel. Unusual sight because the vision of the woman is only from the waist up.
REDSTONE – REDSTONE INN: A spirit the staff has named George inhabits the third floor where sounds of furniture moving, doors opening, toilets flushing, and music coming from the attic have been heard. No housekeeper will go to the inn’s third floor alone.
While some hotel guests don’t want to leave, there are others who can’t get away as fast enough. One thing for sure, visiting these legendary historic hotels will be an experience one will never forget.
Here are a few points you may want to consider before you embark into the unknown:
1. Avoid booking your stay during “spooky” dates, such as Halloween. The spirit world doesn’t seem to know the difference between October 31 and June 4.
2. Do your homework! Research the story of the property and the entities that haunt it before you go. Ghost chasing is more fun if you know what you’re looking for.
3. Leave small children at home. Children may be unduly frightened, meaning you’ll have to stay awake handling nightmares and soothing fears all night. Children also tend to me ultra-sensitive to the unseen world, so even if you don’t tell them the hotel is haunted, they may see and hear things that will confuse and frighten them. Best to leave them home until they are old enough to handle those scary movies on cable television without nightmares.
4. Find out where the ghosts hang out. There may be a special guest room that gets more activity than others. Or perhaps you should be in the green ballroom in the wee hours to catch a glimpse of the netherworld.
5. Call the hotel staff ahead of your stay with special requests -- chances are they’ll help out if they can.
6. Know your options. Many guests check out of haunted hotels suddenly at 3:00 a.m. You won’t know how you’ll react to a sighting until it happens.
7. Before you settle down for the night, have a backup plan. Know what alternate hotels are nearby and will accept a very, very late check-in.
What kind of visitor are you? Are you brave enough to chance a haunting experience?
Will you live to tell of your adventure?