Ghosts Of Steamboat Springs
Rufus of the Royal Hotel
Haunted hotel finds new life in Bill and Kris Ager
********Source of this information: the Routt County & Steamboat Springs Community and information Center.
By Danie Harrelson, Staff Reporter to the Steamboat/Pilot Steamboat Today
Sunday, January 27, 2002
Before Kris Ager heard the folklore, she heard the footsteps. When she and her husband, Bill, purchased the
historic Royal Hotel about 18 months ago, they knew little about its fabled ghost. But sometimes, experience is the
best teacher. Renovation and some restoration began immediately on the interior of the century-old building after
the Agers acquired it in August 2000. Kris Ager spent many days sprucing up the guest rooms on the second floor.
As she cleaned upstairs one day, Ager said, she heard the sound of footsteps coming down the hall.
The sound echoed more distinctly, she said, because she had not yet placed runners along the wooden floors. The
footsteps stopped suddenly behind Ager, who said she turned around to find no one there. "It made the hair on the
back of my neck stand on end," she said. She thought her husband might be upstairs, she said, but Bill Ager was at
work below with a few other men. Kris Ager was the only person upstairs. It was not long after her experience that
she learned about the ghost who reportedly makes his home at the Royal Hotel. Rufus has supposedly haunted the
hotel since 1918. Stories report he died during a flu epidemic in Yampa when the Royal Hotel provided a makeshift
infirmary for patients.
Another tale paints Rufus as a gambler who suffered a fatal gunshot or stab wound after people saw him cheating
during a poker game. The playful spirit reportedly pushes furniture, turns lights on and off and flushes toilets. Her
supposed run-in with the hotel's oldest resident convinced her of his existence, she said. "I'm not a believer until it
happens to me," Kris Ager said. "This made a believer out of me."
The couple continues to work on bringing the historical building back to life, despite the rumors and accounts of
occasional visitors. The Royal Hotel, built by Thomas P. Lindsay in 1906, remains noticeably unchanged, despite
the effects of time and mishaps on neighboring properties along Yampa's main streets. "It's one of the last buildings
that didn't burn down," Bill Ager said. The building requires significant foundational work and the second floor rooms
lack any kind of heating system. Both are projects that take time, money and energy — requirements the new
owners said they don't mind filling.
The hotel's false front represents the character of buildings in that historical era, said local historian Paul
Bonnefield. People in town took advantage of the false fronts to promote Yampa to potential investors, he said.
"They used it to make their town appear wealthy," Bonnefield said. Before they purchased the building, Bill Ager
said, the land on which it stands might have been worth more than the building. He intends to honor the hotel's
original interior as best he can, he said, because the building merits preservation.
People can easily tear down old buildings in the interest of replacing them with something nicer and newer, he said,
but so much history is lost in the process. In the meantime, Kris Ager continues to work on refurbishing the upstairs
rooms so they can eventually offer guests a small glimpse of the Old West. And she said she'll keep her ears
primed, in case Rufus happens to pay her a second visit. "I kind of want to hear them again," she said.
The Royal ghosts of Yampa
Guests report strange encounters in South Routt hotel
By Nick Foster, Staff Reporter
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Frank Powell felt something on the edge of his bed while he was almost asleep one night at the Royal Hotel in
Yampa. As soon as he sat up to see what it was, he felt the bed "lift up," as if someone who was sitting there got up.
"I know it sounds like the classic ghost story," said Powell, a Longmont resident, recalling an experience he had
while staying at the Royal in 2000. "I didn't see any lights or faces or anything, but I felt something.
"It didn't bother me. It was an adrenaline rush more than anything. But nobody told me nothing about no ghosts."
Legend has it the Royal is haunted by a ghost named "Rufus," dating back to 1918. Some say Rufus' room is No. 6,
and others say it is room No. 7.
The rooms are right across from each other at the end of the hall, and most reported encounters come from that
According to old newspaper articles, some have said Rufus died from a flu epidemic when the hotel was used as an
infirmary. Others have said gamblers killed him when he was caught cheating in a poker game.
But Powell doesn't think the ghost he encountered was Rufus. He told his buddies it was a woman. Others back that
story, too; one woman says the hotel is inhabited by two ghosts -- a man and a woman.
