The wind is wailing past the mountainous red rocks of Pikes Peak, and as a motorcycle slows and stops near mile marker 13, a bedraggled woman draws attention to herself.
It’s 1973, and construction work on Pikes Peak is taking place near the summit.
One worker stopped near Glen Cove to smoke a cigarette when a wet and nude woman appeared.
According to legends, the worker threw his leather jacket around her shoulders and gave her a ride to the nearest toll booth.
He described her grip as “clammy,” and her breath against his skin as “freezing, icy cold.” The woman didn’t stick around once they stopped at the toll booth, throwing off his jacket and running back up the hill, according to records of his account.
The next morning, the worker took a receipt he discovered in the pocket of that jacket to the Glen Cove gift shop, dated Sept. 21, 1932. It was only then that he learned the woman who rode on the back of his bike was actually a ghost.
Wynona “Mona” Roberts and her husband were on their honeymoon when their car crashed off the edge of Pikes Peak Highway in 1932, plunging 150 feet down the mountain. The newly wedded woman didn’t die at the scene, but three weeks later she succumbed to her wounds in a bathtub located in the couple’s honeymoon cottage in Manitou Springs.
Or, perhaps she was killed with a hammer by her new husband, something he allegedly admitted to (alongside the murders of his five previous wives), and was subsequently executed.
Her ghost is known as “Desperation Mona” and is always found at mile marker 13 on the mountain — a ghost that has begun to act up again, according to reports from current construction workers on the mountain.
Construction has closed the upper six miles of the highway, and Stephanie Waters, author of several books focused on the ghostly activities of Colorado Springs including “Ghosts, Legends and Lore of the Rockies,” said one worker contacted her to tell of an encounter he had with Mona.
“He said the naked ghost at mile marker 13 on the Pikes Peak Highway has become especially active lately,” she relayed via email. “I’m assuming it’s because of all the construction going on up there, as the new summit house is supposed to be open soon.”
This is just one of several reportedly haunted attractions to be found in Southern Colorado — although visitors will have to plan carefully and earn a little luck to see any of the supposed ghostly entities.
From Manitou to Trinidad, Cañon City and beyond: Colorado hauntings abound
Many Manitou Springs locations are said to be a hotbed of hauntings, with many pointing to the previous reverence held for the area by Native Americans.
“Manitou” is a belief among the many Native American tribes of “mysterious being,” representing an unknown supernatural force. With the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in the area, the mineral springs of the area were considered a medicinal gift of the Manitou through their combined religious beliefs.
Now, visitors can visit any of the eight springs and experience the medicinal minerals themselves. But historians and theorists speculate that a curse has been laid on the area after developers in the early 1870’s developed a resort to provide water therapies.
Since then, many have headed to Crystal Valley Cemetery in hopes of catching a glimpse of some of the graves associated with strange deaths and morbid tales.
Ghost-enthusiast and author Waters leads tours through the cemeteries, offered on a mostly seasonal basis.
Farther south in Cañon City, many cite the Museum of Colorado Prisons as a haunted hangout.
The museum focuses on early prison life from Territorial Prison days and onward, and also houses exhibits on some of the most infamous inmates, such as Alfred Packer who was sentenced to the clink for cannibalism, or Antone Woode who was convicted at the age of 12 of murder.
However, the museum was once a prison itself, and some say the more distraught inmates still roam the area. The museum offers private paranormal events throughout the year to help guests experience the phenomena.
The old gas chambers of the museum are said to be some of the most active areas for paranormal activity in the complex, as are the archival rooms where some belongings of past inmates are kept for posterity.
The museum prides itself on its ghostly residents, and has many ghost-themed events throughout the year. A Gold Rush Ghost Encounters is planned for Halloween, which will show visitors some of the spookiest tales relating to gold diggers in the American Southwest.
In Trinidad, ghosts are also said to be found out and about.
The Bloom House, a stately Victorian-era mansion of a banker and cattle baron who went by Frank Bloom, is now under the care of the Trinidad History Museum.
Bloom’s son was said to have died of typhoid, and many say a ball can be heard rolling down the stairs in the house. His daughters have also reportedly made appearances to visitors, seen walking around the property.
Several ghost stories have been tied to the servants’ quarters in the house as well.
The Baca House is also said to be a haunted site in Trinidad and is also owned by the Trinidad History Museum.
Some say the house’s second owner, Felipe Baca, suffered an untimely death in the house. The house was later turned into a boarding home, and in 1945 it was reportedly the site of a murder. Some claim her footsteps can be heard on the second floor still, and other times a shadowy man has been seen watching out an upper window of the home.
A vanishing stain is also associated with the home, according to the History Museum’s ghost guides.
Southern Colorado is also home to several ghost towns – for those not as interested in paranormal activities
If actual ghosts are too intimidating, perhaps a ghost town is a better destination.
Many ghost towns, mostly from mining communities, exist across the southeast corner of Colorado.
St. Elmo is perhaps one of the best preserved, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The town is said to have been fully deserted in 1922, as mines started to fail and the Alpine Tunnel closure began to impact travel to the town. However, the Stark family settled in the area for a few years later. The town “officially” died in 1952, with the closure of the U.S. Post Office located there.
The two remaining residents, Tony and Annabelle Stark, were sent to a mental institution, eventually being released but dying a few years later.
Annabelle may still roam the town, according to some legends.
Chieftain reporter Heather Willard can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.