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The Haunted Victor Hotel

The Haunted Victor Hotel

victor-hotel-banner1

The Haunted Victor Hotel

Located on Victor Avenue in the old mining town of Victor, CO sits the Victor Hotel. The hotel you see today is not the original. Built in 1899, the new Victor Hotel replaced the original that was lost to a fire that consumed much of the town of Victor in August of 1899. Built of almost entirely of wood, the old hotel was no match for the fire. Thankfully, no lives were reported to be lost in this fire; however, the new Victor Hotel has held on to many spirits.

Fatal Distraction

the historical bird cage elevator at the Victor Hotel
The Victor Hotel elevator

It wasn’t too long after being built that the first spirit took up residence at the Victor Hotel and it involved the ornate birdcage elevator that is still in use in the hotel today. In the early 1900s, a miner that was renting room 301 was heading to work early one morning. Now these are the days before smartphones, but for some reason Eddie must have been distracted because he failed to notice that the elevator was malfunctioning. When the doors opened, Eddie stepped into the empty shaft and fell to the basement, where he died. The basement, ironically, is not accessible by the elevator and can only be reached through the office where, of course, only employees are allowed. Eddie apparently found another way to get there.

Today, patrons preparing to ride the elevator have reported seeing and hearing a man before they get on. As they pass through the doors, they hear him whisper, “Be careful”. One patron even reported being knocked back from the elevator doors as the door began to close on him when a sensor malfunctioned. Eddie, it seems, doesn’t wish for anyone to take his place as the only life the Victor Hotel has claimed.

Sleep Like the Dead

Even though Eddie’s was the only life lost within the brick walls of the Victor Hotel, exactly how many other souls it holds, no one knows for sure. Before the time of refrigeration and heavy digging machinery for gravediggers, winters proved to make the job of burying the dead nearly impossible. Because of this, during the months when the ground froze solid, towns had to be creative as to where they would store their dead. Outside, of course, wasn’t an option. No one wants hungry crows or other wildlife nibbling on a grandma popsicle. In Victor, the solution for bodies storage during the winter was the fourth floor of the Victor Hotel.

Renting a room on the fourth floor in the hotel gives new meaning to the phrase “Sleep like the dead”. Those who are brave…and let’s face it, morbid…enough to stay on the fourth floor has experienced shuffling sounds, banging noises, objects moving on their own or disappearing, disembodied voices and have seen people who don’t seem well move about the halls. How can they tell they aren’t well? The missing limbs or head might have something to do with it.

Stay a While

the lobby of the Victor Hotel
The lobby of the Victor Hotel

Today, those belonging to people who have departed aren’t the only spirits you will encounter in the Victor Hotel. The Side Door Restaurant and Lounge opened for business on the first floor of the Hotel a few years ago.  While this might not be the kind of spirits ghost hunters are looking for, if they encounter any of the “unwell” people on the fourth floor, the restaurant may end up having the kind of spirits they need.  The hotel offers a glimpse into the past, with furnishings and possibly ghosts, with a charm not found in most modern day hotels. At night, the streets of Victor are quiet, allowing for a peaceful stroll in the cool mountain air along with dark skies for stargazing. A great way to relax before or after you face the spirits of the Victor Hotel. Unfortunately, for the adventurous who may be wishing to rent Eddie’s room, #301, this is no longer an option. The mining company that owns and operates the large mine that sits to the north of Victor has rented out the rooms on the second and third floor for offices. The fourth floor is now the only option for those wishing to brave a night at the Victor Hotel. If you wish to look for Eddie, you can probably find him at the elevator. Just watch your step when the doors open.

If you want to know more about the Victor Hotel or make a reservation, please visit their website.

Note: 

This article contains a Colorado urban legend collected from many sources including websites, forum, books and personal accounts.  Colorado Urban Legends does not present this information as truth or historical fact and it is provided for entertainment purposes only.The story above has been researched and that information will be provided in a future article located in the Truth section of this website. Stay tuned.

If you visit any of the locations discussed on Colorado Urban Legends, or any historical location, please remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints.

If you visit any of the locations associated with this story, please share your story and pictures with me at coloradourbanlegends@gmail.com. Please be sure to include specifics about the locations. Your story may be the topic of my research in the future.

 

 

The Ghost Lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery

The Ghost Lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery

silver-cliff-banner

The Ghost Lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery

56 miles west of Pueblo, Co, just south of Highway 96, lies the small town of Silver Cliff. Today a population of  about 600 calls Silver Cliff home; however, 135 years ago Silver Cliff was home to more than 5000 people. It was at this time, just south of town, that one of Colorado’s oldest urban legends began, The Ghost Lights of Silver Cliff Cemetery.

…So the Story Goes

One cool evening in 1882, three miners were enjoying themselves at a bachelor party, it is said, in Rosita. Rosita is now and was then another town that lies just southeast of Silver Cliff on the edge of the Wet Mountains.  They were most likely enjoying their time off from mining silver near the edge of Silver Cliff. When the party was over, they decided to return home to Silver Cliff and take a short cut through the cemetery.

