Ghost Walks the Rails

Written by on October 16, 2013 in Haunted Southwest - Comments Off on Ghost Walks the Rails

Phantom Canyon RoadIn the early 1890s, the night crew of the Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad were working a train bound for Cripple Creek. The train was winding through a canyon when the crew saw a man walking beside the tracks. He was dressed in prisoners clothing and his prison number was clearly visible. Upon arriving in Cripple Creek, the engineer reported the sighting to the nearby Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City. To his shock, he learned that the prisoner he had seen had been executed a few days before.

The canyon was immediately dubbed Phantom Canyon and remains so today at least, so say the legends. There are two other possible explanations for how the canyon got its name. The first is due to the spooky nature of the almost menacing canyon walls that seem to loom over you as your travel through. The second, more prosaic explanation, is that the railroad became popular with tourists in the early 20th century and may have been named Phantom Canyon as part of an advertising campaign.

Today, Phantom Canyon Road is part of The Gold Belt Scenic Drive. The road follows the old Florence and Cripple Creek Railroad line, which was once one of the busiest narrow gauge railways in the country. The line once connected the gold mines in the area to Cripple Creek, Cañon City and Florence. Over 500 mines once operated in the district, each with its own colorful past.

The road is hemmed in by soaring canyon walls and rises (or drops) roughly 4,000 feet in 30 miles. For an 8 mile stretch, the road clings to twisty course of Eight Mile Creek. Along the way, you’ll pass through two hand hewn railroad tunnels, see meadows, ponderosa pine forest, pinyon juniper and cholla cactus and finally high desert grasslands. As you drive the route, interpretive displays and signs designate the historic sites along the Gold Belt Line.

We don’t recommend taking the road at night just to see if the ghost of the prisoner yet walks the trail. It’s a hairy enough drive in daylight.

Table of Contents for the Haunted Southwest Series:
Mt. Pisgah Cemetery
River of Lost Souls
The Ghost of the White Lady
The Pottery Curse
Haunted Hotel: The Stanley Hotel, Colorado
The Vulture Mine, Wickenburg, Arizona
Haunted Hotel: The San Carlos, Phoenix, Arizona
The Haunted Shores of the Great Salt Lake, Utah
Haunted Tombstone, Arizona
Haunted Mines: Ghost, Goblins and Tommy Knockers, Southwest
Ghost Camels of the Southwest
Haunted Dawson Cemetary, New Mexico
Haunted Inn: Who Haunts the Brook Forest Inn, Colorado
Halloween in Jerome, Arizona
The Mystery of the Missing Locomotive, Colorado
The Ghost of La Posada Resort and Spa
Ogden and Salt Lake City Ghost Tours
The Ghosts of the Copper Queen
The Redstone Castle
Highway to Hell
Ghost Train at Golden Spike

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