Ghosts of the Cripple Creek Mining
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In the high country beyond Pike's Peak is
Cripple Creek Mining District, dotted with historic mine shafts,
head frames, and tumbling down miners' cabins. Not only might a
visitor find a "taste" of gold fever in this historic district, but
may also experience their hair rising on the back of their necks as
they "bump" into one of the many ghosts that reportedly roam the area.
Like many other mining
towns of the
is said to be
extremely haunted. Given its rich history, complete with mining
accidents, floods, fires, lawlessness, and bloody battles between mine
owners and labor unions, it comes as no surprise to learn of the many
ghosts who continue to linger in this once thriving city. In
fact, there are so many tales of spirits wandering this historic town,
that at one time boasted one homicide per day, some say it is the one
of the most haunted cities in the United States.
Colorado Grande Casino
Fairley Brothers and Lampman Building
at 300 East Bennett Avenue now houses the Colorado Grande Casino and
Maggie’s Restaurant. Here, you may not only enjoy a little
gaming and some great food, but you might just get a glimpse of a
ghost as well.
the turn of the century the three-story brick commercial building
housed a variety of businesses, including a drug store, a millinery,
an engineer, a lawyer and more. It’s rock-faced corner stones,
recessed center entryway, and decorative molding made it one of the
finest places in town for retailers to display their merchandise and
offer their services. Over the years, the building also housed
medical offices, a Masonic Lodge ballroom, and a mortuary.
addition to the sounds of slot machines heard throughout the building
today, many have also heard the "ghost” of Maggie, who has reportedly
been lingering throughout the building for decades.
Usually appearing on the top two floors of the building, the sounds of
her high heeled shoes are often heard echoing in the halls.
Described as about 25 years old and dressed in turn-of-the-century
clothing, she wears a white shirtwaist, a long cotton skirt and
high-heeled boots. The young beauty, with her hair piled atop her
head, is known to leave behind the scent of her rose perfume even when she
reported that singing and dancing is sometimes heard emanating from the
old ballroom, as well as the sounds of Maggie’s lilting soprano voice
heard singing an Irish accented concertina.
At the casino, security guards have often reported seeing "Maggie” along
with a gentleman friend playing the slot machines after hours. She
has also been caught on tape by the security cameras. However, after
being viewed and stowed away, the tapes mysteriously vanished.
Hotel St. Nicholas
a hill overlooking Cripple Creek
is the Hotel St. Nicholas. Originally built as a hospital for the
many people flooding the region in the late nineteenth century, the
Sisters of Mercy opened the St. Nicholas Hospital in 1898. The
building also served as lodging for the Sisters and a school for students
in its early days.
In 1901, a
second hospital was opened by
County, located in what is now another historic inn - the Hospitality
House. To compete, the Sisters claimed their facility to be
"thoroughly equipped with all modern improvements, beautifully located
with the best physicians in the district in attendance."
years, the hospital served the many prospectors and families of the area
and expanded to include a ward for the mentally ill. However, when Cripple
mining played out, the hospital closed its doors for the last time in the
For the next
two decades, the building sat empty until a series of unsuccessful
business attempts were made by various owners. However, this
historic building, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
finally found its niche when it was restored and refurbished by innkeepers
Noel and Denise Perran and Susan Adelbush.
Hotel St. Nicholas, with its panoramic view of Cripple Creek,
contains 15 guest rooms, all pleasantly appointed with antiques, fine
linens, and the unsurpassed elegance of yesteryear.
Boiler Room Tavern, popular with both locals and guests, is so named
because the barback is the front plate off the inn’s original coal boiler. Here, you cannot only enjoy a beverage, but also a variety Mexican food
menu, and live music during some weekends.
to the opulence you will find at the Hotel St. Nicholas, you might also
"find” a ghost or two. Said to be haunted by a number of spirits
including nuns, children, and former patients of the mental ward, the most
often "seen” ghostly resident is one referred to as "Stinky.” Lurking at
the back staircase of the old hospital, "Stinky” makes his presence known
with a sewage-like smell. The apparition of an old miner with no upper
body is also sometimes seen.
ghost, that of a little boy affectionately known as "Petey,” has been seen
throughout the hotel, but most often is held responsible for stealing
cigarettes and moving items about in the tavern.
