While New Orleans is considered a spooky city filled with Voodoo and vampiric legends, according to author Cindy Brick, Colorado’s Front Range has a number of haunted sites and creepy locales to explore this Halloween weekend.
Statues in the garden outside the Callahan House are seen in Longmont in 2017. According to local paranormal enthusiasts, the location may be haunted. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)
Author of the 2018 book “Ghosts and Legends of Colorado’s Front Range,” Brick — who has lived in Boulder and Nederland but now resides in Sedalia, south of Denver — traveled to cemeteries and other sites to compile research for her publication outlining some of the area’s most chill-inducing and mysterious settings.
Take, for instance, the Hansen Building, at 477 Main St., Longmont, that used to be the location of Colorado Telegraph and Telephone Company. Now it’s home to Tenacity Investment Group and it is said that a phantom phone can often be heard ringing when no office phones are sounding off.
Could it be a ghost trying to connect from the other side?
A vehicle drives past Hotel Boulderado on Monday Dec. 14, 2020, in Boulder. (Timothy Hurst/Daily Camera file photo)
Boulder is also no stranger to bizarre sightings. Hotel Boulderado — built in 1909 — has been reported as being a hotbed of ghost activity throughout the years. A ghost mother carrying her baby has been spotted wandering the hallways and stairs. A white-robed figure has also been seen a number of times in the upper corridors.
In March 2016, a photo snapped during a wedding reception at the historic hotel captured a woman with waist-length brown hair on the upper floor balcony. The issue? She wasn’t a human guest of either the bride or the groom.
This year, Brick’s book was adapted for a younger audience with the publication of “The Ghostly Tales of Colorado’s Front Range,” by Shelli Timmons.
We caught up with Brick to find out about her attraction to the unexplained and supernatural, where in Colorado she would suggest brave souls venture for a memorable Halloween weekend and what literary work we can expect from her next.
A scarecrow watches over a haunted corn maze in Brighton in 2004. (Denver Post file photo)
Kalene McCort: Have you always been fascinated by haunted places? What was the most rewarding aspect of researching and visiting haunted spots throughout Colorado in preparation for your book?
Cindy Brick: Ever since I was little, I have loved a good story. Odd places, people and things and often tales of haunts and ghosts — places, but also anniversaries of strange events — are some of the best stories out there.
What I found especially intriguing — places I’d visited before suddenly took on a completely different light when I heard what others had seen and experienced while exploring them. We were fortunate to have made a number of friends whose families were Colorado natives for generations. A number of the beginning points came from their stories, often told after dinner while we visited over coffee.
Once my original book, “Ghosts and Legends of Colorado’s Front Range” came out, more people told me odd events in their lives. Did you know, for example, that ghostly donkeys are said to be haunting the (Denver Central Park) area? One woman swore up, down and sideways that she’d seen them appear then disappear in a mist.
It’s the unusual stuff like this — and places like (Denver International Airport) are full of it — that keep me asking questions and poking around. Colorado has a strong background in not only Native American legends — many places were held sacred to different tribes — but in pioneer tales, buried and stolen treasure, rock music history and even gangsters.
But in our zeal to be modern, often this history is brushed aside or carefully obscured. Pretty much anywhere you go, you can be reasonably certain that something happened there. It’s just that without the stories and documentation, you often don’t know about it.
The 2021 release “The Ghostly Tales of Colorado’s Front Range” by Shelli Timmons was adapted from Cindy Brick’s 2018 book “Ghosts and Legends of Colorado’s Front Range.” (Kalene McCort/Staff Writer)
KM: What’s it like having a children’s book modeled after your 2018 release? What do you think of the final product?
CB: I’m honored that Arcadia’s children’s book department was interested enough in my original book to make it part of their Spooky America series. In many ways, they used not only my story, but my exact words. That’s always pleasing to a writer.
KM: Are you currently working on any literary projects that we can look forward to in the near future about haunted places or other subjects?
CB: Yes, my latest book, “Colorado Curiosities,” came out in June. It includes some ghostly items, but also a lot of the stranger, intriguing people, places and events that have happened in the Centennial State.
Did you know, for example, that the gargoyle sculptures at (Denver International Airport) are supposed to point out a secret route to an underground city under Denver?
