From the highest peaks of Colorado to its lowest elevations, historic tales of restless spirits and haunted places abound. In the first part of a two-part series, we’re sharing our favorite ghost stories from across the state.
Redstone Castle (Manitou Springs, Colorado)
Redstone Castle was built in Manitou Springs in 1890 on land that was believed to be haunted. The brothers who bought the land from the original homesteader were made aware of numerous burials that existed on the grounds. Early trappers, pioneers, soldiers, and vagabonds made up the bulk of the graves. The brothers promised to move the graves to a nearby cemetery before breaking ground on their planned community. Their promise was only partially kept. Many of the graves were left untouched and simply filled over with dirt.
When the brothers built Redstone Castle, they intended it to serve as the model home for their elite community, called Mountain Terrace Estates on Iron Mountain. Despite the grand setting, none of the lots in their development sold. People were spooked by the presence of the burials, and convinced the ghosts of the dead still roamed the grounds.
For many years, Redstone Castle sat vacant. Eventually a man named Balem Hawkins was hired to serve as the caretaker, but his stay in the castle was short. His family, whom he moved into the castle, reported hearing strange voices, seeing gauzy apparitions, and witnessing their dog become nervous and high strung. Some accounts say the dog went crazy and had to be put down.
In 1910, actress and medium Alice Crawford rented Redstone Castle to live in. During her time there, her behavior became increasingly odd. She claimed she saw ghosts in the castle, and was injured attempting to set them on fire and shoot them with her gun. People who knew her said that when she moved out, she was never the same again.
Over the years that followed, Redstone Castle alternated between sitting vacant and hosting guests as a haunted bed and breakfast. People who passed through its halls over those years recounted similar experiences to those reported by caretaker Balem Hawkins and actress Alice Crawford.
Pikes Peak Toll Road (Pikes Peak, Colorado)
On a quiet evening in 1932, the car of a woman named “Desperation Mona” went off the steep edge of the Pikes Peak Toll Road near mile marker 13. The tangled wreckage of her car was discovered 150 feet below. Somehow she survived, but her life wasn’t long. Three weeks after the accident, barely recovered from her injuries, “Desperation Mona” died at the hands of her murderous husband.
As dusk fell across Pikes Peak on a cold evening some 40 years later, a man working on the mountain spotted a woman shivering on the edge of the road. He blanketed her in his leather jacket and drove her on his motorcycle to the toll booth at the base of the mountain for help. When he brought his bike to a rest, “Desperation Mona” climbed off, removed the man’s jacket, and turned on her heel to run back up the road. Her hazy form quickly disappeared into the darkness.
Legend has it that every year on the anniversary of her accident, “Desperation Mona” appears on the edge of the Pikes Peak Toll Road (now Pikes Peak Highway) near mile marker 13, shivering in the chill evening air as she surveys the scene of her crash.
Lampman Building (Cripple Creek, Colorado)
Once a booming gold mining town, Cripple Creek is considered one of the most haunted places in Colorado. Many of the historic buildings on main street have ghostly stories to tell, including the Lampman Building at the corner of 3rd and Bennett. Over the past 130 years, restaurants, casinos, stores, and even a mortuary have occupied the building. A ghost named Maggie has been present for all of it.
Usually seen on the top two floors of the historic building, Maggie’s ghost manifests as an Irish girl wearing turn-of-the-century attire. Her hair is piled atop her head, and she leaves behind the scent of rose perfume. People who claim to have seen Maggie with their own eyes describe her translucent form descending the stairs from the third floor to the second, only to dissolve into a blur of blue light when sensing the attention of the living upon her. There have also been reports of Maggie’s footsteps clicking on the hardwood floors, and her soft, soprano voice tickling the darkness.
It’s unknown who Maggie is or why she haunts the historic Lampman Building, but those who’ve experienced her presence describe her as pleasant though shy.
Buckskin Joe Ghost Town (Park County, Colorado)
In 1861, a dance hall girl named “Silver Heels” stepped off the stagecoach in the gold mining town of Buckskin Joe, just west of Alma. She captivated the miners with her enchanting performances at the local dancehall and saloon. The silver shoes she wore when dancing earned her the nickname “Silver Heels.”