This is when they began to notice the lights. Not just a few lights and not in the distance, but close…all around them. There were white lights, but mostly blue lights, dancing about the graves. Some knee high, some darting higher than the miners were tall. These lights lasted for a while, not simply flashes, but solid balls of light, floating through the air. The legend doesn’t say exactly what happened after the miners saw the lights but what they supposedly reported about what they thought the lights were….ghosts…probably tells us all we need to know about how they would have reacted. I’m sure the remaining half mile to town was covered fairly quickly.

A Legend is Born

Once the miners stories about the lights  in the haunted cemetery spread about town the next day, many made their way to the cemetery that next evening to see the lights for themselves. The “spirits”, as they were believed to be, didn’t disappoint.  A number of men were reported to have even attempted to catch the lights only to find nothing in their grasp. One thing that did take hold of the lights that night was history. Despite their elusiveness, the lights continue to exist in stories told by those who make the long drive to Silver Cliff and camp within the fences of the cemetery, hoping to catch a glimpse of what 3 miners saw over a century ago.

Coming soon: Shining a light on the Silver Cliff Cemetery.

 

Did you enjoy this story? Read more about the stories of Colorado on our Legends page. Be sure to check back often as there are many stories yet to be told.

 

 

Note: 

This article contains a Colorado urban legend collected from many sources including websites, forum, books and personal accounts.  Colorado Urban Legends does not present this information as truth or historical fact and it is provided for entertainment purposes only.The story above has been researched and that information will be provided in a future article located in the Truth section of this website. Stay tuned.

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Abandoned Las Animas County Homestead

Abandoned Las Animas County Homestead

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Nothing is known at the time about this abandoned homestead located western Las Animas county. It is in surprisingly good shape, outside of what appears to be a damaged roof from rocks falling from the formations above. This video was taken on July 8, 2017.

If you recognize this location and know any information about it, please share. I would love to tell the story of this beautiful place.

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The Legend of the Lost Locomotive of Kiowa Creek

The Legend of the Lost Locomotive of Kiowa Creek

The Legend of the Lost Locomotive of Kiowa Creek

A few miles east of Bennett, CO a train horn sounds through the night. The light from the headlamp of the train can be seen for a mile, as it’s heading down the track. The residents of the town are familiar with this train. It’s Engine No. 51 pulling a load of over twenty cars, barreling down the track towards the bridge spanning Kiowa Creek. However, this train will never pass. Even though it’s seen and heard, it’s been laying under the sandy depths of Kiowa Creek for over 130 years.

Heavy Rain + Heavy Train = Lost

May 21, 1878 bought heavy rains to eastern Colorado which flowed into the creeks and rivers such as Kiowa Creek just a couple of miles east of Bennett, then called Kiowa after the creek. A train was heading east, just passing the town at the same time the waters in Kiowa Creek became so great that they took out the train bridge. Unfortunately, the engineer of the train didn’t see the warning lights in time and the train went over the broken bridge, plunging into the water below. All of the crewmen and many passengers died. Over the next few days, the bodies and train cars were recovered; however, the locomotive was never found, having been buried within the quicksand of Kiowa Creek. The engineer, Mr. Bennett, was one of the many who lost their lives. The town was soon renamed Bennett in his honor. The bridge was repaired, years past and the memory of the horrible tragedy and the train laying below the surface faded, but to this day, the ghosts of the lost locomotive can be seen and heard near the banks of the now dry Kiowa Creek.

Want More?

Did you enjoy this story? Read more about the stories of Colorado on our Legends page. Be sure to check back often as there are many stories yet to be told.

Note: 

This article contains a Colorado urban legend collected from many sources including websites, forum, books and personal accounts.  Colorado Urban Legends does not present this information as truth or historical fact and it is provided for entertainment purposes only.The story above has been researched and that information will be provided in a future article located in the Truth section of this website. Stay tuned.

The Ghost of Adolph Coors III

The Ghost of Adolph Coors III

Colorado Urban Legends The Ghost of Adolph Coors III

THE LEGEND

On a curvy road, on the edge of the foothills of Morrison, Colorado you will find the bridge where Adolph Coors’ grandson’s decapitated body was discovered beneath. The energy remaining from the tragic event reaches out to those who journey down the road and over the bridge, causing their vehicles to stall in the middle. If you dare venture outside of your vehicle, footsteps can be heard approaching. You may hear a raspy breath as if someone is taking their last. Coors’ angry spirit will often manifest and he can be seen in an ethereal form on the side of the bridge. Terrified travelers will hurriedly restart their vehicles and speed off into the night.

Time Life Maganzine's picture of the Turkey Creek Bridge, the location of Adolph Coors III was kidnapped and possibly murdered.Turkey Creek Bridge in Morrison, CO 1960

photo courtesy of Life Magazine

Many search for the bridge hoping to have a brush with Coors’ spirit in the place he died. “Where is this bridge, I have to go”, one person posted on a forum. I asked the same thing, “Where IS this bridge?” My long search for the answer led me from Morrison to just outside of Sedalia, CO where I did not find a bridge crossing over peaceful mountain waters, nor an area that is easily accessible by a car that would give thrill seekers a speedy getaway. No, I had to dig through history to find the trash, if you will, regarding Coors demise. Come with me over the bridge and through the woods to a place where no urban legend or paranormal investigator has ever been before.

