Halloween, Ghost Stories, and Weddings! What? Weddings?


Yup, you read that right.  How do I get from the first two to the later? It’s easy when the wedding is in Estes Park, Colorado, at The Stanley Hotel, the famed inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shining.

First a little history. Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora, missing the east’s grandeur, opened The Stanley Hotel complete with electric lights, telephones, en suite bathrooms, uniformed staff and a fleet of automobiles in 1909 among the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado. However, by the 1970’s the hotel’s splendor had faded, and it might have been demolished if not for Stephen King.

The famed author stayed in Room 217 and a dream here inspired The Shining. The room is thought to be haunted by Elizabeth Wilson. Injured in 1911 in an explosion lighting lanterns in Room 217, when recovered, Mrs. Wilson became head chambermaid and worked at the hotel until her death. Since then, guests have reported luggage being unpacked (now this I’d appreciate ?) and lights being turned on and off. Mrs. Wilson, not a fan of unmarried couples sharing the room, has been known to show her displeasure by climbing into bed between them!

The Concert Hall is another room frequented by otherworldly inhabitants including Flora Stanley. When the hotel opened, F.O. presented Flora with a Steinway Grand Piano. Since her passing, guests and staff claim Flora can still be heard playing. Paul, a jack-of-all trades at the hotel, enjoys frequenting this room as well. Charged with enforcing the hotel’s curfew during his tenure, guests and workers claim Paul can be heard saying “get out” after hours. He’s also said to “nudge” construction workers and flicker flashlights for tour groups here.

On the hotel’s fourth floor, originally a cavernous attic where female staff, nannies and children stayed, guests report hearing children running, laughing, giggling and playing. People also claim a certain closet opens and closes on its own. In room 428, guests report footsteps and furniture being moved above them. However, many claim this impossible due to the roof’s slope. But the room’s most frequent ghostly visitor is a “friendly cowboy” appearing by the bed. Now that’s the room for me! What a great opportunity for hero research!

These are a small sample of the ghost stories associated with The Stanley Hotel. If you’re interested in more tales, I recommend Ghost Stories of the Estes Valley Volumes 1 and 2 by Celeste Lasky. (I purchased mine at The Stanley but they’re available on Amazon.)

If you visit Estes Park, maybe you’ll be inspired as I was. That’s where the idea for my first novel sold to Harlequin, Big City Cowboy, literally walked up to me. But that’s a story for another blog…

If you stay at The Stanley Hotel, could you’ll encounter F.O. Stanley hovering behind his staff at the reception desk. ? If you do, keep these tips from tripsavvy.com on how to capture ghosts on camera in mind. “Take five or six quick shots to capture a fleeting spirit. Oh, and bring up back-up batteries because paranormal experts will tell you if spirits are present, they’ll have a draining effect on your batteries.”

Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about a place where you’ve encountered a ghost or that’s left you feeling a bit creepy to be entered in my give away. And oh, yes, Happy Halloween!




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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

42 thoughts on “Halloween, Ghost Stories, and Weddings! What? Weddings?”

    • Susan, the neat thing about The Stanley Hotel is it’s so grand, beautiful and restful. So even if you’re not into ghosts it has great things to offer. Then there’s the connection to Stephen King and that The Shining mini-series was filmed there. The Rocky Mountain scenery is gorgeous. I could just sit outside and look at it for hours. Thanks for stopping by today.

  1. Happy Halloween Julie- I took a job in Winthorst, TX & they provided a home as part of my pay. It was a nice brick home only 10 years old. Well things started happening. I’d come home and my stove or burners would be turned on, doors to the guest bedroom would be open, closets opened, &/or windows, but the eeriest part was when I showered I felt like I was being watched!!
    This went in for about 3 weeks. Finally I mentioned to my boss what was happening and asked him if he seen anyone approaching my house, which was maybe 200 yards from my place of employment. He started laughing and said “Well it looks like Charlie has come to live with you!”
    My expression must have been priceless!! He said he’s the reason my wife & me live in town, she was not living in a house with a ghost. YIKES!!!
    Long story short Charlie was a young boy killed on the land where we worked years & years ago and he roams from house to house. My boss said he won’t hurt you, but he will scare you.
    So I asked my co-worker who lived in the other house across the dirt road from me and he said “Yep, Charlie is real and he’s visited us many times.
    So that evening I went home and had a talk with Charlie and told him you need to leave and stop turning on my stove before he burned the place down. I didn’t stay but 2 more months then I moved. After my talk my stove stayed off, but I always felt s presence.