Kathi Vandegriss, of Strasburg, Pa., was staying in the Royal last summer. In her two-month stay there, she heard
footsteps and slamming doors a few times, but actually saw the female ghost "several times."
Vandegriss described the ghost as "very young and very pretty."
"She was always in a hurry," she said. "It was always strange to me, but I wasn't afraid. I don't talk about it a lot,
because most people will think you're crazy. But it doesn't matter what people say to me; I know what I saw."
Though most describe their encounters as non-threatening, others have been deeply frightened.
Powell wasn't upset with the owners for not telling him about the ghost, but a truck driver and his wife who were
visiting a few years ago got upset after their supernatural encounter, Royal Hotel owners Kris and Bill Ager said.
The couple had brought a portable television and was using it as a nightlight while they got ready for bed in room
No. 6. Suddenly, the Television went off, even though the power was still on.
The husband turned the television back on and, seconds later, it turned off again. The third time was the breaking
He and his wife packed their things and walked downstairs.
"I'm not into this," the man told Kris Ager. "This isn't cool."
The man and his wife didn't even ask for their money back. They kept walking, got in their truck and drove away.
The hotel's owners have had some unexplainable experiences themselves.
When they purchased the hotel in August 2000, Kris was upstairs caulking the doorway of the mysterious No. 6
when she heard someone coming up the stairs and down the hall toward her.
It sounded like cowboy boots on the wooden floors, she said. When the footsteps came right up to her, she turned
and looked out the doorway. No one was there.
"It was a weird feeling, to say the least," Kris Ager said. "I used to not believe in ghosts, but ever since then, I'm a
She didn't know it was haunted at the time. A week later, former owner Linda Kelley told her about the ghost.
"Since then, I've stayed in No. 6 to see if anything would happen," Ager said. "I wish it would happen again."
Ager has not had any other experiences with ghosts. Her personal theory is that since Rufus is supposed to be
friendly and he scared her, he doesn't want to scare her anymore.
Bill Ager has heard other things that make him believe one of the ghosts had a dog. He has heard the distinctive
sound of paws running. Thinking it was his dog, he would call and go looking for him, only to discover nothing was
Some have tried to see the ghost through séances during the 1960s, Kris Ager said, but Vandegriss said the ghosts
only appear to people who are not expecting it.
From The Steamboat Pilot
Royal Hotel in Yampa , Colorado- Built in 1906
Picture: Royal Hotel with band about 1912-13 Band arranged by George Gumprecht and Jerry Reams
"The Royal Hotel is a rectangular two-story building. The façade has two entrances on the ground floor. One door
on the west side is for the Liquor Store. The entrance on the east side leads to the rooms and the bar. The second
story has sash windows. The second story is where the guest chambers are. From the rooms there are eight
openings to the balcony. The second opening on the west side is a door, and the second opening on the east side
is a door. Nine support columns are holding up the balcony.
The roof is at a slant on the west side of the building. The siding of the Royal Hotel is a flat lap siding. On the west
side of the Royal there are four windows and one door. There is a staircase leading up to the door. The first story
has held a variety of businesses over the years.
The Royal Hotel was owned and run by T. P Lindsay and was built in 1906 as a elegant hostelry for sportsmen. The
lower floor was converted into a drugstore and the upstairs contained the hotel rooms. Under the management of
Mr. And Mrs. H. W. Green. The Royal Hotel was one of the largest hotels in Routt County, and it was built at the
peak of the need for new hotels.
In 1923 the Royal Hotel changed hands to Mr. And Mrs. Greg Huffman who leased the hotel and café out. It
changed hands once more 1929 to Mr. And Mrs. Bower; Mr. Bower was a hotel manager with more then 20 years of
In 1927 the Royal had the best accommodations at the most reasonably priced. In 1947 Mr. And Mrs. Mohr Bought
the Royal Hotel. Under the management of the Mohr’s the hotel flourished. Today Bill and Chris Ager who have
spruced it up own the hotel. There has long been a legend that a ghost named Rufus haunts the hotel.
Ghosts in the Depot - Restless Spirits
By Ruth Willett Lanza, courtesy of the Steamboat Magazine, Winter/Spring ’98-99
Were they the spirits of fallen Ute warriors or the tortured souls of Arapaho captives tossed into the hot springs
during the early 1800’s? Perhaps a theater company passed through Steamboat Springs at the turn of the
century on one of the first passenger trains, leaving thespian ghosts trapped in the depot. Or maybe the ghost
of an early station master, who disapproved of theater people, paces back and forth in the dusty basement.
