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Northern Colorado — Pumpkins to poltergeists

In October, pumpkins become jack-o-lanterns, cornfields are a maze-ing, and costumes create pretend identities. Both Larimer and Weld counties in Colorado abound in autumn delights and fearful fall hauntings for those who delight in the season.

AUTUMN IN AULT

For a u-pick pumpkin patch field trip and/or hay maze thrill, head to Anderson Patchwork Pumpkins’ fall extravaganza. Daily hours will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (or close somewhat earlier if dark). The farm is located on the north side of Hwy. 14 a couple miles west of Ault, Colo. Watch for the enormous pumpkin display and hay maze in the parking lot.

As always, 4-H clubs, school groups, and scout troops are welcome. FFA members buying pumpkins for their fundraisers receive a discount, especially if they do the picking.



Pumpkins are sold by size and the hay maze/hayrides will be free. Anderson keeps the entrance fee affordable for low-income families who come just to play in the maze and have an all-around good time.

Anderson Patchwork Pumpkins' vintage truck is easy to spot. Courtesy photo

For extra special eye appeal, the parking lot exhibit includes a one-acre hay maze replete with tunnels and a hay bale roof to — just in time for Halloween — make it deliciously spooky-dark inside.



“Kids have a ball in there,” said Anderson, noting that some even refuse to come out. Most parents, on the other hand, refuse to go in the shadowy, cave-like maze. Then Anderson or one of his employees has to retrieve happily errant youngsters.

Admitting it makes him feel kind of old, 66-year-old Anderson mentioned that some of those formerly playful children are now grownups bringing their own kids to his maze and u-pick field.

Large groups, many of them extended families of up to 50 people, arrive each year to buy pumpkins for follow-up parties at which they carve their jack-o-lanterns, have chili cook-offs and more at someone’s house.

For more information, or last minute updates, visit http://www.andersonfarms.com, call Rodney Anderson at (970) 227-4661, or email him at rodsdirtwork@gmail.com.

FORT COLLINS — A SPIRITED PLACE

As ubiquitous as falling autumn leaves, spellbinding yarns of petulant poltergeists and ghoulish ghosts abound in Fort Collins, Colo.; spirited stories that are simultaneously disquieting yet delectably haunting tales. Not long after its founding as a military post in 1864, skeletons began tumbling out of Fort Collins’ closets. Clank.

Just a few of many spooktacularly spine-tingling tales, mostly from Old Town, follow:

The old Northern Hotel sports cobwebs just in time for the Halloween holiday. It's a great spot along the Fort Collins Ghost Tours route. Courtesy photo

Walrus Ice Cream:

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. That apparently includes Charles Dinneback, a specter with a strong need for attention. Jacob Anderson, general manager of “Walrus Ice Cream” at 125 W. Mountain Ave., is quite familiar with the flamboyant shenanigans of the spirit cordially nicknamed “Charlie.”

Members of the Dinneback family owned a barber shop, boarding house and the Dinneback Cafe (where Walrus now stands). An ingenious tunnel system built beneath Old Town easily facilitated deliveries to businesses by circumventing narrow stairwells and reducing the number of above-ground drop-off points. Dinneback Cafe’s branch of the clever underground network connected to the city’s morgue and crematorium.

The Miller Block, built in 1888, is among many Fort Collins' early buildings believed to be inhabited by spirits. Photo by Marty Metzger

Whether Dinneback or some other errant soul, Anderson and his employees have learned to tolerate its antics, including the root beer keg turning on by itself; people on tours getting locked in the basement; a radio station changing by itself; unseen hair-pulling events; and the sound of random voices in the otherwise unoccupied basement.

The Old Firehouse/Jail & The Silver Grill:

To lessen escape chances, Old Town’s tunnels were also used to transport prisoners from the jail/firehouse a couple doors down to the Silver Grill Cafe for meals. The underground system is said to have “gobbled up” one such inmate. He made it to the Silver Grill okay, enjoyed a nice dinner, but then simply disappeared on the return trip. It’s said his ghost still haunts the building.

Old Town Fort Collins' original buildings take on a stern, haunted look after leaves drop from surounding trees. Photo by Marty Metzger

Cheers to Boo:

Did a building at 146 N. College that began as the Commercial Trust and Savings Bank give up its ghost? Over time, the structure had become a succession of bars: The Vault, The Astoria, and, in 2015, High Point Bar.

