The Haunted History of the Stanley Hotel – Part 2

Posted by US Ghost Adventures Contributor in US Ghost Adventures

Part 2- The Hauntings of the Stanley Hotel

Read part 1 of this blog on the haunted history of the Stanley Hotel. You’ll learn about the actual history behind the building and its founder Freelan Oscar Stanley.  It’s always interesting to know the history behind a haunted location.  This way, you better understand the goings-on during the time that the ghosts were alive.  You may also gain an understanding of why some spirits return to specific places in their afterlife.

To believe in the paranormal, you need an open mind if you haven’t had any encounters with a ghost or spirit.  Well, at least you don’t think you have.  Most encounters that people experience are written off as logical explanations that usually make no sense at all.  So, let’s make some sense of the unexplainable and put a label on it.  We’ll just call it:  If walls could talk.  And often, they do.

The Stanley Hotel may have inspired Stephen King’s famed novel turned horror movie, The Shining. The hauntings of the Stanley didn’t start because of that, nor did it begin there.

The ghost of Lord Dunraven

In the late 19th century, in Estes Park, Colorado, an impressive visitor was Windham Thomas Wyndham-Quinn. More uncomplicated put, the Earl of Dunraven.  He was an avid big game hunter and came to America to hunt.  Taking a claim to 15,000 acres of the Estes Park Valley for a gaming preserve, he wasn’t liked much by the area settlers.  After years of friction and litigations, Lord Dunraven left Estes Park in 1888 and never returned.  Well, at least not during his lifetime.  In 1907 he sold acreage to Freelan Stanley, who ultimately built the Stanley Hotel.

So, why would Lord Dunraven return to Estes Park in the afterlife?  He had nothing to do with the Stanley Hotel, yet it’s believed that it’s his ghost that haunts the hotel.  One of the most haunted rooms in the building.

Room 407 and the ghost of Lord Dunraven

Many believe it’s Lord Dunraven’s ghost that’s seen in room 407.  He stands in the corner of the room near the bathroom, observing the guests who occupy the space.  Witnesses have reported that the light in the corner of the room kept turning off and on.  When the light turned off, they told the ghost that they were aware that he was there.  They said to the spirit they would only be staying for two nights and would he please turn the light back on.  On came the light.  Later that night, when the guests had gone to bed and were trying to sleep, they kept hearing noises coming from the nearby elevator that was not being used at the time.  Some say they have seen a ghostly-looking face looking out of the window of room 407 when the room is not booked.

Many say a spirit doesn’t usually return to where it died. However, they often return to a familiar place from when they were alive.  It could be a place they loved, a place they felt comfortable with, or even a site that is just familiar to them.

As for Lord Dunraven, maybe he returned to Estes Park because he so loved the area and had high hopes for the land poached from the settlers who were there before he stepped foot on the ground.  Or, maybe, he just had no place else to go…

The ghost of Freelan Stanley

The Stanley Hotel was a unique project of Freelan Stanley.  A grand and elite hotel with all the amenities his hometown Boston had to offer.  Only, he built the property in the sleepy valley of Estes Park, Colorado, in the splendor at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  Stanley had a soft spot for the area as it was the antidote that cured his tuberculosis.  He spent summer after summer at the grand hotel until he died in 1940.

Stanley loved billiards and fast cars. That being said, it’s no wonder he is seen in his ghostly figure in both the billiard room and garage.  His ghost is also reported hanging out at the bar area where he and his friends sat many times, visiting and partaking in their favorite whisky.

Is it any wonder that Stanley stuck around in the afterlife to oversee the operations of his beloved hotel?

The ghost of Flora Stanley

Flora Stanley was influential in the social and civic aspects of Estes Park.  She helped organize the Estes Park Woman’s Club, which was significant in the campaign for the national park.  Her community involvement included supporting schools, housing for low-income women, and universal suffrage.  When Flora met Freelan, she was a teacher at the school where he was headmaster.  A fluent pianist, a favorite pastime at the Stanley was playing the piano in the grand concert hall of the hotel.

People report hearing the piano playing well into the night. Some report seeing the keys to the piano moving.  When someone gets too close, though, the music stops.  Never interrupt a musician while they are playing!

 Other sightings include what is believed to be Flora’s ghost standing at the top of the stairs.  She is also known to wander around the halls, making sure all is well for her guests.

Concert Hall ghosts at the Stanley Hotel

Stanley built the grand concert hall as a gift for his beloved Flora.  It’s no wonder that she remains in the afterlife making beautiful music in her favorite place.