    • Tonya, wow, what a great ghost story! You’d think your boss would’ve warned you about Charlie so you were on guard. The burners turning on when you were gone had to be scary. I’m glad Charlie was willing to listen about that one. I’d have added that he needed to stay out of the bathroom when I was in there!

      I’ve never seen a ghost. Not even at The Stanley Hotel, which some sources say has had “unusual” occurrences in every room! Some of us just can’t see them. I’m suspect I’m one of those people. But then I think that’s maybe a good thing. I’d probably be scared to death if I saw one, or my luck, I’d encounter one of those angry spirits.

      Thanks for stopping by today.

    • Oh my gosh! Tonya, what an amazing story. That would’ve been pretty scary all right. I think I’d have freaked out. I’ve had touches and someone sitting down beside me, even felt the cushion sink down. After I my dad passed away, I was washing clothes and felt someone behind me. I whirled around and saw him plain as day. Then he vanished. And I’ve had a lot of encounters with my husband’s spirit that have been really comforting.

      • Linda, the comforting kind of encounters with a loved one are the kinds I’d like to have. I’ve been thinking about my grandmothers lately and how much I miss them. They were both such a great influence in my life. Losing them impacted me so much because there are so few women in my family.

      • Linda- That is amazing about your dad and your husband I truly believe they’re watching over and protecting you.
        And yes I was very scared with little Charlie running around but I’ve had to make myself be brave.

  2. My encounter with the supernatural happened on a back road I always drove home. I worked 3-11 pm at the time. So it was always approaching midnight when I turned onto this road. Well my husband had told me if you turn on this road directly at midnight a guy would get in the car with you and get out when you passed the graveyard. So I would always try to be before or after midnight when I turned on this road but I guess this particular time I must have been right on time for I felt an eerie presence in my passenger seat and as I was approaching the cemetery my headlights went completely out I pushed in the knob and pulled it back out and they came back on. Scared the Bejezzes out of me because I am telling you these are back country roads and when my lights went out it was pitch black

    • Well I bet that was scary! I had headlight issues once on a country road and it’s very scary because its like you just went blind! Mine did not involve a ghost though! I wonder why midnight?!?!

      • Ooh, Stephanie, good question! Glenda, obviously your ghost’s antics were known in the community. Any idea why he only crawled in the car with folks driving by at exactly midnight?

    • Glenda, my grandparents lived in rural NE Iowa on a farm, so I know what you mean about it being pitch black. I bet that was scary when your headlights went out. That’s what worries me about ghosts. I can handle pranks and good natured fun, but it’s things that are dangerous like Tonya’s spirit turning on burners in an empty house and your ghost turning off your headlights that worry me. I don’t mind ghosts being around, but don’t get me hurt! I’m so glad you were able to turn the lights back on and he left them alone! Sometimes I hear ghosts can be stubborn about wanting things their way.

      Thanks for sharing your story with me, and Happy Halloween!

  3. Well I bet that was scary! I had headlight issues once on a country road and it’s very scary because its like you just went blind! Mine did not involve a ghost though! I wonder why midnight?!?!

  4. Well my ghostly encounter was with a man that is part of the history of Erath County, Texas. He’s refered to as Old Man Snow and resided close to Selden, Texas. He murdered his wife, mothe-in-law and step son. My encounter with old man snow happened on Halloween in the 80’s. A group of friends and I decided to go out to “Old Man Snow’s and other touted scary places for entertainment on Halloween. There were 3 or people 4 people in the cab of the truck and 4 or 5 of us in the bed of the truck. The old dirt road had one of those old wood bridges that you have to keep your tires boards as you cross. Well Trey that was driving was going really really slow over the bridge. My friend Sandy got a really scaried look on her face all the sudden and started gripping my arm really tight as she was looking toward some shrubs in the direction of Old Man Snow’s house. I look in the direction she was and there was an old man with a long beard looking back at us through the shrubs. We started yelling for Trey to go faster and instead he parks the truck and comes back to see what we’re screaming about! Anyway, Monday morning on our lunch break we go to the library to find a book about the Old Man Snow murders and sure enough the picture of Old Man Snow looked just like the man we saw.

