With Halloween upon us, the mythology, traditions and rumors that surround Old Town and the CSU campus are bound to come to the surface. Underground catacombs running the length of Old Town and beneath campus, sightings of ghosts and cult activities are all being explored during this festive scare time.
Halloween brings out the paranoia, and truth, of the history of the ghosts of Fort Collins.
Formerly the Avery Building, home to First National Bank, Beau Jo’s employees have reported strange happenings.
“There was an employee who reported that he tried to close a door and a presence prevented him,” said Toby Swaford, education coordinator for the Fort Collins Museum. “The tension suddenly stopped; the doorknob fell out, and the door slammed shut.”
There have also been reports of a light fixture crashing to the floor with the screws still intact.
The myth behind the haunting is due to the controversial death of owner Franklin Avery’s brother, William. When he died unexpectedly after reporting stomach pain, his wife suddenly married 12 days later. An autopsy was done and there was arsenic found in his system.
William’s wife and her new husband were brought in for trial but let go when police could not acquire enough proof against them.
Finally fed up with the unexpected events, Beau Jo’s employees had an exorcist come in 1981, and since then, nothing has happened.
In the 1920s, Crown Pub was a brothel called the Nedley House. The only reports of haunting have been apparitions, and strange movements late at night.
The Museum of
Formerly a post office, the museum was originally built on the original town of Fort Collins — Camp Collins — cemetery.
When the building was constructed, the cemetery and bodies were exhumed and moved to Mountain Homes Cemetery, located on Laurel Street.
“Whenever anyone hears about this, they say ‘Hey there’s no cemetery on Laurel.’ And that’s because the bodies were moved once again, finally resting in Grand View Cemetery,” Swaford said. “Apparently, however, not all of the bodies were successfully moved because human remains were found at both previous locations. It adds a rather creepy and charming side to the museum and that neighborhood.”
The Hell Tree
It is rumored that in the 1900s a Fort Collins farmer would hang his misbehaving farm hands from a tree on his property. It is unknown where exactly this tree is or the property. One day, his farm hands rebelled against him, and that night his wife found him hanging from the tree.
Now, if you drive when the moon silhouettes the tree, it is said that the shadows of the farm hands and the farmer can be seen.
Centennial High School
When the school was an elementary school, a girl fell down a set of stairs and died. She supposedly haunts the school, people report hearing screaming, feeling cold spots and experiencing a sense of being watched.
Rumored to be one of the most haunted places in Fort Collins and the surrounding area, people have ventured there late at night to hear screaming, babies crying and experience the feeling of cold hands touching them. It is illegal to be in the cemetery after dark.
Other places said to be haunted include the Old Town Art Framing building, the Northern Hotel, Library Park, The House of Mayors and Holiday Inn Holidome.
Myth of the
It is a widespread myth that beneath Old Town and the CSU campus there is a network of tunnels that may or may not be connected. It is rumored that in order to enter the Old Town tunnels you must go through the basements of some buildings.
“We haven’t been able to prove, or disprove, the rumors of catacombs underneath Fort Collins,” Swaford said. “It is true that some of the basements do have walkways that used to be used to connect to other basements, but now almost all of them are blockaded.”
The tunnels under Fort Collins are believed to be accessed through certain manholes around campus. However, nothing has been researched or proven about the CSU tunnels.
The network tunnels are rumored to have been used for the transport of liquor when Fort Collins was a dry town. The prohibition started in 1896 and continued for the next few decades. Also, it is said the tunnels could have been used to transfer prisoners from a jail in the firehouse to a local restaurant to avoid contact with the public.
It is rumored that while transporting prisoners one time, six were taken and only five returned.
It cannot be proven that the tunnels are still there, but it is true that they did exist at one time.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at email@example.com.