High in the mountains above Boulder in Colorado, one can drive off the asphalt, around some hairpin turns and find themselves in a living piece of history. Gold Hill, Colo. The streets are dirt, but every few steps, you can find plaques dedicated to telling the history of the town. One plaque tells you about the old firehouse that once stood on that spot, but ironically burned down in the 1910s. Another placard will tell you the story of the original one-room schoolhouse and its expansion into the school that stands in the same location and has to have three rooms at the very least.
A little further down the dirt road, with a stunning original exterior, National Historic Landmark Designation plaques out front, and a covered porch stands the twin buildings that hold much of the history of the town. The Gold Hill Inn is a regular destination, known for the multiple course meals and specials for lunch and dinner. Directly next to it sits a quieter building that is only rented out in its entirety, rather than room by room. The Bluebird Lodge has stood tall over Gold Hill since 1872 and has seen many uses in its long history. From a boarding house, to a hospital, to a ladies’ lodge, the historic building has scarcely been empty and may still contain remnants of its history to be uncovered by those with open minds.
On a chilly October evening, a group of like-minded individuals gathered in the kitchen and dining room of the Bluebird Lodge, discussing what brought them to Gold Hill. One couple told stories about their youngest daughter’s strong connection with the paranormal, another couple contained a believer and a skeptic who came along to be supportive, but all of the participants had one thing in common. They had come to try to make contact with ghosts. Gold Hill had been taken over by two dozen ghost hunters, ready to spend the night in a haunted hotel and take a trip to the Gold Hill cemetery in the moonlight.
This event was one of many of its kind put on by Altitude Paranormal Group, located in the Denver Metro area. The group, led by Grayson McGraw, spends time investigating places around Colorado that are purported to be haunted. “I bought a few basic pieces of equipment in 2009 and started going to places by myself,” McGraw said to the group assembled in the dining room. “And my second time going out to a place, I caught a recording of a spirit saying “Grayson, I’m here,“ clear as day!”
The typical kit of ghost hunting equipment will usually contain a digital voice recorder for capturing Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs,) flashlights, thermometers to track changes in temperature, laser grids for ease of seeing apparitions, and the popular Spirit Box. The Spirit Box is a relatively new device in ghost hunting, but one that the community has taken to very quickly for its versatility. The device is essentially an FM radio scanner, but it scans at such a fast rate of 1/15th of a second per frequency, any words or voices coming through are said to be that of a spirit attempting to communicate.
Grayson and the other Altitude Paranormal Group investigator, Brandi Baker, separated the group in half. One half began with Grayson on the trek to the Gold Hill cemetery, while the others with Brandi remained in the lodge to conduct their first session. “I started going on investigations probably five or six years ago with my sister. She was always interested in it as well,” Baker said. “We went to a couple of Grayson’s events and enjoyed that they were down to earth rather than dramatic. I could tell Grayson was serious and had evidence to back up his claims.”
Both groups experienced an abnormally large amount of activity. In the cemetery, Grayson’s group made contact through the Spirit Box with an Army veteran, who said he had a son named Michael. “If we find a Michael, we will tell him we heard from you, sir,” McGraw said. At the same time, spirits were playing pranks on Brandi’s group back at the lodge. “The spirit was messing with this one girl and kept coming through the spirit box telling her to sit down, stand up, sit down, and then laughed when she got frustrated,” Baker recalled of the first session in the house.
The large group spent the night in the haunted Bluebird Lodge, but never felt threatened by any spirits. One guest on the event was seven months pregnant and felt the soothing presence of a nurse come through the spirit box, conversing intelligently with her for several minutes about her baby. As Altitude Paranormal Group wrapped up the event, parting words resonated with everyone. “If you don’t believe in the paranormal, all I have to say is wait for one of those puzzle pieces in your life to be taken away. A parent, a grandparent, a sibling,” McGraw said. “If you don’t experience something in the first 90 days after that, I’ll be surprised.”
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Born in Death Valley and raised on the prairie, Deborah is a Wyoming-based paranormal researcher and a senior at the University of Wyoming, studying Communication. Her interests lie in folklore, history, rhetorical analysis and research. With an obvious love for ghost stories, frequently those interests combine with her work on Ghostlandia.