Quietly located just blocks from the gaming district, The Hotel St.
Nicholas is can be found at
303 North Third Street
Buffalo Billy’s Casino
Buffalo Billy’s became the casino that it is today, it was known as the
Turf Club. Still, visitors can see at the top of this historic
building, the carved letters spelling out "Turf Club Room 1896." During
Cripple Creek's mining days, several exclusive "men’s clubs,” including the Turf, lined
the streets of the burgeoning city.
If was during
this time, for reasons unknown, that the six year old spirit of a young
girl took up residence in the building, and has remained there ever since. Known as "Lilly,” the friendly little girl has sometimes been seen sitting
on the stairs, cradling a rag doll in her arms. Looking incredibly
real, an employee once asked her if she was lost, to which Lilly replied,
"No, I’m not lost, I live here.” When the employee left to get a security
guard, the pair returned only to find the little girl gone.
another occasion, when a tourist was playing the slot machines, she
lost track of her daughter. When she began to search, she found
her perched on the staircase. Asking her daughter what she was
doing, the young girl replied that she was playing with Lilly.
Lilly evidently has an artistic side as her drawings, numbers, and
letters are often found in the hallway at the top of the staircase.
Although the walls are scrubbed down, the drawings always reappear.
According to the tales, Lilly is also said to like balloons, but only
in certain colors. For example, if a blue balloon is left for
her, it will pop. However, if a purple balloon is left, it will
begin to wander around the building on its own.
have often seen Lilly peering from an upstairs window down to the
Buffalo Billy’s is located at 239-243 E. Bennett Avenue.
Following the disastrous fire that razed most of the city in 1896, the
Imperial Hotel was built to accommodate the many miners and visitors
to the area. Located at 3rd Street and Bennett
Avenue, the building was opened as the Collins Hotel, luring guests
with modern amenities such as electric lights and steam heat.
the early part of the 20th century the hotel was run by an
Englishman by the name of George Long. Having emigrated from
Europe as a young man, he made his way to Denver, where he married his
first cousin. Before long, the couple was running the hotel, focusing
on service, comfort, and fine dining.
couple also began to have children – two daughters and a son. Perhaps because they were first cousins and too closely related, their
oldest daughter, Alice, suffered from a severe mental disorder. As the girl grew older, she became more and more difficult to control,
until her parents were finally forced to keep her locked in their
apartment next to the lobby. Today, this is the site of the Red
time later, when George was going down the narrow stairs to the basement,
he fell to his death. Though it very well could have been an
accident, rumors began to abound that Alice had killed her father when he
approached the top of the stairs, striking him in the head with a cast
the hotel introduced the Gold Bar Theater and the Imperial Players, who
entertained guests for nearly five decades. Hosting the longest
running melodrama theater in the nation, the historic venue continues to
entertain patrons today during its summer theatre season. In 1992
the hotel added limited stakes gaming to its list of attractions and began
operating as the Imperial Casino Hotel.
historic hotel is said to be haunted today by its former owner, George
Long, who allegedly likes to flirt with the ladies and play the slot
night time security guards tell stories of how the ding-ding-ding of the
slot machines and coins hitting the hopper are heard late at night after
the casino has closed. However, when they check the casino floor, no
one is there. Later, when the machines are checked for malfunctions,
none are found.
especially women, have often felt something or "someone” touching them
during the night. Another tale alleges that a chambermaid reported having
her bottom pinched by an unseen hand.
historic Gold Bar Theatre, evidently some of its melodramatic actors also
have chosen to continue their "act,” as today’s actors tell of feeling the
presence of someone when in the dressing rooms or a touch upon their back.
Evidently, the "crazed” Alice also leaves her "imprint” on the historic
hotel. If staff leaves the door to the Red Rooster Bar closed, they hear
the sounds of scratching on the other side of the door.
the Imperial Hotel and Casino continue to welcome guests to its Victorian
accommodations that include antique furnishings, French wallpaper, and
chandeliers; as well as dining in its two restaurants and enjoying the
entertainment of the casino.
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