Fact or fiction?

City has its share of spooky stories

Michelle Balleck

Dan Davidson has heard an earful about Craig being haunted. Many people believe there are ghosts looming around town. And many tell the Museum of Northwest Colorado about their spooky sightings, he said.

“Every few years, someone comes in and asks us questions about stuff like that,” said Davidson, the museum’s director.

In the spirit of Halloween, Davidson and Jan Gerber, the museum’s assistant director, recall some of most memorable other-worldly accounts.

One of the troubling ones, Davidson said, is about a house that was used as a make-shift morgue in 1918, when the Spanish influenza epidemic swept through Craig. Bodies were stored in the garage of the house, near Fortification Creek, until they could be buried some time later.

A few years ago, a group of girls inquired at the museum about a barn on the north side of town.

“They were out there partying and supposedly they saw what they thought were ghosts,” Gerber said.

But Gerber didn’t know the barn’s history.

Another woman, who was an employee of the now closed Burger King, told of seeing a male ghost walking on the stairs leading to the basement of the restaurant.

Davidson said the building used to be a filling station. Before that, it was just a hay field. He said he couldn’t imagine why the site would have spirits.

‘Terrible stories’

A well-known ghost story was one told by the late John Eilts, who used to own Coal View Ghost Ranch, east of Craig on U.S. Highway 40. Eilts, who died earlier this year, insisted his ranch was haunted and spoke of it often.

Talk of an old woman dying in the museum is untrue, Davidson said. But he concedes to witnessing a near-ghostly event himself.

About 10 years ago, the museum had a lighted exhibit surrounded by a curtain. The exhibit would heat up, and the heat would cause the curtain to move, setting off the security alarm. Or at least that’s what Davidson said he believes triggered it.

He said he also heard rumors that one man saw ghosts floating above graves at Craig Cemetery and some kids who dared one another to visit some of the spookiest sites.

“There’s a lot of terrible stories out there,” Davidson said.

That’s one of the reasons he said he wanted to organize the first Tombstone Tour — to share the tales of Craig’s past with its current residents.

“There’s a lot of history buried up on that hill,” he said. “It’s a pretty peaceful place but it’s had its share of issues.”

Among those buried in Craig Cemetery are people who have streets named for them, a baby who was starved to death by his parents and the first man to be murdered in Craig.

Deadly affair

In 1893, George Carr, a so-called “morphine eater,” or drug addict, was camped out in the lot behind what is now Smoker Friendly and Outdoor Connections.

The man, according to reports, went to a saloon just behind the then eastern city limit for a drink and ran into another man, Charles Reed, who was also just passing through. The two got into an argument, the story goes, because Carr thought Reed was having an affair with his wife.

Carr shot Reed. Reed is buried in Craig Cemetery. Carr went to the state penitentiary.

“They made a big deal out of it in the paper because Craig only had 100 people,” Davidson said.

Other headstones at the cemetery include John Parker, an orderly for President Lincoln, and Mickey Jacobs, a dog buried near its owner’s parents.

“It’s supposed to be illegal to bury dogs in the cemetery,” Davidson said. “You can’t do that.”

Davidson said he hopes the Tombstone Tour will educate residents about the history of Craig, as well as spook a few people just before the holiday. The free tour will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We’ll talk about a lot of things,” Davidson said. “Hopefully, it’s sort of an entertaining look at some of the tragic things.”

For more information on Craig’s history or the Tombstone Tour, call the Museum of Northwest Colorado at 824-6360.

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