Place: Stanley Hotel
Location: Estes Park, CO
Date of Investigation: 9/17/13
In 1903, Stanley, who was co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, came to Estes Park for his health. Stanley suffered from tuberculosis and came West at his doctor’s suggestion. The doctor arranged for Stanley and his wife, Flora, to stay in a cabin in Estes Park for the summer. Immediately, they fell in love with the area and Stanley’s health began to dramatically improve. Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for the improvement in his health, he decided to invest his money and his future there. In 1909, he opened the elegant Stanley Hotel, a classic hostelry exemplifying the golden age of touring.
After spending the summer in the cabin, Flora wanted a home like the one she had left in Maine. Their home was built about one-half mile west of where the Stanley Hotel would later be built. Today the house is a private residence.
Stanley built the hotel on land that he had purchased from the British Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Dunraven came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip. He built a hunting lodge, cabin, and hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres (61 km2) in an unsuccessful attempt to create a private hunting preserve. Dunraven was finally run out of the area after trying to swindle people out of their land and money.
In 1907, construction started on the Stanley Hotel. Wood and rock were obtained from the nearby mountains and the hotel was built in the Georgian architectural style, which experienced a revival in the early Twentieth century. Equipped with running water, electricity, and telephones, the only amenity the hotel lacked was heat, as the hotel was designed as a summer resort.
Many believe the Stanley Hotel is haunted, having reported a number of cases of ghostly activity, primarily in the ballroom. Kitchen staff have reported to have heard a party going on in the ballroom, only to find it empty. People in the lobby have allegedly heard someone playing the ballroom’s piano; employees investigating the music purportedly found nobody sitting at the piano. Employees believe that particular ghost is of Freelan O. Stanley’s wife, Flora, who used to be a piano player. In one guest room, people claim to have seen a man standing over the bed before running into the closet. This same apparition is allegedly responsible for stealing guests’ jewelry, watches, and luggage. Others reported to have seen ghosts in their rooms in the middle of the night, simply standing in their room before disappearing.
The Syfy television show Ghost Hunters was invited to investigate the hotel. The manager showed them the various places where these alleged ghost activities occurred. Ghost Hunters discovered some rational reasons for the various phenomena, such as wind and pipes. However, they could not decipher incidents in the ballroom. Ghost Hunters also claimed to experience other paranormal occurrences, such as seeing people in hallways then hiding and hearing children running and playing on the floor above them. The biggest alleged occurrence was that during changing of the film in the camera, a table jumped two feet in the air. Ghost Hunter Jason stayed the night in the room with the “ghost thief”; he stated that the bed moved, the closet doors unlocked and opened and his thick glass by the bed cracked open on the inside. The Stanley Hotel was also the lockdown site for the TV show Ghost Adventures on October 15, 2010.
After hearing claims that paranormal activity at the hotel are due to the geological makeup of the property, Rocky Mountain Paranormal contacted the USGS for information on the site. The scientists’ conclusion, based on a satellite survey of Colorado, showed “nothing unusual about the aeromagnetic data in the area of Estes Park as compared to that general area of the Rockies”. After this request for geological information, the government sent soil scientists to do a thorough soil survey on the property. The results showed the soil is mainly crumbled schist containing nothing radioactive. No large deposits of quartz, limestone or magnetite were evident.
Stephen King got the idea for The Shining after staying in room 217 in the almost empty hotel on the night before it closed for an extended period.
In Skeptical Inquirer’s Naked Skeptic column by Karen Stollznow she discusses RMPRS’s investigation of The Stanley Hotel, “During the investigation, The Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society researched popular beliefs and claims; they solved some mysteries, they performed valuable outreach, and they maintained the historical integrity of the Stanley Hotel. However, they didn’t discover any anomalous phenomena. They found a leak in the ceiling but no ghosts.
We were unable to reach the Stanley Hotel on September 17, 2013 due to flooding. We had to cancel our reservations and continued on to our next location. We will return when the roads are open and it is safe to travel.