Monday, October 31, 2011

...he told me that when the lights went out he immediately felt like someone was standing right next to him. But, he was the only clerk on duty that night.

 Haunted History After Darks wants to give a HUGE thank you to all of our courageous guests this last week. We enjoy all your enthusiasm and insightful questions. During this Halloween season our tours have grown tremendously with the presence of both human and ghostly residents and visitors of Fort Collins.
This last week one brave ghost buster asked if the spirits are scared away by so many people coming into structures and locations where they inhabit and where we go. What we have learned from our tours and the evidence by photos is that it is quite the opposite. It seems that a congregation of humans attracts more entities and they seem to multiply in numbers according to the volume of the crowd. Local ghost whisperer and tour guide, Grace, adds that the reason people are picking up so much evidence of mists and orbs on our tours recently is because some entities may be already attached to some of the guests on our tour. And basically, they are just coming along with us. These spirits that include themselves could be family members or friends that have passed away and are already a part of that particular tour participant’s energetic circle.

Generously contributed by awesome tour guest Eileen Sake
So, orbs and mists picked up on equipment on our route doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a past historical resident that we talk about, which many are, but could also be a contemporary protective spirit surrounding a person on our tour. And with good reason! Our tours are filled with stories of the paranormal and historical events in early Old Town Fort Collins.

Many residents come to Grace and me with their own experiences and stories of the paranormal. Recently, I was at a convenience store on my route home from the tour. I mentioned to the clerk that I had noticed a day or two ago that the store was completely dark and asked if the power had gone out. The clerk behind the counter indicated that it had because of Tuesday’s storm. Then he took a deep breath and smiled and said, “Something weird happened that night.” He related to me that when the lights went out he immediately felt like someone was standing right next to him. But, he was the only clerk on duty that night. It happened at 1:30 am. He went on to say that the feeling of a presence standing over him was so intense and real and frightening that he fled the store and waited in his car for 4 hours with the engine running until a co-worker showed up for the next shift. He also mentioned that when they wash the glass door of the store there are always and inevitably small hand prints that show up near the bottom. He has no explanation.

“Dust in the Wind”. This last weekend while driving through country roads just 10 miles from Cheyenne on my way home from my regular job I heard this song by the very famous 1970’s band Kansas. I used to feel complete fear and anxiety of this particular song and would change channels immediately if it came on.  In the past, to me, it was a message of impending doom and sadness and despair and nothingness because of an event that happened to me while I was in my early twenties. In the spring of 1989, while in a little apartment in Salt Lake City, Utah near the University of Utah where I was attending school, I got a call in the early morning hours that my mother had suffered a life debilitating heart attack. I was told that she had died twice in the ambulance. That she had been brought back, but was not expected to live through the night. I was told to get on the next plane to Reno, Nevada where she was in a hospital in the ICU department, to say my goodbyes. She was only 54 years old. My entire life changed at that moment. In a bewildered fog I made arrangements. An hour after the call I got in my little yellow Toyota pick-up alone to make the trip to the airport and turned on the radio. This is the first thing I heard.

It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy.
“Now don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.
Dust in the wind. All we are is dust in the wind. “ -Kansas
My mother a year before her heart attack

My sadness was immense.  Although I hated the words I was hearing, I continued to listen hoping to get some solace, some message from the song that would help me cope. But, it was just too despairing. My mother meant more to me than just “dust in the wind”. I turned it off.
Even though the ICU surgeons told us her heart had literally exploded, somehow miraculously my mother survived.  Whether it was the intense love for her four children, her faith in God, her passion for art, or the strength from the “good stock” she always tells her children they came from, she lived.  She now is in her 70’s and is living happily in Las Vegas, Nevada. But, her experience changed all of us forever. Even until recently though, I have had a very hard time listening to this song. Then I met Grace.
Before a tour this last week, Grace told me about a friend of hers who had recently and suddenly passed away. A man she was very close to. She was very sad and said that she had energetically connected to this man in the spirit world. She said that he was depressed when he died and kept that depression with him in the afterlife.  Grace added that he had gone to a place that was so dark that she was unfamiliar with it and asked for benign energies or angels to help get him out of that space he had created.  With help and encouragement from her, after much hesitation her friend finally made the decision to go to the “Light. “
I have listened and observed and watched so many of these stories from Grace since I’ve had the opportunity to know her. From her I know now that even in the darkest of places HOPE lives and survives and has much more strength than even our darkest depressions, fears, and anxieties. That the will of the human spirit to experience PEACE outweighs its need to continue in pain.
Now, when I have the opportunity to listen to this song, even on my long drives from my work, I celebrate what the amazing authors were so brilliantly trying to convey in these lyrics.  I know that our time here on this planet is so short and what we make here for ourselves follows us. Our physical bodies are just “dust in the wind” but our spirits live forever. The friends that we make, the positive connections  and LOVE we share here last more than a lifetime.  And it’s ever changeable. Even in the afterlife we can accept and love ourselves and others. Death is not the end.  Thanks for hanging in there Mom.
…And  thanks for hanging in there Joe Mason, and Frank Stover, and Franklin Avery and all the early residents who we will never consider “dust in the wind”.  Thank you so much to these gentle spirits who have so generously let us bring their stories  alive for our Haunted History After Dark guests.
Enjoy photos from this last week below. Thank you also to the Fort Collins Zombie Stroll participants who allowed me to photograph and blog their photos.