LIGHTNING STRIKES

Colorado Urban Legends Adolph Coors IIIMorrison, CO

It is February 9, 1960. Adolph Herman Joseph Coors III (Ad, as he was called) leaves his house at 7:45 am. He, the grandson of Adolph Coors, is the board chairman of the Coors Company. His grandfather started the brewery in 1874 and is rumored to have committed suicide by jumping out of a hotel window in 1929. Ad’s father, Adolph Coors II, owns the company; Ad runs it with his two brothers, Joseph and William. The family fortune affected Ad little as he and his family shunned away from the spotlight.

Today was any regular Tuesday. He takes the hogback dirt road from his home in Morrison to Golden. Before leaving his home, Ad puts on a green checkered shirt, tie, gray flannel pair of trousers, a navy blue jacket, and a khaki colored cap. In his pockets he carries .43 cents in change and a penknife with the initials “ACIII”. Ad drives down Turkey Creek Road in his green and white International A-100 Travel-all.

What happened next can only be assumed based on the investigation conducted by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department.

8:00 a.m. Ad comes to the Turkey Creek Bridge just southeast of Soda Lake. It’s an old wooden log bridge, barely passable by two cars. He is about 2 miles from his home. A yellow 1951 Mercury blocks the road; apparently a driver is stranded. Ad gets out to help, leaving his vehicle running. Later, 2 women living in the area tell police that they heard two loud sounds that sounded like lightning.

8:15 a.m. A resident of the area passes the bridge, barely making it past the green and white van. He notices the engine is still running; no one is around.

10:30 a.m. A milkman passes over Turkey Creek Bridge and notices a van sitting by. It is running with the driver side door open. He gets out to investigate and calls the Sheriff’s Department.

11:35 a.m,: Police finally arrive to the scene to investigate the running abandoned vehicle on Turkey Creek Bridge. Immediately the responding officer recognizes the vehicle as belonging to Ad Coors and knows something is wrong. He calls it in.

1 p.m.: A full search is on for Ad Coors. 100 men in jeeps, on horseback and on foot scour the hills looking for any sign of him. Discovered near the van are a khaki cap and a brown fedora. There is blood on the bumper of the van, speckles of blood on the windshield and smeared blood on the railing of the bridge. The creek is drained and on the bottom lays Ad’s eyeglasses. Bloodhounds are brought in by Ad’s uncle. They pick up his scent on the bridge then lose it. “Ad never left this bridge” says one of the Deputies. Adolph Coors III has been kidnapped.

At the time the police were coming upon Turkey Creek bridge in Morrison, Joseph Corbett Jr., or Walter Osborne as the ID in his pocket reads, is pulling up to his Perlmor apartment at 1435 Pearl Street in Denver. His 1951 yellow Mercury is covered in mud. He climbs the stairs to #305, grabs an envelope that has been sealed with tape and mails it.

“Mrs. Adolph Coors III”

“Morrison, CO”

“Personal”

The next day, the Jefferson County Police have set up at the post office to intercept any incoming mail to the Coors. They find the letter addressed to Mrs. Adolph Coors III containing a ransom letter demanding $500,000 with instructions to place an ad to place with the newspaper and wait for a call with instructions on what to do next.

The ad was placed, but the call never came.

ONE MAN’S TRASH…

It is September 11, 1960. Edward Lee Greene, age 30 of Englewood, is driving on a dirt road southwest of Sedalia, CO looking for a place to try out his new pistol. He is on Jackson Creek Road and stops his car near a small path, which he follows up the hill and finds a large private dump. Hoping to find some items to target practice with, he walks 500 feet down the 45 degree slope along the backside of the dump and notices a pair of brown oxford shoes that look like they have been chewed on. A few feet away he sees a gray flannel pair of trousers with the belt still in the loops. He kicks them. Something jingles. Reaching in the pocket he finds 43 cents in change and a silver penknife with the initials ACIII. 25 miles southeast of the Turkey Creek Bridge, the final resting place of Ad Coors III has been found.

In the days to follow, between the dates of September 12-14, 1960, various items of clothing and bones are found, scattered nearly in a straight line down the slope running from the dump into a flatlands area known as Five Points through which South Garber Creek flows. Included with the items is a navy blue jacket, still zipped up and turned inside out as if it had been pulled over someone’s head with two holes in the back, near the shoulder blades. The holes are burned around the edges as if from gunshots. On September 15, a skull is found on a slope, a few feet above South Garber Creek. It is later positively identified as belonging to Ad Coors III through his dental records.

Colorado Urban Legends John Corbettphoto courtesy of Life Magazine

An arrest warrant was made for Joseph Corbett Jr. On 10/29/60, he was arrested in a hotel in Vancouver, B.C. He was convicted for the murder of Adolph Coors III on 3/29/1961 after a 3 week trial in Golden, CO. His conviction was partially based on the eyewitness accounts who stated that they saw Joseph Corbett Jr. in his 1951 yellow Mercury near the area of the Turkey Creek Bridge and a speeding ticket he got in the area the morning before. The most damning evidence was the remains of the 1951 Yellow Mercury, licensed to Corbett’s alias, that was found burning in Atlantic City, NJ a few days after the disappearance of Ad Coors. Soil samples taken from the vehicle matched the soil in the area of Jackson Creek Road where Ad’s body was found. Corbett was released from prison on December 12, 1980. He would never speak anything of the crime, except to say that he was innocent.

