The ghost of Old Town’s famed ice cream shop: Charlie’s hauntings

Kadyn Thorpe

A blue walrus ghost holding onto a ice cream cone surrounded by bats
(Graphic Illustration by Nick Perl | The Collegian)

Walrus Ice Cream is a place where you can find delicious ice cream with a side of paranormal activity. 

Fort Collins is a city with almost 140 years of history, so surely there are some paranormal places in town. The shops you walk through on a Saturday afternoon could have some ghosts and ghouls roaming around. 

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With Halloween right around the corner, we decided it’s time for a reminder about the infamous haunting of one of Old Town Fort Collins’ favorite ice cream shops. 

If you visit the Walrus Ice Cream website, you can view Charlie’s story. Charlie Dinnebeck was born in 1867 and was from Missouri. He moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1902 with his family and decided to build a business: The Dinnebeck and Hill Barber shop. 

He then grew his business ventures by purchasing the Wano Café and Boarding House in 1914, located right next to his barber shop. Then, in 1919, Charlie and his family opened the Dinnebeck’s Café, located where Walrus Ice Cream is today in Old Town. This café was where Charlie spent his days until his death in 1940

Other than Charlie’s business ventures in Fort Collins, he was also an active member of the community. He participated in the Fort Collins Boosters Club, a group of Colorado State University then-Aggies’ football team supporters. Charlie was known around the town as someone who was generous and always ready to lend a helping hand. 

When the current owners, John and Lisa Paugh, bought the shop in 1999, they knew they were not alone. Lisa Paugh started taking over the day-to-day operations in 2014, and she started making changes right away. 

She said she noticed things continued happening when changes were made to the shop that gave her obstacle after obstacle; she learned that Charlie was not a big fan of change. Lisa Paugh decided to post Charlie’s story, and since then, she said she thinks he has accepted her changing up the shop.

While speaking to Lisa Paugh, I asked her what her weirdest experience was with Charlie. She said she had gone on vacation for the weekend, and when she got back, she was the only one working because it was snowing outside and there were minimal customers. While sitting in the office on her computer, she saw something out of the corner of her eye.

“I turned my head just in time to see the handle of our root beer keg get pushed forward. By the time I could get to the counter from the office, we had a huge root beer mess,” Lisa Paugh said.

Lisa Paugh believes Charlie is uncomfortable when she is not around, so this was his way of telling her she shouldn’t leave for long periods of time anymore. However, now Charlie has grown to like the other managers of Walrus Ice Cream, so he is more likely to stay calm when Lisa Paugh leaves.

I wondered if Lisa Paugh knew for a fact that this presence in the ice cream shop was in fact Charlie. She said that she herself had wondered that as well, so she had called a medium to speak to the ghost and find out exactly who has been haunting the shop. While the medium was there, they asked multiple questions and got no response until they asked if they were Charlie. 

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“He remained silent until we asked him if he liked beer when he was alive and if his name was Charlie, then he would not stop signaling us,” Lisa Paugh said. 

Although they do know Charlie is an active member of the Walrus Ice Cream family, Lisa Paugh said she believes there may be some other entities roaming around. In fact, she does have proof of a red feather falling out of nowhere in the basement of Walrus Ice Cream.

After catching this phenomenon, Lisa Paugh said she did a little research on the history of the location and found that a woman had owned a hat shop that operated out of the location before Charlie had bought it. She wore all black with a red feather in her hat; Lisa Paugh believes her presence is still active there. 

If you would like to experience Charlie’s presence, he is most likely going to be active when the ice cream shop is busy. He likes to knock the clocks off the walls, so be sure to watch for falling objects when you visit. Charlie is known around the shop as a prankster and an energetic spirit — he is sure to give you a good spook for Halloween. 

Kadyn Thorpe can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @ThorpeKadyn.