    • Stephanie, your story gave me chills. First of all, leave it to a man to park a truck to see what the trouble is when you tell him to speed up! Old Man Snow is not a ghost I’d want to run into. I’m interested to know the particulars of his case. Why did he kill his wife, mother-in-law and stepson? Was he killed by police? Was it murder/suicide or did they catch him and he died in prison? I’d be worried with his history that he wouldn’t be the nicest of ghosts. How does Old Man Snow act when he meets people! I need details!

      • Well the was no reason for old man Snow to be back home so I can’t explain why we saw him in those bushes. Could have been just someone dressing up like him and out to scare kids like us. Here’s his bio…

        Francis Marion Snow, who was called “F.M.,” was born in 1881 in Texas, the son of James Simon Snow and his wife, Elizabeth (Rushing) Snow. He was what was called a “bad seed,” frequently in trouble with the law and local officials.

        F.M. Snow married Margaret (“Maggie”) Olds as her 5th husband in the 1920s. She had a teenage son: Bernie Connally, by a previous marriage, that lived with the couple, along with her mother, Samantha A. (Jones) Olds.

        On 27 November 1925, all three of these Snow family members were murdered at their farm near Stephenville, Erath Co., Texas. The severed head of Bernie Connally was discovered in a sack by neighbors Elvis Riggs and Ben Aycock, shortly after the triple murder. The other bodies were then located. Naturally, the serial-killing event shocked the town and state, becoming headline news.

        Maggie’s husband, Francis Marion Snow, already an ex-convict, was soon singled out as the prime suspect in the triple homicide. He was tried and convicted in 1926 and incarcerated on Death Row in Texas’s State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas. He was put to death there on 12 August 1927 by electrocution. His execution was number 41 in Texas and the first public execution to be covered by a female newspaper reporter.

        A local Texas journalist, James Pylant, has written a documentary book: “Blood Legacy: The True Story of the Snow Axe Murders,” about the sad affair. It was first published in 2013 in hardcover.[1]

        The body of Francis Marion (F. M.) Snow is buried in the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery, Huntsville, Walker Co., Texas.[2]

        I guess his spirit refused to stay in Huntsville! Lol

        McDow’s Hole in Erath County has a lot of sightings and stories but I never had an experience there so I didn’t use it.

  5. I have gone on ghost tours in San Antonio and Galveston but really didn’t get any feeling of any creepy feelings or anything. The time I did was when my husband and I toured one of the historic homes in Galveston the day before a hurricane was coming. We both had the feeling of being watched the entire time. And the tour guide was even surprised we showed up for the tour as everyone else was leaving the island. We took it as our hint to leave and head back home right after that tour.

    • Janine, you sound like me. I’ve gone on tours in St. Augustine (the most haunted city in the US), San Antonio and at The Stanley Hotel, but haven’t seen any ghosts either. I have a friend, Jo Davis, who keeps having ghosts show up at her house. She saw them at her previous house, moved and has ghosts in the new place, too! Another friend, Nancy Haddock, encounters ghost all over the place. We were driving from St. Augustine to Orlando and stopped to eat. We were sitting at our table, and she said, “I just felt a ghost walk by.” Me? I felt nothing.

    • Melanie, I know what you mean. So people say that every guest room at The Stanley Hotel has had reports of some kind of “unusual” activity. A lot of the hallways and main areas (Concert Hall, big staircase for example) have reports of people encountering spirits. I’ve gone on a ghost tour in St. Augustine, reportedly the most haunted city in America, and I’ve never encountered one spirit. I don’t think I’ve ever even felt anything unusual. I mentioned my friend Nancy who said a ghost passed by our table at a restaurant, and I didn’t have even a twinge. I guess some of us just don’t have the special radar to sense spirits.

      Happy Halloween and thanks for stopping by.

  6. There was an old house that I had to pass on my way to school. I never went in but my 8 year old imagination always pictured what it might hold inside!

