One article dated May 28, 1881, gave an explanation of a lawsuit against Idaho Springs Mayor Thomas B. Bryan. “Mayor Bryan has laid the foundation of the large bath house, and is tunneling and sinking for the water that is to supply the bath.” This bathhouse was designed to service his Denver haunted houses.
This area of Idaho Springs is located on a hot springs, which had been run for years by a popular citizen of the town, and purportedly used by such luminaries as Frank and Jesse James, Walt Whitman, Horace Tabor, and Sarah Bernhardt. By claiming to mine for gold while actually tapping into the sulfur springs, Bryan was essentially stealing another man’s livelihood. There followed a lawsuit in which Bryan was the loser.
The present owner on this Colorado haunted house has not run across “her,” but a guest at dinner, a prominent and quite well-known painter, did see and hear a figure in the dining room one evening, who told him her name was Mary. Adjourning to the solarium for coffee, the guest saw her there as well. Other guests have felt cool breezes in the music room, with no open doors or windows. Mary is possibly the daughter of Bryan, but that remains an unverified fact, as she was always referred to as Miss Bryan during her life. Other occurrences in this Colorado haunted house include the sound of “Mary” crying, footsteps during the night, lights turning on and off, and objects being moved without explanation.
Although there is evidence of human habitation in this area for thousands of years, it was in the mid-1800s that the first Europeans came upon the desert ruins. The name “Hovenweep,” Paiute/Ute for “deserted valley,” was adapted by pioneer photographer William Henry Jackson in 1874, and quite accurately describes the desolation of these canyons and mesas wherein the ancient farmers cultivated and irrigated their crops. Though we know the natives in this Four Corners area as Anasazi, they are more accurately called Ancestral Puebloans, and the fascinating thing about them, besides their mysterious exodus, is the variation in the composition of their living areas. While the better known Mesa Verde tribe built into the cliffs, the Hovenweep people, also members of the Mesa Verde tribe, had a penchant for building towers and massive castle-like buildings with shapes that varied, including square rectangle, round, D-shaped and horseshoe. The remains of these structures are now Colorado haunted houses.
The Hovenweep area began with small, scattered units, pueblos built on the mesa around 1100, and evolved after 1200 into sophisticated masonry-walled pueblos, with large structures interspersed, often at the head of the canyons. Water was the life-blood of the Ancestral Puebloans, which, in this dry, arid climate, they diverted into the fields to grow food, using innovative farming methods like terrace farming and irrigation. Modern scientists examined tree rings from the logs used for construction in the area and found that from 1250 to 1300 there was a severe drought, which likely caused a large migration of the Puebloan people. Additionally, there now are no trees here, although logs were a corporate part of the construction. This indicates a depletion of a vital building material and fuel. Not everyone left however, as they are believed to be the ancestors of the modern tribes of the Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo.
It is widely believed that the Hovenweep Castle is an ancient haunted houses, cursed by the spirits of the Ancestral Puebloans who were forced to migrate during the drought of 1250 – 1300. Modern-day visitors have reported hearing Native American drumming in the distance. Others have reported smelling the odor of sage smoke, often used in Puebloan ceremonies. In a sense, the Hovenweep Castle is one of the most interesting and unusual Denver haunted houses.
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