This story makes me feel like maybe I’ve gone insane. I keep trying to find source material and I can’t, nothing exists. Maybe I dreamt it all?
When I was 13, my extended family was out for a visit. We took them to Cripple Creek, a favorite destination for visitors even before it was a gambling town.
On this particular trip, we decided to visit a whorehouse. There were more than one brothel in Cripple Creek’s heyday; now there’s only one remaining, the famous one. That’s not the one we visited. The one we went to was off the main drag (Bennett) to the southwest. It was in back of a much larger building and there was a weedy lot next door. It was a two-story red brick affair and it didn’t look like much.
There were tours of this old pleasure house on weekends so we signed right up. I believe our group consisted of my large family and another smaller family. The tour commenced, the kids were bored and the adults were just happy to be out of the heat. However, once the stories started, we were all captivated. The rooms were roped off; we could only stare in from the hallways as we heard about the happenings throughout the house. It was exciting and interesting. I remember the wallpaper, handmade and opulent. Imagine making wallpaper!
Upstairs, we viewed the girls’ rooms, heard tales, and when we came to one room at the end of the hall, my mom stopped. My sister stopped. My grandmother stopped. They all lingered. Finally my grandmother and sister moved along and I joined Mom at the little fence in the doorway, peering around her to see what was so interesting. It was just another room. Mom said, “Do you notice how cold it is in here?” and I said, “Not really.” She said, “This room should be hot. It’s a late midsummer afternoon on the second floor of a brick building that’s had sun shining on it all day. This room should be much warmer than it is.” I rolled my eyes and moved along.
The tour was soon finished and a new one had begun; we listened to the other tourress begin her story. Our delightful guide, a retired woman who loved Cripple Creek history, bade her group members farewell. My mother lingered, as did my grandmother. Our guide, seeing no one else in the room, told them they were correct – the upstairs room was cold. A girl had died of a belladonna overdose in that room. There had been a murder in there, as well. I don’t remember if the man killed the woman or the woman killed the man but someone had died violently and restless spirits remained.
My mother looked at me smugly. I hurried out of the whorehouse.
I went back years later when I was in my 20’s. The building had been torn down to accommodate parking for the new gambling hordes. Only The Homestead House remained. I cannot find mention of my brothel anywhere. Was it just a dream?