Steamboat ghost stories: The spirit of the Depot |

Steamboat ghost stories: The spirit of the Depot

Sophie Dingle/For Steamboat Living

The Depot Art Center.

In the early 1900s, several community members raised funds to bring railroad services to rural Steamboat. At the time, the impact to the town was tremendous, with passenger railroad service running until 1968. The Depot was abandoned until 1972 when the Steamboat Arts Council was formed and began using it for art and theater programs. But a theater group who used the Depot in the late 1970s got the sense they weren't the only ones in the building.

Two light technicians were backstage during rehearsal when the stage lights began to flicker, brighter and dimmer, and couldn't be controlled. Simultaneously, iron weights hanging from chains below the technician's booth began to sway and clank together.

When a technician investigated, he simply saw the weights crashing together by themselves. Unnerved, the cast canceled rehearsals for the rest of the day.

Another time, a crew member laid down on the couch for a quick nap when he heard the front doors rattling, as if someone was trying to get in. When he called out "Who's there?" no one answered.

Spooked, he ran downstairs to tell the rest of the crew what happened; then they all heard footsteps in the lobby. When they ran upstairs to check, they found the doors between the lobby and baggage room swinging back and forth. But nobody was in the theater.

The final straw came when a crew member stayed behind one night to finish working in the basement. When he was done, he climbed through the trap door and began to lock it behind him. Suddenly he heard someone knocking from below. Knowing he was the only one in the building, he was shocked when whoever had been knocking started to push against the closed trap door. Using all his strength, he held the door closed long enough to lock it before dashing outside.

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Just as he was unlocking the door to let himself out he heard the double doors behind him swinging as if someone had just passed through them. Frantically opening the front doors, he paused outside to lock them again when he felt someone trying to pull them open from the inside. Eventually locking them, he ran down the street to a nearby restaurant where the rest of the crew had gathered. Upon hearing his story, the crew agreed that the Depot truly was haunted and the group moved on shortly after.

These days, whatever spirit haunts the Depot is less aggressive but still seems to be lingering. The Depot's office manager tells of items going missing and then mysteriously showing up in places she's already looked. Another story tells of a cleaner who was cleaning the men's bathroom when he saw a man looking at him in the mirror from the art gallery floor. But when he turned around, no one was there.

For more Steamboat ghost stories, pick up a free copy of Steamboat Living magazine at the annual Best of the Boat celebration, Thursday, November 9 at The Steamboat Grand or look for a copy inserted in Steamboat Today Saturday, November 11.