Monday, October 19, 2020

5 Colorful Colorado Ghost Stories by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #ghoststories #halloween


This article kicks off my series of 13 Days of Spooky Blogging for Halloween, that I will post daily on my blog HERE and on Facebook HERE

Several of these 13 spooky blog articles are my first-hand, paranormal experiences. 

On to my first spooky article...

Every state has its paranormal stories and urban legends. Since I’m a native Coloradoan, I’m sharing five ghost stories from my home state.

Baldpate Inn, Estes Park, Colorado – Newlyweds Gordon and Ethel Mace homesteaded in Estes Park in 1911. They built a cabin for themselves along with small tourist cabins as a money-making endeavor. In 1917, they were financially able to build their inn. They named their inn after a novel in which guests received their own metal keys to the inn. They continued this until WWI when metal was too expensive to continue doing this. Instead, their regular visitors started bringing them metal keys, which became a “Key Room” of over 20,000 keys from all over the world. After their deaths, staff and visitors have continued to encounter Ethel in the Key Room, where she sits in a wing-backed rocker near a fireplace reading the Bible.

Baldpate Inn - Key Room (citing HERE)

Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado – This hotel is host to several ghost stories.

Henry Cordes Brown opened the hotel in 1892. It soon became ‘the place’ to stay. One of the ghost stories involves a Denver socialite who lived in Room 904 from 1940 – 1955. The story of her life involves heartbreak and a lost love. When the hotel began offering tours after 1955, phone calls started coming into the switchboard from her room, which was undergoing renovations and did not have telephone service connected. Once Room 904 was removed from the tour, the mysterious phone calls stopped.

Ellyngton’s is the current name of the main dining room. It was the San Marco Room during the Big Band Era. The story goes one night an employee heard sounds in the room. He investigated and discovered a string quartet practicing. He told the musicians there weren’t allowed there. The reply was not to concern himself, because they lived there.

The apparition of a man dressed in ‘old-fashioned train conductor’s uniform’ was seen for a moment then it disappeared through a wall. The wall was where the railroad ticket used to be.

A uniformed waiter is frequently seen in the service elevator.

Happy, laughing children have been seen running in the hallways.

A baby’s cry is often heard in the boiler room.

Brown Palace Hotel (citing HERE)

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado – Stephen King put the Stanley Hotel on the map as a result of his book, and later movie, The Shining. Freeland Oscar Stanley opened the hotel in 1908 as a summer hotel, because the hotel was unheated. For whatever paranormal reasons, the hotel has had hauntings and odd happenings throughout its history.

The ghost of a Lord Dunraven has been seen in Room 407 where he stands or peers out one of the windows. Lights in the bathroom also turn on and off of their own accord.

Inside and outside of Room 481, sounds of children playing can be heard when there are no children around. Doors open and shut by themselves, elevators take off on their own, invisible footsteps move along the hallways, music plays without musicians, and apparitions of men, women, children, and Mrs. and Mrs. Stanley are regular occurrences.

Stanley Hotel (citing HERE

Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado – Red Rocks, the outdoor amphitheater, is the site of the legend of the Headless Hatchet Lady. There are various renditions of this legend from the hatchet lady simply being a homeless woman who chased people away from the cave she lived in to her being a headless woman with her coat over her head who rides a horse and wields a bloody hatchet as she chases anyone, particularly young couples, who dare explore the remote Red Rocks.

Yet another version explains the hatchet lady as a woman homesteaded in the Red Rocks area, who guarded her daughters’ reputations with that hatchet. Any man she caught taking liberties with her girls would come up missing important body parts.

Hence, the reason the rocks are red.

Town of Morrison - Red Rocks in background (citing HERE)

The Hotel Colorado, Glenwood Springs, Colorado – The Hotel Colorado opened in 1893 as a luxury resort. This hotel is associated with all sorts of paranormal activity. One origin story for the on-going and unexplained paranormal happenings is the land where the hotel sits was cursed by the Ute Indians, when they were forced to relocate around 1880.

Since then, there have been sightings of ghosts of people who died in the hotel walking the halls, sounds of women’s voices and the clicking of typewriters where neither exist, and faces peering in (and out) of windows.

The basement served as a naval hospital and morgue during World War II. On the main floor, the story of a ghost named Bobbie has been traced back to the 1940s. She was a nurse in the naval hospital, and she was possibly killed by her jealous lover/military officer who was stationed at the hotel/hospital. A cover-up followed, but hospital staff spilled the story.

