Mountain Peak Paranormal Investigations

Paranormal Investigations and Research

The Cripple Creek Elks Club Investigation 8/13/2011

On August 13, 2011 MPPIR investigated the Cripple Creek Elks Club building on 4th Street and Bennett Avenue. For our group, the most active place was the dining room with shadows, noises and EMF readings galore.  The second most active place for us was the Club Room where the bar is and is probably the room most used in the building by the Elks members.

Below is a picture taken in the Club Room during the investigation that warrants attention due to its distinctive nature. All the pictures taken that night are clear except for one that is not for a different reason.  This picture appears to have water droplets on the lens and many Orbs.  In fact, it’s an Orb Lover’s Dream. So all you believers in those pesky things that show up in our photographs that we can’t see with the naked eye chime in here. It also has a duplication of some lights, as if it had a stuck shutter.  Either the auto-focus isn’t working or it is focusing on something I can’t see. Examine this picture closely and write in your conclusions and reasoning.

My camera is a Canon Power-shot SD 1200 IS digital that I have had for several years. It is clear when it is not focusing so I know to take another picture and I will have a blurry one. It takes a long time before it will snap the picture-if at all.

The next two pictures are an example of “now you see it, now you don’t”.  They were taken one right after the other in quick succession, in the retail space on the first floor on Bennett avenue that is to the left of the main entrance of the Elks Club and is part of their building.  We were lucky in that it was empty so we could spend time there last night.  The importance of this space is that is was the location of the killing of Sam Strong in 1901 at what was then the Newport Saloon and Gambling Hall. In an altercation with the saloon’s owner, Grant Crumley, over gambling debts, Crumley shot Strong with a shotgun and killed him.  Whether or not he died there or later is unknown but there is a description of this on a plaque at the front door and in the Outlaws and Jail Museum as well as numerous publications.

The white dot on the wainscoting below the chair rail appears in the first picture, but not in the next.  If its duct, it’s quite a dense mote and pretty interesting that it appears and disappears so quickly. It does not appear in any other pictures nor do I remember seeing it on the wall.  Thoughts? Reasoning? I can’t explain this either.

Last, but not least, is a picture taken at the beginning of the night in the dining room where the MPPIR Staff and Guests congregated before we left to go to our first location.  The interesting aspect of this picture is the clarity in the front of the picture compared to the blurred image of the face of the woman in the purplish shirt standing in the group farther back. It looks like she has two faces.

Could these pictures be anomalies of my camera?  Explanations? Thoughts? Experiences?

© 2011 MPPIR, Blog and Photo’s Nancy


The Elks Club Cripple Creek’s Hidden Architectural Gem Right Before Your Eyes

Everyone sees the sign: B.P.O.E. emblazoned on the 4th Street side of the Elks building at 375 Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek.  But they are practically by the entrance before they realize it.  That’s because, the entrance is a double door that opens onto a staircase.  The first floor is occupied by Nana’s Nook on the corner and an empty retail space that was the Newport Saloon and the sight of the famous shooting of millionaire mine owner Sam Strong on August 22, 1901.

The Benevolent Protective Order of Elks is an old and wonderful organization that provides  many groups with necessary elements that enhance the lives of children. The Order has about 450 members who uphold time-honored values of community and family. They do this without fanfare or self-aggrandizement.  There is a rich history of the organization in Cripple Creek.

The building that houses this organization is one of Cripple Creek’s architectural gems.  Starting out as the Mining  Exchange Building which handled all the financial business for the huge gold strikes not only in Cripple Creek, Victor, Gold Field, and Altman, but for the rest of the state as well including the booms in Leadville and Breckenridge.  The three-story brick building was built after the 1896 fires and continued as the Mining Exchange until the Elks purchased it in 1911 when the gold boom started to wane. The first floor was always retail space, housing a pharmacy owned by G R Lewis, a successful pharmacist as well as gold mining investor and The Newport Gambling Hall. It is here that the more  dramatic history of the building took place.

The entry speaks of private membership itself.  The double doors open onto an interior staircase that climbs to the second story where either a key card, received at initiation, or the door bell gains you admittance to a lobby that is dominated by a 100-year-old Elk. Dark Victorian wood railings, staircases, finials, and molding and plush carpeting create the hushed atmosphere of the Victorian era that is the foundation of the construction.

The walls are lined with history. Photographs of groups, members, and the building itself along with lists of members during the years of existence, create a history rich in personal voluntarism. Private is the word that describes this hallowed hall. The rooms are a maze of old and new as much of the building is exactly the way it was constructed while adding new necessities over the years.

