Durango- 1920   (photo from: www.photoswest.org)

Located in the mountainous region of Southwest Colorado, Durango is situated at an elevation of 6500ft.

Durango means "water town", and was so named because of the beautiful Animas River which flows through the city.
Durango, unlike many other towns in the western US, was not founded as a result of pioneers looking for gold. In fact, much like today,
the town was based around the railroad.

The city was incorporated in 1881 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad to serve the San Juan mining district.

Many of the original buildings constructed by Durango's pioneers are still in use today. They can be seen in the historic districts of Third
Avenue and Main Avenue. Rio Grande Land, located at the far southern end of Main, contains the restored depot built in 1881. The
Strater Hotel, built in 1887, and a reflection of the town's prosperity, remains a central attraction in downtown Durango.


                         Re-Enactors' Tour of Greenmount Cemetery
 The Living Spirits of Durango

Sunday, October 10th, 2010  

Historic re-enactors will portray some of Durango's early pioneers buring in that cemetery. Meet at the cemetery at 12:45 pm and be
prepared to walk over grassy, uneven ground ~~ and bring water. Donations will be gratefully accepted with all proceeds benefitting the
La Plata Historical Society.

This annual event is held during the Durango Heritage Celebration each year.



(970) 382-9298
(970) 946-6120

                  2010 Cemetery Tours hosted by the Victorian Aid Society:

May date (To Be Announced (TBA) later)
10 am
Hermosa Cemetery Tour
This interesting and little known cemetery is a gem in the Animas Valley.  Please join the VAS as we portray in first person some of the
early settlers of the area

August (date TBA later)
9:30 am
Silverton Hillside Cemetery Tour
This fundraiser for the San Juan Historical Society will be our second tour of this very interesting early cemetery.

Saturday, Oct. 2nd
11:15 am
Greenmount Cemetery Tour
We will portray some of Durango's pioneers, in first person, sharing their stories and life histories.
Donations gladly accepted for the Animas Museum



Ticket outlet:  Animas Museum

Historic Greenmount Cemetery Tours

In conjunction with the Victorian Aid Society and the Durango Cowboy Gathering 2010. Parking at top of hill next to care takers building.
Admission: $10 to benefit the Animas Museum. Tickets are available in advance at the Animas Museum (31st St. & 2 Ave.) and the
Diamond Circle Gift shop (699 Main Ave.)

Learn the history of Durango from members of the Victorian Aid Society who will re-enact local pioneers from Durango's past. These
ladies and gentlemen will be dressed in authentic period clothing and speak in third person to tell the stories of citizens buried in
Greenmount and how they contributed to Durango's heritage. Call the Animas Museum for more information 259-2402.


"We have made researching and respectfully portraying actual people from the past a specialty, and we share our information and
insight about them at the cemetery tours we do as educational fundraisers for the area's museums. We have become persons in both the
Greenmount and Animas City cemeteries in Durango, as well as the Hillside cemetery in Silverton. Animas City and Hillside are some of
the area's oldest cemeteries and as a result, they hold some of the earliest and most colorful citizens of the area."
- The Durango Victorian Aid Society

                                 Spook Central

October 26, 2003
Durango Herald article

By Jennifer Kostka
Herald Staff Writer

Railroad employees tending coaches overnight in the old train yard in Durango would swear they heard children running, screaming and
making trouble in the cars. But when the employees reached the coaches, no one was there.

About twice a year, guests in Room 204 of a local hotel report seeing a woman with dark hair wearing Victorian clothing – or very little
clothing at all.

And an East Third Avenue resident saw the translucent shape of a girl, who she later learned was named Tilde, near her guest bedroom.

Durango, a city that began booming with miners, railroad workers and their families in the 1880s, is bound to have a few spooky ghost
stories hiding in its abandoned buildings and Old Western streets. With nights growing colder and darker, and jack-o’-lanterns grimacing
from front porches, Halloween is the best time of year to conjure up the spirits and their ghostly tales.

                                            Train tales

The 122-year-old Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad seems like the perfect place for ghosts to hide and frighten innocent

At least one railroad employee said he knows plenty of tales to raise your neck hairs. John Coker, a Durango-area resident for 30 years
and a fireman for the railroad, said workers have reported seeing a man in overalls floating around the railroad’s roundhouse in
Durango. The man floats, because he has no legs after losing them in an accident on the tracks.