The Astoria’s owner had reported lots of activity after renovations. The bar’s resident ghost, believed to be Clark Smith, a 1910 bank employee who died under mysterious circumstances after having been let go, had often appeared as a man dressed in Victorian-style clothing.

The 1881 Fort Collins jail/firehouse is among many Old Town buildings said to be haunted. Courtesy photo

Needless to say, bartenders were shaken. One, named Hunter, sent a frantic text to owner Anderson after a terrifying encounter one night that he’d worked alone after close.

But as of 2018, employees of High Point Bar hadn’t noticed a single “boo” or apparition.

The Avery Building, N.E. corner of Mountain and College Aves.

Built in 1889 as a bank, this impressive stone edifice was the pride of one of the city’s founding fathers, Franklin Avery.

But brother William, and Avery’s business partner, Frank Millington, shared a singular interest: William’s wife Mary, who’d become a little too friendly with Millington. Then, just 12 days after William abruptly sickened and died, Mary and Millington snuck off to Nebraska to marry.

Fort Collins officials thought that a little odd and exhumed William’s body. It contained 50 times the amount of arsenic necessary to have done him in. Investigators further discovered that Mary had purchased a large amount of the poison shortly before her husband’s sudden demise.

Trials then being what they sometimes still are, the newly-married with egg-on-their-faces couple was acquitted. That’s right, as in not guilty; because prosecutors lacked proof that William hadn’t used the lethal substance to commit suicide.

Does someone involved in that gruesome affair linger to haunt the old Avery Building? While the place was “Beau Jo’s Pizza,” silverware often mysteriously slid across tables and doors opened/closed by themselves. But when known as “The Kitchen,” any discontented spirit behaved itself, those employees had reported. Time will tell if any ghostly entity invades the current tenant, “Next Door Eatery.”

Fort Collins Ghost Tours hits some of the year-round hottest spooky spots.

An underground tunnel system beneath Old Town Fort Collins once made it easier for business deliveries. Now it's a ghostly trail to historic chills and thrills. Below the streets, above scary. Courtesy photo

Traverse the historic underground Old Town tunnel system, which had originally been constructed to make merchandise deliveries easier by avoiding above-ground traffic. The vintage-like lighting makes for even stranger experiences.

Learn about the histories of early structures such as The Avery Building. Enjoy Haunted Pub Tours. More special tours are added for October.

GHOSTLY GREELEY

Greeley Ghosts Tours began leading the hunt for haunted sites around Greeley, Colo., on Memorial Day 2022. Owner Amanda Rose Adams leads the walking tours, which start off at the historic Coronado Building.

From there, it’s on to the Weld County Courthouse; buildings on Ninth Street, including their basements; and the former site of the Chief Theater. Although the Chief was demolished in1983, the theater is still known as Greeley’s most-haunted building, said Adams. That eerie reputation explains why everyone gets an electromagnetic field detector to use on the tours.

There's nothing scary about this scarecrow girl and her lovely pumpkins. Photo by Marty Metzger

Lincoln Park, established in 1870, is noted for two murders committed there in its 100-plus years. Adams also includes tour discussions of the oldest (1916) cold case murder in Greeley, and the Nathan Meeker Massacre.

Special events presented by Greeley Ghosts Tours include a pub crawl; a Victorian Christmas séance at the Boomer House on Dec. 16, complete with a medium. Reservations are recommended. Check availability online at https://greeleyghosts.tours. (Teacher and group discounts available.)

SIDEBAR

Spirited ghost tours are available to bold souls who enjoy a jolly good jaunt, or haunt, into the past; whether for historical knowledge or just to feel the hairs on the back of their neck rise.

Anderson’s Patchwork Pumpkins is located on the north side of Hwy. 14 about two miles west of Ault, Colo. Call Rodney Anderson at (970) 227-4661, or email him at rodsdirtwork@gmail.com for more information.

For further information about Fort Collins Ghost Tours, which operates year round, contact owner Lori Juszak at (970) 214-6667 or on website http://www.fortcollinstours.com.

Greeley Ghost Tours — Additional information can be obtained from Amanda Rose at (970) 215-4020.

Autumn is a colorful season in Northern Colorado. Photo by Marty Metzger

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