The Stanley Hotel
Only a stone’s throw away from the Rocky Mountains stands the infamous Stanley Hotel. More commonly known as the inspiration behind Stephen King’s The Shining, the Stanley boasts a luxury restaurant, spa and lodgings, ready to entertain its corporeal guests, as well as the many ghosts said to roam its halls.
Despite its fearsome reputation, the Stanley’s history is actually rather benign. When inventor Freelan Oscar Stanley, sought the fresh clean air of the Rocky Mountains to cure his tuberculosis, he was so enamoured with the little town of Estes Park, that he resolved to turn to into a resort town, with the then 48 room hotel at it’s centre.
The location gained popularity amongst the wealthy as well as those seeking a healthy retreat for their tuberculosis, and Stanly was so fond of it, it’s thought he still frequents his hotel in the afterlife.
Amongst other supposed ghosts is that of a housekeeper who was injured – but not killed – in a gas explosion in 1911. The room in which she was injured is said to be room 217, which horror fans will recognise as the room King and his wife stayed in, during their trip to the hotel. Guests have reported finding their luggage unpacked and the sensation of being tucked in at night. That being said, unmarried couples have reported feeling a chill between them in bed, thought to be the housekeeper encouraging them to wait until marriage.
Other spirits are said to include a man named Paul, who once worked at the Stanley, a woman known as Lucy, and a phantom cowboy appearing in the bed of room 428 – but don’t worry, he’s said to be quite friendly.
The rest of the hotel’s spirits are seemingly residual in nature, with reports of children playing across the fourth floor, where female employees and their children once stayed.
Today, the hotel futures a whopping 420 rooms, dining areas and, of course, an underground cave system, thought to contain a higher than average quantity of limestone and quartz, which many in the paranormal community believe will amplify any nearby spiritual activity.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Built in 1829, this former prison in Philadelphia, was revolutionary for its take on incarceration and rehabilitation, that being, the complete isolation of prisoners.
Each tiny cell had its own exercise yard, which prisoners were allowed to keep as they chose, but access to these were scheduled so that neighbouring prisoners were not allowed out at the same time. Cells had a small hatch where food was passed three times a day, and the doors were built to be small, forcing prisoners to bow as they entered, a sigh of reverence and penance. When moving outside their cells, guards hooded the prisoner, so they could not be recognised by others.
Although this enforced solitary confinement ended in 1913, but the ethos of the prison remained the same – to encourage criminals, who were mostly petty thieves and first time offenders, towards spiritual salvation, encouraging a change in their core behaviour through religious reflection. The building also housed a hospital block and “solarium” for treatment of inmates with tuberculosis.
It’s no surprise then, that Eastern State Penitentiary has become famous for its supernatural occurrences. Shadowy figures have been sighted in the halls and disembodied voices heard. Some say that even Al Capone, who was incarcerated here for eight months, was bothered by spectral cellmates.
Today, Eastern State Penitentiary is a site of cultural heritage and makes the most of its haunted reputation, hosting halloween horror events, tours and ghost hunts and art exhibitions.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Tuberculosis seems to be a bit of a theme in paranormal America, and our third and final entry continues that trend. Waverly Hills is a former sanatorium, in Kentucky, built specifically to house tuberculosis patients in 1910. As cases dwindled the sanatorium closed in 1961, only to be reopened the next year as a nursing home, which closed for good in the 1980s.
It’s estimated that over 6000 people passed away in Waverly Hills over the years it operated, and with so many deaths, it’s no wonder the sanatorium is a well renowned hot spot for ghosts, with balls of light, disembodied voices and strange smells being experienced.
Rumours also persist of the spirit of a nurse who haunts room 502. The story goes that the unnamed woman, finding herself unmarried and pregnant, hanged herself from the light fixture of the room in 1928. Then again, there’s a similar story of a nurse who jumped to her death from the window of the same room in 1932. Of course, there is nothing to prove or disprove these two stories.
Some paranormal investigators also believe the spirit of a young girl and a young boy separately haunt the sanatorium, with the boy said to roll his ball back and forth along the corridors.
Many of the spirits of Waverly Hills are said to haunt its most infamous locations, known as the “body chute”, a 600 foot tunnel beneath the buildings which was used to transport the deceased in privacy. Although incredibly practical, you wouldn’t catch me in there with the lights off.
Waverly Hills, along with Eastern State Penitentiary and the Stanley Hotel, have each hosted a variety of televised ghost hunts, so if you fancy yourself a bit of a paranormal investigator, why not book a tour?
It will go towards the preservation of these historic buildings, so if you’re ever in the neighbourhood and fancy, tell them Dr Hawthorn sent you.
They won’t offer you a discount or anything, it’ll just make you sound cool.
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