Until about 12 years ago, the Order was a men’s only organization. The building provides sleeping rooms which can only be occupied by Members and their Wives (not girlfriends) with bathrooms down the hall. With the admission of women, two Ladies Rooms have been added, changing walls and floors. These renovations, along with the addition of a new furnace upstairs and the state of the art kitchen, have moved walls and floors which makes the building Cripple Creek’s version of the Winchester House.    Windows extend up into the ceiling of the Ladies Room, a window that opens to nothing, doorways that create hallways through rooms.

 The Grand Hall at the back of the building was added around 1950. With its lighted stained glass over the head chairs, its seats around the walls and the presence of seating in the balcony, the Grand Hall is exactly that. Under the balcony is an atmospheric bar complete with Art Deco mirrors and mahogany paneling.

The empty retail space to the left of the entry housed the Newport Gambling Hall before the Elks purchased the building. On August 22, 1901, Sam Strong was shot to death by Grant Cumley, part owner of the Newport over a gambling debt dispute with Strong. Crumbly raised a shot-gun and fired, killing Strong.  Strong died a few hours after the altercation. Crumbly was tried and found innocent. The presence of the Newport brings a completely different energy to the first floor of the building.

The building is well worth a tour for its Victorian architecture, its history and its quirky original construction and renovation. Like many buildings in Cripple Creek with their dramatic and sometimes violent past, the Elks Club has an ambiance of Victorian stability and a hint of the mysterious.

Colorado Prison Museum, Canon City

The former Women’s Prison is the home of the Colorado Prison Museum, which is located at 201 N 1st Street, Canon City, Colorado.  The sage green building was constructed  in 1935, 61 years after the construction of the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, which is still an active prison to this day and was in operation until 1968.  For the next twelve years, it housed male inmates in the honor system and for training.  It opened as a museum in 1988. The museum displays information on the prison system from its opening in 1871 to today, highlighting penal information, inmates, interesting information such as visits by the movie industry, and displays depicting live in prison – both for men and women.

The Colorado State Penitentiary was built-in 1868 on 25 acres of land donated by Jonathan Draper of rough-hewn stone and consisted of 44 cells. The first prisoner was John Shepler incarcerated in 1871. The first female prisoner was Mrs. Dr. Mary Solanden (#60) of Boulder in 1873 for manslaughter in the abortion death of a patient.

Women at that time were housed in the men’s facility. The arrival of women to the penitentiary caused some consternation. There were 44 cells  The prison had an iron sink, a toilette and a slop sink.  No one knows where the women were originally housed. In the 1880’s the warden requested money for a female facility since female prisoners now numbered 10-12, which was granted and a facility was built for the women of 6 cells over the laundry and bath houses. In the 1890’s money was requested and granted for a workroom and a matron. This was still inside the prison walls.

The Women’s Prison outside the wall was constructed in 1935 and operated until 1968. During that time, there was a prisoner Mrs. Vandenstahl who was in cell one for two years with a sentence of 25-40 years. Her twenty-two year old lover shot and killed her husband and told police that it was her idea.  After an appeal, she was released.

Women were allowed to decorate their cells, participate in cosmetology classes and did their own laundry. Two women escaped by climbing over the fence while no one was looking. They were apprehended in a few days, tired and apparently ready to come back.

There are 32 cells on the upper level and offices, including the Matron’s Office.  The lower lever contains the kitchen, cafeteria, class room and storage. Most women were incarcerated in the early days for performing abortions, prostitution, larceny and conspiracy. Today, women are mostly incarcerated larceny and drunken driving. The female population varies from year to year and has been declining. The facility also housed male prisoners who were in the Trustee program and was used for training.

The museum shows a part of prison life and a part of prison history in each cell and displays along the central hallway. Life in prison in the early days was much different from today. Prisoners were subject to corporal punishment using the “gray mare” a large saw horse that they were bent over. executions were by hanging, than gas chamber, than lethal injection, the last of which was Gary Davis in 1997. Interestingly, capital punishment was outlawed in 1897 and reinstated after a riot in 1901. Originally, there were no walls around the prison had only 4 guards. Work crews were sent out with no guards to work on roads and other municipal projects. No women have ever been executed. The male population today stands at 700 with available work programs for the inmates.

During the tour, you can hear the guards next door projecting their orders through loud speakers. The ancient prison wall topped with two tiers of coiled razor wire glints in the afternoon sun a few feet from this building that is surrounded by green grass, tall trees, and a wall topped with a fence ten feet high.