Workers have also the voices of running children in the yard after dark, where troublemakers damaged coaches and broke windows
when the railroad was used to transport materials to the mines in Silverton, Coker said. Workers always ran to catch the children, but
they never found them.

Coker also recalled hearing about a strange incident near Carbon Junction, across the Animas River from Bodo Park, where the railroad
split to go to either Farmington or Chama. Coker said a train heading to Chama had stopped to switch cars at the junction one night.

"They were starting to move out of there and starting to climb towards Chama," Coker said, when "they saw a lamp coming out of the

The air in the train’s brake system let out, bringing the cars to an emergency stop. The lantern, which did not appear to be carried by
anyone, came out of the bushes on the side of the tracks. As railroad workers watched with wide eyes, the lantern floated onto the train,
climbed up on top of the cars and jumped back down on the tracks.

Shortly after the lantern disappeared into the night, the air returned to the brakes, and the train started chugging toward Chama, Coker

                                                 Downtown demons

Downtown Durango is full of its own creepy tales. The Rochester Hotel, 726 East Second Ave., was a low-class apartment building for
most of its existence. When its owners began renovating the hotel in 1994, contractors and workers refused to come back to finish their

"They just ended up quitting," said Kirk Komick, co-owner of the Rochester Hotel and The Leland House. "They didn’t feel comfortable

Since the renovations were completed, Komick said he receives reports about twice a year about a ghost in the hotel’s "John Wayne
Room," Room 204. Guests always see a woman standing in the bedroom, either wearing elaborate Victorian dress or classy lingerie.

Carole and John Withers had their own strange experiences at their house on East Third Avenue, where some of the city’s oldest homes
are. The Withers’ house, 1073 East Third Ave., was built in the early 1880s. Through research and by talking to past residents, Dr. and
Mrs. Withers have discovered that the house was once used as a funeral parlor.

Shortly after the Withers moved into the house in 1995, Mrs. Withers said she was walking into a guest room when she saw a "vague,
wispy shape" at the top of the front staircase.

Two days later, Mrs. Withers was in the same spot when she saw the shape again. In a short account about the experience, Mrs. Withers
wrote, "I saw this diaphanous vision and then felt something expanding inside of me. ... It was over almost as soon as it began. I knew
whatever it was was female and not aggressive towards me."

She never saw the ghost again. About six months later, Mrs. Withers’ friend brought a shaman to "cleanse and bless" the house. When
the shaman went into the guest room, she said a little girl named Tilde was in the room. The shaman said Tilde was an abused child, and
was happy to have a loving mother – Mrs. Withers – in her house. The shaman asked the girl to leave, and the Withers have not
encountered any ghosts in the house again.

The Withers have learned that other people saw spirits in the house. A woman who grew up in the house in the first half of the 1900s
once told Mrs. Withers that she repeatedly heard a girl crying on the staircase. Carpenters who renovated the house and several college
students who lived there before the Withers also reported seeing strange shapes near the front stairs.

                                                        School spirits

Maybe Tilde moved down the street to the Durango School District 9-R Administration Building, 201 E. 12th Street. The building served
as the city’s high school from 1888 to the late-1970s.

"It feels like there are ghosts in here," said Deborah Uroda, spokeswoman for the school district. While working in the building, Uroda said
she can almost hear children’s voices as they run up and down the halls.

Perhaps those children are still playing pranks in their old classrooms. Frank Montoya, custodian at the administration building, said he
would hear doors closing when he worked in the building at night. He would go to the doors and see nobody.

Despite the startling incidents, Montoya isn’t convinced the building is haunted. "There’s all kinds of creepy noises around here, but there’
s always an answer for it," Montoya said.

Other people around Durango say they doubt the presence of ghosts here. Jim Bray, general manager at the Strater Hotel, said no
ghosts wander the halls of the 126-year-old business, discrediting reports that some people have run into the ghost of Henry Strater, the
hotel’s founder.

Even though Coker has some creepy railroad tales, some employees say they have not seen or heard anything spooky in the train yard.
Kristi Nelson Cohen, spokeswoman for the railroad, said she hasn’t seen anything strange, other than a recent sasquatch sighting and
some weird happenings "after a few libations" in the parlor car.

Maybe, the people who doubt local legends about ghosts are too scared to admit their presence in Durango. Happy Halloween.