Colorado Urban Legends Corbett Apartment

LIGHTNING STRIKES, AGAIN

It is August 24, 2009. In apartment #307, at the Royal Chateau Apartments in Denver, the manager finds his tenant lying dead on a bed. A single gunshot wound to the head, with the gun nearby on the floor. At the age of 80, Joseph Corbett Jr. is dead.

FINDING AD COORS

When my research began, it started as a search for the fabled bridge. Driving along the short stretch of asphalt known as Turkey Creek Road from Highway 8 to Eldridge Street, one soon realizes that there is no bridge, at least not in any form as existed within the photos taken on that fateful day of February 9, 1960. A visit to the library took me back in history and quickly made it apparent that the bridge in which people claim to drive over and seem to experience car trouble has not existed for nearly 30 years. With the expansion of C-470 and the creation of US-285 in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the place where Adolph Coors III took his last breath was destroyed with no trace of it remaining. Today if you want to visit the area where his Travel-all sat abandoned so many years ago, you have to park on Turkey Creek Road, cross the exit ramp connecting US-285 and C-470, and stand in a small field between US-285 and the exit ramp. Here is where Turkey Creek now flows many feet below its natural path, redirected by engineers of C-470. Needless to say, seeing the ghostly remains of a decapitated man off the side of a bridge would be impossible for this fact alone; despite the fact that Adolph Coors III was not decapitated and his remains were not found beneath the bridge. A five minute search on the internet provided me with that tidbit.

Colorado Urban Legends Turkey Creek rampArea where bridge was located in 1960. Photo taken 2009.

Legend disproved. However, I was not satisfied with the mere act of knocking a 50 year old urban legend out of the water (or off the bridge, as the case may be). I wanted to find Ad Coors in the place where his body last lay. After weeks of sifting through small (mostly incorrect) hints from newspapers and the case files I used from Douglas County Sheriff’s Department, cross referencing new and old maps, 2 trips to the area, and a little bit of intuition, I finally found that place. As far as I know, no one else has ever bothered to locate this spot where his body was truly discovered over 50 years ago.

2014 update:

Colorado Urban Legends green gateThe above story and research was originally written in 2009. At that time, I visited the location twice and had shared the exact details of the location on a site that I used to have these stories on. However, in good conscience I cannot share those same details here because it is private property and a “no trespassing” sign has since been placed on the gate that blocks the road to the dump site. That may or may not have been due to my posting the information about the location on the internet. I will give the hint that it is located west of Sedalia, CO. It is behind a private dump and down the extremely steep slope, about 200 feet down is where they found Ad Coors’ skull, most of his bones, and personal items. If you are astute and resourceful, you may be able to retrace some of the steps I took to find the location. If you do, you will walk down the path that was traveled by a killer over 50 years ago, dragging the lifeless body of Adolph Coors III.

If you go to this location, I do not hold any responsibility for any harm that may come to you, either physically or legally. Explore at your own risk.

WORDS TO THE WISE

colorado-ghost-hunters-coors-trash-dump-thumbIf you find yourself standing in this location after conducting your own research, just a few suggestions and remarks. Be sure to watch out for glass and sharp pieces of metal as there is tons of it. The dump has obviously been partially covered, so imagine that there is maybe 5 feet of trash under your feet as you walk the area. My second visit to the area brought me and other with me within 20 feet of a bear cub. Where there are bear cubs, there are angry, protective mama bears. Thankfully we able to vacate the area before anything disastrous happened. This was in the area where South Garber Creek flows at the foot of the steep hill behind the dump. I personally would advise no one to go down to this area, especially along, for a number of reasons. Not only does wildlife frequent water sources and so the chances of coming across either a bear or mountain lion increase in such a place, but in the event that you have to leave the area quickly, unless you are in extremely good health, the quick hike back up the soft, 45 degree angled slope is very hard. I know because we ran back up it. If you must go down to this area or visit the dump site in general, please be prepared by studying up on what to do when you have a bear or cougar encounter. If you do not own weapons that would assist you in such an encounter, invest in the animal deterrent sprays offered online or at a local outdoor outfitter store.

If you research this urban legend, you may find that many call it the Hatchet Lady Bridge. Soon after starting my research, I discovered the story of the bridge has nothing to do with the legend of the Hatchet Lady associated with the Red Rocks area. Somewhere along the evolution of this urban legend, it seems two legends intertwined. Maybe that will be sorted out at a future date.