And who is the lost child?
Many theories have been posed by people who swear that restless spirits inhabit the stately rail station in
Steamboat. Passenger trains stopped running through the old cowboy town years ago, and the building lay
abandoned to its cobwebs and shadowy spirits for a long spell.
Then in 1973, the arts council began hosting community activities in the cavernous relic. Once again, the
depot hummed with life—art shows, writers’ workshops, ballet and theater. Under the direction of the late
Eleanor Bliss, the sturdy, old, brick structure underwent renovation and was placed on the National Register of
Evidently, the restoration project and the arrival of the Steamboat Repertory Theater in 1979 awakened the
sleeping spirits. Members of the new acting company became aware of the shadowy specters soon after their
arrival from New York, Minneapolis, Denver and Los Angeles. Within days, they sensed they were not alone in
the basement dressing room.
During a rehearsal for the company’s production of “Jessie and the Bandit”, SRT administrator Marcia
Fitzpatrick was sitting in the booth in the back of the theater with technician David Gray. The actors were
reciting their lines on stage when the lights began to flicker. They grew dimmer then brighter. Try as hard as
they could, Marcia and David couldn’t control the rheostat.
Then for no apparent reason, the iron weights that hung from a chain below the booth began to clang
together. They clanked again and again, resounding across the theater. This continued until the director
called out, “For God’s sake, what are you doing to the lights?”
When Marcia climbed down to investigate, no one was there. She stood motionless, disbelieving, watching the
iron weights slam together—stop—then crash together again, with no visible force moving them. A chill crept
up her spine and when she reported what had happened, the unnerved cast voted to cancel rehearsal for the
rest of the day.
The theater company’s decision to build a tunnel under the baggage room resulted in more inexplicable
mysteries. The passageway was designed to lead to a comfortable Green Room that could be accessed via
trapdoor from the stage or from outside. From the day the excavation began, the ghostly spirits became even
Set designer Michael Duran and his crew often worked into the early morning hours. Several times, they
reported hearing a child crying in the lobby. Yet when they went to investigate, they found the room empty.
Late one night a crew member went into the darkened lobby and lay down on the couch to take a short nap.
He was awakened by the insistent rattling of the double doors leading to the parking lot.
“Who’s there?” he called out.
No one answered. Even though it was a still night, the doors continued rattling as though someone or
something was trying to force them open. By now wide awake, John ran back to the baggage room, where the
rest of the crew was working.
Shortly after that, they heard footsteps on the risers and turned to see who had come into the theater. The bat-
wing doors that separated the lobby from the baggage room were swinging back and forth, back and forth. But
as usual, they saw no one.
David Gray may have experienced the most hair-raising encounter with the restless spirits. One evening, after
an especially good rehearsal, the cast and crew adjourned to the old Brandywine restaurant. They left David in
the basement Green Room to finish up his project. He agreed to join them later.
When David’s work was done, he climbed up the ladder through the trapdoor that opened onto the stage. As
he shut it and started to fasten the padlock, he felt someone knocking on the underside. He knew no one was
in the basement of the Green Room. So who could be pounding on the trapdoor?
He held the square plank down with all of his strength while someone underneath tried to push it up.
Remembering the other tales he had heard of ghostly visits and recalling the trouble with the rheostat, David
grew faint. His hands shook as he forced the padlock closed. He jumped off the stage and ran across the
baggage room, taking the risers two at a time. He flew through the swinging doors into the lobby. As he was
unlocking the double doors to let himself out, he heard the bat-wing doors swinging back and forth behind him.
He yanked the outside door open and stepped into the night, hurriedly pulling the door closed behind him.
When he turned the lock, he felt someone from inside yanking on the door, trying to force it open.
He darted out onto the bridge that spanned the Yampa River. Panting for breath with cold sweat beading on
his brow, he ran the five blocks to the Brandywine restaurant without looking back.
When he came skidding to a stop in the restaurant, he was as white as snow. Breathless, he related his
harrowing experience to all of them, between frantic gulps of beer.
They agreed that the depot was indeed haunted by more than one ghost, including a child. But who were
they? And why had the presence of the theater company stirred them up after at least fifty years of silence?
