Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ridge Home

Haunted History: Over the many years the home was active, patients and staff had claimed to see many apparitions as well as hear strange noises. Reports included objects moving on their own and even the ghosts of children running through the halls. After the site was abandoned, many ghost investigations had taken place in the buildings as well as in the underground tunnels. I am sure it would have added to the stories to have all of the abandoned equipment still there as well.

In 1909, the State of Colorado planned 310 acres 2 miles west of Arvada for a mental hospital soon to be named Ridge Home. It was located at approx. 52nd and Kipling. One year later Ridge Home was complete. The final building on the original campus wouldn't be finished until 1936. The main administration building proudly wore the cornerstone saying "A.D. 1910 State Home and Training School for mental defectives, founded by the State of Colorado through the efforts of Ella Parish Williams of the State Board of Correctives." Ridge Home got the name from the street that runs on the north side of the main campus, Ridge Road. The first patient had arrived in July of 1912. By 1936 Ridge had a enrollment of 260 out of the capacity for 300 patients. Those who were committed to Ridge were to stay there the rest of their life. Unless the were transferred to Pueblo Insane Asylum. Some got to stay with family members when they awaited their transfer. Among the original buildings was a school, and a farm that patients would work at with supervision. Ridge Home was also made a stop on the Tramway to Golden, and the efforts of Simon Guggenheim established its own separate post office.

According to one nurse who worked here in the 1960's, the people at Ridge were always drugged, which is not an uncommon practice in this type of facility. She claims that perfectly normal kids were dropped off there, but by living there all their lives, they became social mentally disabled. People seemed to be dropped off at Ridge, and forgotten. It was Arvada's "dirty little secret."

Ridge Home in the 60's -Click for larger view-:

In 1989 the Federal government had started to get complaints from local residents and family members on Ridge Home. The government had threatened to charge Ridge with $8 million if the state didn't improve the conditions soon. According to one nurse. Ridge Home was constantly littered with the bodily waste from the patients using every part of Ridge as a bathroom and the orderlies did not seem to care.

When two Federal agents came to inspect on the conditions, they observed two orderlies using excessive force on a patient. In 1990 they determined that Ridge needed 155 new staffers, and they had to spend at least $1.3. million to get the new staff. The people who ran Ridge said that everything there was safe and was all fine, so they refused to do anything that they were asked to do.

A lawsuit was filed in 1989 and in 1990 they were given 5 days to get things fixed, After the staff at Ridge started complaining that 5 days was a short deadline, it was explained that, legally, they had 1 year and 5 days. Family members of the current "residents" of Ridge Home started worrying that it would soon be gone.
In 1990, Ridge got a 90-day reprieve. The feds found that the conditions at Ridge were getting better. This reprieve ran out on July 8, 1990. Then again they extended the deadline to August 17. But on August 29, 1990 the Feds decided it was enough, they cut off more than $12 million in Medicaid funds to Ridge Home. The state decided it was wrong and appealed. They claimed that they had taken massive steps to clean up.

Against medical protocol, Ridge Home decide to move patients out into communities. Neither the communities or the patients were ready. They were moved into places that are group homes and that is where many reside today. After 1990 and the home "closed", only severely ill patients were allowed to live at Ridge.

In September of 1991 a fire ran though one of the abandoned Ridge Home buildings. It was the third blaze in the last two months. No one was hurt, but firefighters did drench a black and white cat that they found in the attic of the building. (This building was the one that was three stories high) On the following day, a security guard was arrested on suspicion of setting the building on fire. His name was Michael George King, age 24, and was a two-week guard from Burns International Security Services. Later he admitted to setting the fire in the attic. This was the administration building that once so proudly stood at the main entrance of Ridge.

This is the education and training building:

The cornerstone was found in tact and was taken in 1992 by the Colorado Historical Society.

In 1994 an Aurora man died when an argument over a woman ended in a shooting. Michael Fluellen, 22, was shot once in the face, in the northeast parking lot. He was a psychiatric technician. It happened at 6:10 a.m. as shifts were changing. All because the man, Wilbur Swift, thought that Fluellen was having an affair with his wife. The police were unable to tell if the murder was an accident or not. Numerous Ridge Home employees saw the fight, and many more saw Fluellen's body, draped with a white sheet, lying outside the northeast entrance.

