Check in to Room 310 at Aspen’s Hotel Jerome, and you may never want to leave home again. Guests have reported the arresting sight of a little boy in a towel, wet and shivering. This wouldn’t be so unusual, as Room 310 overlooks the hotel pool—but it’s when the child disappears, leaving a trail of wet footprints in his wake that guests are sent screaming.
The “water boy” is supposedly the ghost of a 10-year-old boy who drowned in the hotel pool in 1936. Hotel staff have been so rattled by his appearance, along with other unusual experiences on the third floor, that some simply refuse to work there.
The Hotel Jerome is one of Aspen’s major landmarks. It was built in 1889 by Jerome B. Wheeler, former co-owner of Macy’s department store. By the time it was up and running, Hotel Jerome was one of the first buildings in Colorado to feature full electric lighting. In the early 1900s, Aspen saw a decline in its tourist traffic, leaving the Hotel Jerome to serve other purposes—it was even used as a morgue at one point. But when skiing revived Aspen’s tourist economy, after WWII, the hotel went through another boom, bringing celebrity guests back to its popular J-Bar.
Yet there are some guests from the hotel’s earliest days who simply refuse to leave. Henry O’Callister was a silver prospector who traveled to Aspen in 1889. After striking it big in the mines, he checked into the Hotel Jerome where he met Clarissa Wellington, the daughter of a wealthy Boston family. The two fell in love, but Wellington’s parents weren’t so pleased with the match.
When she was sent back to Boston, O’Callister was devastated. Local historians claim he spent his remaining fortune on booze and died a lonely, broken man. Hotel guests and staff today have claimed to hear the pained sobs of a man and have even seen the ghostly figure of O’Callister walking the halls at night, eternally heartbroken.
There are also the stories of the early hotel staff, namely Katie Kerrigan, a 16-year-old maid who was employed at the Hotel Jerome in 1892. A beautiful girl, Kerrigan received much attention from the wealthy hotel guests and as a result wasn’t exactly the favorite of her co-workers. They teased her daily, and one night, told her they had taken her kitten and thrown it into the ice cold pond behind the hotel. Horrified, Kerrigan ran out after her beloved pet and caught pneumonia.
She died three days later. Hotel staff claim that now Kerrigan is the trickster, messing with rooms that haven’t been touched, pulling down bedsheets, and leaving soapy water in the sinks.
Recently, travel writer Chris Gray Faust had an eerie run-in with the Hotel Jerome’s ghosts during her stay in 2010. She had gone out to take a ghost tour in Aspen. Her friend Kathryn, who had skipped the tour, returned to their room for some R&R. But when she got there, she found the heat on. “I didn’t touch the heat,” Faust replied.
Kathryn then questioned her about leaving the bathroom in disarray, the sink full of soapy water. But Faust had not been back in the room, or used the sink—upon investigation both soap bars were still in their plastic wrapping, untouched. Both women were so upset that they slept with the lights and the television on the whole night.
Perhaps it was Kerrigan playing tricks on Faust and Kathryn—or just an enterprising, living member of the housekeeping staff. For now, Hotel Jerome has embraced its ghostly guests. You’ll find the hotel listed on Haunted Rooms, and no room is off limits—not even Room 310. So pack your swimsuit … and make your travel plans now.
This story was first published on The Lineup
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