Haunted schools throughout Colorado

Originally Published October 26, 2010

Several schools make the haunted list – and who can be surprised? Didn’t we all feel anguish at school at some point? Forgotten homework, the surprise quiz, general dislike for school when outside the window you can see the warm and sunny day just begging you to come out and play – all the emotions of a daily day pile up month after month, year after year, leaving the residual behind. Though some hauntings seem to have a source from deaths in or around the school.

As always, a number of these sites may be private property and should be treated as such. Even when they are very public venues, these places and their owners deserve your respect and decency.

The school for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs has several sights and sounds accompanying it, and it’s not unusual for students to claim to have seen shapes in the basement, and to have heard odd sounds in the basement, dorm and gym.

Garfield Elementary, also in the Springs, is said to be haunted by the ghosts of two children who committed suicide in the school over 40 years ago. People claim to have heard them talk, had their hair pulled or a cold spot as the ghosts pass them by. This school no longer operates as a school, but the ghosts remain.

Three of the Colorado Springs high schools can lay claim to ghosts as well. The first, a ghost of a young girl who drown in the pool is said to still haunt the pool, brushing by swimmers in the water, and she can be seen sitting by the pool in the early mornings. The ghost of another student haunts the theater of another high school causing things to go wrong, sometimes so badly that production has to be halted or delayed. The third high school is not haunted by a student, but by a worker who fell to his death during the construction of the building. Supposedly, his ghosts turn the lights on and off, and if you are very very quiet, you may get to hear him fall again.

In Thornton, the theater area of one of the high schools is also claimed to be haunted, primarily the under stage area where the trapdoor is. Stories vary – student cut from a production, and in the late 1970s, early 1980s, the claim that someone had set up a devil worshipping altar in that space and had called forth a demon that prowled the stage and behind scenes looking for stray students was circulated among the students. (How do I know this one, not finding it in any books? Why I was one of the theater kids at that school in those days!) Things did happen – props misplaced or damaged, problems with lighting, misty figures sighted in the mostly dark theater, and whole casts getting ill during or after production. Can this be attributed to ghosts or demons, or just the normal chaos of any high school production? Only the students can tell you.

In Castle Rock, the old Cantril School is home to a ghost called Matilda. How she got there and why she is there, no one seems to know. She haunts the furnace room of the school, and walks the halls at night; the sound of her footsteps heard by those who stay late.

A Boulder high school also has a haunted theater; footsteps can be heard walking across the stage and on the catwalk above. But this isn’t the only haunted part of the theater. A tunnel connects the dressing rooms and theater and those who must go through it do so in a hurry, because they feel something bad is about to happen.

One of the high schools in Fort Collins is haunted by the ghost of a girl who fell off of a fire escape and died. Ever since, her ghost has been seen throughout the school

Ridge Mental Institute, otherwise known as the Colorado State Home and Training School for Mental Defectives, was built in Arvada in 1909 as a home and work farm for mentally handicapped individuals with nowhere else to be. Rumors have it that the school was shut down after it was found out that “normal” but unwanted children were also housed at the school, but kept drugged. This in unconfirmable, so we’ll keep it as a rumor, knowing only that the institution was indeed shut down.

Shut down and vacant for decades, the building was a source of dares and double dares for every child who grew up in Arvada. All kinds of claims have been made about the building over the years; that homeless people lived in it, that people had been killed there, that satanic masses were held depths of the building, and other unspeakable crimes hinted at. Likely, the only one that would hold true would be that of the homeless taking up residence.

As for the ghosts, the voices of children were said to echo through the empty building, the sound of a weeping girl in one of the rooms, and of course, the obligatory cold spots. Things are moved on those who visit, including having their flashlights hidden, and whispers are heard.

The building no longer exists, having been torn down as a hazard more recently.

A Wheat Ridge middle school has ghosts in the locker rooms – a girl ghosts for the girls, and a boy for the boys. The girl appears to like to wait until someone is alone and then scare them. The boy is a bit more mild, merely hanging about the shower area, waiting to be seen. Ghosts of those who were shot on the land the school now sits on are also presumed to haunt other parts of the school and its grounds, coming out when all is quiet and dark.

Several schools in Littleton / Highlands Ranch have their share of ghosts; yet another haunted theater in one of the high schools; footsteps on the catwalk, and moving and resetting of things in the light and sound booth. The playground and cafeteria are haunted at an elementary; sounds of kids laughing and playing occur on an empty playground, and when the kids are settling in for lunch, the lights in the cafeteria flicker on and off, for no known mechanical reason.

Another high school has its share of activity as well. The ghosts of teachers lecturing can be heard in some classrooms, laughter in the halls and people talking, and on several instances, people have felt something fly past their heads. A middle school is victim to a phantom giggler throughout the school. Hand dryers and faucets turn themselves on, and the elevator takes you wherever it likes, instead of where you would actually like to go.

These are just a few of the haunted schools, and lest you think the colleges of the state are exempt, know that every college can lay claim to plenty of ghosts on their campuses. It seems that libraries are the favorite haunts; tales of ghosts in the library at CU at Boulder have been told, as well as Western State College in Gunnison. These ghosts are as tame as seeing someone walk past the stacks, only to find no one else is in that area, to ghosts who like to hide students notes and papers while they are away from their tables retrieving other materials for their research. Other campus buildings, even the dorms, have their share of ghosts, stories to be told in another article at another time.


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