Ridge Home

Photo courtesy of Drea Penndragon/Anam Paranormal

Photo courtesy of Drea Penndragon/Anam Paranormal

Ridge Home, A Division of the Colorado School of Mental Defectives, was the kind of place where ghost stories are born. It originally opened it’s doors in 1912 and was closed by the state in 1991. Ridge was closed for a variety of reasons. I have heard allegations of patient abuse, asbestos issues, plus budget woes brought on the closure of the hospital. Sadly, this site was demolished in 2004 to make way for a major renewal project.

The facility has housed children as young as five to patients in their seventies. It began as a “detention” center. The public view at the turn of the last century of people with disabilities wasn’t very favorable, and these detention centers, or asylums, were created to house the people deemed mentally defective. It was a place for the public to put those who were “lesser” to forget about them in my opinion. Later, Ridge Home became a place of rehabilitation.

The stories of Ridge Home are almost mythic to the locals. It seems everyone who has ever visited the facility has a story to share, myself included. People report seeing apparitions in the tunnels, hearing screams and moaning, feeling a sense of dread, and seeing shadows everywhere. I have heard stories about doctors and nurses treating patients like science experiments, keeping children in cages, and there even used to be a story about a nurse whose head was chopped off by a patient. All of these stories have a gruesome edge to them. They remind me of the movie House on Haunted Hill.

The story that was most interesting to me is the one of a boy hit by a train. There are tracks at the edge of the property, and a boy was killed there. I’ve heard the story a couple of different ways. One version says the boys escaped from Ridge Home, and as he was running toward the edge of the property a train struck him. The other version I’ve heard says a boy in a wheelchair pushed himself out on the tracks, and committed suicide to escape the torture he suffered at the hands of the staff at the facility. Apparently this story lives on with employees who work at the Target that was built near the property. They call this spirit The Runner. The story of where the runner came from appears to match the stories of the boy and the train.

Several years ago, these stories compelled me to go see the property for myself. I wanted to bring back my own spooky story.  My brother and I drove to the facility around midnight in the middle of summer. We had been hanging out with his friends and driving around aimlessly when I told them the stories I heard. My brother’s friends didn’t want to tag along, so it was just the two of us.

It was one of those hot, still nights in the middle of July. I remember driving with all the windows down in my car, and it was still hot that late at night. I pulled up to the property and pointed out some of the buildings to my brother. We were parked on the side of the road when my brother noticed the main gate to the property was unlocked. We decided to drive through the gate. As we approached the main administration building, I stopped the car and put it in park. My brother started to open the door to the car to get out when something caught my eye. An old swing set sat near the road. We passed it as we came in. One of the swings started to move. There was no breeze, and we didn’t drive close enough to it to disturb it with the car. Plus, only one of the swings was moving. There were two or three swings on the swing set. I yelled at my brother to get back in the car. I didn’t hear, or see anything else. Just the swing moving, as if something was playing on it. I was so spooked, I refused to hang around. I slammed the car into reverse, and got the heck out of there!

I wish I had thought to contact the owners of the property to get permission to go back to Ridge Home before it was torn down. It is my favorite source of Colorado ghost stories. At the suggestion of a friend, I plan on talking to some of the employees at the Target that is near there now, and seeing what kinds of activity may be left.

What do you think? Is the Ridge Home site haunted? Do you have any stories of your own to share? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Acknowledgements: photo courtesy of Anam Paranormal

Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum

Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum on Lookout Mountain in Golden is steeped in ghost stories. Some say Buffalo Bill himself haunts the area. Specifically, a cowboy resembling Buffalo Bill has been seen in the gift shop. I have been to the gift shop countless times (I grew up in the area) and have never seen the specter myself.

 

There is a story of a woman who fell and died on the grounds surrounding the grave and museum. I am not sure when the story started, or if there is any basis of truth to it, but the ghost of a woman can be seen in the area. This one stinks of urban legend like the lady in white from Riverdale Road.

People say souvenirs fall or fly off the shelves in the gift shop. Once again, this isn’t something I have personally witnessed. I can say that the shop doesn’t feel level in some places, and may give off the fun house feeling. Patrons may accidentally bump the merchandise and knock it down themselves.

I think the main reason Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum gives off that creepy feeling is due to the cell towers and things on the mountain. There are reported high EMF fields, which anyone who watches Ghost Hunters knows can cause a variety of side effects including disorientation, the feeling of something watching you, dizziness, and even hallucinations depending on how sensitive you are.

While Lookout Mountain may or may not be haunted, it is a great place to visit. The views are spectacular, and it’s a great place to, ahem, park if you get my meaning. There are also some neat hiking trails in the area, and it’s a fun escape from the city without having to wander too far.

