STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO– The ancient folklore and haunted tales of Steamboat Springs return time and again, reawakening the spirits of the past in anticipation of All Hallows Eve night.
Locals can retell the well-known ghostly story of Laura Monson in her rocking chair, haunting her family’s former house on the corner of Ninth Street and Oak. Or, the old wives’ tale of the Royal Hotel in Yampa, which was home to a spirit named Rufus, and the not-to-be-forgotten creepy fables of the legendary Crawford House.
Mysterious figures, eerie sounds, flickering lights and unexplainable events – they’re myths, legends, and ghoulish tales, but for the locals of Steamboat Springs, these spiritual encounters are all too real, leaving us wondering if the ghosts of Routt County still linger at night.
In 1908 passenger trains began arriving to the newly built railway station in the mining and ranching town of Steamboat Springs. Railroad passengers from near and far began visiting and settling in the valley frontier until service ended in 1968. The train depot building lay abandoned for a long spell before the Steamboat Arts Council was formed and brought the depot back to life with art shows, ballet and theater programs.
The frightening stories of unexplainable events during productions at the Art Depot confirms theories of the building being haunted.
The artistic nuances must’ve awakened the spirits, because soon enough their presence was felt. Stories from past employees speak of lights being tampered with during productions, iron weights crashing down and the rattling of doors. Many agree that the depot is indeed haunted.
Who were these restless spirits of the railway? Where did they come from? And why are they still here? We may never know, but we wait for their chilling return…
Over a hundred years ago, Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield – and their mule named Tango – came to Steamboat Springs with a vision to teach natural dance forms and artistic expression in the mountains of Colorado.
Known as the “mad ladies of Steamboat,” Charlotte and Portia founded Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp with just a few rustic cabins and endless, breathtaking scenery. Years later, the spirits of both women are felt throughout the camp.
The dancing spirits and presence of Charlotte Perry and Portia Mansfield are said to be felt throughout the camp.
In a presentation at Tread of Pioneers Museum, local actress and teacher Rusty DeLucia tells the unusual story of a caretaker of the camp. One day in late October, Will Kaplan, husband to Perry-Mansfield’s former executive director June Lindenmayer, locked up all the studios and was coming home from wrangling the horses when he passed by the Louis Horst studio and noticed lights were on. He heard music playing and saw the shadows of what appeared to be people dancing.
He went home to meet June for dinner and asked, “Who is having a party at Louis Horst?” “What are you talking about?” June replied. The two of them walked back to the camp and nothing was there – no lights on, no music playing, no dancing and all the doors were locked.
The historic Rehder Building on the corner of 8th Street and Lincoln Avenue is home to one of Steamboat’s best-known spirits. Originally the First National Bank Building, Harry Rehder purchased the building 1937 and it was later inherited by his son, Henry, and Henry’s wife, Helen. Together they built an apartment upstairs where they lived the remainder of their lives.
The building later became home to businesses Antares Restaurant and Into the West Gallery. As the new businesses moved into the building, the spirits of its past occupants remained, leading to unusual, hair-raising ghostly encounters.
The Rehder Building, now home to Steamboat Art Museum, is one of Steamboat's most infamous haunting stories.
One haunting evening, a young employee from Antares recalls relaxing on the couch at night after the restaurant had closed. She was having conversations with coworkers when she looked up at the mirror hanging on the wall across from her, and there in the reflection was a woman in old fashioned clothing sitting next to her on the couch.
An employee from Into the West Gallery said hearing strange noises and feeling a spiritual presence was common while the gallery occupied the front store of the building.
Now, the Rehder Building is owned by the city and preserved as a historic monument – per Helen Rehder’s request – now housing Steamboat Art Museum.
Betse Grassby, executive director of Steamboat Art Museum, remembers one night the staff was loading in for a show after hours, the doors were locked, and an employee glanced into the store and saw a man in an old tweed suit standing in the window. Betse also recalls a time in 2015 when one of the caterers for an event at SAM felt Helen’s presence. “She looked at me and said, Helen is here,” recalls Betse.
Things have been quiet on the mystical forefront in the Rehder Building since its renovation. Grassby says, “Lights throughout the building would always flicker and do funny things but ever since the renovation, Helen has been happy.”
Built in 1904, this building has had a long and colorful history, with a multitude of uses, occupants and spirits.
On the corner of 6th Street and Lincoln Avenue sits a historic building originally built in 1904 as the Albany Hotel. It was one of the first hotels in Steamboat Springs, housing frequent visitors from the railway system running through town. As town expanded, the hotel was then converted to Steamboat’s first hospital. Over the years, this two-story Victorian served as a post office, a general store and even a library. The second story was once used as a dance hall which locals would flock to for a night fun.
Still ringing true to be a locals favorite hangout spot, the historic building has been home to the Old Town Pub since 1984, except all the souls laid to rest there haven’t quite left. Séan Regan, owner of the Old Town Pub, has been working at the pub for over a decade and can remember a handful of times closing the bar by himself – except he didn’t feel alone.
“One late night, I was closing the pub down by myself, I was in the office and counting drawers to close down a slow mud-season evening,” Regan says, “There was an ice machine that sat in the next room over, and suddenly I heard the door slam shut. I'm the only guy in the bar, and it's late. I get up and go over into that room and the door to the ice machine is wide open. I froze in my steps. I know that sound, I hear it 10-15 times a day, there is no way that door is open right now. I walked quickly right back to the office, grabbed what I needed, locked the office door, and pretty much ran out the back door without even turning off the lights or TVs.”
Between 1914 and the early 1920s, the building became The Steamboat Sanitarium, Steamboat Spring's first hospital. Part of the hospital's crematory remains in the basement of the building today.
In earlier days, booths lined the walls in the back dining room – where the stage is now – of the restaurant and there was a connecting door to the kitchen. “Through the years, there were dozens of times that I'd walk past the second booth heading back to the kitchen and would see a man through my peripheral,” recalls Regan. “He sat facing 6th Street, with perfect posture and his hands folded in front of him. His head would follow my two steps and every time, I'd look quickly to my left so I could confirm he was there, and nothing – no fella, ever,” he says.
“Some call me crazy, and they're probably not wrong, but I surely don't believe I'm alone in that place when I'm there by myself.”