Ghost walk returns with living history of Glenwood Springs
The ghosts of Linwood Cemetery are back.
The 17th year of the annual Historic Ghost Walk kicked off last week, with costumed actors portraying real local pioneers to tours by kerosene lantern light.
Presented by the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and Alpine Bank, the event continues Oct 21, 22, 28 and 29 with tours at 7, 7:45 and 8:30 p.m. Attendees should bring light and appropriate footwear for the initial hike up to the cemetery and be prepared for inclement weather. Tours are limited to 30 people each, with a 9:15 tour available if tickets are sold out for all the other tours that night.
Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 years and over, $15 for Historical Society members and free for children 12 and younger and can be purchased online at http://www.glenwoodhistory.com for will call the night of the tour. Proceeds benefit the Historical Society and the Frontier Museum.
“We’re the living legacy of Glenwood’s history,” observed Historical Society president Bill Kight. “It’s not just a bunch of dull facts. These people lived, loved and died.”
Though new to his current role, Kight has been a participant in the ghost walk since its inception portraying Jasper Ward, the first mayor of New Castle as well as town martial, justice, saloon owner and preacher.
“He lived a pretty interesting life,” Kight said. “He was kind of eclectic.”
Like most of those participating, Kight chose and researched his character himself.
“It comes with a responsibility of being true to the story and true to the character,” he said.
Those portrayed all have a grave in the cemetery. Among the more well known denizens are Doc Holliday and Kid Curry, but many were less notorious.
“We have a file on every grave. It’s a mix like any frontier town, which is what makes it interesting,” Kight said. “I think people identify with the struggles of ordinary folks.”
That also means moving beyond the often male-dominated picture of the Old West.
“It wasn’t just the men that came in here and made this place happen,” observed Suzy Alcott, who portrays Caroline Barlow.
The mother in law of one of the first white settlers in the region, Barlow served many roles in the community running her husband’s hotel.
“He got the idea, and she did the work,” she observed.
He’s also on the front of the gravestone while she’s on the back. Up the hill, the residents of Potter’s Field often have even less acknowledgment.
“We don’t tell scary stories. That’s not the point. The point is to make our history come alive. I just love ghosts. I’m a storyteller, and history has so many great stories that need to be kept,” Alcott said. “It’s unique and it’s local and you won’t see a thing in this town quite the same why after you hear their stories.”
Although most attendees come from out of town — making it, Kight observed, an economic driver in the offseason — locals are often more impacted by the stories.
“We’ve had people volunteer to do the ghost walk after they’ve been on it because of that connection,” Kight said. “We want this to be a community production, and we’re looking for new characters.”
“I think it makes people ask themselves what story they have to tell,” he added. “It creates a real atmosphere of suspense you wouldn’t get anywhere else, and it’s also a beautiful spot up there. I wouldn’t mind being buried there, myself.”