Fort Collins Ghost Tour uncovers haunted stories

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Collegian | Cat Blouch

Umbrellas dangle in an alley outside of Happy Lucky’s Teahouse in Fort Collins Oct. 27. What was once an old jail in historic Fort Collins is now a location for the Fort Collins Ghost Tour.

Emmalee Krieg, Staff Reporter

Creaky floorboards, shadowed corners and the musky smell of dust fill a dark room. Did something just brush against your shoulder? Or was it someone?

Fort Collins is rich with history. So rich that some tales still leave their mark from more than 100 years ago. Spirits appear to linger right beneath your feet in places like the basements of Alpine Arts — The Colorado Showcase or Happy Lucky’s Teahouse.

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Fort Collins Ghost Tour offers a guided historical experience of Old Town every Thursday through Saturday with a spooky twist. Tickets are $22 a person and available for ages 12 and up. This event is available year-round; however, if you want to get in the Halloween spirit, now is the perfect time.

“Every time I’d interview somebody, they’d say, ‘Oh, and did you know that it’s haunted?’” -Lori Juszak, Fort Collins Tours founder

Fort Collins Tours incorporated ghosts into the experience in 2011. Lori Juszak, founder of Fort Collins Tours, wasn’t initially looking to start something so spooky. 

Having moved to Fort Collins in early 2010, Juszak was eager to immerse herself in the history of Fort Collins.

“I walked around Old Town going, ‘Oh gosh, I know there’s history here — it’s gorgeous,’” Juszak said.

Juszak then began going through archives and talking to business owners. This led her to discover a pattern. 

“Every time I’d interview somebody, they’d say, ‘Oh, and did you know that it’s haunted?’” Juszak said.

Apparently, some businesses had more than just creepy old basements; they had resident ghosts.  

“I was blown away by all these undergrounds that were so pertinent to the late 1800s that no one had seen in 70 years,” Juszak said, “other than the people who were packing boxes down there.” 

One place with a particularly spooky story is Walrus Ice Cream. Beneath those old floorboards is a morbid history that has attracted onlookers for the last 10 years.

“Honestly, I tend to find most people come for the history,” said Em Gonzalez, a guide at Fort Collins Tours. “It’s a fun little history excursion.”

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Gonzalez has been working the ghost tours for about four years. They create a portal to the past through their storytelling, which covers the intricate stories of Fort Collins. Tales contain deceit, adultery, possible murder and even cheating in a game of cards — an offense much more serious in the 1800s.

What perhaps is most enticing is the anticipation as tour guests travel from one location to the next.

“They kind of build up the suspense for us,” said Amy Downes, a ghost tour participant.

Each location has its own unique story and spirit.

“Granted, I’m not from Fort Collins; it allowed us to step into Fort Collins and be able to see some of the old staples and be able to walk down into some of the untold stories there,” Downes said.

Participants are also able to capture some of those stories via cell phone. Photos are welcome in the hope that everyone can get a glimpse of one of the spirits discussed on the tour.

Be prepared to take selfies in the dark corners of these basements. Try not to look too close though; you might see something scary lurking in the dark. 

“We’re keeping some of the history alive,” Juszak said. “I think there are stories that we tell that would not be told and people would not know about otherwise.” 

So next time you’re getting ice cream at Walrus, tread lightly. Try not to think about what lies beneath you.

Reach Emmalee Kried at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @csucollegian.