The many ghosts of Brownsville

Originally Published October 28, 2010

The most haunted area, and the most musical, was the town of Brownsville, also known as Browns Gulch, a mining town near Silver Plume. Brownsville wasn’t a particularly prolific mining area, but by all reports, it was a happy one, and a singularly musical one. Almost everyone who came there to mine, run a business, or otherwise work in the area could play a musical instrument, and if they couldn’t play an instrument, they could sing. Many an evening the surrounding hills resounded with the sounds of violins, banjos, all sort of musical instruments; many a day the inhabitants all took part is singing an opera across the valley at each other!

Even though it was musical, it was also most haunted. Mad jack, mentioned in the last article, accidentally blew himself and his mule up, creating the first ghosts in the area. Stephen Pierce, ghostly guardian of the Mammoth Mine, was murdered on October 23, 1877. Seen by every miner in the area at one time or another, Pierce saved many lives in the mines, and even saved some men during a fire in the mine bunkhouse.

Two mules were added to the ghostly repertoire in May of 1879. Peter Moody was leading the heavily mules up the slope to the Montreal Mine when the lead rope broke and two of the mules tumbled down the side of the slope, dying instantly. After that, the braying of the mules was often heard in that area.

In 1884, a locally famous singer died and returned as a ghost as well. This singer was Kerry, a blue terrier, the beloved dog of A.E. McBride. Kerry died of intestinal distress, and his distraught owner claimed he had no right to die and ordered him back. Kerry, an ever obedient dog, came right back and was often heard making a humming sound when other music was played.

The ghosts continued to pile up. On July 4th 1885, Louis Ohio was shot and killed, his ghost later seen by some girls walking home from school. On July 31st of the same year, a former Confederate soldier named William Neff, unhappy with life in general, killed himself by blowing his head off with a stick of dynamite he’d taken from the Telephone mine. Undoubtedly the area’s most unhappy ghost, his spirit was often heard crying inconsolably in the cabin where he’d died. His lamentations were so severe that the miners considered his cabin unholy and avoided it thereafter.

Snow covers the abandoned buildings of the Seven Thirty Mine in Brownsville - 1899
Snow covers the abandoned buildings of the Seven Thirty Mine in Brownsville – 1899
Denver Public Library

One thought on “The many ghosts of Brownsville

  1. At least 10 Italians were also killed in the avalanche on February 22, 1899–a large monument in the Silver Plume cemetery attests to that fact.

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