Reach Staff Writer Jennifer Kostka at jennifer@durangoherald.com


** With nights growing colder and the days getting shorter, Halloween is a good time to share ghost stories – especially if one is caught in
Greenmount Cemetery after dark.

** The Rochester House claims to have a woman ghost who appears every so often. Sightings are reported in the hotel’s John Wayne

** Kristy Rodri, Dr. Mary Barter’s assistant in the 9-R administration building, looks where students have written their names backstage in
the auditorium over the years. Some people have reported hearing children’s voices and other things in the building that they believe are

The Strater Hotel
                               699 Main Ave., Durango       (970) 247-4431 - or -   (800) 247-4431     

                                     The following photos of the Strater were taken in 2005 by HauntedColorado.net    


                                                                 Photo taken by hauntedcolorado.net in 2005

The 112-year-old Strater Hotel in Durango may be haunted by ghosts.

Guests and employees have reported encounters with the ghosts of a little girl, a man in period costume and a bar girl.

The hotel was built in the late 1880s by Henry Strater, and the founder's presence still is felt, says Rod Barker, a member of the family
which has owned the hotel since 1926.

"We're 112 years old - I guess we're entitled to a few ghost stories," he says.

"My sister claims she has seen two ghosts - one a little girl who tends to run around, and the other in the theater. She was walking
through the theater one night when she noticed a man in period costume up on the stage. She turned around to see who it was, and he
was gone.
She's convinced it was Henry Strater."

Once, Barker was working the night desk when a couple came down the staircase in a hurry, barely dressed and hurriedly packed.

"The woman was wide-eyed, and the man was rolling his eyes. She swore she saw a bar girl from the Diamond Belle (the hotel bar)
wandering around the room. He would have been happy with another room, but she was intent on leaving."

Hotel housekeepers have reported feeling ghosts repeatedly - mostly on the upper floors of the hotel. They claim being touched on the
shoulder when they're in a room alone.
And each room has a diary, to which guests are asked to contribute. They're full of spirited tales, Barker says.

Source: The Gazette; Date:1999 Oct 24; Section:TRAVEL; Page Number 4,
Linda Duval

                        All above photos copyright of HauntedColorado.net



My wife and I were just talking about ghosts of Colorado and I searched out your site.

We were on our honeymoon in 1999 and stayed at the Strater Hotel in  Durango. We were taking some pictures of the room etc for our
honeymoon album. I took some of my wife on the bed and she did the same of me. When we developed the film we found this image
behind me. I had just taken some from the same position of my wife, same lighting  etc but with nothing behind her. I thought you may find
it interesting. If you zoom in you get better details.

Cheers, Bill and Marina

Above photo taken and submitted by: Bill and Marina


                                            The Rochester Hotel

                           726 E. Second Avenue,  Durango, Colorado  81301       (970) 385-1920      800-664-1920  


The Rochester Hotel was a low-class apartment building for most of its existence. When its owners began renovating the hotel in 1994,
contractors and workers refused to come back to finish their jobs.

"They just ended up quitting," said Kirk Komick, co-owner of the Rochester Hotel and The Leland House. "They didn’t feel comfortable

Since the renovations were completed, Komick said he receives reports about twice a year about a ghost in the hotel’s
"John Wayne Room," Room 204. Guests always see a woman standing in the bedroom, either wearing elaborate Victorian
dress or classy lingerie.

The newly restored Rochester Hotel at 726 East Second Avenue is one of Durango's oldest hotel establishments, built in 1892 and
continuously operated as a hotel for more than 100 years.
The parcel of land upon which the Rochester Hotel now stands was first owned by ex-territorial governor and founder of the Denver & Rio
Grande Railroad, Alexander C. Hunt. Durango was created by the railroad in 1880 when the town was first platted.

The second owner of the property was James Luttrell, Durango's first land agent. Luttrell was known as the head of a committee of
Durango citizens that drove the infamous Ike Stockton gang out of town after a midday shoot-out in 1883.

Foundations were laid for the Rochester Hotel in 1890. In 1891, construction of the building was taken over by E.T. Peeples, a local
accountant and one-time Durango County Commissioner. In 1892, J.E. Schutt (president of the Schutt Mercantile Company) and W.C.
Chapman (director of the Colorado State Bank, vice president of the Durango Iron Works and a dealer in hardware) bought the property
and completed construction of the building which became known as the "Peeples Hotel."

