Originally Published October 26, 2010
Ghosts on the trains or in the stations seem to be fairly common. Engineers have spoken of working alongside ghostly crew, conductors tell of passengers that appear and just as quickly disappear, but none were as notable as the ghost of a woman who never even made it to the train – Essie Monroe Mentzer. Essie was a young woman who married a seemingly handsome, charming and altogether gentleman of a doctor, O.F. Mentzer. However, it soon turned out that the doctor was medicating himself and was outright a rather abusive fellow. Since divorce, was not seen as a proper option in those days, Essie stayed married, even after her husband disappeared one day. He wrote her a letter, telling her he had come west to better himself, and after a month, Essie decided to join him in Telluride.
Hoping to find him reformed as he claimed, it turned out he was much, much worse. During a visit from Essie’s brother and his wife, who had no clue how bad their sister’s marriage was, the doctor got himself in such a state with the help of alcohol and prescription medications that he shot Essie in the head in front of her brother. This was October 7th, 1898. The doctor didn’t outlive his unfortunate bride, however; her brother beat him to death, and justifiably so.
A few weeks later a young woman was seen anxiously standing on the station platform, looking around in fear. When everyone got on the train, passengers asked her what was wrong, and she told them “He’s coming for me!” As she got more distraught and the passengers got upset on her behalf, a conductor came to the car and recognized her, addressing her by name. Upon being identified, she let out a scream and faded away.
She continued to show up on the train until the Rio Grande Southern no longer ran out of Telluride; always disappearing when addressed by name, or when the train got ten miles out of town.
Other ghosts have appeared on the trains but no so dramatic as Mrs. Mentzer. The ghost of Isidor Henschel regularly appeared on the train from Rico to Ophir, sitting in a window seat, wearing the uniform he’d been buried in. Usually, he appeared so gradually he wasn’t even noticed by the people around he would fade away the same way as the train reached Rice spur. Henschel, having jumped on one of the freight cars, had died in a crash at Rice spur when the train rolled back down the hill.
On the same line, the ghost of James McDonald appeared, sitting in a passenger car for a few seconds, the disappearing suddenly – pop in, pop out. Clearly, McDonald was much more noticeable that his subtle compatriot. McDonald, having just healed from injuries he received while mining, got on the train from Rico to head back to his claim. Curious about how a train was run, he’d gone forward to the engine. Just as he arrived, the engine derailed at the Glencoe switch, killing McDonald and seriously injuring everyone else in the engine.
Other ghosts are seen along the tracks; some helpful, some meaning mischief, as well as the ghosts of trains themselves, still running their routes as they always did.