Walking WIth Ghosts on the Dark Side of Durango-Featured_1200x630 / Image: Schock Graphics

HAUNTED LOCATIONS: Walking with Ghosts on the Dark Side of Durango, CO

What family vacation would be complete without a local ghost tour to attend? Not ours! While staying up in Purgatory Resort and visiting nearby Durango, Colorado, I researched the ghostly happenings of the area because that’s just how I roll. The amount of paranormal activity in this area is phenomenal; however, there were few true hosts of such a venture in Durango. In fact, there are quite a few experiences mentioned in reviews for places such as the haunted mines up in Silverton, which is a nearby town, or even the Strater Hotel, built in 1887 directly on railroad tracks, in downtown Durango where guests claim to have had more than their fill of ghostly encounters. Wanting to stick to the local Durango area, however, I was a bit disappointed when visiting the good ol’ Diamond Belle Saloon, a ragtime piano bar connected to this infamous Strater Hotel, where I asked the young waitress dressed as a nostalgic saloon girl if it is true that the Strater Hotel is haunted. I was told in no uncertain yet clearly rehearsed terms that, “The only spirits we serve are behind the bar.” Fortunately, I was given the explanation of this standard response plus plenty more when my family went on the Ghost Walk Durango tour led by Mr. Joe Nelson on the tour of all tours!
Just as the website (www.ghostwalkdurango.com) mentions, we began this guided walking tour through 140 years at the Old Durango High School, where we learned that a young man hung himself and continues to haunt the school, moving furniture around and even strategically arranging and stacking large buckets left unattended by custodians for mere minutes. Did I mention that this stacking of buckets had occurred only days before our tour? Many staff continue to hear the sounds of footsteps in this old school only to see no one upon investigation. This tour was already sounding promising.Durango High School, Durango, CO
My ultimate favorite stop of them all was at the original Day family house where all of the children suddenly died from the measles in the summer of 1888. Mrs. Day was so distraught that she hung herself after her children’s passing. Thereafter, her husband went crazy and was eventually admitted to a psychiatric ward. The house stood empty for years and the family who eventually restored it left after a few years. Since then, however, no family is known to have occupied that home for more than a few months. This is because Mrs. Day doesn’t appreciate newcomers to her home. She has been known to yell at children, “Get out of my house!” In the past, her own children often played with the children occupying the house, even getting them into trouble for leaving a mess. Our tour guide, Mr. Joe Nelson, has his own personal experiences with his children being visited as well. It seems Mr. and Mrs. Day’s children prefer to play with older more traditional toys over modern toys and have been known to knock them off the table and stack their favorite Lincoln Logs in their place. By far, the most fascinating stop on this tour, in my opinion.Day Family House, Durango, CO
Another ghastly stop was at Mrs. Amy’s home now known as Hood Mortuary. In 1883, this house was occupied by Mrs. Amy whose three children died from cholera and were then followed by their mother, who is said to have died from a broken heart. The upstairs ballroom was a special place for the family, and Mrs. Amy doesn’t like when furniture is moved around. Owners say any time something is repositioned within the room, crying can be heard as well as a rocking chair moving quickly as though in agitation. Though the actual Hood family no longer runs the mortuary business, the present business owners kept the Hood name and continue to do business right in the middle of the neighborhood. I’m sure it goes without saying what that means. Creepy stop, to say the least.Hood Mortuary
Hood Mortuary, signAnother eerie spot is at a home that was once a courtroom with a jail in the basement. This place is known for having three men running back into their cells before being caught chatting it up while playing a hand at poker on the back porch. Dark shadows and strong pungent smells of cigars are a norm for this location. Contractors are known for having all of their workers suddenly quit with no warning after finding tools inexplicably moved in various locations within the house or even missing entirely. Tile workers are said to have found all of their stacked tiles strategically placed in round patterns on the floor. Needless to say, jobs just never seem to be completed in that home, and owners tend to leave from fear and annoyance before long.Home that was a courtroom with a jail beneath, Durango, CO
Possibly the most intriguing story came from the Rochester Hotel. A naked lady apparently makes appearances here, even having visited a Mr. John Wayne, in and near room 204. You may have heard of him before. (Wink wink). He turned down the lady’s sultry advances and claims that her form, which was just as fleshy as you or I and dressed in lingerie, simply disintegrated into thin air. This is a popular destination spot, especially around Halloween time where guests book this room in advance, hoping to having their own paranormal experience, perhaps of a sensual persuasion.Rochester Hotel, Durango, CO
About that Strater Hotel, we had quite a delicious meal at the Diamond Belle Saloon while sitting on the upstairs balcony listening to the piano player. The gunfight reenactment was also quite entertaining, and Mr. Joe Nelson informed us that despite the many paranormal events experienced by people who visit this venue, upon being employed, the staff is believed to sign a contract specifically stating that no mention of any ghostly occurrences can be discussed with patrons. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it true, but it certainly explains our waitress’ quick response to our inquiry with a gleam in her eye.Diamond Belle Saloon, Exterior
Diamond Belle Saloon, InteriorDespite the modern novelties, herbal venues, outdoor activities, and delicious breweries bustling in Durango, Colorado, a layer of historical nuance and paranormal allure adds an air of mystery that begs to be aroused. Definitely a wonderful vacation destination for the adventurous soul or any soul for that matter.

Posted by Scarlett O

I’m a forever student interested in the afterlife, especially as it crosses paths with mortals.

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