Soon after the murder became common conversation around town, guests and staff began smelling a specific perfume in the area of Bobbie’s favorite table to the buffet line and back to the table. (‘Gardenia’ – perfume from 30s and 40s and no long produced)

Another ghost named Walter hangs out in the hallways and in the lobby, particularly in the evening. When Walter shows up, cigar smoke accompanies him. There is controversy over the identity of Walter. It’s thought he might be the spirit of E. E. Lewis, who became the general manager in 1905. Lewis took great pride in the hotel.

In Room 661 upstairs, a ghostly woman wearing a floral dress is often seen standing over the bed, and she will doggedly come into the room and close the window when a guest opens it. She has been heard to insist people stay out of the draft.

Hotel Colorado (citing HERE)

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer


American Farmhouse Style
Legends of America
Denver Post
Colorado Homes Magazine
Hotel Colorado

Friday, October 16, 2020

What's the Score? How the West Was Won (1962)

How the West Was Won
(1962, MGM) has been called one of the last great epic screen Westerns. Directed by John Ford and running for nearly three hours, it featured the ultimate Western film cast: Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John, Wayne, Richard Widmark, and was narrated by Spenser Tracy.

 My copy of the United Artists LP, produced by the Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra, features linear notes by Norman Weiser, president of Chappell Music Company of New York, part of London’s Warner-Chappel, the world’s largest music publisher. Weiser says “The music has the potential of long-span popularity for it has been critically acclaimed as one of the best motion picture scores to be heard in many years.” Weiser wasn’t wrong, in 2005, the score was listed at number 25 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years of Film Scores.

 Composed and conducted by Alfred Newman and originally released by MGM Records, the music was nominated for an Academy Award by lost to Tom Jones.

 The movie’s story is told through a series of five vignettes: The Rivers, The Plains, The Civil War, The Railroad, The Outlaws, spanning 50 years and following four generations of the Prescott family as they move west from New York. What makes the full-length score so spectacular is the way Newman arranged for particular styles of music to play off specific settings.

 This clip, the original recording by the MGM Orchestra is sweeping in its majesty, energetic and fun. Just like the film.


Debbie Reynolds sings three songs in the film, “Raise a Ruckus Tonight,” “What Was Your Name in the States?” and “A Home in the Meadow” to the tune of “Greensleeves.”

 The original selections on my United Artists LP are rounded out with Newman and Ken Darby’s arrangements of traditional tunes, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “I’m Bound for the Promised Land,” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” 

Compared to the original recording in the clip above, the Hollywood Sound Stage Orchestra version of the theme I have here is anemic at best, and just goes to prove the old saying of Let the Buyer Beware — “Music from the Motion Picture” might be stretching the truth.

After growing up on a Nebraska farm, Richard Prosch worked as a professional writer, artist, and teacher in Wyoming, South Carolina, and Missouri. His western crime fiction captures the fleeting history and lonely frontier stories of his youth where characters aren’t always what they seem, and the windburned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. In 2016, Richard roped the Spur Award for short fiction given by Western Writers of AmericaRead more at

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

An Appreciation for MAN OF THE WEST (1958)

Anthony Mann (1906-1967) directed some of the most respected western films of the 20th century (WINCHESTER '73, BEND OF THE RIVER) and arguably his crowning achievement was MAN OF THE WEST (1958). Somehow, this extraordinary cinematic gem starring Gary Cooper and Lee J. Cobb escaped my viewing until last month. I've now watched it three times (it's currently streaming on Amazon Prime) and plan to watch it even more. In my ever shifting top five, MAN OF THE WEST joins McCABE & MRS. MILLER, MONTE WALSH, WILL PENNY, and THE OX-BOW INCIDENT.

The demonstrative screenplay by Reginald Rose was based on THE BORDER JUMPERS (1955) by Will C. Brown. I savor so many aspects of this narrative with the King Lear hat tip, the cowboy who can't escape his past trope (but packaged fresh here), and how, once bitten, you can never quite rid yourself of the venom that flows through your psyche. No character is so minor as not to have a well developed backstory, helping to drive the overall plot.

Inspired by MAN OF THE WEST, I wrote this little free verse homage. I hope you enjoy. And I'm interested in what you think of Mann's movies.

Like a Sickness Come Back (after Man of the West)

Growing up killing, thieving,
and running, was all Link Jones
had known—his uncle Dock Tobin
saw to that, teaching him outlawing.
Uncle Dock would laugh, reminisce
of that time they stole eleven grand
and Link held on to an innocent man
as Dock took the guy's head off.

Dock's self proclaimed “right arm”
grew weary of notched guns,
fast draws, and wanted poster fame.
He had more of his late ma and pa's
grit in him—more Jones than Tobin spit.
It took time but Link came into his own
learning to not bet everything on the throw
of the dice, border jumping and the wild life.