Check out the orb directly on top of the guest near the center and top of the photo.

Gorgeous crowd!  October 22nd.
(The guest third from left is Alice Ashmore. Alice is a celebrated Texas journalist who is most famous for covering the Baby Jessica story in the 1980's Colleen, in direct center with blue coat on, recently lost her home in the California fires. She moved to FC just a few months ago and loves it. Fort Collins loves YOU Colleen!)

Grace in a snow shower October 25th.
Front row: Treloar, Tiffany,Collin. Back row: Amy, Rhonda, Bob, Starr.
Treloar, Tiffany, Amy and Starr are from the Fort Collins museum. Rhonda is a ranger with the City of Fort Collins Natural Area. She brought along her husband Bob and son Collin.

Fun October 22nd  guests
Wendy and Jim Abbott. Jim's Fort Collins roots run deep. His ancestors ran the Commercial Bank and Trust, which is now known as the "Vault". This was the first bank started by outside investors after the boom of the Sugar Beet industry and the event of the Union Pacific Railroad coming into town. The bank replaced Emma Malaby's grocery store which was moved to Meldrum Street. Haunted History After Dark was so honored to have these guests on our tour. Suzy was so excited she would have rolled out the red carpet for the Abbotts. To her they are like royalty. Thank you so much for taking the tour.

