I’m really enjoying traveling and talking to people about their ghostly experiences. Most of the successful conversations have been with waitresses at various establishments along the way. Yesterday, we stopped in Walden, Colorado, a town about halfway between Steamboat Springs, Colorado and Laramie, Wyoming. The town is a picture perfect Western town with log cabins, a historic stone county courthouse, dusty roads and sage brush growing in the fields on the edge of town. Walden’s sign proclaimed it to be the “Moose Capital of Colorado.”
We drove down Main Street and Richard caught sight of the Moose Creek Café. Its small parking lot was filled to the brim with motorcycles and pickup trucks, a sure sign of good food. We drove around the block and parked in front. The restaurant is a “seat-yourself-and-the waitress-will-find-you” kind of eatery. Sure enough, as soon as we sat down we were greeted by a friendly waitress, handed some menus, and told that someone would be right with us.
Monica came over and introduced herself. She was friendly and made us feel immediately welcome. So, after she took our orders for diet soda, I asked her if she knew any local ghost stories. She explained that because Walden was so old, there were plenty of stories. And she confided in me that the Moose Creek Café itself was haunted. I asked her if she had experienced anything herself. She paused for a moment, and then admitted that she had, indeed, experienced the ghost of the Moose Creek Café.
After delivering our food and taking care of a few more customers, Monica came back with an old photo. The Moose Creek Café had originally been a gas station. The café had been built over the old station. She pointed out the two front windows that were original to the station that now were the front windows to the café and then she pointed to the floor, “The old oil pits where they worked under the cars are still here, under the floor.”
Evidently the oil pits are not the only thing left over from the old gas station.
“When I used to work nights,” Monica said. “I really hated it. Part of closing was to first lock up the front door.” (The front door sits between the two front windows and all are original to the service station.)
“I’d lock it,” Monica continued. “And then I’d hear the squeak the door makes when it opens up.” She shook her head. “I’d know that I’d just locked it. I’d know that there was no way someone could be opening it, but I’d hear the squeaks. After that happened a number of times, I’d just go on closing up, ignoring the noise.”
Monica also found some other weird phenomenon in the café. “In the ladies’ room, the toilet paper would be pulled off the roll onto the floor,” she explained. “Now, I know that if the holder is crooked or misaligned, the toilet paper can roll off. But this wasn’t like that, the toilet paper would be stacked in perfect one-square sections, one on top of the other. Not a square and a half, not two squares, but perfectly folded one-square piles.”
She also found that when she’d come in early in the morning and get the coffee started for the day, the automatic paper towel dispensers in the closed bathrooms that were sensor activated would start dispensing paper towels on their own.
Neither phenomena happened during the day when patrons were at the restaurant, which probably was one of the reasons Monica wasn’t too eager to share her concerns about a ghost with anyone else. But one night, she just had to share.
“I was closing again,” she said. “And Mack, who used to be the manager of the restaurant, was in the back. He was supposed to lock up. I was closing up when I heard the door squeak. I was pretty sure Mack had locked the door, but I needed to check. I walked to his office and asked him if he’d locked the door. He told me he had. Then I asked him if he’d heard the squeak. He just nodded, like it was no big deal. Then I asked him if he knew where the sound of the squeak came from.”
Monica smiled at me and shook her head. “He looks up at me and says, ‘Must be the ghost.’ I couldn’t believe he’d known about it all along too.”
If you’re ever in Colorado, the trip to Walden is worth the time. Not only is the scenery epic, but the people, living and dead, are a lot of fun. And the food at Moose Creek Café is amazing!