We’ll probably never know. The repertory company disbanded shortly after that incident.
Perhaps the restless spirits of the old depot will remain silent, as they wait in the shadows—watching, watching,
Ruth Willet Lanza’s work has appeared in western magazines, anthologies, and literary journals. Formerly of
Steamboat Springs, she now makes her home in Colorado Springs.
The phantom that dwells in the Tread of Pioneers
No self-respecting museum would be complete without a ghost.
The phantom that dwells among the artifacts at the Tread of Pioneers Museum seems to have a curiosity
about change and makes visits either day or night. Three of the ghostly events have happened during the
daylight hours: there might be the opportunity for many more night time calls, but seldom is anyone in the
museum working alone during those hours of darkness. In all of the ghostly encounters, there has been one
person working to cause some type of change to the physical appearance of a room. And in each of the visits,
the ghost just seems to be checking out the disturbance of change.
Written by Jayne Hill
The Morning Visitor
The Vacuum Cleaner Story
The Night Visitor
Would you like to meet the Ghost?
The Morning Visitor
One bright summer morning, I was the only other person in the museum besides the director who was working
in her upstairs office. Deeply engrossed in hanging a display to tell our visitors about the life of Doc Utterback,
I was working with several small pictures and items. It was necessary to figure out placement, hang the item,
and then be sure everything was level and secure.
I was focused on that wall, and paying little attention to the area around me. I was aware, however, that
somebody or something entered the room, paused in the corner, then continued down the connecting hallway
to the main gallery. Thinking it was the museum director just passing through and checking my progress, I did
not speak or turn for a direct look. I was only aware of a gray shadow and something sharing my space in the
Less than 10 minutes later, the door opened behind me, and the museum director entered. Startled, I asked
her how she had come in that door after passing behind me to the main gallery just minutes before. She said
she had not been at the museum for the last hour, but had left by the front door to attend a meeting at the Arts
Council Depot and was just returning by the back door. Together we searched the main gallery and adjacent
house, but found no trace of anyone else in the buildings.
The Vacuum Cleaner Story
A couple of years ago, a volunteer was doing in depth cleaning in an upstairs room of the main museum
house. He was dusting and rearranging artifacts that were being used to tell the story of the Native Americans
in the West. After carefully completing the display, the helper brought the vacuum to clean the floor. Although
the vacuum is used routinely in that area for regular cleaning without problems, it would not operate properly in
the newly arranged room. It was not as though there was a short in the electrical system, but more as if
someone else was operating the machine. Every time the worker switched the vacuum on, something switched
The volunteer paused to study the strange behavior of the machine, then felt the strong presence of someone
watching him in the room. Looking around, and seeing no one, he tried again, but the machine would not
operate. With goosebumps of fear, he hurriedly left the room, and did not return.
The vacuum is still being used to clean the museum, and has not produced the same unpredictable operation
More recently, one of the staff members was putting up a new exhibit in our Foundations of Steamboat room in
the same upstairs area of the old house. This room houses changing displays that honor families who have
had an influence on the history of Steamboat Springs. As the curator hammered away hanging pictures and
documents, she heard very distinct footsteps coming up the adjoining staircase. The steps came to the top of
the stairs, and she anticipated someone entering the room to talk to her. Instead she only felt the presence of
something in the room watching her. Quickly, she left the room and exited downstairs. She brought another
staff member upstairs with her, but there was no one else on that level of the house.
The Night Visitor
The only night time encounter with the museum poltergeist was by a painter working late to complete a redo of
the same upstairs area. It was nearly 11:00 p.m., and the painter had been alone in the museum for several
hours. He was nearly finished with the job when he heard someone coming up the stairs. Each step was clearly
audible and coming closer. The painter called out, but no answer. Again he called, and then with the hair
standing straight out on his neck, he made a run for the stairs, willing to confront what ever was using the
same entry. The next morning, the museum director came to work and went to check on the newly painted
area. There she found a ladder, paint tray, roller and brush--- and a nearly completed paint job. She called the
painter, asking why the job had been abandoned. He told her his story, and said he would not be back to finish
the last wall. He did not want to enter the house, even to retrieve his ladder. He has not been a visitor at the
Would you like to meet the Ghost?
