Colorado Springs is known for its history; its golden age of mining, its lure on those seeking reprieve from tuberculosis by the crisp mountain air or healing waters of Manitou. The Rocky Mountains themselves were an ode to dreams of western prosperity. There’s so much history here in our town that it’s almost impossible to find a building that doesn’t have a story or two to tell. Colorado Springs residents are often familiar with the landmarks that established our town in its earliest days, but not all are familiar with the unusual stories that come with them. After all, in a town where the sun shines 300 days a year, there are bound to be a few shadows.
General William J. Palmer stood at the foot of Pikes Peak and saw an opportunity for a captivating city that had the potential to be a prominent health and vacation destination, and in 1883 he built one of Colorado Spring’s first tourist attractions, The Antlers hotel.
The original hotel was unusually elegant for its day and age. Much like his prized elk horns that graced the lobby walls, The Antlers was Palmer’s pride and joy. Tragically, the original building burned to the ground in a devastating fire that took the lives of several people. However, out of its ashes rose a bigger and better hotel, which was again remodeled in the 1960s. You can only imagine when a hotel is around for so long, the types of “historical artifacts” that nestle themselves into the walls. Guests and staff have commented on several apparitions that frequent the hotel. A “ghostly young girl lingering on the back stairs” and “a male entity at the hotel bar” are two frequently seen specters. Some guests claim to have awoken to the feeling of someone standing over their bed, hearing unexplained knocks or distant footsteps, or catching a drifting shadow just outside of their peripheral vision. The Antlers hotel may now flaunt a modern design, but regardless of its architecturally advanced appearance, the hotel's forever residents remind us that not all the pieces of history necessarily stay in the past.
There was another gentleman who had equally grand visions for the city of Colorado Springs, a man known for his commission of a few landmarks you may have heard of… the Cog Railway, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Broadmoor Hotel.
Spencer Penrose, a businessman and investor, built a destination hotel of his own and in 1918 opened the Broadmoor’s gold-framed doors. While many famous guests have checked into the hotel, not all have entirely “checked out.” Penrose’s wife, Julie, often stayed in the penthouse, her favorite place in the hotel. One night, Julie inexplicably went missing and was found in the woods disrobed and disoriented. She tragically passed away shortly thereafter, and her death to this day is still largely unexplained. Although her death remains a mystery, her spirit is said to be no stranger to the halls of the hotel. The staff has noted obscure occurrences such as cold spots, flickering lights, or sightings of a ghostly female form floating down the halls. Guests staying at the penthouse have even claimed to have experienced someone ripping their covers off or grabbing at their ankles in bed. Although many assume it’s Julie’s ghost that haunts the hotel, there have been enough seemingly ethereal encounters to suggest she isn’t the only one haunting the historical masterpiece. And if you’re intrigued or brave enough, you may just be willing to find out for yourself.
The Colorado Mining Exchange
Back Downtown, just a few blocks from the Antlers hotel is a building that has always stayed true to its original form: The Mining Exchange Hotel. It’s one of those picturesque buildings emitting an aura of bygone days of grandness. Built in 1902 by Winfield Scott Stratton, a man who struck it rich prospecting in the foothills, the Mining Exchange was said to be the first fireproof office building in the city with solid bones of concrete and metal. A gold and silver stock exchange for local mining companies in its younger days, the building was eventually restored as a hotel.
The well-preserved time capsule now flaunts original architecture, era-inspired furnishings, and maybe even a few…well, extra things from the past. The old building may have escaped tragedy of fire, but that doesn’t mean that those who step into the hotel don’t experience reminders of the lingering past. Drifting shadows, distant footsteps, creaking floorboards, and flickering lights are just a few of the charms of a structure built so long ago. If you ever visit the beautiful Wyndham hotel, you may not encounter anything supernatural firsthand, but if you wander through the lobby, you might notice the giant vault doors and wonder what secrets of old may be locked away within this local treasure.
The Gold Room
The Mining Exchange’s hauntings may be hearsay, but only a few steps away is a building that is no stranger to paranormal activity. Once connected to the Mining Exchange by a sky bridge, the Gold Room theatre is a building chock-full of historical residue. In Colorado Springs' earliest days, there was once a local fire station there, yet there are rumors that in an ironic twist of fate, the station itself burned down. If you venture downtown to the Gold Room today, you’ll find a striking art deco building in its place. Built in 1933, it was originally the Colorado Springs Utilities building. It later became a performance hall, and although the sky bridge connecting it to the hotel is no longer there, the refurbished building remains today as one of the town’s premier live-entertainment venues.
One place in particular that is known for its unexplainable activity in the Gold Room building is the basement, and more eerily, the old elevator shaft. Some have claimed to hear strange and incomprehensible sounds that drift up from the dark below. Although no one can affirmatively confirm stories of tragedy, the faint cries, or child-like giggles so often heard, there are enough to send shivers down your spine.
It’s perhaps true that some bruises on history will continue to be covered up by things that are new and modern in our beloved town. Yet the whispers of the indelible past seem intent to remain, reminding us that no matter how much we forge onward through time, we will always still be haunted by echoes of the past.