    • Connie, I bet your 8 year old imagination went crazy! Was the house abandoned? That always makes them scarier. Were there any stories about the house? Your little tidbit got my imagination racing wanting more details.

      Thanks for stopping by today, Connie!

  7. It’s funny that I was talking about The Stanley Hotel yesterday with a friend. She was telling me about her experience with the young ghosts there. I’ve seen an apparition here in my house. I was in the kitchen and whirled around and there was an elderly man staring back at me. He had a shocked expression like, “Oh no, she saw me” kind of thing. I got the feeling he was lost. I felt him once after that but now I think he’s gone. Hopefully, he found his way to wherever he was going.

    Happy Halloween, Julie!

  8. Happy Halloween to you too, Linda. So many people have encountered spirits at The Stanley Hotel. I was disappointed when we stayed there and I didn’t see one. Despite that, I enjoyed hearing all the stories and reading the two books Celeste Lasky wrote. Can you imagine how haunted the place must be to give Stephen King a nightmare and inspire The Shining?!

  9. When I was traveling through NM there were several ghost towns and captivating hotels which had amazing atmosphere. Doors opening and closing, air that whooshed through the halls and footsteps when you walked up the stairs. Very intriguing.

    • Anne, that’s the one thing I regret about when my son lived in NM–we didn’t explore the area much. I would’ve loved to visit some of the ghost towns. Maybe we’ll go back for a vacation some day. What areas did you enjoy the most?

  10. When I was young we visited a great aunt and uncle at their old home in the country. I am sure that it was just our imagination although the house had certain noises which old country houses have but we were captivated with this place and loved exploring.

    • Pearl, I thought the same thing whenever I visited my grandparents’ farm in rural Iowa. Even as an adult I would sometimes get nervous staying out in the middle of nowhere. It got so incredibly dark. Then on top of it, I kept recalling all those stories of people who lived on farms being killed. Not the best thoughts for falling to sleep. Thanks for stopping by to chat today.

  11. My sister’s house…she has had a spirit following her from house to house for years… first I heard walking upstairs when no one was up there… then one visit while babysitting, he turned on her touch lamps… told him I did not need it on and to turn it off, he did… then another time babysitting, I saw a shadow of a man walk down the hallway by my nephew’s bedroom… that one got my heart going!
    Happy Halloween!

    • Colleen, I’ve heard stories about spirits attaching themselves to particular people, but one that kept following your sister from house to house for years? That’s crazy. I wonder why the ghost chose your sister. They must’ve had something in common, or something about her personality drew the spirit to her. Thanks goodness her spirit sounds like it was only a little prankster and not one that meant her any harm. But still, I think I’d be a little creeped out, and babysit at my house, not hers! Thanks for sharing your story. Happy Halloween!

  12. During a severe winter filled with blizzards, ice and freezing days, which was normal where I lived my entire life we lost power and had the candles on the table when we were eating supper. The family were together for the first time in ages since the weather prevented an outing. There were several instances when we heard ghostly sounds and saw strange images. Being kids we were enthralled. It never did reoccur even though we had many more harsh winters.

    • Ellie, I wonder if a nearby spirit was drawn to the family revelry for some reason that severe winter. Maybe your family sounded like they were having too much fun and the ghost didn’t want to miss out. 🙂 Happy Halloween and thanks for sharing your story!

  13. We don’t have to go far. We have ghosts in our house. I felt their presence the first night we were there. The house was built in 1898. Those who have lived in the house before have recounted their experiences. Our son has seen a girl of about 10 standing near his bed. There is supposed to be a lady in white who appears on the upstairs landing. Hope not to see her since she is supposed to appear before someone dies. Our youngest daughter had a very frightening experience with one. She was house sitting for us with her infant son. She was asleep on the sofa in the addition family room. She got up the baby in the wee hours of the morning. She had a feeling she was being watched and it was menacing. She looked at the hallway leading to the old part of the house and saw a green “cloud” forming into a man. What convinced her it wasn’t her imagination was our dog, a lab. She had been asleep under the port-a-crib. She sensed the presence the same time our daughter did. The hairs went up on her back and she headed for the hallway growling. She was almost to it when it just vanished, at which point she quit growling and came back to the crib and lay down. She won’t stay at our house any more and her son is 20.

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