Before deciding to move to Colorado Springs, I did a thorough investigation of weather patterns, tax rates, housing, population, demographics, crime statistics, employment – in other words, the works. I was able to find about everything I needed to make an informed decision. Needless to say, I relocated to the Centennial State. I knew as soon as I settled here that I’d come home. Sometimes you have to make a move to find yourself.
Wanting to pursue writing but not having a lot of extra cash, I found affordable courses online. Rob Parnell was offering his Easy Way To Write series at the time, and I found them quite helpful. While taking his Dark Fantasy & Horror Writing For Profit class, a story idea began to form in my head. It developed into my current project, Dead Ringer. Since I wanted to locate the story in the general area of Colorado and Manitou Springs but didn’t want to tell someone else’s story – I dug into research mode again. This time on a paranormal level.
Colorado Springs is a large city covering about 186 square miles. Downtown is the city’s hub, and there you’ll find what’s now the Kimball Peak Three Movie Theater. Tales of a ghostly little girl who skips up and down the hall of the projection room and screams in the bathroom can put you off your popcorn. Folks have also seen the specter of an old man, thought to be the projectionist who died in a fire.
Down the street from the theater, the Antlers Hilton is a hotspot with several ghosts. Employees and guests report encounters with a little girl that appears in some of the rooms. In Judge Baldwin’s Bar, a man with a mustache appears after hours. There are also sightings of an elegant young woman dressed for a night on the town.
The Broadmoor Hotel is a five-diamond hotel with beautiful, spacious grounds, a first-class golf course, and enticing restaurants to tempt your palate. Many have seen the apparition of a young woman late at night – usually floating down the hallways or up the staircases, wearing clothing from the 1930s. Talk is she’s Julie Penrose, wife of Spencer Penrose – founder of the Broadmoor. Employees note lots of activity in the penthouse Julie lived in until the 1950s – cold spots, lights going on and off, and objects moving on their own.
At the former Ward’s location in Colorado Springs, which is now the Memorial Hospital Administration Building, sounds come from the walls. And in the women’s restrooms, toilets flush on their own, and lights turn on and off. It was reported in the 1990s, a young girl and boy went into the restroom while the parents waited outside the door. The children never came out.
In Colorado Springs, the reports of ghostly activity go on and on. Other well-known locations around town are St Francis Health Center, Garden of the Gods, Evergreen Cemetery, Gold Camp Road, Rock Ledge Ranch, Pioneer Museum, and The Underground.
In Manitou Springs, it’s hard to find a place that isn’t haunted. Situated between Garden of the Gods and PIke’s Peak, Native American tribes lived in the area and held it sacred.
Miramont Castle was built in 1895 by the French priest, Father Jean Baptiste Francolon, and later used as a care facility for tuberculosis patients by The Sisters of Mercy. It’s considered one of the most haunted places in America. Staff and visitors alike have recounted unusual experiences at the castle. Orbs of light appear from nowhere, and in the chapel, disembodied voices can be heard, and things go missing from the castle from time to time. One guest was startled when her cell phone played a religious song, and she didn’t listen to that type of music. Curiously her phone wasn’t connected to a music source or have any music files.
Next door to the Cog Railway and The Incline is Iron Springs Melodrama & Dinner Theatre. Former owner J.G. Heistand (who died in 1916) is often spotted around the place. A Woman in White haunts the theater and has been seen in the bathroom mirror and an upstairs window. Unseen mischief-makers have goosed employees as they’ve left the kitchen, and props and costume items randomly disappear – reappearing days or weeks later.
Briarhurst Manor Estate offers a deliciously decadent dining experience and an event venue for weddings and conferences. It’s also one of the more famous spots in town. GhostHunters came to town several years ago and did a thorough investigation of the actively haunted manor. Things move on their own, lights go on and off, chimes and music can be heard coming from nowhere. Small footprints appear mysteriously, and visitors say they’ve been grabbed or touched. Apparitions are plentiful – children are seen and heard playing outside or running on the stairs. There’s also a little red-haired girl who likes the dining room and appears to diners. Guests and staff claim to have seen Mrs. Bell, wife of Dr. William Bell, who built the current Brianhurst in 1889, wandering the grounds.
Some of the other active locales are The Peacock Bed & Breakfast Inn, The Cliff House, The Oneledge Hotel, The Crystal Valley Cemetary, The Craftwood Inn, the Avenue Hotel B&B, and Cave of the Winds.
Researching Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs was an eye-opener. I found no need for concern about the originality of my story idea but instead found lots of inspiration for future tales. Great news for this horror /paranormal writer.