Yes, indeed, Link escaped those blood ties
"Rot or become better," he said,
and believed what he preached, for a time.
Until, by bad luck, he saw Uncle Dock again
and the rest of his knuckle dragging kin
Link felt like killing them and that’s just
what he did saying that it was,
“Like a sickness come back.”

David Cranmer is the editor of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and whose own body of work has appeared in such diverse publications as The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Under the pen name Edward A. Grainger he created the Cash Laramie western series. He's a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

New Release -- PARSON JIM by A. L. Shane


A brand new Western adventure from A.L. Shane! 

Cowboy James Martin was nicknamed Parson Jim because he carried a Bible in his saddlebags. However, Martin turned out to be anything but godly. He killed Cocheta, the beautiful Creek Indian wife of Abilene Marshal Ed Bright, and later shot two cowboys who worked for rancher John Chisum. Then he fled to Indian Territory. 

Marshal Bright and Pete Butterman, Chisum’s foreman, began the search for the murderer.  With the help of Standing Bear, chief of the Creek Nation, and Red Eagle, a Creek warrior, Marshal Bright finally catches up to Parson Jim who was hiding with a rogue sheriff in Broken Arrow. 

The colorful characters, the inevitable showdown and surprise ending will keep the reader flipping the pages of this exciting story.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Happy World Post Day!

 October 9 is World Post Day, celebrating the anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, established by the Treaty of Bern in 1874. Before the establishment of the Postal Union, every pair of countries that exchanged mail had to negotiate a postal treaty with each other. These negotiations could sometimes drag on for years. The United States took the lead in 1863, calling for improvements to international mail arrangements, but the first International Postal Congress failed. Then, in 1874, Heinrich von Stephan, Postmaster-General of the German Reichspost, called for another congress, during which the 21 delegates agreed to all of von Stephan’s proposals.

The treaty provided that:

1.     There should be a uniform flat rate to mail a letter anywhere in the world

2.     Postal authorities should give equal treatment to foreign and domestic mail

3.     Each country should retain all money it collected for international postage.

From 1799 to 1815, a letter in the United States cost: 

·       8 cents/sheet, sent 40 miles or fewer.

·        10 cents/sheet, sent over 40 and up to 90 miles.

·       12.5 cents/sheet, sent over 90 and up to 150 miles.

·       17 cents/sheet, sent over 150 and up to 300 miles.

·       20 cents/sheet, sent over 300 and up to 500 miles. 

·       25 cents/sheet, sent more than 500 miles. 

In 1845, the Department began charging rates based on weight and whether a letter was going more than or fewer than 300 miles. In 1851, the distance limit for the lowest rate increased to 3,000 miles, which included most of the United States, while an even lower rate was charged if postage was prepaid. In 1855, the prepayment of letter postage became mandatory (previously, postage could be paid by the sender or the recipient, or partially by each).

At first, envelopes were rarely used, as they would count as another sheet of paper. Instead, the sender simply folded the letter so that a rectangle on the outside was blank, wrote the address there, and sealed the letter with wax. To save space, people usually filled one side of the sheet of paper, then turned the paper 90 degrees and wrote cross-wrote the rest of the letter to fill in the blank spots. Postage stamps were invented in 1847 and became mandatory in 1856.

On March 3, 1863, U.S. postage was charged based on letter weight, without consideration of distance. The same act that decreed this also created three classes of mail:

·      Letters (First-Class Mail)

·      Newspapers and other periodicals (Second-Class Mail)

·      All other mailable items (Third-Class Mail)

In 1800, the speed of the U.S. mail was limited by natural forces like wind, water currents, or a horse’s pace. By the end of the century, mail trains were crisscrossing the country with postal clerks aboard, sorting mail in transit. In between, the Postal Service utilized whichever form of travel was speediest and most dependable: steamships, stagecoaches, trains, and horses. Perhaps the most famous of these delivery services was the Pony Express, in operation from April 1860 to October 1861. It ended when the first transcontinental telegraph line was completed, but during those 18 months, the young riders made history.

Railway mail clerks had one of the most dangerous jobs in the postal service. They worked elbow-to-elbow on the fast-moving cars, trying to accurately sort the mail before they reached the next destination. Often the train wouldn’t even stop – the clerks had to toss the mailbags out the car’s window while snagging the town’s mailbag on the fly. Until the 1920s, most mail cars were made of wood, lit by oil lamps and heated with woodstoves. They were also sandwiched between the heavier locomotive and passenger coaches, which made the mail car vulnerable in case of a wreck. Trains derailed because of livestock on the track, open switches, broken rails, washed out bridges, and oncoming trains (to name only a few hazards of rail travel). Even a sudden lurch could injure a clerk if he lost his balance.