Madame Marie! We are here! We have cash! The awesome crowd from Oct. 29th. (City of Fort Collins Natural Area ranger Norm Keally and his beautiful wife DJ are in the center.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The story below was inspired by the spirit of a young early Old Town Fort Collins resident. His body was sent to a morgue after his unfortunate death in this frontier town, a location that Haunted History After Dark visits on their tour. The spirit of this young man appeared to Haunted History After Dark tour guide and nationally known psychic, Grace Cooley, just a little over a month ago. He is lost and scared and searching. Although Grace has communicated with him and attempted to send him to the other side, he returns. Grace has spent much time communicating with him and will eventually give him confidence to go to the "other side". On our tours we encounter many lost spirits, this particular spirit grabbed our heart strings. We hope the story below will provide a new understanding to some of the hauntings in Old Town Fort Collins. Thank you so much to all of our guests and supporters. You are making history every night you take our tours. Your amazing stories that you share with us become a part of the extraordinary town we call Fort Collins.
Stepping off the wooden sidewalk I saw,
a horse and a wagon. I thought it was Pa.
I yelled, “Pop wait!” But before I knew
My momma’s worst nightmare had all but come true.
People gathered round a young body in the dirt avenue,
From the tops of the buildings I watched some of the people I knew.
They carried the body to an old Oak tree,
Why were they so sad when I felt so free.
I witnessed a body that once held my soul,
Be put in a carriage, pulled by a bay mare and her young foal.
Confused by all the excitement,
I watched my limp frame go under strange treatment.
Behind a glass door my mother cried,
While a man in a white jacket prodded and pried.
I don’t remember much after this event,
But more folks have arrived and yelled and prayed at other bodies to “Repent!”
I stay in this place where I last saw my ma,
I know she’ll come get me, both her and pa.
Momma always told me to keep myself safe,
So I crouch in the corners, recesses and I found a dark place,
At this structure where I last saw her face.
Sometimes I’ll venture to look for her and walk towards the door,
My legs feel so light and don’t quite hit the floor.
Momma was right, because when I do this I hear people scream,
And they comfort each other, and say “it was only a dream.”
Many more have come to this place where I wait.
Old and young…we don’t know our fate.
A familiar face comes, a man Poppa once knew,
I go to him for comfort, but his face is all blue.
He notices me and says things will be “okay.”
Then I hear people sob and begin to pray.
I don’t know why, but I give people a fright,
So, I’ll be a good boy and come out only at night.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Even though this photo was taken on Jefferson Street last week in Fort Collins, it isn’t a group of die-hard Occupiers. And it isn’t a family photo (although Grace and I felt like family after spending a spooky night with these very courageous guests on the streets of Old Town). This was Haunted History After Dark tour’s biggest group ever! We hosted 27 awesome and brave participants for our Saturday night tour.  We want to give an ENORMOUS thank you to all of these ghost busters! We loved all of you (like family).
Auntie Stone
Sarah was especially interested in the history of the old Lindell Mills which is now Ranchway Feeds on Willow and Lincoln. The mill was actually the brain child of early resident’s Auntie Stone and Henry Clay Peterson. These two entrepreneurs built it way back in 1868 in order to grind the wheat, corn and oats that early farmers were harvesting, into marketable flour to sell to Denver and other neighboring cities. It is a true relic of Fort Collins and is one of the structures that kept Fort Collins growing. Way to go to Jane for her interest and insight in this particular structure! And thank you Elizabeth Hickok Stone and Henry Peterson for having the fore thought and ingenuity to bring an economy to this early frontier town and keeping it on its feet! It is rumored that one of the large trees in a parking lot just east of Ranchway Feeds is an Oak tree planted by Auntie Stone herself.
Christina Lintz, organizer of the Meet-Up Mingles also brought a fantastic group this last week.  Christina loved the first tour so much that she brought another group of courageous guests. We loved their passion for both the haunted and history of Fort Collins.
As Old Town Fort Collins is very haunted by spirits of the past, we always encourage guests to bring digital recorders, EMF detectors, cameras and whatever they need to get evidence of hauntings in Old Town. On our last Saturday night tour, this brave guest had brought along a phone that could take photos as well as videos. We are still going through those photos and will publish them soon, but what the participant caught was amazing! As local ghost whisperer and medium, Grace, was talking about a specific haunted location on our tour, I stood back to watch what our guest was recording. We saw one spirit in a blue form in front of Grace, then a brown figure formed in front of our crowd. After that we witnessed even another brown entity enter the frame and materialize. The guest turned her camera toward me, and saw an apparition standing just to my left, and the entities were multiplying as we watched.  I immediately got goose bumps.
This guest is Eileen Sake. Eileen is an award winning tour guide with the city. We were so honored to have her on our tour!
Grace and I have been giving tours every week since this last May. We are a grass roots, home grown tour. One of my sole and passions in life is to study the early residents of Fort Collins. Grace is a nationally, well known medium. On our tours and even through just exploring Old Town alone, I myself have caught many orbs and mists, and I have been verbally and physically assaulted by spirits. I processed these events okay with Grace’s help. I thought of myself as de-sensitized…but when I watched the video of this guests recorder live, and saw the enormous amount of spirits that were enveloping our tour, I was seriously shaken up. I had no idea that so much activity surrounded our tours. Although our guests that night were able to witness first -hand the events, and the video, we have not been able to publish it to you as yet. We will try to get this evidence to you soon.
On this tour we had one of the best crowds of ghost busters ever! This young crowd asked some of the best questions we have ever had regarding the haunted and history of Old Town Fort Collins. Thank you so much to our Thursday October 19th group! You were amazing and very brave! Wow! what a beautiful group! Their photos are below.

Contact for more information. Cost is 10 big ones per courageous ghost buster or 35 clams for an extra brave group of four. Cash only please.

 Stephen Stills begged Suite Judy Blue Eyes long ago, “Will you come see me…Thursdays and Saturdays…” What a coincidence! That’s when our tours are.  Will you come see us…Thursdays and Saturdays.  Or by reservation. 7:30 p.m.  Tours start at 136 W. Mountain Avenue home of Boutique Bravo and Mother Lode Gallery where owner Kate has been in business for a whopping 33 years! Check her out. And remember...YOUR HAUNTED JOURNEY STARTS AT DUSK!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sidewalk Psychic

Psychic and Medium Grace Cooley
Haunted History After Dark just completed another ghostly adventure on the streets of Old Town Fort Collins. This enthusiastic and courageous group asked many awesome questions for both well-known local ghost whisperer Grace Cooley and myself. We were joined tonight by the Native Women’s Circle from Colorado State University as well as two very brave participants from Denver, Isabella and John. Thank you so much to all of our wonderful guests tonight!  

