High up in the Rocky Mountains, continuing the legacy of mining and mountain life, a small bed and breakfast sits on the main street of Fairplay, Colorado. The structure is unassuming, with a vintage flair to the architecture. It looks like it could have stepped out of any western film, ready to take overnight guests like cowboys, miners, and trappers. The two story building has seen decades of history pass before its facade, including a fire in the 1920s that destroyed the original hotel. Today we explore the haunting of the Hand Hotel B&B.
A rustic build gives the B&B a quality that makes it look a step out of time. With 11 rooms in the small hotel, each room is themed and cared for, waiting for guests to rest their heads. However, some of the residents of the hotel are not at rest, restless in the afterlife. Like many towns in Colorado, the establishment of the town of Fairplay was influenced by the discovery of gold in the region. The area had long been a summering location for the local Ute tribe, and the trappers that traded with them. After the discovery of gold, however, the camps began to pop up all over the side of the mountains. The Hand Hotel was one of the first permanent structures to go up in the town as a hostelry, taking in miners and other guests during the early 1900s.
Next to the hotel is a bit of town lore and love for a hard working animal. A burro named Prunes was a constant mainstay in the town’s mining history, working in the mines and coming to town with his owner for over 60 years. When he became too old to work in the mines, he became a bit of a town pet, before his death. The town erected a monument to the faithful animal and every year “Burro Days” begins at the monument to Prunes, where his loving owner was also reportedly buried, next to his companion.
A fire in 1920 wiped most of the town from the map, but industrious settlers rebuilt and overcame the flames. Within a few years, the newly rebuilt Hand Hotel reopened in 1931. Since then, it’s been providing hospitality and warm beds for weary travelers. The hotel, however, doesn’t just house the living- in fact, staff claim that every single room in the B&B contains a spirit- That’s 11 rooms in all, each with their own uninvited guest.
Full bodied apparitions have been reported all over the building, with one employee saying a woman appears on the second floor often, but disappears when she double-takes. It’s reported that Grandma Hand, from the Hand family that founded the hotel, can be heard keeping herself busy all over the hotel, making sure the rooms are up to her standards. Still more spirits that remain at the Hand are two young girls that cause mischief all over the building, often being seen playing on the stairs or clanging pots and pans in the kitchen.
One story from the proprietor of the hotel tells of the girls turning off a heavy pilot knob in the kitchen in the middle of breakfast. When the owner went to repair the grill, she found frayed wiring that was a fire hazard. She believes that the girls did what they could to prevent a catastrophe. Another story tells of the owner, Pat, taking a friend to see the second floor. She encountered an older man, pushing a cart and told the woman to let him know if she needed anything. However, there were no staff in the hotel at the time, and the man, known as Ben, had been a previous caretaker of the hotel— over 50 years prior. Another guest asked how to gain an invite to the party occurring on the third floor. There is no third floor of the hotel, the sounds of a celebration came through the ceiling with ghosts having their own soiree being the only explanation.
The most playful of the ghosts, however, is the ghost dog that still plays and runs on the premises. Two little girls once reported enjoying playing with the puppy in the basement before being informed that there were no dogs in the hotel at all. Many similar sightings have been reported, with guests inquiring about who was keeping the dog at the hotel. Barks in the night and sheets being pulled from beds are attributed to this playful canine.
Sights, smells, sounds and more keep the Hand Hotel Bed and Breakfast at the top of anyone’s paranormal “to visit,” list (Including mine.) 11 chances to see a spirit keep the hotel as bustling and busy as the days past– not all of the guests are still alive, however. The proprietors are insistent that the ghosts in their establishment would never hurt a guest and no senses of malice have been reported. So if you’re not a fan of the paranormal, you will still have a great time. If you want to visit, be ready for a trek through the mountains and back in time to the wild west days. And keep your eyes peeled for a friendly ghost dog that wants scratches behind the ear.
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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.