FINAL NOTES

coors-canAt first, I was truly excited to have finally found the location where Adolph Coors III’s body was dumped (literally in a dump); however, as I walked through the trash, I couldn’t help but feel sorrow. As I stood along the back edge of the dump, looking down the slope that would lead to the place where his bones were found, I noticed at my feet an old crushed Coors can, almost as if it was a reminder to the man that, like this can, was discarded here literally like a piece of trash, and then his body was drug down the hill by animals, and torn apart. It’s gruesome to describe, yes, but sometimes people get caught up in the hunt for the thrill of urban legends or ghost stories. We often forget about the brevity of life and the gravity of what has happened to another human being. The place he was killed has been plowed over and rebuilt upon. The place his body was found holds no memorial, just the trash that was left behind after the murder investigation was done. His bones were collected, cremated, and are gone. His accused and convicted killer never admitted to the crime, refusing to speak of it, even to the day of his death in 2009. As I finished this historic research, knowing that I stood in the areas where he took his last breath and where his body lay as a whole for the last time, I felt remorse for the life lost and worry that, like his family seemingly did, I will move on and forget about him. For that, I truly hope that there is no such thing as ghosts. I can’t imagine the spirit of a man having to remain in that dump, in limbo being trapped in the torment he undoubtedly went through in his last moments. I hope all of those that pass away simply blink out of existence or move on to a place where they no longer carry the pain, hurt, doubt or fear of life. May Adolph Coors III truly rest in peace.

If you visit any of the locations associated with this story, please share your story and pictures with me at misty@coloradourbanlegends.com. Please be sure to include specifics about the locations. Your story may be the topic of my research in the future.

RESOURCES:

THE LEGEND: www.realhaunts.com, www.hauntedplacesofusa.blogspot.com, stories heard through the years from thrill seekers.

ALL OTHER SECTIONS: Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Robert Sanchez’s article in 5280 “Anatomy of a Murder”, Case files from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department located at the Douglas County History Research Center, Castle Rock, CO, historical maps courtesy of the Denver Public Library, New York Times, Time Life, our own search of the areas of Turkey Creek Road and Jackson Creek Road

RELATED INFORMATION:

If you are into true crime would like to know more about the Coors kidnapping and murder and how it affected the world of criminal investigation, read this interesting article teaching Lessons From a Kinapping Gone Wrong.

 

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The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell

The tall, rusted iron gates let the curious know they are in the right spot.  Not an adventure for the fearful, the Gates of Hell near Riverdale Road in Thornton, CO is a place thrill seekers only dare visit in groups, some complete with holy water and bibles.  It is a place where legend speaks of satanic worship, murders, sacrifice, and a lady in white who roams the nearby road, forever searching for her way home. They come to see the burned ruins of a great mansion, the haunted trunk of a tree scarred from fire, and the terrifying dark, musty room hidden underground.

Among the Ruins

Those courageous enough to travel through the Gates of Hell come upon the ruins of the old mansion.  It is said that the man that built it lost his mind. One night, he set the entire mansion ablaze with his wife and children asleep inside before he disappeared, never to be held accountable. Muffled screams can be heard echoing against these now crumbling walls that bared witness to the unspeakable crime.  Is the lady in white that walks the road the lost spirit of the woman that died at her husband’s hands in this place? Is she still trying to escape the fire, or looking for her murdered children? Though people stop to offer her help when they see her, she silently continues on her path, eyes forward, never turning.  The good Samaritan will continue driving down Riverdale Road, only to look in the rearview mirror to see that she is gone.

This horrible murder was one of many atrocities committed on the cursed land. There are tales of slaves being burned and hung from a tree at the back of the property near the banks of the South Platte River.  Today, the burned tree still stands almost as if a memorial to those that are reported to have died there.  Those that sit beneath the tree on a quiet night can hear it creaking in the wind.  Is this the sound that would be made by the victims swinging at the end of the rope? Some nights moaning can be heard. Is this the sound of the spirits that cannot move on because of their tragic, sudden deaths? Maybe it’s just the wind.  That’s what people tell themselves as fear starts to build inside their chests.

The sights and sounds of the tree and the ruins are chilling, but what people really come to see is what was once an underground chicken coop where mysterious markings cover the walls.  It is said that it was here that the mansion’s builder, prior to slaughtering his family, would conjure spirits and demons.  Hidden from sight beneath the ground, he wrote symbols of black magic on the walls in the blood of his victims, trying to access power from an unseen world. As one walks down the steps into the darkness, the dampness fills the lungs making it hard to breathe. The flashlights can only illuminate small portions of the dark, tomb-like room. There’s a sense that something waits in every corner only to scurry away just before the light sweeps across it. The shuffling of their own feet through the debris on the ground keeps visitors guessing, “Did I just hear a footstep or was that me?” They stop and listen, heart racing in anticipation of what they might hear. For those that are brave enough to sit quietly in the dark, they will hear the heavy breathing of an unseen occupant in the room, hovering just over their shoulder, taunting with an unseen presence. It’s believed that the markings on the walls entrap something. A demon, some say. Is that what you can hear breathing? Hopefully, those that visit this unholy place don’t accidentally allow it to escape or maybe…

…follow them home.

Home is where you will want to be after spending even a small amount of time here. Many leave swearing to never return. Articles of clothing found at the site lead many to believe that those that have been reported missing in the area may have been brought here and sacrificially murdered to appease the entity that breathes down the neck of the living that dare to step into the darkness of the coop. Many feel that once they pass through the gates again that they are safe, that they have left behind the hell that was once the home to a madman and his victims. If you speak to those that have been there, you’ll learn that may not be the case. They say something followed them and they never want to speak of the place again.  They thought they would be safe at home, but I’m sure that’s what the family thought that was murdered within mansion behind the gates. Be prepared for what you may find once you pass through the Gates of Hell. It may be what you don’t see that’s most terrifying.