There were 22 developmentally disabled sex offenders confined in what was left of Ridge Home in April of 1999. This was indeed on the main grounds of the original facility.

The buildings had become a dumping ground and a safety hazard. Throughout the years, many plans had been made for the Ridge Home site. Housing for troubled teens, an amusement park, a rec. center, other houses, commercial use, Red Rocks even talked about taking over the rest of this site as they now use a small portion across the street. The clean up of the asbestos was a major factor in these plans. In 1998, it would have cost $5 million to clean it all.

Some photo's of Ridge Home in its final days:

Around 2006, plans were underway to demolish the site and build a new shopping area along Kipling. The demolishing of the site took quite some time because of the asbestos removal as well as filling in the tunnels that once were underneath the property.

Ridge Home was gone by the end of 2007 and and a mall now stands along what was the back half of the Ridge Home property. A Super Target is at the very back.

The front half of the site is still vacant and the original gate and entrance is still there. The main entrance crosses a railroad track and the crossing signals are still there as well.

The main entrance to Ridge Home was here:

What the site looks like today:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Second Visit to the Stanley Hotel, 2003

Of course, after seeing what we had captured at the Stanley in 2002, we had to make arrangements for another night the next year. Again, being before "Ghost Hunters" aired their show, the hotel was very empty in October and we had it pretty much to ourselves except for about four other people. We didn't care though because the only plans we had were for room 407 and plans to see whatever it was that was standing in that window.

Now I am the first one to say that the whole "orb" thing is crap. I have done countless experiments with dust, raindrops and snow and have found those pics where people freak out because it's a "ghostly image" on their picture to be absolutely nothing but natures garbage floating around reflecting the light. Walk down a dirt path and take a few pics right away where you walked and you will tons of these "ghostly images" on your photo, I promise!

However, if you do suddenly get one of these on a photo or a video, snap a few more pics and see if it does anything odd. By odd, I mean if it actually floats across the room and back or floats UP, then there may be something to it...providing your area is not infected with bugs. According to what I have seen, dust does not float upwards. So with that being said, this is what I caught at the Stanley on our second trip. Take from it what you will.

This was in total darkness, one right after the other and we were able to follow it's path. Note: we covered the mirror.

It starts at the window and is upper-right of the dresser in the first set.

It is now to the left of the dresser.

It's now turning and is directly in front of the dresser coming towards the camera.


Thirty minutes later, it happened again. Another one coming from the window.

Now in front of the mirror.

Sharply turning towards me.

Then it quickly hovers past me.

So even coutning out the whole "orb" theory, something does indeed show up in that last photo that is not easily explained as dust.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Federal Heights Airport

The Federal Heights Airport, also known as Ruston Airport, once located at 100th & Federal, was formed in 1944, by Mr. Harry Hadley Ruston. He had a belief that the pilots of World War II would like to keep flying.

The airport was the first private airport in Colorado. It consisted of one hanger that was used for major engine repairs and a second building that was used for two classrooms, one with plane simulators and one which became a cafe called the "Pilots Perch."

There were four runways constructed which could be extended to eight thousand feet if needed. The longest runway was 3900 feet long.

The airport was a training center for Regis College and Denver University. There were only a few accidents during its life, one related to the schools: a student took a plane in the mountains and was caught in a down draft resulting in the loss of the plane, with not a scratch on the pilot. The second incident was when a pilot hit some power lines. Luckprevailed again; the plane was lost, but the pilot was not injured. Riley Burrows was a mechanic living in a small trailer at the airport in 1950. He & an air-show wing walker were killed in a crash about a mile north in a wheat field May 9, 1950."

The elevation of the property is 5,550 feet. It included 320 acres of land. The Postal address was 1100 North Federal Boulevard, Denver 11,
Colorado. The far South portion had rolling hills.


