With its wild and turbulent past, Cripple Creek has a history of unexplained, supernatural occurrences, no wonder it’s earned the reputation of one of the most haunted towns in America. Tales of haunted Cripple Creek hotels, casinos, and homes flourish.
The Imperial Hotel at Third Street and Bennett Avenue known originally as the Collins Hotel, was built after most the town burned to the ground in 1896. As a young man, George Long emigrated from Europe and eventually made his way to Denver. He married his first cousin and together they ran the hotel. The union produced two daughters and a son. The eldest daughter, Alice, was mentally disturbed and the parents were forced to keep her locked in their apartment next to the lobby for her safety and the safety of others. Soon after George fell to his death while negotiating the narrow stairs to the basement. Or some say Alice escaped, waited for him at the top of the stairs, struck him over the head and he crashed to his death from the stop of the stairs. It’s rumored his ghost haunts the hotel to this day.
My experience at the Imperial Hotel was at the performance of Dracula by the Imperial Players in early 1990’s. The performance was excellent, but the strong feeling of someone watching, icy patches and pressure on my arm and lower back, when no one was there. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up. After meeting the cast in the lobby for an autograph session, my family and I quickly exited the hotel and raced to the safety of our vehicle, thankful that we hadn’t booked a room. Looking back on the experience, was it the performance of Dracula in the supposedly haunted hotel that caused my imagination to run wild, or was there really something there? I admit to having an overactive imagination, but not that time. In the years since, I’ve visited Cripple Creek on numerous occasions, to explore old buildings and mining shacks. My husband and I drive up Hwy 67 to enjoy the turning of the Aspens in autumn, used to camp at the Lost Burro Campground but I haven’t set foot in the Imperial Hotel since that night.
** Next week, more Halloween Haunting with traditions, legends and spooky fun. You don’t want to miss it.
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