Many of the hotels among the 19 eclectic properties in the Historic Hotels of the Rockies collection are hosting themed events this fall and at Halloween to celebrate their reputations as the haunts of ghosts.
The Historic Hotels of the Rockies – which together represent some of the most historic accommodations in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, South Dakota and Montana – allegedly are homes to a ghostly array of guests who include a murdered chambermaid, the daughter of Buffalo Bill Cody, a cigar-smoking patron and many other apparitions.
Some ghosts are fleeting images; others like to shake things up by playing the piano, rattling drawers or rolling dice. The hoteliers urge visitors to book a room and find out first-hand if the tales are supernatural or just superstitious. Either way, the hotelieres reckon, guests will be intrigued and will have plenty of spirited fun.
Scattered across the western United States, the hotels in the group were all built between 1862 and 1939 and at the time were often the only places available to stay in growing frontier towns.
To enhance the spooky seasonal ambience around All Hallows Eve, many of the Historic Hotels of the Rockies will host Halloween Festivals, Murder Mystery Dinners and Ghost Walks in October and November.
“What would a historic hotel be without a ghost or two? Believe it or not, these amicable apparitions are part of the charm inherent in Historic Hotels of the Rockies. Ghost stories are a fun and spooky way to experience history,” says Jim Osterfoss, president of Historic Hotels of the Rockies.
Most visitors to any of the Historic Hotels of the Rockies come for the hotel’s ambience and inimitable atmosphere. Rooms are decorated in the original style with antiques and fixtures, though some rooms offer something extra.
For instance, Rooms 214 and 310 at the Pollard Hotel in Red Lodge, Montana have earned a bit of an eerie reputation over the years. Some believe this part of the building is haunted. A woman in a yellow dress is often seen here and witnesses have reported smelling French perfume when no one is present.
Room 310 at The Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico is also a favorite haunt for a ghost. Apparently, Byron T. Mills, the former owner of the hotel, has never seen fit to leave. Mr. Mills reportedly sits on the edge of the bed and also paces the floor.
At the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City, South Dakota, Rooms 803 and 804 are reputedly haunted. In one room a ghostly guest likes to tickle the ivories at odd hours, while the other is inhabited by the gentle presence of a young girl named Brittany. Benign and beloved, these ghosts are as much a part of the atmosphere as the Victorian flourishes and furniture.
Located in designated historic neighborhoods and often situated near historic railways, trading posts and mining towns, member hotels have always been in the middle of the local action, which on occasion took a turn for the worse. At the historic Plains Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming several ghosts are seen regularly, including the ghost of a guest who was murdered by being pushed out of a fourth-floor window.
Irma Cody, Buffalo Bill Cody’s daughter for whom the Irma Hotel in Cody, Wyoming is named, died of influenza in 1918 at the age of 35. She is said to appear as the Woman in White, roaming the halls on the second floor – and some reports say she is an aggressive presence in the kitchen.
At the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, a murdered chambermaid appears at night near the Devereux dining room and a young girl who died at the hotel in an accident is often seen playing on the staircase.
“We are so haunted, if we could get the ghosts to pay rent we’d be laughing all the way to the bank,” says Arthur Havers, owner of the historic Elk Mountain Hotel in Wyoming.
Havers has experienced some haunted happenings first-hand. On his initial night at the hotel he awoke to see a woman dressed in Victorian fashion, in a long dress with puffed shoulders. He thought he was dreaming, but later learned the ghostly woman is known as Mary and was the stern-looking wife of the hotel’s founder. Mary is often seen wandering about the property.
At the Delaware Hotel in Leadville, Colorado, the ghosts are right where one would expect to find them: the Evergreen Cemetery. Blue lights have been noted shooting in the tree tops overhead and a woman in white flies over the tombstones. For those who would like to learn more about Leadville’s ghosts, Judge Neil Reynolds’ Evergreen Cemetery Ghost Walk tour visits the cemetery at 8:00 PM on October 30. Reservations are required: call 888-532-3845.
A stay at the Castle Marne near Denver in October is expected to offer a prime location and time for paranormal exploration. The bed and breakfast has its own fleeting phantom, a little girl who lightly knocks on doors late at night then enters through the doors themselves, dissolving into a mist once inside.
Castle Marne’s proximity to downtown Denver also makes it a good location for further explorations of the unusual. The Colorado Historical Society has an Organ Crawl of Historic Denver Organs, a Walking Tour of Curtis Park Historic District, an evening called Capitol Hill Horror Stories and an annual Halloween Cemetery Crawl planned. See www.coloradohistory.org for details.
If the ghosts at the Hotel Colorado aren’t spooky enough for guests, they can take a lantern-led tour of Linwood Cemetery where Glenwood’s past is resurrected. Graveside tales of John “Doc” Holliday, Kid Curry are told, as well as the stories of miners, pioneers and even ladies of the evening. Tours are on weekends beginning October 15 through Halloween. Reservations are required. For tickets and details, see www.glenwoodhistory.com/events.htm.
Although ghost-free, the Nagle Warren Mansion in Cheyenne, Wyoming adds its own twist to the Halloween season. The B&B will host a murder mystery dinner, A Night To Dismember, on November 6. Guests are assigned a character prior to arrival and come to dinner dressed in costume. Once the hors d’oeuvres are served, the plot thickens throughout the four-course dinner in the elegant dining room. Owner Jim Osterfoss promises that the mystery’s solution is even sweeter than the desserts.
Those staying at the New Sheridan Hotel in Telluride, Colorado can experience The Telluride Horror Show, which begins on October 15. The three-day horror, sci-fi and fantasy film festival features film submissions that have titles like I Didn’t Come Here To Die and Someone’s Knocking At The Door. See www.telluridehorrorshow.com for tickets and information.
There are many more haunted-hotel stories at the Historic Hotels of the Rockies. So guests should be sure to check with the innkeeper or barkeep for additional tales of mysterious manifestations. Arthur Havers recommends bringing a bell, a book and a candle whether you’re visiting him and the Elk Mountain Hotel in Wyoming, or any of the other Historic Hotels of the Rockies – just to ward off any lingering spirits that might be lurking about.
An eclectic collection of 19 vintage properties, the Historic Hotels of the Rockies resurrect the glory days of the late 1800s and early 1900s. For detailed information on each hotel, go to www.historic-hotels.com.