The two-story brick building - originally thought to be built with about 30 rooms - was approximately 40 feet by 90 feet, with 8,000 square
feet total. Flat-roofed and rectangular in shape, with a balcony in the front, the building featured radiating brick lintels on all windows and
doors, rough cut-stone sills on the windows and a classic portico at the main entrance.

SOURCES: The Rochester Hotel website, and The Durango Herald, October 26, 2003, "Spook Central."

This beautifully renovated hotel offers fifteen spacious rooms with high ceilings, king or queen beds, and private baths, and is decorated
in an Old West motif. This hotel, located in downtown Durango, was designated as "The Flagship Hotel of Colorado" by Conde' Nast
Traveler. They are very pet-friendly and offer two pet rooms, with a $20 per day pet charge.

`````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````                                                            Ghost stories: Capturing Spirits

Durango Herald article
October 26, 2003

By Jennifer Kostka
Herald Staff Writer

Mike Richard, of Durango, opened the door to a local hotel room and walked in slowly. His entourage of three curious observers
cautiously followed him.

Richard turned to his wife, Susan. "Do you feel that?" he asked. She quickly nodded with her eyes open wide.

"This is creepy," he said. "This is almost nasty." Then, the couple lifted up their cameras and began shooting photographs in the empty
room. Though the other observers in the room felt little more than unease, Richard felt the presence of his next photography subject – a

For 18 years, Richard, the Durango Arts Center theater manager, has traveled the country taking photos of so-called spirits using
infrared and high-speed film.

On Thursday, Richard took his camera to a historic downtown Durango hotel. The hotel’s owners requested anonymity, because they
don’t want customers to be influenced by beliefs that ghosts exist there.

Guests at the hotel reported strange occurrences in three rooms. Some claim to have seen a man in a 1950s sailor suit, Richard said.
Some hotel employees say they have seen a boy dressed in 1960s-clothing riding a tricycle through the hallways on the hotel’s security
cameras. On Thursday, Richard photographed two of the hotel rooms and the basement.

Richard, who has lived in Durango for most of his life, is a longtime photographer, but spirit photography literally jumped out at him one

"It just started out as a joke," he said. Richard agreed to try to photograph a ghost for security guards at his brother’s workplace in
California. He walked into a bookstore to research the topic, when a book titled Photographing the Spirit World fell off a shelf in front of
him. The store’s owner said she had never seen the book before and later found out that it had been out of print for 10 years.

If you go ...

Mike Richard will hold a slide show of his photos at 8 p.m. Friday at in the Durango Arts Center Theater, 802 East Second Ave. For more
information, call 259-2606.

Since then, he has traveled to many places around the United States,including historic Durango buildings and Mesa Verde National Park,
to catch the spirits on film.

Richard hasn’t found riches in photographing ghosts.

He was paid twice for his services. A man once paid him to take pictures of the man’s house after the man discovered it was possessed
by a violent poltergeist. The man sued the real-estate agent who sold him the house and won, Richard said. Another man, in Colorado
Springs, paid Richard to photograph a female ghost whom the man alleged was sexually assaulting him at night.

Richard takes the photos using a Pentax fully manual camera and infrared film. As he takes the photos, Mrs. Richard follows him around
with a point-and-shoot camera and a clipboard. She takes the same photos Richard does so they can compare them later. She also
records information about people and heat sources in the room, so they don’t mistake the light from legitimate heat sources as spirits.

"We’re trying to get real images," Richard said. Sometimes, the photos just show bursts of light, but sometimes they show actual
silhouettes of what he claims are ghosts. He also sends the film to an infrared developer in Colorado Springs to eliminate any beliefs that
he doctors his photos.

On Halloween night, Richard will present a slide show of his photos. Within the next year, he also plans to release a book titled S.P.I.R.I.
T.: Sacred Path Involving Rebirth and Intensive Teachings.

Everyone, he says, can be a spirit photographer. Richard said people should examine their own photos for strange shapes and
silhouettes instead of throwing them out as mistakes or bad film.

"You just have to be careful what you throw away," he said. "You don’t know what you might have."

Reach Staff Writer Jennifer Kostka at jennifer@durangoherald.com



 Back to home page