The thought of closing the Airport came about because of housing developments nearby. The two largest were Broomfield Heights, about four miles Northwest, and Thornton, a very successful community two miles East. A home building project, Deza Estates, was built by Art Swanson. They were constructing contemporary homes in the price range of $20,000 to $35,000.

Between the years of 1957 and 1960, the Jefferson County Airport took a majority of the business from Ruston Airport. Mr. Ruston decided to close his airport in 1961. It took him three years to get out of debt.

After the closing of the airport, Mr. Ruston had also worked as a journalist. He had been employed by the Associated Press, Reuters, the Denver Post, and the Jerusalem Post. In this capacity he had interviewed many important world leaders. He was active in law and was an attorney for many years. At one time he was appointed by President Harry Truman to serve as a Federal judge. He also served the State of Colorado as its Attorney General and as its Inheritance Tax Collector.

Ruston died on June 14, 2002 at 94. His wife Florence died in 2006. Florence was a movie actress known as Baby Fleurette, and she appeared in the ''Our Gang'' series.

Ruston Park, located on the west side of the 9900 block of Zuni Street, is named in honor of Mr. Ruston and his many contributions to Colorado.

Have you ever driven past the blue-colored Napa Auto Parts around 102nd and Federal and said "what an odd looking building?!"

This was the hangar of the airport and is the only structure still standing. If you drive to the side of the building, you will notice old radio towers and the original offices used for the airport business.

The other building was recently called the "Flight Deck Restaurant"

It was still standing until 2005 when Shelly Ruston Munn, his daughter, had the building demolished.

These buildings were once connected by a tunnel that has long since been sealed off. The areas where most of the runways were once located are now occupied by homes and businesses in Northborough, Legacy Heights, and Federal Plaza. According to some, there is still an arched doorway downstairs in the hangar that had been bricked up.

The land around the hangar is still vacant and is curently for sale. Many homes and a trailer park occupy the former runway parts. There is no trace of the runways that used to be behind it. Now that the restaurant is gone, the Napa Auto Parts is the last and only trace left of the airport.

Update, October 2010: The NAPA Auto parts store has closed and the last remaining building is now empty. I am sure it will not be too long before the last of the old airport is gone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Experience at the Stanley Hotel

Anyone that knows me knows I have a special appreciation for the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Not just because it’s a beautiful place in a beautiful location and it’s even nicer to stay there-but because I had an experience in 2002 that not very many people can claim and even fewer can prove with a video.

Haunted History: Cooks and bus staff report music coming from a ballroom that stops when they walk in. Bartenders have seen the ghost of F.O. Stanley stroll through, disappearing when they go to cut him off at the kitchen. Active rooms are 401, 217 and 218. In room 401, a guest had entered the room to find a ghostly little boy jumping on the bed. In room 407, the ghost, reportedly of Lord Dunraven, has been seen in the windows as well as in room 407.

I guess I will start with a little history…

The hotel is a 138-room Georgian hotel that was built by Freelan O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, catering to the rich and famous. The hotel and its surrounding lands are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Stanley has hosted many famous guests, including the Titanic survivor Molly Brown, John Philip Sousa, Theodore Roosevelt, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a variety of Hollywood personalities. Stephen King was inspired while staying here to write The Shining. Parts of the mini-series version were filmed there, although it was not used for Stanley Kubrick's film.

In 1903, Stanley, co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, came to Estes Park for his health.

This is F.O. Stanley:

Stanley suffered from tuberculosis and came West at his doctor's suggestion. The doctor arranged for the couple to stay in a cabin in Estes Park for the summer. Immediately, they fell in love with the area and Stanley's health began to dramatically improve. Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for the improvement in his health, he decided to invest his money and his future there. In 1909, he opened the elegant Stanley Hotel, a classic hotel exemplifying the golden age of touring.

Stanley built the hotel on land that he purchased from the English Earl Lord Dunraven. Dunraven came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip. He built a hunting lodge, cabin, and hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres in an unsuccessful attempt to create a private hunting preserve. Dunraven was finally run out of the area after trying to swindle folks out of their land and money.

This is Lord Dunraven:

Dumb and Dumber was filmed here as well.