The first mail contractors were on horseback, but in 1785, the Continental Congress instructed the Postmaster General to award mail transportation contracts to stagecoach lines, which were preferred over horseback even though they cost more and were sometimes less efficient. In March 1845, an act took steps to reduce mail transportation costs. Congress offered contracts to the lowest bidder for “what may be necessary to provide for the due celerity, certainty and security of such transportation.” These were known as “celerity, certainty and security” bids, but postal clerks shortened it to three asterisks (***) or stars, and they became known as star bids. The routes were then called star routes. Still, throughout the 1850s, the Department kept on preferring stagecoaches to horseback over some routes. 


In 1859, Postmaster General Joseph Holt criticized the “enormous sums” paid to stagecoach companies to transport mail. He declared, “In advertising for the new lettings, ‘Star Bids’ … will alone be invited … without any designation of modes of conveyance.” The 1860 annual report is the last one to discriminate between “coach” and “inferior” modes of transportation. Contractors had to be at least 16 years old (until 1902, when the age was raised to 21), and were bonded, having taken an oath of office. Until 1865, carriers must be free white persons, and their typical four-year contract didn’t provide payment for missed trips (regardless of weather conditions). They provided their own equipment, too. Most star route carriers traveled by horseback or horse-drawn vehicle, with the odd boat, sled, snowshoe, and ski thrown in during the winter. Dogsleds were used in Alaska until 1963.


If your character utilizes the Postal Service for any reason, consider the travel time and danger involved in its delivery. One thing for certain: your character wouldn’t be able to expect same-day delivery!


J.E.S. Hays



The United States Postal Service: An American History -

Thursday, October 1, 2020


If short stories are my first and best love, then short westerns are that magical summer affair that seems all too rare and fleeting.

Firmly middle-aged, the heyday of western shorts was well before my time. Nowadays, new, quality western shorts show up once in a blue moon.

For the most part, they’re treasures dropped in from another time. An era when somebody like Elmore Leonard could dash off a yarn for the slick magazines and be paid a decent amount—and maybe even get a movie option out of the deal. A time when a man (or woman, for that matter) could feed a family of four on a monthly production schedule of four or five tales. 


Perhaps even then.

In 2020, besieged by a global pandemic and a contentious political climate, Western Fictioneers set out to rekindle that magic. We set out to tackle the darkness head on—with stories about the dead of night. 

In the shadow of the earth, under western stars, our characters lived and breathed, laughed and cried, slapped leather, spurred dirty broncs and rowdy mounts, and lit a bonfire for each of us who contributed. I’m surely not alone when I say that contributing to this collection was one of my summer’s high points. 

Now, as autumn leaves begin to blaze new color through the trees behind my house, releasing this collection to the world is even more of a joy.

ALL proceeds for the book go back to Western Fictioneers. None of us are being paid for the work we're doing. It’s truly a labor of love.

As a reader, you’ll find stories about family, lost and found. Tales of Civil War and reconciliation. Gunfighters. Bounty hunters. Small towns and cemeteries. You’ll find ghosts, real and imagined. Adventure and romance. You’ll make new friends and rekindle old flames. You’ll live under western stars, with a harvest moon overhead and laughter and suspense all around. 

Today, October 1, 2020, please click over to Amazon on the link below and join Easy Jackson, Jackson Lowry, Meg Mims, Gordon L. Rottman, Angela Raines, Clay More, Michael Newton, Big Jim Williams, Susan Murrie Macdonald, James J. Griffin, Jerry Guin, Ben Goheen, Barbara Shepherd, Charlie Steel, J. E. S. Hays, Jeffrey J. Mariotte, Edward Massey. Benjamin Thomas, Kevin Wolf, G. Wayne Tilman, and Terry Alexander for a night around the campfire.

Enjoy the magic.

Richard Prosch



Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Post by Doris McCraw writing as Angela Raines 

I decided to finish the last part of this s
et of posts on Colorado Lawmen with the men from some of the smaller towns. The links to the first two parts are in the following links.

Colorado Lawmen - Part 1: Colorado Lawmen. Colorado Lawmen - Part 2, Colorado Lawmen - Part 2. Now Part 3 and last part of this series of Colorado Lawmen.