Bottom line: I don’t believe Buffalo Bill’s Grave and Museum is haunted, but it does make for some cool ghost stories. What do you think? Haunted or not?

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Heritage Square

Heritage Square, located in Golden, is a neat shopping village/amusement park designed for families. It’s the home of the Alpine Slide and the Heritage Square Music Hall. It may also be home to a ghost or two. There doesn’t seem to be much solid evidence to suggest a haunting, but there are many stories.

Star Crossed Lovers

The most popular story is of a young man falling in love with a Native American girl. Her tribe passed through the area and the man fell instantly in love. Tribe elders forbid the girl from seeing the young man. The story comes to its tragic end when the young man chases after the tribe in a horse-drawn wagon, and ends up dying. It is unknown whether his death was an accident, or if the story has a more sinister ending. People report hearing the sound of galloping hoofbeats and hearing a male’s voice yelling for someone to wait.

Orbs and EVPs

One of my favorite local paranormal groups investigated Heritage Square years ago (early 2000s maybe?) and used to have their findings of their investigations posted on their website. Unfortunately, they have overhauled their site and all the evidence of their old investigations was removed. I remember them having a few cool orb pictures and one disturbing EVP. It sounded like a little boy. Just thinking about it gives me chills.

Spider Mansion

While you may not be able to catch a real ghost out at Heritage Square, you can definitely get scared. Spider Mansion is the haunted house open every October on the property. It’s not the most chilling haunted house out there, but it’s not shabby.

Final Thoughts

I believe there may be some sort of paranormal activity at Heritage Square, but I don’t necessarily believe the Native American/pioneer love story. It stinks of an urban legend to me. What do you think?

Riverdale Road

While doing a little research on some of my favorite haunts this morning, I ran across stories about Riverdale Road. I thought it would be fun to share some of the claims about this stretch of pavement. I personally think the stories are all Urban Legends. I have driven the road late at night many times myself and never heard or saw anything.

Riverdale Road is located in Thornton, Colorado and is easily accessed from 104th. It runs along the edge of a couple of subdivisions, but is mostly in a rural area. Twisted Cottonwood trees stand along the edges of Riverdale like deformed sentries.  The road has several blind curves that are unsafe in bad weather. Riverdale Road is allegedly the home to one of Hell’s Gates, a phantom Camaro with one headlight out, ghosts of slaves, remnants of black magic and witchcraft, a ghost lady, phantom black dogs, ghost children, and the jogger of Jogger’s Hill.

Jogger’s Hill – Dirt Road just off Riverdale Road, although I think it has been developed.

The story says a car hit a jogger on a dirt road at the crest of the hill. The driver panicked and sped off and left the jogger to die. The jogger’s ghost haunts the area and tries to attack any motorist who parks at the crest of the hill to admire the view. If you want to see the jogger, you are supposed to park at the top of the hill late at night and turn off your headlights and engine. If you listen carefully,  you will hear the sound of someone running on the road somewhere behind your car. They will continue to come closer and closer. People have reported handprints on their windows, and banging noises on the sides and back of the car like someone is hitting or kicking it. You aren’t supposed to let the jogger come up to the driver side window or he will try to kill you, at least that’s how the legend goes.

Hell’s Gates – I’m still not entirely sure where this is located exactly since the story varies from person to person.

The Gates of Hell are supposedly along Riverdale Road. It is said unspeakable things happen there. I’m not so sure about this story, especially since some people say the Gates of Hell is actually a chicken coop. I’m not so sure chicken wire and eggs are the work of the Devil.

Phantom Camaro

The story says a black 70s Camaro wrecked along Riverdale Road back in the 70s. The driver perished in the wreckage, but his ghost remains. If you are driving late at night and come across a black Camaro with a headlight out, don’t, under any circumstances, race it! You will race to your death! This one sounds more like a cautionary tale about street racing if you ask me.

Ghost Lady

The ghost lady is supposed to appear alongside Riverdale Road dressed in white. If you stop to offer her a ride, she will accept, but disappear before she ever gets in the car.

Ghosts of Slaves

Allegedly, slaves in the area were tortured, abused and hanged on the farms surrounding Riverdale Road in the 1800s. If you look closely, you can see the bodies of the hanged slaves in the trees as you drive down the road. There are no records of slavery or abuse of slaves in the area that I have found.

As you can see, Riverdale Road is rich with local legends, and it can be a fun and spooky ride. I think the legends are just that; legends. I don’t think there is any real truth to any of the stories, but I will let you be the judge. Do you think Riverdale Road is really haunted?