Colorado Legends and Ghost Stories To Tell Your Kids

Colorado Legends and Ghost Stories To Tell Your Kids

Ghost stories are great for those quiet moments around a campfire, passing the time on a long drive through the mountains, or learning more about the fascinating and mysterious world we live in. Colorado’s rich history lends itself to countless spooky tales of strange creatures, mysterious deaths, and curious spirits. You’re sure to get a kick out of these Colorado legends and ghost stories to tell your kids, whether the tales come from history, superstition, or some mix of the two.

The Graves of Cheesman Park

Cheesman Park is a gorgeous collection of vibrant green lawns, elegant water features, lush groves, and beautiful botanical gardens in central Denver. However, the park was home to thousands of graves before it became a popular spot for picnics, afternoon walks, and community events.

Known as Mount Prospect Cemetery in the late 1800s, the area was one of the most popular burial spots throughout Denver’s early history. However, the graveyard became an eyesore and the city decided to transform it into a park as the city grew.

The only problem was that they had to move the graves. The city hired an undertaker to dig up the graves and relocate the bodies to make the process faster. They chose E.P. McGovern for the job and told him they would pay him for every coffin he moved. Sensing a loophole, McGovern began dismembering bodies to fill more coffins and earn more money.

The city eventually found out and fired him, but they never hired anyone else to move the remaining graves. Instead, they just began leveling the area in preparation for the park build. The result is a gorgeous park near downtown Denver with a couple thousand bodies still buried underneath it.

The Ghosts of the Colorado Grande Casino

The Colorado Grande Casino and Hotel is a charming historic building nestled in the town of Cripple Creek. Cripple Creek has its own fascinating history. It was one of the richest gold camps of its time, seeing thousands of prospectors, 500 mines, and 11.2 billion dollars in gold between 1890 and 1910.

It was also home to violent miners’ strikes that led to a drastic and sudden downfall in gold production. The population dwindled until only 600 residents remained in 1990. Cripple Creek legalized gambling to avoid becoming a complete ghost town.

The Colorado Grande Casino and Hotel opened in 1991 within the historic Fairley Bros. & Lampman Building. The three-story structure has been a part of Cripple Creek throughout its history, bearing witness to the town’s glittering highs and bloody lows. Maybe that’s why ghosts are said to wander the casino’s rooms to this day. The tales of spirits and specters roaming the casino are countless, as this destination is one of the most haunted locations in the country.

Maggie, a red-haired Irish woman who enjoys spending her time at the slot machines late at night with a male spirit by her side, is one of the most notable ghosts. You might also run into Lily, a young spirit who loves purple balloons if you stay the night. Leave her a different color balloon, and she’ll pop it. Leave her a purple one, though, and she’ll happily carry it around the casino.

The Legendary Silver Heels

Buckskin Joe—officially founded as Laurette, Colorado, in 1860—is one of the many extinct gold mining towns in the Centennial State. Like most mining towns, it saw plenty of ups and downs through the years. Though it made nearly 16 million dollars in gold between 1859 and 1866, it also faced plenty of hardship—especially in the winter of 1861. During that time, a smallpox epidemic wiped out many of the miners and their families.

However, the legend of Silver Heels begins a few months before that. Sometime in 1861, a young woman entered the town and began making a living as a dance hall girl. Beautiful, talented, and kind, she became the town’s star overnight. The miners called her Silver Heels.

The town sent for nurses in Denver when the smallpox epidemic broke out, but no one came. Instead, Buckskin Joe had to rely on its residents to make it through. Silver Heels was one of the many who acted as a nurse, caretaker, companion, and undertaker during the epidemic.

She demonstrated her kindness and compassion daily, but by the time spring came in 1862 and the worst of the disease was gone, Silver Heels had vanished along with it. The miners searched for her. All they found was her clean, abandoned cabin.

Though she vanished, Silver Heels left her mark on the town. Beloved for her beauty, kindness, and bravery, she became the namesake of a local mountain and the source of many ghost stories. Some say she still walks through the cemetery, dressed in black and carrying flowers, still looking over the town she helped take care of in life.

Tommyknockers in the Mines

Colorado is a vibrant storybook of legends from across the globe. The Tommyknockers from Cornish folklore is one of the most famous. Tommyknockers are gnome-like men—sort of like the Cornish equivalent of Irish leprechauns—who can be both kind and mischievous. Tommyknockers became a staple of mining superstition and culture as more Cornish workers came to Colorado’s mining towns.

Tommyknockers were said to cause the “knocking” sound that echoed on mine walls before a cave-in. Some miners believed the noise to be the warnings of the gnome-like men, giving them enough time to clear out before the mine walls collapsed. However, others thought that the knocking was the sound of the Tommyknockers hammering at the mine’s support beams, making them the cause of the cave-ins.

Either way, the Tommyknockers were said to be the companions of the miners—working alongside them, playing pranks, and saving lives. They were such a staple in mining culture that, when a large mine closed and sealed its entrance in 1956, the miners petitioned to open the mine one last time to free the Tommyknockers. You can even drink a toast to the knockers at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, just a short drive west of Golden, CO.

The Vampire of Lafayette

Transylvanian immigrant Theodore Glava died in Lafayette, Colorado, in 1918 during a flu outbreak. He was 43 years old, a coal miner, and potentially just another resident buried in the Lafayette Municipal Cemetery that year. According to locals, though, he was also eerily tall and thin, had dark hair and long, sharp fingernails, wore a trench coat around town, and had a taste for human blood.

Local legend says that, in true vampiric fashion, Glava was killed via a stake in his heart. Even more mysterious, a tree grew from the stake after he was buried. There is in fact a tree in the middle of Glava’s grave, but whether that’s sheer coincidence or evidence of a vampire with a wooden stake in his heart is up to you. Either way, locals have a habit of sprinkling salt around Glava’s headstone to keep evil spirits contained—just in case.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Colorado’s haunted hotels, mines, and more. Explore more of the Colorado legends and ghost stories to tell your kids when you visit the Centennial State today. While you’re here, add YoColorado to your itinerary and shop our stylish range of kids’ trucker hats and other fun Colorado apparel.

Colorado Legends and Ghost Stories To Tell Your Kids

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