Ghosts will come alive at the Hotel Colorado every weekend through Labor Day this summer.
The Glenwood Springs Historical Society will begin offering guided tours, called “Walk Back In Time,” starting this weekend at the famously haunted hotel by the “‘ghosts’ of colorful characters from Glenwood Springs’ past,” according to a flyer put out by the organization.
The tours, which will happen each Saturday evening at 7 p.m. and Sunday morning at 10:15 a.m., will be guided by portrayalists who will inhabit — or be inhabited by — the spirits of Walter Devereux, the visionary builder of the Hotel Colorado; Jasper Ward, Town Marshal of New Castle; and frontierswoman Eleanora Malaby, among others.
This weekend, Devereux, portrayed by David Fulton, will lead the tours that will begin in the hotel’s lobby and move to the courtyard with a talk about the connection between the hotel, the Hot Springs pool, what used to be the hydroelectric plant, and the Yampa Hot Springs, which at one time were all owned by Devereux.
Fulton, as Devereux, will talk about his vision for Glenwood, which included the town becoming a tourist mecca for European aristocrats, prompting him to pattern the hotel’s design after an Italian villa.
From there, the tour will move back inside and throughout the hotel where visitors will hear about some of the hotel’s most famous residents, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Al Capone and “Diamond” Jack Alterie.
But of course, it wouldn’t be a “Ghost” tour without actual ghosts. No problem there. The Hotel Colorado is frequently listed among the most haunted places in the state of Colorado.
“There’s just a lot of unexplained phenomena that have gone on there that make for interesting stories,” said Bill Kight, executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society, who will portray Jasper Ward. “People believe or don’t believe; it doesn’t matter, because the stories are still there, and people have told them.”
Kight said that the author of an out-of-print book called “Apparition Manor: True Ghost Stories of the Hotel Colorado,” named Kathy Rippy Fleming, didn’t believe in ghosts until she started checking into all the stories.
“One of the most interesting stories that David Fulton tells as Devereux is, there have been many times people have seen a young lady bouncing a ball in the hallway dressed in period clothing, and we think that it’s his daughter,” Kight said.
The tour will also visit the infamous basement of the hotel, which served as a morgue for the Navy during World War II, and was also used as a brig.
Visitors also will get to see the secret tunnel leading from the basement to an outbuilding that Capone used to smuggle liquor into the hotel during prohibition. The gangster is also said to have used the tunnel to sneak ladies of the night into the hotel.
The basement was also used as stables for polo horses — a hydraulic lift carried the horses up and down — because in Devereux’s time they held polo games on fields located where Glenwood Springs High School now sits.
Kight said that the Historical Society may eventually parlay the ghost tours at the hotel into a revival of the popular ghost walks at Linwood Cemetery. But more portrayalists are needed in order for that to happen.
“If people are interested and want to try out, we’d be glad to help them,” he said. “It’s fun, so we want people to have fun.”