Sunday, October 28, 2012

Haunted Hotel Part 1

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before.


I’m the sort of person who never sees ghosts and had always been skeptical of the very premise. So, I found myself working the graveyard shift at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Wyoming. This is a very large canary yellow wood frame hotel right on the shores on Lake Yellowstone in the nation’s oldest national park, with over 300 hundred rooms on the property, including an annex and outlying cabins. It is the oldest hotel in the park. I’d heard stories from employees of a ghost in the old wing of the hotel. The building has two wings, one is newer and even has an elevator. The old wing, though remodeled many times to install modern amenities, is part of the original structure.

A few of our security guards swore they’d seen something. I later learned the employees had been seeing a ghost regularly for years. She was described as wearing a tight hat or headband like they wore in the 1920's and a dress from the same vintage. In other words, the flapper look.

A new desk clerk arrived on the scene. She mentioned seeing a ghost at a haunted house recently, before coming to Yellowstone. Since she hadn’t been there long enough to be corrupted by stories of our ghost, I decided to perform an experiment. I just asked her to walk the length of the building and see if anything turned up. I told her there was a rumor that the hotel was haunted, but nothing more. We went at midnight. That seems to be when ghostly entities like to conduct their business. As we walked by the specific room where most of the sightings had happened, she suddenly jerked. Goose bumps shot up on her arms. She told me something just touched her. I was over ten feet away and there wasn’t anybody else on the floor. We then went to the end of the hall. She turned around and gasped. By the time I turned around, there was nothing there. She told me she saw something, for only an instant, then precisely prescribed the same thing others kept seeing, a woman who looked like she was from the 1920's.
Lake Hotel, as it is informally called, sits right on the edge of Lake Yellowstone, one of the largest high altitude lakes in North America. The property is well maintained with on sight dining and bar. There is a large sun room on the ground floor where people can relax and listen to live music in the afternoons. This is a seasonal property, only open about six months of the year. It does not operate during the winter.

For some time, no one is certain how long, employees have been seeing strange things on the second floor of the old wing. Many an employee has reported seeing her at the window as they walk to work in the morning, looking out for just an instant.
And the employees have even named her. Matilda frequents the back side of the hotel, which looks toward the forest and away from the lake. For whatever reason, she manifests around employees far more often than guests. Tourists, as reported, do also encounter her from time to time. It’s always on the second floor.
She is a bit of a puzzlement. As this hotel sits inside a national park, the government keeps voluminous records on just about everything, including how people die in the park. Park service archives do not report any unnatural deaths at the hotel during the 1920's. This is often a link with ghost presences. In fact, they don’t record any deaths there at all. There have been numerous drownings in the nearby lake, usually from sinking or capsizing boats. Some people have suggested a link there. Of course, this leaves one wondering why she looks out toward the forest instead of the lake.

I spent two summers at that hotel. I never saw a thing and nothing ever touched me when I went down the halls. I still don’t know what to make of it.

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