Are there ghosts living in the tunnels along Gold Camp Road?
Paranormal hunters have been investigating the tunnels for years. Some have heard children laughing, while others report seeing ghostly figures of old railroad workers.
Gold Camp Road runs from Teller County Road 81 north of Victor down the mountain canyons to Old Stage Road near The Broadmoor in southwest Colorado Springs. The road, which dates back more than 100 years, has been described as 35 miles of history and terror.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt, a frequent visitor to Colorado and the Cripple Creek region, once referred to Gold Camp Road as “the trip that bankrupts the English language.” But did the Rough Rider make that statement because of its treacherous muddy curves and ruts? Or did he experience paranormal activity within its tunnels?
A tunnel in the last leg of the route washed out in the mid 1980s and that portion of the original road is routed to the Old Stage Road. The scenery is spectacular and includes towering rock formations, overviews of Colorado Springs, and in the fall, brilliant gold aspen.
There are several legends –or myths – concerning the ghosts of Gold Camp Road, but the one that seems to get the most attention centers around a bus crash in 1987 in which dozens of school children were killed.
According to stories, the children were returning to Colorado Springs from Cripple Creek after a field trip. While the bus was traveling through Tunnel 3, the tunnel collapsed, killing everyone on board. Tunnel 3 is about a mile hike from the trailhead above Helen Hunt Falls.
It is said that you can hear the children’s spirits laughing and giggling in Tunnels 1 and 2 when you position yourself quietly near the tunnel entrances. The legend is that you can hear their screams in Tunnel 3. When you drive through the first two tunnels, the children leave have been known to leave their fingerprints on your vehicle. In Tunnel 3 you can see blood spots all over the walls and ceiling.
The bus crash story has taken on a life of its own. Numerous paranormal research crews have gone to the area to investigate. As the story gets told over and over, new information is added. But is any of this true?
There seems to be no evidence that there was a school bus crash with children on board in 1987, or any other year for that matter.
A more likely scenario, according to numerous paranormal hunters, is that rotted timbers of Tunnel 3 pulled away from the ceiling and walls and caused a partial collapse. No known persons were harmed during the collapse. The blood spots are actually rust that has formed because of how iron-rich the rocks are.
Another popular story surrounds the ghosts of railroad workers (Gold Camp Road was originally a railway) who haunt the tunnels. Visitors claim to hear the sounds of workers talking, as well as the sounds of trains. Also in Tunnel 2, it has been reported that there is a ghostly appearing figure of a man leaning against a wall at the north end. The image fades as you approach.
In 2010, Charmaine Ortega Getz wrote a book called “Weird Colorado” that deals with Gold Camp Road and other paranormal activity in the state.
Of course, you are welcome to investigate all of these Casper-type sightings yourself. The best way to find Gold Camp Road is traveling from Gillett south on County Rd. 81 or from Victor north on County Rd. 81. The intersection is marked with a U.S. Forest Service sign and a directional map sign. Be sure to keep your video device in the on position. You never know who, or what, might be watching you.