If you would like to meet the museum ghost, it can probably be arranged. It would be best if it was a night visit,
and you must come alone. Of course, you will need to wear your work clothes, because the phantom seems to
only want to observe as you make changes and improvements in the museum.
The Ghost of Laura Monson
The ghost of Laura Monson has a lot more room to roam around since her historic old home at Ninth and Oak
was remodeled and added onto two years ago.
First built in 1904, the building is reputed to be haunted...
Please let us know if you have any stories you'd like to share!
Contact us at:email@example.com.
The Watchful Settler
In a house at 927 Oak Street in Steamboat Springs built in the late 1800’s there lived and maybe lives still what
might still be an early Yampa Valley Settler.
He seems to be a friendly ghost and comes around often just to be sure everything is going OK.
In a story told by Steve Elkins whose family moved into the house in the late 1940’s, the spirit that may still call
this house home usually walked the stairways and halls later in the evening.
“The door would never slam, and it seemed like he came out of the trap door in the floor or a hole in the
basement. Sometimes we thought that he came in from the warehouse where the City Café is now located in
the new Centennial Hall.”
He would come in from the back of the house by the living room and very consistently stop on the main floor to
scan the room, checking to see if everything was OK. The creaky footsteps could be heard on the narrow
stairway that one went up about ¾ of the way and then turned to the landing on the second floor. Steve knew
every step on the stairway and the specific sound that represented that spot in the path. The pattern was
always the same, creaky footsteps on the stairs, a pause on the landing, and a few more steps to the top of
the stairs. When on the second floor, the first stop was his sisters bedroom on the right. Another pause,
checking to see if all was well. Then down the hall to check to see if the others were settled in. The creaking
always ended down the hallway at his sister Vickie’s room.
At times, it seemed as if someone was just standing and looking at you, which was really a scary thing for a kid.
Everyone in the house, Steve, his 4 sisters and Mom and Dad all frequently experienced the presence of the
friendly spirit, maybe as many as 3 to 4 times a week. Even in returning to the house as an adult the visits
continued and the family just learned to live with the phoniminia. Just watching and checking to see that things
are kept in order.
The Back Door
Lucy Bogue, a friend of Mrs. Elkins once gave her a model of the stairway with a ghost making its way up the
stairs. In 1964 there was a fire in the back room of the house burning the kitchen, the sister Marvine's room
and a big hole in the felt board wall. The Settler must have been smoked out for a while as some time went by
without hearing the spirit.
In learning more about the story, we visited with the City of Steamboat staff now working in the building. One of
the employees, intently listening to Steve's story, whether it was a sence of confirmation or more of concern,
had recently when working late at night, heard the sound of footsteps creaking, and a strange presence of
something in the room. The hair stood up on the back of his neck and he described almost an identical
experience to the story Mr. Elkins told of his near nightly experiences years ago.
The Carver Power Plant
And then there was the story of the spirt in the Carver Power Plant, an adjoining building. The energy in this
building had been felt for some time, but different from the feeling in the old house next door.
Is it the energy that was present as part of what was being produced in the building or is it another spirit? Is
this spirit good or is there evil lurking?
Spirits of Perry-Mansfield
Portia Mansfield was a calm, easy going flighty, singing happy dancer. Charlotte Perry portraying many of the
opposite of these traits, was well remembered as the intense, tall and thin redhead. Helen Smith the third of the
three friends was the quiet brain of the group.
The times and experiences of those who knew them are precious. The spirits of these three wonderful women
and others are all over the camp and have been seen often since their deaths. The stories are told by many
who have seen them....
This photo was taken in the Fall of 2002. Some say it's a glare from the sun as the photo is taken looking over
the Equestrian Center through the woods to Cabeen. Others say it's Charlotte getting into the picture to let us
know she is there watching over the camp.
Little Ballet Studio
Charlotte Perry (Kingo)
The Autumn Dancers
Little Ballet Studio
Among the 62 buildings on the 72 acre Perry-Mansfield Campus, Little Ballet was one of the favorites of Portia
and Charlotte. The building sits up on the hill over the costume design studio. Many people have heard the
piano playing and have seen the two of them dancing in the evening moonlight. After being compelled to go up
the stairs to the dance theatre, only to find there is no one at the piano, there is no one dancing. Down the
stairs again, to hear the faint sound again of the piano playing!
