Park Countys past mingles with the present
Ryan Summerlin March 15, 2007
FAIRPLAY The description is always the same a woman in her 30s wearing a white Victorian dress. Julia, one of the purported resident ghosts at the Fairplay Hotel, is rumored to have been a high-priced prostitute at the hotel which originated in the late 1800s, and an annual attendant of the Harvest Ball in October.According to paranormal investigator and editor of Haunted Times magazine, shes still there, and shes not alone.Christopher Moon visited the hotel in 2004 and stayed in the Julia room, 225, which staffers say was her favorite place in the hotel. Yet he detected much more than just the rooms namesake, including the other most often sighted ghost, the cowboy.I had an amazing experience back and forth with him, Moon said. Using a recording device, Moon would ask a question, then listen to the tape for answers. He said he conducted a full-scale investigation at the Fairplay Hotel, with night vision technology, noncontact thermometers and electromagnetic field detectors. He also used a white noise machine, which he said attracts the spirits. He counted nine in all.And what Moon detected with high-tech equipment, the staff and some of the guests at the hotel already suspected through their own observations.Three-year Fairplay Hotel staffer Mark Richards has had no shortage of ghost sightings.Ive seen footprints half a dozen times, after I mopped the floor, he said. Hes also had more dramatic encounters, including once hearing his name.Its not like I dont know if I heard it, he said. I turned my head to respond. He reports another time carrying a dish into the kitchen when Julia appeared right in front of him; and said hes also seen the cowboy appear at the bar right before close, where there was no one there before.It freaks you out a little bit, but you get used to it, Richards said. If youre not in the mood, you can just tell them to leave you alone.Manager Rachael Edwards has worked for the Fairplay Hotel on and off for the last 17 years. Among the many ghost stories shes heard, she recalls one especially fondly. She said a former manager would tease the staff who believed in the paranormal activity.He used to make fun of the ghost stories you know theres no such thing as ghosts (kind of guy), she said. But one morning at 5 a.m., knowing that no one was checked into the hotel, he had a change of heart. Edwards said the former manager reported seeing two kids on the landing of the main stairs and when he ran up to see who it was, there was nothing.Another incident involving guests of the hotel, told a story without words.Edwards said about four years ago a particularly religious couple stayed at the hotel for their honeymoon in the Julia room. Inexplicably, they got up in the middle of the night and left in a hurry.Many believe the towns history plays a part. As one of the oldest towns in Colorado, the former Wild West mining area can certainly boast a rich history, and the Fairplay Hotel has followed the boom-bust economy of the county. The original Valiton Hotel opened in 1873, survived Fairplays first big fire, but was taken out by its second, in 1921. The building that stands today is the same one that was replaced in 1922, yet with modern renovations (like indoor plumbing and a bathroom in every suite). In 1878 there was a fatal shooting in the lobby, which was followed by a trial, the result of which was deemed unfair by the townspeople. The shooter was hanged at the courthouse by a mob, and the judge who presided over the trial was run out of town.Moon said there is paranormal activity everywhere, but it can be more interesting when there is an interesting history behind it.The ghosthunter said the Fairplay Hotel ghosts with which he communicated with, the cowboy and Julia, are both in a state of limbo, needing to move on, but unable to. He said of his experience with Julia, Its really a sad story with her. She doesnt feel like she is worthy of moving on. And that the cowboy was just trying to get his message across that hes not evil, just misunderstood and unhappy.David Meredith, owner of the hotel for the last couple years, said hes been skeptical in the past, but when people from different parts of the country describe to him the exact same thing three months apart, its hard for him to disregard.Its either a bunch of people with vivid imaginations or something is really going on, he said.Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or email@example.com.