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Haunted Estes Park
Baldpate Inn in 1917
Stanley Hotel 1917 Postcard, courtesy Estes Park
Estes Park, Colorado seemingly has a penchant for haunted hotels.
two of them.
What beck'ning ghost...
Invites my steps??
-- Alexander Pope
The Baldpate Inn
Gordon and Ethel Mace, who were newlyweds
at the time, homesteaded the property in Estes Park and built a
classic log cabin in 1911. To supplement their income, they
built several small tourist cabins, which proved to be a huge success. They began to make plans to build and Inn and in 1917 they opened the
They named the inn after a fictional inn
in a mystery novel where regular guests were given their own keys to
the building. The Maces practiced this tradition until World War
I when the cost of metal rose so steeply, they could no longer afford
to give away keys. When this happened, their loyal guests
started a custom of bringing a key with them to leave at the inn,
which started the famous "Key Room”, which holds over 20,000 keys. Keys from Westminster Abby, Mozart’s wine cellar, the Pentagon and
even Frankenstein’s castle adorn the room.
Reportedly both Ethel and Gordon continue
to stay at their old Inn in a spiritual fashion. Staff and
guests say that Ethel has haunted her old room for years and
particularly likes spending time in the Key Room. She also likes
to sit in a wing-backed rocker before a fireplace that is now located
in a storage room. Her feet up, she is said to sit in the rocker
reading the bible.
Evidently, Ethel supported the
prohibitionists because she also likes to spill mix drinks, while
others have a tendency to fly off of tables. Gordon’s pet peeve,
on the other hand, is evidently smoking. Though the lodge does not
allow smoking, if a guest does in fact light up a cigarette, something
smashes it or their cigarette packs come up missing.
Inn is now run by the Smith family, who purchased the inn in 1986. Only the second family to ever own the inn, the Smiths continue to
welcome guests in the same fashion as the Maces. The 12-room
lodge is open from Memorial Day to October 1 each year and is located
at 4900 South Highway 7 in Estes Park.
The Stanley Hotel
This old hotel was built in the early 1900's by
F.O. Stanley, who created
the Stanley Steam Engine -- a steam powered horseless carriage. The
majestic Georgian style hotel opened in 1909, catering to the rich and
in 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley (F.O.) and his wife Flora had been sent
Stanley's doctor to seek the fresh mountain air.
Stanley, who suffered tuberculosis, had been
advised to not make plans beyond six months. The doctor arranged for
the couple to stay in a friend’s cabin in Estes Park for the summer. Immediately, they fell in love with the area and F.O.’s health began to
After spending the summer in the cabin, Flora
wanted a home like the one she had left in Maine. Their home was
built about one-half mile west of where the Stanley Hotel would later be
built. Today the house is a private residence.
F.O. Stanley, courtesy Estes Park Historical
Stanley built the hotel on land that he purchased from the Irish Earl Lord Dunraven. Dunraven came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip.
He built a hunting lodge, cabin and hotel for his guests and illegally
homesteaded up to 6,000 acres in an unsuccessful attempt to create a
private hunting preserve. Dunraven was finally run out of the area after
trying to swindle folks out of their land and money.
In 1906, construction started on the Stanley
Hotel. Wood and rock were obtained from the nearby mountains
and the hotel was built in the Georgian architectural style, which experienced
a revival in the early twentieth century. In 1909, the luxury hotel
was complete, with no expense spared. Equipped with running water,
electricity and telephones, the only amenity the hotel lacked was heat, as
the hotel was designed as a summer resort.
Hotel has hosted many "famous” guests including The Unsinkable Molly
Brown, John Philip Sousa, Theodore Roosevelt, the Emperor and Empress of
Japan, and a variety of Hollywood personalities. And, of course, the
Stanley Hotel hosted Stephen King, whose experience inspired his
book, "The Shining.”
Stanley Hotel Lobby in 1920, courtesy Estes
Park Historical Museum
to its regular guests, the hotel is also said to play host to a number of
other worldly visitors. The most notable is F.O. Stanley himself who
is most often seen in the lobby and the Billiard Room, which was his
favorite room when he was still alive. On one such occasion, he was
said to have appeared during a tour
group’s visit to the
Billiard Room, materializing behind a member of the tour. Bartenders
at the old hotel also report having seen F.O. stroll through the bar,
disappearing when they try to cut him off at the kitchen.
Not to be left out, Flora
Stanley also haunts the hotel, continuing to entertain guests with her
piano playing in the ballroom.
Employees and guests have
reported hearing music coming from the room, and when they take a peek
in there, they can see the piano keys moving. However, as soon
as someone walks across the thresh-hold to investigate further, the music
stops and no more movement can be seen upon the keys of the piano.
There are several rooms in
the hotel that seem to be particularly haunted. One is Room 407,
which is said to sometimes be occupied by Lord Dunraven, who owned the
land prior to F.O. Stanley. Reportedly, he likes to stand in the
corner of the room near the bathroom door. On one such account,
witnesses reported that a light in that corner kept turning on and off. While the light was off, they told the ghost that they knew that he was
there, they would only be staying two nights, and would he please turn the
light back on. The light turned back on. However, later when
the lights were turned off and they were trying to sleep, noises were
constantly heard from the nearby elevator during a time when the elevator
was not in use. At other times, a ghostly face has been reported to be
looking out the window of Room 407, when the room is not booked.
Room 418 gets the most reports of haunting activity apparently from
children’s spirits. Cleaning crews report having heard many strange
noises from the room, as well as seeing impressions on the bed when the
room has been empty. When guests stay in the room, they often report
that they hear children playing in the hallway at night. One couple
reportedly checked out of the hotel very early in the morning, complaining
that the children in the hallway kept them up all night. However,
there were no children booked in the hotel at the time.
There have also been many reports by guests of haunting activities in
Rooms 217 and 401.
Tour guides tell a story of the ghost of a small child who has been seen
by many of the staff in various areas of the old hotel. Reportedly,
Stephen King also saw the child, who was calling out to his nanny on the
second floor. Other past employees report footsteps and apparitions
seen throughout the building.
The Stanley Hotel is open
year-round and is located at 333 Wonderview in Estes Park,
of America, updated November, 2012.
The Ghost Tour at the Stanley via Legend's Blog
Two Heads Are Better Than One - The Stanley
Devil's Curve, Big Thompson Canyon, Estes Park,
This image available for
photographic prints and downloads
Stanley Hotel today.