Although no one knows if it’s really true or not, many say they have seen the ghost of the young beautiful New
York girl named Eve who was said to have died back by the Beaver Pond toward the back of the property.
As this long told camp story goes ….
Kingo (Charlotte Perry) would frequently recruit young talented dancers from New York where she stayed in
the winters. One year a young woman named Eve was invited to come to Steamboat to Perry-Mansfield for the
summer along with her handsome boyfriend, who we believe was called Tom. She was a dancer and he was in
the theatre. The young couple was very much in love.
As the summer went on, a young beautiful evil girl from California came to camp and stole Tom’s attention
away from Eve. They had an affair. Tom felt very guilty and the evil girl told him that if he didn’t break up with
Eve she would tell the whole camp about his unfaithfulness.
Tom decided he should take Eve on a walk back by the beaver pond. He told her what he had done and she
became hysterical. To calm her, he slapped her across the face and she fell to the ground hitting her head on
a rock. He, assuming she was dead and not knowing what to do, threw her into the beaver pond.
No one ever knew exactly what happened as he went totally insane and was admitted to an institution. They
searched for Eve’s body and never found it.
This part for sure is true… even today ...and many have seen her..if you walk down to the beaver pond at dusk
and call to Eve.
"Eve come up from the pond. Your spirit is not dead”, she will rise from the pond to respond to the calling.
Charlotte Perry (Kingo)
“It’s definitely a good ghost story,” says Rusty as she tells of her encounter with Kingo. She’s in the trees, she’s
in the leaves, the buildings. There is nothing bad. She’s watching over everyone.
Some time, not too long ago, Rusty, who was teaching theatre at the camp and the maintenance man named
Phil were sitting in the evening in a cabin on the Perry-Mansfield campus named Cabeen. This is an old cabin
formerly owned by Charlotte Perry’s sister, Magorie Perry. They were reading Tarot Cards and asking each
At one point, Rusty, asked a question about Charlotte. At that moment a little grey mouse ran out from one
side of the fireplace and walked across to the other side.
A few more questions were asked then another question came concerning Charlotte. Again the little mouse
came out and walked across the front of the fireplace as if to say – I’m here.
Phil and Rusty, a little puzzled, switched the topic of the questions. Each time they returned to a question about
Charlotte, the mouse would appear without one exception. Hours and many questions later they were
convinced without doubt that her spirit was there.
It was peaceful, nothing scary. There was no fire in the fireplace, it was a wonderful evening!
The Autumn Dancers
There are frequently sightings by many different residents of the camp. In September of 2002, the camp
caretaker was out feeding the horses late at night. He was walking in behind Louis Horst studio calling for the
horses. He could hear laughter and music inside Louis - when he approached he noticed the lights were on
inside. The music subsided when he got right next to the building - but when he walked a short distance away it
started up again and he could hear feet pounding the floor and laughter again. Louis Horst was the first
building on camp to be locked up for the winter, the doors are screwed shut. No one has been in it since the
last week of August!
The Film Ghost at the Chief Plaza
Alex of Steamboat Springs provided the following "ghost story"... (THANKS ALEX!)
If you have more to add about the "Chief Plaza Ghost", please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a bit of a poltergiest in the Chief Plaza Theatre, Downtown.
Really only the people who work there know about all this. You may hear stories all the time about people who
are closing late at night--when they reach the door, and turn everything off, all the lights come back on and the
projectors start turning again, which is quite irritating. The ghost mostly hangs out in theatre 3, which is the one
directly to the right of the concessions stand.
I can tell you that personally it is really creepy cleaning that theatre after a showing, not at all like the other
theatres, and the lights often flicker off and on in unusual patterns when I'm cleaning.
From what I gather, the ghost is probably the ghost of the origional owner of the theatre, back when it was one
big and fabulously adorned theatre, rather than four smaller ones.
Supposedly he was very dedicated to that place and loved it very much.
So there you go. Another ghost of Steamboat.
The Chief Plaza Cinema
Downtown Steamboat Springs
813 Lincoln Avenue
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
Owned by: Carmike Cinemas
Picture from http://www.rockymountainfun.com/
The Catamount Heritage Cabin
The Heritage Cabin at Catamount Ranch: Catamount Ranch & Club preserved the Heritage Cabin and barn,
two buildings on the west side of their lake that are over a century old which can be rented out for events or
The Harold Family homesteaded the ranch and property - and built the cabin in 1910.