Adolph E Cook was the marshal in the town of Como, Colorado. If records are correct he was born around 1855 in Poland. In 1882 he married a Mary Finn. The 1880 census shows his occupation as wheelwright.  In the news report of his death in 1894, they say he'd been elected City Marshal two years prior. The man who shot him claimed the marshal had come to his home and demanded he put his hands up. The man shot and killed Cook. This is the joy of research. Other news reports from 1888 have Marshal Cook arriving in Buena Vista, Colorado as a witness in the Dago Trial, which is another post) for having arrested one of the six men accused of murder. As more information about his death became known, the marshal had gone to the home of J.E. Streeter on a complaint of noise. Mr. Streeter shot the marshal and was sent to Canon City to be hanged, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Image of Baxter Stingley - Salida Archives

Salida, Colorado had Benjamen 'Baxter' Stingley as their City Marshal.The above image is from the Salida Archives.  He was shot and killed while attempting to serve a warrant on men wanted for stealing cattle. Stingley had gone to the Arbors Variety and Dance Hall to serve the warrant. The ensuing gun battle left the Marshal bleeding and he died shortly after the incident. There are a number of articles about Marshal Stingley. One such was that Stingley had been in an altercation where he was also shot, but the badge he was wearing deflected the bullet. 

I will end with Jasper ' Jack' Ward, who had been marshal of Tin Cup, Colorado. According to one news report, Ward was an athletic man, standing 6'2" and weighing around 210 pounds. After the previous marshal had been shot and killed, Ward stepped in and pinned on the badge. In the recollection article, the writer said " Upon the invitation of the town authorities, Jack pinned on the star, and it is needless to say his powerful presence, magnificent courage, and ready use of the revolver made him master of the situation and the exodus of the aforementioned "bad" men from the particular locality soon became a stampede."

For more information on these men, 

Jack Ward: News article remembering Jack Ward

Baxter Stingley: Death of Baxter Stingley

Adolph E. Cook: Park County Tails

Doris Gardner-McCraw -

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women's History
Angela Raines - author: Telling Stories Where Love & History Meet

Monday, September 21, 2020

Shine on Harvest Moon by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #harvestmoon #bluemoon


The Harvest Moon can occur in September or October. When the Harvest Moon is in October, the September full moon is called the Corn Moon or Barley Moon. The Harvest Moon is so named because in the olden days of traditional fall harvesting, this moon provided the much needed dusk-until-dawn illumination for people to work the extra hours in order to bring in the harvest.

The rule for determining which moon is the Harvest Moon is that it is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox.

The autumnal equinox this year, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, is September 22nd. Since the September full moon occurred on the1st,  that puts the next full moon on October 1st. As an added moon-bonus, there will be second full moon in October, which is called a Blue Moon. It will occur on the 31st. This Blue Moon is also the Hunter’s Moon.

How cool is that to have a full moon on Halloween?

According to the online Farmer’s Almanac, “…the first time a Halloween full moon has appeared for all time zones since 1944.” The ‘all time zones’ is truly rare, because a full moon on Halloween is less rare as it comes around about every 19 years according to an astronomical calculation called the Metonic Cycle.

The Farmer’s Almanac explains: …the Metonic Cycle was discovered in 432 BC by the Greek, Meton, of Athens. He determined that after 19 years have elapsed, the phase of the Moon will repeat on the same date. Well . . . not always. Because of slight variations in the Moon’s orbital period, and the number of leap days that intervene over a 19-year time span, the Metonic Cycle can be accurate only to within a day.

The ‘all time zones’ statement is problematic for me, so I searched for an explanation. The website Lunar Abundance offers this article, “Is it the full moon at the same time around the world?” You can read the article HERE.

I’m still unclear on this, but I don’t care. I like full moons, and when there’s a Blue Moon on Halloween, I’m happy as a little piggy in mud. I don’t need to understand how it can be viewed on the same day in all time zones. ;-)

A Blue Moon comes around every 2 ½ to 3 years. The last one was in March 2018. The phrase once in a blue moon doesn’t mean the moon is literally blue colored. It means it is something that happens relatively rarely in a lifetime.

Another way Blue Moons are determined besides being the second full moon in a month is when there are four full moons in a single season, the third full moon is the Blue Moon. For 2020, the October Blue Moon meets this second criteria, too.


The Farmer’s Almanac predicts Halloween Full Moons in 2039, 2058, 2077, and 2096 (the 19-year pattern).

Here’s hoping for clear skies on Halloween for our viewing enjoyment of this rare Hunter’s Moon / Blue Moon.

I’ll close with this YouTube video of Leon Redbone performing the old standard, Shine on Harvest Moon.

Aside: With the ‘new and improved’ Blogger, YouTube videos tend not to show up when you’re reading from a phone. If you are so inclined, you can go to YouTube and watch this video. Search for Shine on Harvest Moon by Leon Redbone.


Until next time,
Kaye Spencer

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