But Flora isn’t the only ghost in the grand hall.  Paul was a jack-of-all-trades employee who enforced the 11 p.m. curfew at the hotel.  Employees and guests both report hearing someone telling them to “get out” late at night.  One construction worker said that while he was in the concert hall working, he kept getting nudge by something until he finally left the room.  Tour group participants report that Paul flickers flashlights at their request. 

Another ghost of the concert hall is Lucy.  She is thought to be a runaway or a homeless woman who sought refuge in the hotel.  Although historians don’t know her connection to the hotel pre-death, she sticks around. She toys with ghost hunters by manipulating their flashlights.

4th floor spooks of the Stanley Hotel

The fourth floor of the Stanley was at one time a cavernous attic until it was turned into guest rooms.  At one time, the area was used to house female employees, nannies, and children.  This may be why guests report the sounds of children running around, giggling, and playing.  Maybe there’s more significance to the Grady twins from the macabre imagination of Stephen King than even he realized.

Aside from the ghost in room 407, which is Lord Dunraven, room 428 has some spooks.  This ghost is a cowboy known to have been a frequent guest.  “Rocky Mountain” Jim Nugent is seen standing at the corner of the bed. He shows himself to the ladies, often giving them a ghostly kiss!

Room 217 Haunts

Room 217 is said to be the most haunted room of the hotel.  This is the room that Stephen King spent the night in.  Well, after King had gone to bed, he had a vivid dream about his son running down the hallway being chased by a firehose.  This began his journey into the story of his novel The Shining.

Before King stayed in the room, there was a history behind it.  In 1911 chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson was lighting a gas-powered light in the room when an explosion sent her flying through the floorboards.  She survived with only two broken ankles and remained at the hotel until her death at nearly 90 years old.  Mrs. Wilson still tends to the room moving items, unpacking luggage, and turning off lights.  Being an old-fashioned kind of gal, unmarried guests report a cold barrier between them in bed, and some say the man’s luggage was packed up and his suitcase by the door!

Jim Carrey hasn’t commented on the encounter he experienced in the room during the filming of Dumb and Dumber.  In fact, he plain won’t talk about it.  It’s said that the actor requested the room, remained in the room for only three hours, and then left the hotel, never to return.  Maybe Mrs. Wilson didn’t like Carrey’s dumb humor and sent him packing!

The Pet Cemetery Ghosts

Ironically, another well-known horror novel (turned movie) of Stephen King is Pet Cemetery.  Personally, this novel is scarier than The Shining as the concept of it is disturbing.  The pet cemetery at the Stanley Hotel isn’t a scary movie, but it does have some ghosts. 

The cemetery was constructed as a burial spot for hotel staff members’ deceased pets.  It was located by employee lodging next to the hotel.  Reports are that Cassie the golden retriever and Comanche the fluffy white cat are seen and heard around the property.  The cemetery was moved a few years back to make room for a wedding pavilion.  That’s a little creepy.  We all know what happens when graves are disturbed…

The underground caves

Underground caves built under the hotel that consist of high concentrations of limestone and quartz were used by employees to get from one place or another.  Limestone and quartz are said to be high-energy holding elements for the paranormal.  Aside from being just plain eerie, there are reports of the smell of baked goods with no apparent source floats through the tunnels.  This is believed to be from the pastry chef that worked at the hotel when it first opened.  A grey cat with glowing eyes is seen and then disappears.  He isn’t known to come from the pet cemetery, so maybe he simply lived among the tunnels since the beginning and sticks around for some human interaction.

To believe in the hauntings at the Stanley Hotel, you will need to stay there yourself.  However, many ghost hunters have picked up on the paranormal activity through various investigating means.  Ghost Adventures investigated the property once, and Ghost Hunters returned eight times after the initial visit.  But you’ll have to watch the shows to learn of their findings.  I am sure they have plenty of evidence that, indeed, walls do talk.

Us Ghost Adventures offers historic ghost tours all over the country.  Visit our website and book a walking ghost tour in a city near you or a virtual ghost tour from the comforts of your own home!

We guarantee you’ll have a hauntingly good time!

Sources:

Grave Sightings: The Pet Cemetery at the Stanley | Mental Floss

The 7 Most Haunted Spots in The Stanley Hotel

Colorado hotel with haunted history inspired ‘The Shining’

Colorado’s Stanley Hotel offers plenty of haunted tales | Lifestyle | gazette.com

The Spooky Story Behind Colorado’s Haunted Stanley Hotel | OutThere Colorado

The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado – Legends of America