Remember this scene?

Staff who work in the kitchen next to the ballroom after hours say they have heard a party going on when the room was empty. Guests have reported that they have seen ghosts in their rooms or hearing the piano playing from the ballroom, glasses have broken by themselves and doors have been known to open and close. Children have been seen or heard running the halls when no children were staying there. Back when we stayed there the first two times, it was very empty after September and you could easily be the only people in the building. It wasn’t until 2006 when Ghost Hunters was invited to investigate the haunted activity that business seemed to pick up and the hotel became busy all year round. It usually takes at least a months notice to get a room, which averages about $150 a night now.

In October, 2002, we stayed at the hotel in room 401. A few hours later we were playing with my new camcorder with night vision turned on and upon taping out the window and to the left we noticed a figure standing in one of the windows. We continued to record thinking it was just a person in another room when we noticed it was only showing in the top half. Naturally we wanted to get all of the facts so I went out in the hall outside the room and had my wife call it. I could hear the phone ringing but no one picked up. I immediately called the front desk and asked then if there was anyone in that room and the lady told us it was vacant. I had explained to the desk clerk what we had seen and she wanted to see the video right away. We went downstairs and showed her the tape and she could not believe it. She was excited herself and grabbed a key so we could all go check out the room. It was indeed vacant and upon further examination, we noticed that the window where the figure had been standing is right above the bathroom sink and the direction it fades to would have taken it immediately through the wall seen here:

I showed this tape to ghost investigators here in Denver where they ran numerous filters and tests and they concluded that there was indeed a person's figure in that window. Not only a person, but we could make out a man with a mustache and a bowlers or cowboy hat on. Some see his hands in his pockets. Right before this figure fades away to the left, it actually comes closer to the glass to reveal the mustache even better...almost to say "I see you and you should not be seeing me!" The face creeps me out every time I see it and the dozens of people I have showed it to come to the same conclusion.

Here is the video:


We have another trip planned in November and we are hoping to get something equally interested but I'm not sure you can get much better than this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fitzsimons Army Medical Center

Haunted History: Said to house angry spirits. Reports consist of spirits of military personal in the windows and doorways, many voices and foot steps in the main building while no one is there.

The Fitzsimons Army Hospital was a medical facility that was located on 577-acres in Aurora. The facility closed in 1999 and the grounds are currently being redeveloped for civilian use as the Anschutz Medical Campus and the Fitzsimons Life Science District.

The facility was founded by the United States Army during World War I arising from the need to treat the large number of casualties from chemical weapons in Europe. Denver's reputation as a prime location for the treatment of tuberculosis led local citizens to lobby the Army on behalf of Denver as the site for the new hospital. Army Hospital 21, as it was first called, was formally dedicated in the autumn of 1918 in Aurora, which at the time had a population of less than 1,000. In July 1920, the facility was formally renamed the Fitzsimons Army Hospital after Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, the first American medical officer killed in World War I seen below.

A new main building, known as Building 500, was built in 1941. At the time, it was the largest structure in Colorado. This is a 1940's postcard from the hospital:

This is what it looked like back in the 70's:

It was used very heavily during World War II to treat returning casualties and became one of the Army's premier medical training centers. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower received treatment here three separate times for his heart condition while he was president and he stayed here for a few months when he has his heart attack.

See some cool stuff about his stay can be found here:

Presidential candidate John Kerry was also born here in 1943, while his father was receiving treatment for tuberculosis.

In July 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of the facility. The closure was completed in 1999 and the remaining reserve center was relocated to the northeast portion of the site. The projected $5 billion redevelopment of the facility into civilian use currently includes the construction of the University of Colorado Hospital's $147 million Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion and the $509-million Children's Hospital.

Smokestack Demolishing in 2008:

Cool video showing the smokestack coming down:

This is what it looks like today:

Plans are underway for major improvements in this area as well as dozens of new upscale businesses including at least three hotels. One of which will be a Hyatt that will include at least 125 rooms.

It will probably look something like this:

The main entrance is and will continue to be located north on Ursula St. from Colfax Ave.