The location is as elusive as the murderous mansion builder himself. Many say they have been to the location, yet others say they cannot find it as they travel the dark, curvy Riverdale Road. The spirits may be selective in who they reveal their final resting place to.

Are you among the brave that have stood behind the Gates, facing your fears?  Please tell us your story and share your photographs. Your experiences and photographs may be included on this website when we later learn the history behind the infamous Gates of Hell.

Did you enjoy this story? Read more about the stories of Colorado on our Legends page. Be sure to check back often as there are many stories yet to be told.

This article contains a Colorado urban legend collected from many sources including websites, forum, books and personal accounts.  Colorado Urban Legends does not present this information as truth or historical fact and it is provided for entertainment purposes only.The story above has been researched and that information will be provided in a future article located in the Truth section of this website. Stay tuned.

 

The Ghosts of Third Bridge

The Ghosts of Third Bridge

third bridge aurora colorado

Urban legend tells us a story of a bridge located out on the desolate prairie southeast of Denver. Third Bridge or “Ghost Bridge”, as it is often referred to, carries County Line Road over the dry bed of Kiowa Creek. The details of the stories are mostly unknown to those who take the long drive at night to hear the fabled sounds of the drums, horse hooves beating across the bridge, and to recite stories of deaths by car accident, murder and massacre. Are these stories true? Is the area tainted forever by the blood spilled long ago? Do the sounds of drums floating upon the air tell a story of historical death and foretell of doom yet to come? Follow along as I investigate the stories behind the folklore of “Third Bridge”, learn why some stories may be more fact than fiction, and why sometimes you can’t always believe what you hear

FOLLOW THE DIRT ROAD, DOWN THE BIG HILL

Third Bridge is a popular spot for ghost hunters, thrill seekers and teens looking for a place to party, due mostly to its secluded location and accessibility. The landscape of the area is something straight out of a scary movie. A dark dirt road across the plains, going over a large hill, the kind that makes you wonder where the other side is as you come over the top, then dropping down to the wooded banks of the dry creek bed known as Kiowa Creek. The bridge itself is a long span of concrete and metal, the kind that if you were running across it, it would take a while to get to the end and there is no escape along the sides because of the 15 foot drop down to the creek bed. When night falls, it is pitch black with just the hint of lights off in the distance. The later it gets, the quieter it gets, creating a perfect time for one to listen for the sounds of Indian drums.

The bridge that exists today is not the original bridge over Kiowa Creek. This bridge was built in the 1970s, lying just a few yards west of the remains of the original bridge which can be seen when facing the east side of the bridge, with it’s big wooden foundations still resting along the sides of the creek. The tales of the paranormal occurrences at the modern bridge are even more recent, dating back to the mid-1990s. Originally, it was stories of an Indian Massacre that brought people to the banks of Kiowa Creek. Reports of screams, apparitions of Native Americans, the sound of horse hooves beating across the bridge, and flashes of light are associated with this legend. Today, the legend is greater. The story of ghosts on the bridge brought about a real life tragedy that may have created true ghosts when an accident occurred there in 1997 due to the reckless driving of teens. Within the last decade, reports of a young girl crying then disappearing, phantom wrecked vehicles that vanish when approached, and even stories of possession now are associated with the bridge.

THE CAR ACCIDENT

June 1997

third bridge aurora Colorado signTwo car loads of 15 kids, ages 11-17, decided to head out down County Road 50 to the fabled “ghost bridge” one summer evening for a night of fright. It was near 11 p.m as the two cars sped down the 25 mph dirt road at 70 mph in search of the bridge. As the first vehicle crested the very large hill that lies to the west of the bridge, Jessica Hern, age 16, lost control of the Toyota Corolla, veering off to the left side of the bridge and skidding nearly 80 ft before hitting the guardrail. The car then slid down 47 feet of the guardrail, which impaled the car through the windshield, before falling 15 feet into the dry creek bed below, landing on the driver side of the vehicle. One teen, age 14, died upon impact. Another, age 12, died from her injuries early the next morning at an area hospital. Jessica Hern, the driver, was thrown from the vehicle and was paralyzed from her injuries. The 3 other passengers from this vehicle all suffered major injuries. The second car, a Dodge Shadow, attempting to avoid the first vehicle, flew off the road and into the trees along the bridge; however, all of the occupants of this vehicle recovered from their injuries.

In the days that followed the accident, friends and family searched the dry creek bed to find belongings of the victims, including a hair tie of Ashley DeHerrera that died at the scene and the wallet of the now paralyzed driver.

Some reports of the haunting at the Third Bridge mention seeing the ghost of a girl standing near the middle of the bridge. Could this be the spirit of Ashley, who lost her life in search of other spirits that summer in 1997? At least one thing is certain, this tragic accident has been found to be true and is possibly only one account of accidents that have occurred on this bridge. Due to this accident, the hill west of the bridge today is not the same as it was then. In December of 1997, road crews took off 12 feet of the top of the once 50 foot hill, in hopes to make it safer.