One of the prison’s most famous inmates was Alfred Packer, Colorado’s famous cannibal. With a party of five men, he left Montrose for Breckenridge and encountered a fierce snowstorm. Lost and low on provisions, Packer was the only man to survive the ordeal. His story was that one of the other members of the party, Shannon Bell, was the killer and consumer of the men. Packer said he killed Bell in self-defense. Packer was tried for murder in 1874 under Colorado laws but the crime had been committed in 1873 Colorado Territory. He was incarcerated in Colorado Territorial Prison, Canon City.After an appeal got him a new trial in 1896, he was convicted of manslaughter and got 40 years. Paroled in 1901, he died in 1907.

Joseph Corbett Jr was convicted of murdering Adolph Coors III in October 1960 for Coors murder in February of that year. Coors remains wer found in September 1960 around Pikes Peak. Corbet had kidnapped Coors and sent a ransom note. He subsequently killed Coors and was apprehended in Vancouver, tried, convicted and incarcerated in Canon City in October 1960 until 1978. He committed suicide in 2009. The Coors family refused to respond to the ransom note.

Antonne Woode was incarcerated when he was 11 years old in 1893 for murdering his neighbor for his gold watch. He was paroled when he was 23 in 1905. During that time, after killing a guard and taking two more employees captive, Woode escaped with Thomas Reynolds, C.E. Wagner and Kid Wallace. Woode and Wallace were found three days later, Wagner was never found and Reynolds was found by a mob and hanged outside the prison where his body was left until the next morning. Despite that, Woode was not suspected other murder of the guard, Captain Rooney, and was paroled in 1905 at the age of 23.

Of the more interesting women prisoners was Angeline Garramone, received at the prison for Forgery & Uttering and was then received during her stay in January 1912 for murder. She was paroled in 1922 and discharged in 1972.

The main prison was also home to several riots, the worst in 1929 and 1947, and 77 executions, several escapes both successful and unsuccessful. No sentence of execution was ever given to a woman.

©2011, MPPIR, Blog Nancy B, Photos; Frank C and Nancy B

The Assay Office – Cripple Creek District Museum Complex

The Assay Office depicts and explains the assay operation, vital to the gold mining industry.  Samples of ore were brought to the assay office to ascertain their  value in price per ton which was calculated from a small amount of rock.  It was a complicated but necessary process to find out if a location was profitable enough to file a claim. Men were made millionaires or paupers from the information from this process. This was the first place a miner took his find.

The Assay Office

The building on the Cripple Creek District Museum property, between the District Museum Building and the Colorado Trading and Transfer Company Building was a garage in Victor that was moved to the property over 40 years ago.

(Author’s note: The picture on the right does not depict a ghost.  It does depict the photographer.)

The Colorado Trading and Transfer Company Building

Front of building

Part of the District Museum complex includes a building on the southeast corner of Bennett and Fifth Street with the name of the business it housed,  the Colorado Trading and Transfer Company. The building was built by the Carlton brothers, Albert “Bert” and younger brother Leslie. The brothers came from a wealthy family in Warren, Illinois. When Bert developed T.B. he moved to Colorado Springs in 1889.  Leslie joined him and the brothers heard of the going’s on in Cripple Creek and rode their bikes up there to see what was going on. Not bad for a T.B. patient with the use of only one lung.

The brothers started a firewood and coal delivery business. By the time the Midland Terminal Railroad arrived in Cripple Creek, the brothers had established a business transporting ore from the mines to the terminal rail head. They built the building at the corner of Bennett and Fifth in 1894 next to what would be the Midland Terminal Railroad Depot. Amazingly enough, the building escaped destruction in the two fires that razed Cripple Creek in April 1896. The building standing there today is the same building, refurbished in the early 1990s with funds from the City of Cripple Creek.

Bert and his wife Ethel lived on the top floor until 1898 when they moved to more suitable housing befitting Bert’s financial position in the town as owner of the First National Bank in Cripple Creek.  They moved to the top floor of the bank. The building was sold to the Midland Terminal Railroad in 1899  to continue its purpose as a freight depot for the railroad.

When the town was in decline after the bust of the Gold Rush, Carlton, known as “King Bert”, bought back the building and the Midland Terminal Railroad as well. In recent history, its most frequent inhabitant that we know of is Jan as it houses her office as the museum manager. It is furnished as it would have been at the turn of the last century.

There is also a gift shop that occupies the front of the entire first floor. Nancy, who is a museum employee, told me that yesterday, as she was straightening the books on the bookcase shown in the picture below (the bookcase is on the right hand side near the window), a book flew out of the shelves and landed on the floor about three feet away from the bookcase in front of the table under the window.  The book was titled “Ute Indians”. Perhaps they are looking for attention too.

The back half of the first floor is part of the museum display of memorabilia lining the walls and cases with information on the people, places and events that made Cripple Creek history.

©2011, MPPIR, Blog: Nancy B, Photo’s Nancy B & Frank C

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