And a woman who farmed near Greeley, Kate Slaughterback, killed more than 100 snakes with a few bullets and a trespassing sign?
And the whole tale behind Blue Mustang, otherwise known as “Blucifer,” the sculpture greeting travelers at Denver International? It actually killed its maker before it was completed.
“Colorado Curiosities” by Cindy Brick was published in June 2021. (Cindy Brick/Courtesy photo)
I had a lot of fun ferreting out stories like this and they’re all true. The more you look into random bits and hints, the more you find. I’m looking forward to writing more about Colorado’s curiosities.
I’m also beginning to collect some stories about my hometown area near Grand Rapids, Mich., including a hidden theater, still complete with dusty chairs and decorated 19th century stage curtain, to Hell Bridge, where children were pushed off by the man trusted to care for them.
KM: If folks asked you for a few recommendations on where to travel to in Colorado this Halloween for a possible supernatural encounter, where would you suggest?
CB: Cemeteries are always a good bet. Silver Cliff Cemetery is known to have strange flickering lights at night. Some say it’s just quartz or other reflectives in the headstones, but the lights seem to float around, orb-style. That would be a good starting point.
Or take a minute to visit the grave of Alfred Packer, the human cannibal, in the Littleton Cemetery — under the tree near the second-most northern entrance. His pet goat is said to hang around there, as well. Bigfoot is said to enjoy a quiet walk through around the graves, as well — you might get a visual bonus.
If you’re looking for a dining experience that will hopefully produce something — besides great food, that is — try the Melting Pot in Littleton. It not only has scores of reports, but often sponsors its own haunted tours. The Melting Pot in Louisville has its own ghosts, a trio of bootleggers mashed during a cave-in in a tunnel are said to be underneath the original building.
Other possibilities are the Walrus Ice Cream Shop in Fort Collins. “Charlie” is said to hang out there. Or Gaetano’s in Denver, run by the parents of Colorado’s most-celebrated mob family, the Smaldone brothers. Try the bar, where Clyde is said to leave shining dimes — if you’re tidy, that is.
For public spots, there’s Cheesman Park in Denver. It used to be a public cemetery. The bodies were supposedly moved decades ago, but “parts” continue to show up now and then. Denver Botanic Gardens has the same problem. In fact, bodies were discovered in recent years during construction on their parking garage.
Cindy Brick, author of “Ghosts and Legends of Colorado’s Front Range.” (Cindy Brick/Courtesy photo)
Take in a different kind of show — the drifting organ music, voices or footsteps at Macky Auditorium on CU’s campus. Or visit with the phantom custodian who keeps playing with the lights at Longmont’s Vance Brand Civic Auditorium.
If you like, explore the Hotel Boulderado. You may hear the crying baby or see the weeping woman walking its halls. Or try the Colorado State Capitol late at night, with weird images and noises throughout, including bandits’ heads floating through the basement. Stay out of the way of the phantom carriages stopping by to pick up VIPs bound for gambling halls and other pleasure spots.
One more promising spot is the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo — the place is crawling with (Native Americans), trappers and even a young girl who enjoys watching the visitors. She occasionally taps people on the shoulder, as well.
Finally, you could always visit any of the miles of tunnels dug beneath many of Colorado’s cities, including Boulder, Louisville, Pueblo, Fort Collins and, of course, Denver. Some are steam tunnels, like those under CU’s Boulder campus. Many were used for moving liquor during Prohibition and afterwards. Some of those still keep restaurant and bar libations cool in storage. Others were built so important citizens could move undetected from the hotel to the brothel conveniently across the street. Many tunnel entrances are still visible in commercial basements, some can still be accessed.
The cover of “Ghosts and Legends of Colorado’s Front Range” by Cindy Brick. (Cindy Brick/Courtesy photo)
KM: As someone who loves haunted history, how will you be celebrating Halloween this year?
CB: This year will be fairly quiet, due to some unexpected circumstances. We usually watch a classic scary movie. “Creature from the Black Lagoon” is one of my favorites, but I’m partial to Godzilla, as well. Plus apple cider and popcorn balls — we’ve had them to celebrate ever since I was little.