Thursday, January 5, 2012

Telluride’s Ghost Train

Colorado has many tales of ghosts that appear in, around, and on trains. Many engineers and conductors tell stories of passengers that appear and then quickly disappear. One such tale that I have heard first hand is about a female ghost, Essie Monroe Mentzer, who died in October of 1898.

Essie’s family was pleased when she married a “gentleman” doctor by the name of O. F. Mentzer. Unfortunately for Essie this marriage turned out to be an unwise choice, for Mentzer abused prescription drugs, alcohol and his wife. Divorce was frowned upon in the 1800’s so Essie was trapped. To her relief, one day her husband disappeared without a word.

Several months later Essie received an impassioned letter from her husband claiming he had moved west to get a fresh start. He went on to describe how he was a reformed man in everyway. With encouragement from her family Essie traveled to Telluride, Colorado to reunite with her husband.

What she found when she arrived was very disappointing. Far from being a reformed man her husband’s abuses had actually worsened. When Essie’s brother and his wife visited they were shocked by Essie's haggard appearance. Even more startling to them was Mentzer’s state of mind.

During their visit Mentzer’s behavior steadily went down hill. He drank all the time and took more and more pills. In a daze, Mentzer shot Essie in the head in front of her bother killing her. Mentzer did not live much longer than Essie for her brother immediately beat him to death. His actions were considered justified so he was not prosecuted.

Within a few weeks of Essie’s death people boarding a train at Telluride station noticed an anxious young woman looking around in fear as she stood on the platform. Once everyone was on the train several passengers asked the young woman if something was wrong, she told them, “He’s coming for me!” As she became noticeably more distressed one of the passengers sent for the train conductor.

When the conductor entered the car he recognized her as the local doctor’s wife. When he addressed her by name she screamed loudly and then to everyone’s horror and amazement she faded away. 

This same scenario was witnessed over and over again for many years. Essie’s ghost would always disappear when addressed by name or when the train got ten miles out of town. When the Rio Grande Southern stopped running out of Telluride people stopped seeing Essie’s ghost.

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