THE INDIAN MASSACRE

john-chivingtonMany seek out the “ghost bridge” in hopes of coming into contact with the spiritual remnants of an Indian massacre reportedly to have occurred in the vicinity. As the legend goes, settlers killed men of the tribe and later returned to kill the women and children. The details of this story are more telling of a massacre that occurred near the Colorado/Kansas border in November of 1864, known as Sand Creek Massacre. During this shameful event, members of the Colorado Territory Militia, led by Colonel John Chivington (the nearby town bears his name) attacked a group of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians along the banks of the Sand Creek. It was mostly women, children and the elderly that were killed as the men were away working on peace agreements with the whites or hunting. Later, after the smoke had cleared from the burned tipis, members of the militia returned to kill the wounded and whoever they found left alive.

sand-creek-massacreThe Sand Creek Massacre, of course, was not located at Third Bridge, as the bridge is located nearly 175 miles to the northwest of the site.  However, I found that there is some truth in the story of a massacre near the Third Bridge, albeit a little confusion in the details. Additionally, the events of the true massacre near Third Bridge served as a link in the events that led up to the Sand Creek Massacre. But, the event that may lend some probability to a haunting related to a massacre occurred not at Third Bridge, but rather the one that lies nearly 5 miles to the west. This could rightly be called “second bridge”.

 

 

THE HUNGATE MASSACRE

June 1864

hungate-graveNathaniel Hungate left his home located on the Von Wormer Ranch located near the Box Elder Creek (the location of the first and second bridges on County Line Road). There, he left his wife Ellen and two daughters, Laura (2 years old) and Florence (5 months old), to search for stray cattle with a ranch hand. A while later, the two noticed smoke rising from the direction of the Hungate home. Hungate rushed back to the ranch while the other ran to get help. While there were no witnesses to the following, the story states that Hungate found his home set ablaze with his wife and children dead near the well a few feet from the home. This was reportedly done at the hands of renegade Indians, who then chased Hungate down and killed him and his horse a mile away from the burning ranch. All four members of the family were found scalped and mutilated, their bodies later brought into Denver to be put on display in an effort to rile up public sentiment in support of an all out assault on the Indians. Governor Evans used the panic that ensued to push his plan of war against the Indians of the plains bordering Denver. It was a key event leading to the attack on Indians at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864. It must be noted that some questions have been raised as to the validity of the reports involving the crimes being committed by Indians or the manner in which the event played out, such as the explanation offered by Dr. Jeff Broome of Arapahoe Community College devised from his archeological investigations at the site. He has found evidence that suggests that Nathan Hungate was the one to instigate the bloodshed by shooting an Arapaho Indian stealing horses; therefore, prompting the Indians to burn his house and later kill him and his family.

The true location of this massacre occurred a few miles from the Third Bridge; however, it does lend some historical backing to some of the reports of such apparitions as a man seen riding a horse and the cries of a child. Could it also lead to possible reasons for other reports such as ghostly Native Americans, shamans being seen in the area? Is this the event that is now imprinted on the environment that creates the sounds that so many claim to hear when standing quietly along the edges of Third Bridge?

THE INDIAN DRUMS

Upon learning about Third Bridge, nearly the first thing that one is told about the phenomena experienced in the area is that of the Indian drums that can be heard off in the distance, that seem to grow louder and fainter as if they are drifting upon the prairie wind on a still, moonlit night. Many will say that this is the sound of a war drum, likely of those who were preparing for battle as they were being attacked. The likelihood of this has been shown to be slim, as Indians weren’t the ones attacked, but a small family and if it were at the hands of Indians, it was a small band of renegade Indians who wouldn’t be carrying a drum to forewarn of their approach. However, in the spirit of good investigative techniques, I ventured out to Third Bridge to listen for the lonesome sound of a drum beat. And they were heard. Click the sound file below to hear.

I heard it. (click the text)

The following day, I returned to the area to see if I could locate a possible source for the sound.

I found it. (click the text)

As you can see, the video does not show drums or Indians for that matter, at all. On second thought, it could very well be the work of Indians, if the oil company that runs this oil rig is owned by Indians, but somehow, I doubt that to be the case either.

There are at least two oil pump jacks (the machinery in the video) in the immediate area of Third Bridge.

This one located a under a half of mile southeast from Third Bridge:

And this one is located about a mile southwest from Third Bridge:

Now one might say, “I know that the sound from those can’t travel all the way to Third Bridge”. On most typical nights I would say “you are correct”; however, there is a weather phenomenon that occurs quite often in Colorado called temperature inversion. This is when air is much warmer in the atmosphere than air near the ground surface, causing air (and pollutants, moisture, etc.) to become trapped. Evidence of this can be seen in Denver when the days are hazy or there is an air quality advisory. Temperature inversion creates the ideal conditions for sound to be carried over long distances. This can especially occur during the winter, or clear winter nights when the wind is low, just like the nights that many people find themselves out at Third Bridge listening for the drums.

