Arts & Culture

Denver Area’s Most Haunted Places

October 22, 2012 12:00 PM

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The Buckhorn Exchange (credit: buckhorn.com)

The Buckhorn Exchange (credit: buckhorn.com)

The City of Denver was officially founded in 1859 with more than 150 years of legends and stories. From cowboys and miners to executives and billionaires, people of all walks of life have called Denver their home. Over the years, many places have popped up as some of Denver’s most haunted locations. Several spots have even garnered national attention for mysterious happenings and unexplainable haunts. And with the rich history and varied past of a city like Denver, it is expected that there must be some places in town where things are just not explainable. At these spots, mysterious footsteps, voices and even apparitions and figures have become the norm. Ghost hunters and paranormal experts from all over the country flock to these spots to see for themselves.
Cheesman Park
1599 E. 8th Ave.
Denver, CO 80218
(303) 322-0066
www.denvergov.org

In 1858, Prospect Hill Cemetery opened, taking in new bodies from around the Denver area for nearly 30 years. There was a brief argument over just who owned the valuable land and the City of Denver won. As more cemeteries opened around town, less and less of Prospect Hill Cemetery (then Denver City Cemetery) was being used. By 1890, it was officially decided that the former cemetery would become the area of Congress and Cheesman Parks. The families of those that were buried were allowed 90 days to relocate the bodies of their loved ones and many bodies were moved. Unfortunately, many of the people buried in the cemetery were criminals and vagrants and more than 5,000 bodies remained unclaimed. When work was ordered to move the remaining bodies, it was done hastily and in some cases, quite gruesomely, with many body parts having been left behind. This awful attempt at moving the bodies was covered by The Denver Republican newspaper in 1893, “Around their edges were piled broken coffins, rent and tattered shrouds and fragments of clothing that had been torn from dead bodies.” Over the years, as more of the park was constructed, more bodies were moved. Though, it is estimated today that more than 2,000 bodies remain in the park. Some visitors claim to see ghosts wandering the park at night and others claim they can see the outlines of the grave markers. Some even claim that they have great difficulty getting up after lying on the grass in the park, as though an unseen force is keeping them down.

Lumber Baron Inn
2555 W. 37th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 477-8205
www.lumberbaron.com

In 1890, lumber baron John Mouat built his mansion. Mouat built more than 200 buildings that helped form the city of Denver but his personal mansion was the highlight of his craft. Over the years, the mansion passed through many hands, eventually lying empty in the early 1970s. Reportedly, a 17-year-old runaway girl living in the abandoned mansion was brutally murdered. Just a short while after, an 18-year-old friend was searching for the girl and she was also murdered. Both murders remain unsolved, which may explain some of the odd activity in the well-known house. Today, the Lumber Baron Inn has been restored to its original beauty and serves as a delightful bed and breakfast. However, footsteps are often heard and many paranormal groups have received unexplainable electronic voice phenomena in the home.

The Stanley Hotel
333 E. Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 577-4000
www.stanleyhotel.com

Take a short drive out of Denver and you can visit one of the most notoriously haunted hotels in the country. The Stanley Hotel was so frightening and so haunted it inspired Stephen King to write his famous novel, “The Shining.” The Stanley Hotel was opened in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley, known of course for the Stanley Steamer. Stanley was ordered by his doctor to go west because he had tuberculosis and the mountain air was said to be good for his health. He was so impressed with the beauty of Estes Park that he built the hotel. One of the best around, the Stanley Hotel was known for catering to only the very wealthy and famous. Today, it is believed that Freelan Stanley and his wife both haunt the famous hotel. Stanley’s wife was a piano player and there are many reports of the piano in the ballroom playing by itself. Guests have reported seeing apparitions in their rooms, only to disappear moments later. There are also several reports of guests’ jewelry, watches and luggage mysteriously disappearing. In fact, “The Shining” is so famous for its ghosts that it even holds ghost tours that take you through the history of the hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration in room 217 and many of the haunted rooms, places and the underground tunnel.

buckhorn exchange Denver Areas Most Haunted Places

The Buckhorn Exchange (credit: buckhorn.com)

The Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St.
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 534-9505
www.buckhorn.com

The Buckhorn Exchange is Denver’s oldest restaurant, dating back more than 100 years to 1893. It was originally opened as a trading post and actually holds liquor license Number One in the State of Colorado. The restaurant catered to all of the miners, railroad builders and other men that came west and it became one of the most well-known and loved stops in the area. In fact, President Theodore Roosevelt ate there in 1905 and was said to have gone hunting the following day. Today, it is said that the ghosts of the many traders, miners and cowboys that died nearby make the Buckhorn Exchange their haunted home. There are countless reports of voices and footsteps, and many have seen tables moving on their own.

Croke-Patterson Mansion
420 E. 11th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203

Perhaps the most haunted mansion in Denver, the Croke-Patterson Mansion has some very mysterious beginnings. Originally built by Thomas Croke in 1890, it’s rumored he entered the building only once. He was so terrified by “something” in the home that he never returned. Two years later, the mansion was sold to Thomas Patterson, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News. The building itself has gone through many changes over the years, but perhaps the most disturbing story came from the 1970s when a pair of Doberman Pinschers were left alone for the night to guard the home. The next day, both dogs were found dead on the sidewalk, having jumped from the third-floor window. So just who is haunting this beautiful mansion? It is said that the body of a little girl is buried in the cellar. An excavation of the cellar was conducted and while a hidden chamber was found, no body was recovered. Yet, there are many reports of a child figure sliding up and down the stairway and countless reports of voices and footsteps. It is also said that Thomas Patterson himself has been seen in the courtyard.

Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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