When smallpox ravaged Buckskin Joe in the winter of 1861, “Silver Heels” proved to be more than just a dancer. Rather than leaving town to escape the deadly outbreak, she stayed in Buckskin Joe to nurse the sick, care for their families, and help bury their dead in the cemetery up the hillside. She was considered a hero but vanished in the aftermath. By the spring of 1862 the worst had passed, but “Silver Heels” was nowhere to be found. The surviving miners searched the surrounding mountains but uncovered no trace of the beautiful girl. Some said perhaps she’d contracted smallpox herself and perished. Others said she may have simply left town. No one knew for sure.
Years later, a veiled woman dressed in all black was seen wandering the Buckskin Joe cemetery. People who lived through the smallpox outbreak believed it was “Silver Heels,” returning to visit the graves of those she’d helped bury. They tried to thank her for her service, but she spirited off into the mountain air before they could reach the cemetery gate. To this day, it’s believed the ghost of “Silver Heels” still wanders what remains of the old cemetery.
"Fair Lady" Bedrooms (Alma, Colorado)
A gold miner named J. Dawson Hidgepath arrived in Fairplay in 1865, hoping to find gold and a wife. Instead, he found tragedy. While prospecting for gold on Mount Bross, he fell several hundred feet and died at the foot of the mountain. He never had a chance to make his fortune or become a married man.
Hidgepath was buried in the Buckskin Joe cemetery and that was the end of his story. At least, it should’ve been. A couple years later, a “fair lady” (prostitute) in nearby Alma returned home from a riotous night out to discover the bones of J.D. Hidgepath scattered atop her bed. His grave in the Buckskin Joe cemetery had been disturbed, and some said the man was still searching for love.
After the bones were reburied, life went on. Until they resurfaced again.
Another “fair lady” in Alma experienced a terrible fright one evening after finding the bones of J.D. Hidgepath tucked into her bedding. The bones were quickly returned to the cemetery only to appear, once again, where they didn’t belong. Some suspected an elaborate prank was to blame. Others believed the man’s lonely bones were haunted. Either way, the cycle continued until 1872, when an exasperated Alma resident dumped the bones in an outhouse near Leadville. Hidgepath was never heard from again.
Peck House (Empire, Colorado)
In 1861, shipping magnate James Peck and his eldest son, nineteen-year-old Frank Peck, arrived in Colorado. Reports of the riches of the Colorado Gold Rush had lured them to leave Chicago in search of treasure. The following year they settled in the mining town of Empire, then built the Peck House in 1863. Soon after, James Peck’s wife and children made the journey west.
Soon after moving into the Peck House, the family began casually hosting stagecoach travelers and miners passing through Empire. The home had plenty of space and the only waterworks in town. Enjoying the hospitality business, they turned Peck House into an official hotel in 1872. Famous guests like Civil War generals and circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum graced its halls.
Tragedy struck in 1880. James Peck died after being thrown from his wagon while traveling from Empire to Georgetown. His son Frank Peck assumed ownership of the hotel, but was met with further tragedy five years later, when thirteen-year-old Gracie Peck died of pneumonia.
Over the decades that followed, Peck House traded hands and changed names numerous times. The granddaughters of brewer Adolf Coors tried their hand at the hotel business after acquiring Peck House in 1956. Years later, experienced hoteliers Gary and Sally St. Clair bought the Peck House, made extensive updates, and operated the hotel until closing it in 2014.
Throughout the years, hotel guests reported seeing the ghostly figure of James Peck roaming the halls, and hearing the sound of Gracie Peck coughing during the night. Cold mists that materialized out of nowhere were also reported, as were the eerie sensations that an unseen presence lingered nearby.
Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind (CDSB) was built in Colorado Springs in 1874. The Collegiate Gothic style buildings were designed by local architects. As the only school of its kind in Colorado, CDSB enrollment peaked at 350 students in the 1970s. Its decline began a few years after, though nearly 250 students are still served today.
Over the decades CDSB amassed a diversity of hauntings. Deaf students have reported seeing ghostly apparitions and unexplained dark shapes in the dormitories, gymnasium, and basement. Blind students have reported hearing bizarre noises coming from the basement and other areas of the campus. All agree the basement is the creepiest location of all.
It’s unknown whose spirits haunt the school, and whether they’re merely residual hauntings or something seeking to make contact with the living. Either way, the eerie sensations felt and seen by the students who’ve passed through the halls of Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind have left their mark on the history of Colorado Springs.