But it was the Danver family- the cabin's next occupants- that experienced tragedy.
In 1918, the two little Danver girls succumbed to the flu emedemic. The children were buried on the property
Several visitors and staff members have reported hearing the girls playing, laughing, singing or dancing.
Inside the cabin, they can be heard throwing marbles on the upstairs floor or playing tricks on guests, turning
lights on and off.
Source: Colorado Ski County Media Center
Source: 5280 Magazine- October 2005 (p. 87)
Superb article in the Steamboat Magazine!
Winter 2006: Yampa Living
by Gena Fischer
Downtown on Ninth Street there sits a house that dates back to 1904. Ask any old-timer about haunted houses
and this place is at the top of the list. The owner, Dr. Kernaghan, fell on hard times and sold the house to a
local banker who lived there for many years with his sister, Laura, a woman who never married and died in her
According to local legend, Laura lived happily in the house during the 1920s and ‘30s until she was seriously
injured in a car accident in Wyoming and returned home crippled by her injuries. Laura spent the rest of her
days sitting in her rocking chair and died in 1949. Some say she died in the house. Many say strange things
started happening in the house after Laura and Dr. Kernaghan were gone.
Glenn Jones was in sixth grade in 1967 when his family moved to Steamboat. “Steamboat was a pretty open-
door community back then,” Glenn says. So when he and his dad came to town to check out a house on Ninth
for the family to rent, the owner warned them that the house was haunted and told the two to go ahead and
spend the night.
“It was snowing hard, but there was no wind,” Glenn recalls. “In the middle of the night, the front door opened,
then shut, like someone had entered. My dad checked it out but there were no tracks in the snow. We thought
it was strange but didn’t give it much thought.”
Glenn’s family moved into the house and Glenn enrolled in school. “I became known as the boy who lived in
the haunted house,” Glenn says. “We just thought people were having fun with us because we were the new
family in town, asking us if we’d met Aunt Laura, the ghost.” But Glenn and his family soon learned differently.
“We rented the house furnished. Living in the house, we soon noticed things would rearrange themselves,
vases and such, little changes that were barely noticeable. But then an old rocking chair started rocking by
itself. We figured we’d met the Aunt Laura everyone was talking about,” Glenn says. “My friends all wanted to
come over and see the rocking chair rock, and sometimes it did. But it wasn’t like the ghost would come out
and visit when everyone was around.”
When Glenn’s sister, Sally, invited friends over for a slumber party and a chance to see the chair rock, Glenn
decided to play a prank. “I tied fishing wire to the chair and planned to get up at 2 a.m. and rock the chair
myself. I thought it’d be fun to hear them scream. Unfortunately, that night I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until
morning. When I got up, Sally showed me the fishing wire and yelled, ‘Good job, Glenn. You didn’t fool us when
you made the chair rock last night!’ She wouldn’t believe me when I honestly told her I didn’t do it.”
Glenn’s family never saw Aunt Laura, but they all heard her. There were footsteps upstairs when nobody was
up there, and many nights at exactly 2:35 a.m., there would be a loud banging noise on the heating pipes,
even though back then there were no timers or controls. “A couple of times, the television would turn on while
the family was sleeping,” Glenn says. “My dad would get mad at us for watching TV in the middle of the night
even though we hadn’t.”
Perhaps the strangest thing to happen involved an old phonograph. “The basement was the creepiest place in
the house, but I was a curious kid and I thought it was cool down there. It had a bunch of antiques and lots of
old stuff. My favorite was an old RCA phonograph that just wouldn’t work. I spent literally hours trying to make
that thing play music, but it wouldn’t. It would only turn a time or two around – never enough to make any
sound – so I finally gave up. A month later we all woke up to the sound of music coming from the basement.
The phonograph was playing by itself.”
Mike Williams, a local painter who grew up in Steamboat, remembers the house well. “I was a friend of Glenn’s,
and all us guys thought it was great fun to go over to his house and watch the rocking chair rock. We’d lie still
at the top of the stairs and spy down into the living room. I saw the chair rock several times. Once we saw the
cabinet doors in the kitchen open and shut by themselves. There was weird stuff that went on in that house.”
Glenn’s mom eventually put the rocking chair in the basement to calm her nerves.
