Freelan Oscar Stanley (mostly often called F.O. Stanley), the co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, suffered from tuberculosis and came west to Estes Park, Colorado after his doctor suggested him to do so. The doctor arranged for Stanley and his wife, Flora, to live in a cabin there for the summer.
The couple were instantly in love with the area, and Stanley’s health improved incredibly. Being so fond of Estes Park, they decided to open a luxury hotel called the Stanley Hotel. It was built on land from the British Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl, who had come into the area in 1872 on a hunting trip.
Dunraven built a hunting lodge, a cabin, and a hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres. He tried to create a private hunting preserve, but it was unsuccessful. Eventually, Dunraven was kicked out of the area after he tried to scam people out of land, money, and possessions.
Construction on the Stanley Hotel began in 1907, and it was going to be a summer resort featuring running water, electricity, and telephones. It only lacked heating, which was not going to be much of problem due to the season of operation.
The hotel opened in 1909, and received a lot of tourism. After the Stanleys were done living in the summer cabin, Flora wanted to live in a home like the one they had used to live in at Maine. They built one about a half mile away from the hotel.
Years later, Stephen King came to the hotel after suffering from writer’s block. Attracted by its eerie appearance, he ironically visited the place on its last day. There, he gained inspiration for his novel The Shining after he got lost in the many halls.
When it comes to hauntings, there have been a large number of reported cases, most of them taking place in the ballroom. The Stanley’s kitchen staff have reported hearing a party going on in the ballroom, but, when it is checked, they find it to be empty.
Another case is that people have heard someone playing the ballroom’s piano even when no one is sitting there. The phantom virtuoso is believed to be the ghost of Flora Stanley, who avidly played it during the hotel’s operation.
One apparition is said to be a man who stands over the bed before running into the closet. He is also known for supposedly stealing guests’ jewelry, watches, luggage, and belongings. Other reports of this ghost have said that people see him in the middle of the night standing over them, and he vaporizes away.
SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters was invited to investigate the Stanley Hotel for paranormal activity. The manager gave them a tour of the allegedly haunted places. Some of the phenomena was explained as being a natural occurrence, such as wind and pipes.
However, the ballroom incidents could not be explained with any logical conclusion. When it came to the incidents such as children running and laughing, they claimed that it was most likely kids on the next floor. Believers dispute this with the logic of how could the sounds be from the floor above if it sounds like it is on the same floor as them.
The strangest occurrence was when a table jumped two feet into the air. Ghost Hunter Jason Hawes stayed the night in the room where the ghost burglar was reported. The bed moved, the closet doors unlocked, and a thick glass by the bed cracked from the inside.
In Popular Culture
- The hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s novel The Shining. The idea came to him when he and his wife were staying at the hotel in Room 217, and the 1997 TV miniseries version of the book was filmed at the hotel.
- The hotel was in Dumb and Dumber as “Hotel Danbury”.
- TAPS from SyFy Channel’s Ghost Hunters investigated the hotel in May, 2006, and returned to it on October 31st, 2006 to do a live, six-hour investigation.
- The finale of the second season of Ghost Hunters Academy had their finale at the hotel.
- In November of 2006, UK’s Most Haunted featured an investigation of the hotel.
- Ghost Adventures had an episode with the hotel in their 4th season.
- The Stanley Hotel was featured on Most Terrifying Places in America.