CSU Native Womens Circle from left Kodi, Katrina, Lyla, Jessica, Heather

You are truly valued and are a crucial part of all the “sidewalk stars”, both human and spirit, that Grace and I love to have on the tours.
Isabella (center) and John (right) from Denver
YMSB courtesy of
Nederland based bluegrass group, Yonder Mountain String Band, has a song they call “Sidewalk Stars”. It’s one of my all-time favorite songs. I have listened to this song probably over a thousand times. But, while sitting at a red light on my route towards the location of our tours on a Saturday night I was hit head on at the corner of Shields and LaPorte by the lyrics to this song;
“You looked at me through old windows
And said, "Dust is all I know"
And you're so clean and I'm so tired
Like lovers' smiles and green marker miles
Can't go back that's much too far
I'm asking you to laugh
But after all
You love a tragedy
Hope remains a sidewalk star.”
Linden St. 1880's/photo courtesy of Fort Collins musem
I was T-boned, broad sided, by the words and I couldn’t help but think about all the spirits we talk about on our tour. Even on a tour we were getting ready to start in just a few minutes. From the dusty images that peer down to us from window frames, the lost early victims of tragedy, these are the “sidewalk stars” that come to us on our ghostly adventures in Old Town Fort Collins, and through Haunted History After Dark tour guide, Grace, hope remains.
Local ghost whisperer, Grace Cooley,  and I created this tour not only to help residents and visitors learn more about Old Town Fort Collins historical and haunted past, but to bring to life the early settlers stories, their past and their tragedies and triumphs. Our goal is to talk about their struggles in order to bring clarity to their successes in this early frontier town. Without the resourcefulness and courage of early residents like Joe Mason, the Stover brothers, Jay and Clark Boughton, and the Avery family, Fort Collins would have been a ghost town. Rabbit brush would inhabit where the Northern Hotel now sits.  Where Austin’s keeps customers busy on the patio of the Welch Block today, cotton tails and mule deer would have been the only guests dining on fringed sage and winter fat without these early settlers. But, early residents stayed, and the town flourished.
Frank Stover's store 1880's/photo courtesy of Fort Collins museum
Early Fort Collins brought in travelers looking for fortune in the West. Mercantile owners, miners, cowhands, cavalrymen, railroad workers and others looking for a new life flocked here in the 1860’s and 70’s. Hispanic and German-Russian immigrants came here when the Sugar Beet factory opened in the early 1900’s.

This mix of varied cultures in such a small area, unfortunately brought conflict, crime, persecution and often times death. Many times on our tours, those victims emerge from the early structures. To most of us they can appear as orbs, mists, or even subtle apparitions. But, to Grace Cooley they reach out as real as the guests on her tours. Often times, sad or angry faces and entities appear to her and other times more benevolent spirits, searching for a resolution and peace approach Grace on our tours. Grace says she sees entities in sometimes a human form, other times a color, such a spirit who recently contacted her in a blue form who she found out died of emphysema. Grace says that some of the people we talk about on our tour often follow her home afterward and some continue on our tour. Most are looking for peace; some are in search of attaching themselves to a human.
Grace says, “I am not nice like other mediums. I don’t question whether they would like to go to the other side or not.  If I feel a spirit has not gone to the “other side”, I don’t ask, I just take them (to the other side). Most come back and thank me.” Grace has contact with “historical” spirits on our tour, as well as more contemporary entities, or those who have passed more recently. Sometimes, if an entity is in too much pain, she will decide to take them to other side, sometimes even while we are conducting a tour, which is exactly what she did on this night. While connecting with spirits at an early brothel on our tour, Grace realized that there was an entity that was very frightened and lost and had attached itself to a particular building. Our guests were able to witness first-hand how Grace works as she gently talked to the spirit and guided her towards the light. What a treat for the rest of us!

Grace Cooley
Nationally well-known psychics like John Edwards and Sylvia Brown provide meetings and conferences to packed auditoriums, but, we are so fortunate to have our own “sidewalk psychic” giving insight to the lives, culture, tragedy and trauma of Fort Collins early residents, as well as clues to our own lives through Grace Cooley.  That intimacy with a genuine psychic is what makes Haunted History After Dark unique.
After tonight’s tour, as on all of our tours, Grace cleansed the group of any attachments, and of any negativity that had preceded our guests even before the tour.
If you would like a private reading with Grace or have questions regarding the haunted and/or history of Fort Collins please contact
Check out photos of other recent brave ghost busters on the Haunted History After Dark tour!

Contact for more information. Cost is 10 big ones per courageous ghost buster or 35 clams for an extra brave group of four. Cash only please.

 Stephen Stills begged Suite Judy Blue Eyes long ago, “Will you come see me…Thursdays and Saturdays…” What a coincidence! That’s when our tours are.  Will you come see us…Thursdays and Saturdays.  Or by reservation. 7:30 p.m.  Tours start at 136 W. Mountain Avenue home of Boutique Bravo and Mother Lode Gallery where owner Kate has been in business for a whopping 33 years! Check her out. And remember...YOUR HAUNTED JOURNEY STARTS AT DUSK!


