The Royal ghosts of Yampa

Guests report strange encounters in South Routt hotel

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Frank Powell felt something on the edge of his bed while he was almost asleep one night at the Royal Hotel in Yampa. As soon as he sat up to see what it was, he felt the bed "lift up," as if someone who was sitting there got up.

"I know it sounds like the classic ghost story," said Powell, a Longmont resident, recalling an experience he had while staying at the Royal in 2000. "I didn't see any lights or faces or anything, but I felt something.

"It didn't bother me. It was an adrenaline rush more than anything. But nobody told me nothing about no ghosts."

Legend has it the Royal is haunted by a ghost named "Rufus," dating back to 1918. Some say Rufus' room is No. 6, and others say it is room No. 7.

The rooms are right across from each other at the end of the hall, and most reported encounters come from that area.

According to old newspaper articles, some have said Rufus died from a flu epidemic when the hotel was used as an infirmary. Others have said gamblers killed him when he was caught cheating in a poker game.

But Powell doesn't think the ghost he encountered was Rufus. He told his buddies it was a woman. Others back that story, too; one woman says the hotel is inhabited by two ghosts -- a man and a woman.

Kathi Vandegriss, of Strasburg, Pa., was staying in the Royal last summer. In her two-month stay there, she heard footsteps and slamming doors a few times, but actually saw the female ghost "several times."

Vandegriss described the ghost as "very young and very pretty."

"She was always in a hurry," she said. "It was always strange to me, but I wasn't afraid. I don't talk about it a lot, because most people will think you're crazy. But it doesn't matter what people say to me; I know what I saw."

Though most describe their encounters as non-threatening, others have been deeply frightened.

Powell wasn't upset with the owners for not telling him about the ghost, but a truck driver and his wife who were visiting a few years ago got upset after their supernatural encounter, Royal Hotel owners Kris and Bill Ager said.

The couple had brought a portable television and was using it as a nightlight while they got ready for bed in room No. 6. Suddenly, the Television went off, even though the power was still on.

The husband turned the television back on and, seconds later, it turned off again. The third time was the breaking point.

He and his wife packed their things and walked downstairs.

"I'm not into this," the man told Kris Ager. "This isn't cool."

The man and his wife didn't even ask for their money back. They kept walking, got in their truck and drove away.

The hotel's owners have had some unexplainable experiences themselves.

When they purchased the hotel in August 2000, Kris was upstairs caulking the doorway of the mysterious No. 6 when she heard someone coming up the stairs and down the hall toward her.

It sounded like cowboy boots on the wooden floors, she said. When the footsteps came right up to her, she turned and looked out the doorway. No one was there.

"It was a weird feeling, to say the least," Kris Ager said. "I used to not believe in ghosts, but ever since then, I'm a believer."

She didn't know it was haunted at the time. A week later, former owner Linda Kelley told her about the ghost.

"Since then, I've stayed in No. 6 to see if anything would happen," Ager said. "I wish it would happen again."

Ager has not had any other experiences with ghosts. Her personal theory is that since Rufus is supposed to be friendly and he scared her, he doesn't want to scare her anymore.

Bill Ager has heard other things that make him believe one of the ghosts had a dog. He has heard the distinctive sound of paws running. Thinking it was his dog, he would call and go looking for him, only to discover nothing was there.

Some have tried to see the ghost through seances during the 1960s, Kris Ager said, but Vandegriss said the ghosts only appear to people who are not expecting it.

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