In the 1970s, local attorney Mike Holloran and several partners purchased the house and turned it into offices.
Although Mike has not had any ghostly experiences himself, many of his secretaries have been spooked and,
according to Mike, “Nobody wants to work here after hours.” Once a brother of one of the partners decided to
spend the night in the house, but showed up at his brother’s doorstep well before dawn. Things seemed to
have calmed down since Mike gave the rocking chair away and remodeled the house.
The Rehder Building at 803 Lincoln Ave- which houses Antares Restaurant
Photo from the Steamboat Pilot
Another infamous Steamboat haunt, the Rehder building, was built around the same time as the Ninth Street
house. Originally known as the First National Bank Building, Harry Rehder purchased the house in 1937 after
the Great Depression forced the bank to go under. Harry’s son, Henry, and his wife, Helen, inherited the
building and built an apartment on the second level, where they lived part-time until they died. Today that
apartment sits empty and is believed to be haunted.
“Oh, they’re here,” says Rocky LeBrun, an owner of Antares Restaurant, which occupies the back half of the
building. “We’ve named one of them Bennie, and there’s another named Old Man Shaw. He died in the
apartment upstairs, and that’s fact, not fiction.” Rocky says there is also a lady ghost, who appeared one night
when a cook sat down to take a rest. “She looked over and there was this woman sitting next to her on the
couch, all dressed up in an old-fashioned dress.”
One night Rocky was sitting at a table when the glasses in the bar started clanking together. Then there was a
loud thump on the bar. “I assumed it was Bennie,” Rocky says. Most of the activity is up in the attic, where the
spirit of Old Man Shaw is believed to be. “There’s a lot of banging that goes on up there,” Rocky says, looking
towards the ceiling. “In fact, my ex-partner actually saw an entity in the attic. You get the chills up there. And
the dog goes nuts when he’s in the attic, barking like crazy at something you can’t see.”
Amy Ruminsky, an employee at Into the West Gallery, which until recently occupied a front section of the
building, said it’s not uncommon to hear strange noises or feel a presence in the upscale gallery.
“I was upstairs getting something for the store when I heard the sound of music, the kind you would hear
coming from an old-fashioned ice cream truck. I looked around but could not tell where it was coming from.
Then there were a couple of loud bangs and it was over,” Amy recalls. Coincidentally, the building housed the
Gold Coin creamery in the 1930s. Now owned by the city, the Rehder Building will be preserved as a historic
monument as Helen Rehder requested and will house the new Steamboat Art Museum.
(Yampa) Rufus of the Royal Hotel
Local spirits aren’t just within Steamboat’s city limits. Just ask Kris Ager. Kris knew nothing about ghosts when
she and her husband, Bill, purchased the Royal Hotel in Yampa in August 2000. “I never knew this place was
haunted,” Kris says. “But it didn’t take long to figure it out. Right after we bought the hotel, I was upstairs late
one night caulking the doorway to room 6. No one else was around. I heard footsteps walking across the
wooden floor, which sounded a lot like cowboy boots – and they were coming closer and closer. Whoever it
was stopped right behind me. I turned around expecting to see my husband, but no one was there. The hair
stood straight up on the back of my neck and I ran downstairs as fast as I could.”
A few days later Kris learned about Rufus, the legendary ghost of the Royal Hotel, who has been around
Yampa for so long that the community has even put on plays about him. According to local legend, Rufus died
either from a flu epidemic when the hotel was used as an infirmary or was shot dead when he was caught
cheating at a poker game. Regardless of his final event, Rufus has been spooking guests at the Royal since
“Doors slam when no one’s around, and sometimes it smells like cigars,” Kris says. “We’ve had guests leave in
the middle of the night.” Rooms 6 and 7 seem to be where Rufus likes to hang out, although he’s been inactive
lately. Kris says the only recent activity has been that Rufus likes to walk outside her office when she’s by
herself, and he loves to play with the lock on room 6’s door. “Sometimes you just cannot turn that knob, no
matter what,” Kris says. “But other times you’ll find the door wide open.”
Many of our own neighbors are living with restless parts of history that just won’t go away. But when you watch
that sunset over the Yampa Valley on one of those perfect winter days, can you blame the spirits for not
wanting to move on? Remember the Yampa Valley curse; once you visit here, you can never leave. Maybe the
curse is true for even those from beyond.
Back to home page