Monday, October 10, 2011

History of Halloween or "All Hallow's Eve"

Halloween is my favorite holiday! As the ghost-whisperer part of our tour guide team, I'm thinking that any ghost tour blog site would be incomplete without some mention of Halloween at this time of the year, right? :)  There are many ideas about where the holiday of Halloween came from. And really, I think Halloween in the United States may be a combination of many different histories and traditions from many different cultures.  I tend to celebrate it much like the Mexican tradition of All Soul's Day:  I create altars to my ancestors on the other side and put things on them that I remember they liked.

The history that I am most familiar with is that coming from the Celtic tradition. In this history, October 31st is the year end and November 1st is the beginning of the new year. It marked the end of the fertile, harvest season and the beginning of the barren, winter season. It was a night when ancestors and those on the other side of the veil were said to be given permission to join the celebration and walk among the physical ones.

It was important to give out treats to anyone who came to the door in costume, b/c you didn't want to take the chance that the costumed ones were actually spirits that might be miffed if you didn't treat them. They might, at that point, put you on their list of houses to come back and haunt. They might curse you or cause mayhem, so you gave them a treat instead to placate them and insure against that. The night was seen as a way to honor, visit with and pacify spirits who had crossed over, but came back that one night to visit. So why not dress up and pose as a spirit if it meant some fun and getting free treats?! And who knows - then and now - how many of those "spirits" that come to the door are actually non-physical and just taking form for the night to have some fun?  Look at this site to get some interesting information about Halloween. And this website has some fascinating information about how the holiday is tied to Celtic traditions.

Other histories point to the holiday's proximity to All Saint's Day in the Catholic tradition. All Saint's Day is the Catholic celebration of all saints everywhere. It is my understanding that mass on All Saint's Day is a mandatory one for Catholics and occurs on or around November 1st. As in many histories, organized religions, governments and officials often would try and get 'backward' pagans to turn away from their pagan ways and come over to the 'correct' way of thinking. One way to do this was to position an official non-pagan holiday close to a pagan one, so that the celebration could spill over into the "correct" one and confusion would be seeded - to hopefully continue in the coming years - about what, exactly, was being celebrated.Thus we have the name:  All Hallow's Eve, or the night before an all-hallowed day.

Wikipedia has some fascinating information too, about Halloween in the U.S.  Among other things, they point out that:

"American historian and author Ruth Edna Kelley of Massachusetts wrote the first book length history of the holiday in the U.S; The Book of Hallowe'en (1919), and references souling in the chapter "Hallowe'en in America";
The taste in Hallowe'en festivities now is to study old traditions, and hold a Scotch party, using Burn's poem Hallowe'en as a guide; or to go a-souling as the English used. In short, no custom that was once honored at Hallowe'en is out of fashion now.[17]
In her book, Kelley touches on customs that arrived from across the Atlantic; "Americans have fostered them, and are making this an occasion something like what it must have been in its best days overseas. All Hallowe'en customs in the United States are borrowed directly or adapted from those of other countries".[18]
While the first reference to "guising" in North America occurs in 1911, another reference to ritual begging on Halloween appears, place unknown, in 1915, with a third reference in Chicago in 1920.[19]
The earliest known use in print of the term "trick or treat" appears in 1927, from Blackie, Alberta, Canada:
Hallowe’en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc., much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder by the word “trick or treat” to which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing.[20]"

 So no matter your tradition or reason for celebrating Halloween, I hope you have loads of fun this Halloween. :)  At Haunted History After Dark tours, we offered a special Halloween night tour and it filled up quickly!! So if you are out and about on Halloween night in Old Town in Fort Collins, CO and see us, give us a wave. We can be recognized by the red lantern that Suzy carries at the head of the tour. We may be in costume and some of our guests will be too, for sure.

To schedule a tour sometime after Halloween, email us at We require reservations so that the tours don't get too big. We would love to take you on one of our tours of Old Town. The cost is 10 big ones per brave person or 35 clams for a courageous group of four.
Our tours last about 90 minutes and they are a flat, easy walk. We don't usually cancel for weather (maybe if there were a blizzard blowing in), but meet each Thursday and Saturday with our reserved guests to let them decide if they want to brave the weather. :)  If someone still wants a tour, we do it, b/c we LOVE what we do!

Hope to see you sometime soon and Happy Halloween! Hope you get lots of treats! :)