Update July 2017

I returned to Third Bridge after having not been there for anything related to the urban legend in a very long time. However, after purchasing a drone, I figured there would be no place better than the wide open spaces surrounding Third Bridge to practice flying. I plan on doing more videos of the area in the future; more of a finished product so to speak instead of just practicing.

This first video is of the bridge. I flew over the bridge and then back, focusing on the portion of the bridge that crosses Kiowa Creek. It’s strange to think that this spot has claimed lives and yet seems so mundane in the sunlight and even less imposing from above.

This next video shows a flyover of one of the oil pump jacks in the area, discussed above. This one is about a half a mile away from the County Line Road. As mentioned, the sound from this machinery can travel this distance (and farther). I noticed that I could even hear the sound of the propellers of the drone rising and falling as the wind shifted. The noise emitted from the pump jack could easily be heard. It is also worthy to note that it appears this pump jack is no longer operational; however, due to battery power of the drone, I was unable to scout out the other pump jacks near the bridge. It would be interesting to see if the “drums” can still be heard.  At about 28 seconds, it’s interesting to see the old road that used to lead to the original bridge that is still visible on the south side of the current bridge.

 

THE UNSOLVED MURDER

June 13, 2010

randy-wilson-graveRandall (Randy) Wilson was returning home from visiting family. He stopped at a gas station in Bennett at 10:45 p.m. Approximately 2 hours later he died, 22 miles south of Bennett.

Around 1 p.m. on 6/14/2010, almost one mile east of Third Bridge, two men were driving past the intersection of County Road 50 and 53 (Kiowa-Bennett Road). The passenger sees something in the ditch and makes the driver go back. There they find Randall Wilson lying on his back with his hands bound behind him. Next to the body was a tire iron and a black glove. Randall’s White Toyota Camry was across the road. From the scene, it could be assumed that Randall had stopped to assist someone with a flat tire. That person helped themselves to the money and credit cards in his wallet and took his life. The cause of death was obvious; a plastic bag was over his head and a belt around his neck. Police later determined that Randall had been dead for around 12 hours. A cross now sits, nearly obscured in the long grass, at the intersection where Randall took his last breaths.

During my visit in August 2010, a bird flew down and rested on a fence post directly in front of me and stayed there nearly the entire time I was there; over an hour. This fence was the same where Randall’s body was found lying near. In front of the post where the bird sat, was pink plastic marker tied to a bush limb. One has to wonder if that was used to mark where his body was found. Strange that the bird stayed to watch for so long near the place where he died.

A visit to the intersection offers a nice vantage point. You can turn in all four directions and see the vast, open eastern Colorado prairie in front of you, as far as they eye can see. However, under the cover of night, Randall Wilson’s murderer was not seen and has yet to be captured. A surprising number of people traveled along this back county dirt road during my visit there. Could one of them be responsible for Randall’s death? The thought, like the cool evening prairie wind, is chilling.

UPDATE ON RANDY WILSON MURDER

December 29, 2017 – After seven and a half years, there has been an arrest in the Randy Wilson murder! Danial Pesch of Summit County has been taken into custody. No further information is available at this time. Information will be updated as it is learned.

Read of the arrest here: Former Summit County man charged with 2010 Elbert County murder of schoolteacher

THE STUFF STORIES ARE MADE OF

Too many times, there are locations that are talked about as if they are haunted. Someone saw this; someone heard that, but few bother to look up the true history of a location to see if there is any inkling of truth to them. Of course, there are many reasons why someone wouldn’t want to bother or take the time to follow a paper trail of a reported haunting or urban legend, but the benefits of making the effort can pay off greatly for the true researcher. Not only does it help to separate fact from fiction, but even for the sheer fact that one could be simply wasting their time by attending to a location when another “gold mine”, so to speak, is close by. Without knowing the history of an urban legend, you could completely miss something, or overlook an important ‘clue’ that may lead to a deeper understanding of the particular location you are interested in.

The fact that all of these events occurred in the month of March has not gone unnoticed. It is one more coincidence that makes the incidents at Third Bridge the stuff stories are made of.

THE BRIDGE CLAIMS MORE LIVES

October 2, 2016

Five teens, coming back from Third Bridge in the early morning hours, were in a vehicle that skidded off the road, rolled multiple times into a shallow embankment, and burst into flames west of the bridge. Authorities believe they were speeding. Angelo Andazola, 19; Levi Andazola, 17; Omar Aniceto, 19; Guadalupe Macias, 15; and Jennifer Villagrana Flores, 15 were all killed in the crash. Their bodies were so badly burned that authorities told the parents their bodies would not be able to be identified.

For anyone reading this article, especially teens and young adults: Don’t be stupid by driving recklessly down this road. You are not invincible and yes, this can happen to you. If you are with someone driving recklessly, tell them to let you out of the car and call someone to come pick you up. I’m sure your family would much rather have to make the drive to pick you up from this road rather than picking  your body up from the morgue. Don’t add more deaths to the legend.

For more information about this tragedy, read the article from the Denver Post.

 

 

SOURCES

Car accident: Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post

Indian massacre: emails from Jeff Broome and information at Kevin Cahill’s website: www.kclonewolf.com

Indian drums: my own investigation and observations

Unsolved Murder: Denver Post, Channel 7 News

The work on this page is copyrighted.

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