Colorado Cripple Creek Imperial Hotel

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New changes that spirits don’t approve of can also draw them back.

When a person is attacked and dies quickly at the hands of
another, they sometimes can’t accept it.



imperial-paranormalThe Imperial Hotel and Restaurant was open until 2018; the last open business in this building, until this building is transformed under a new organization; yet another life in service.

The Imperial Hotel and Restaurant made its home in a three story, brick building, with a side building built onto the side of the building that has its parking lot. It is currently closed, as it is getting a face-lift outside and inside as well. The outside of this large, rectangular building has an attractive historical decor, as well as the interior.

On the first floor, the visitor finds the main lobby, a fine staircase going up to the floors above and down to the bar in the basement. The Red Rooster Restaurant is located next to the lobby. There is also a staircase that went down to the coal room;not much used these days.

The Imperial Hotel was a western-themed hotel with “Western-themed rooms & suites in a family-run, 19th-century hotel, plus an Italian eatery & a bar.” It had twelve rooms sporting a Western theme, a Red Rooster Restaurant and other spaces for other activities.

The basement area was the birthplace of the Imperial Players Melodrama in the theatre that once was there, The Golden Bar Room Theatre. Live music bands and artists entertained on the theatre stage while people enjoyed their drinks in the Golden Bar area also in the basement.



Like many towns in the late 1800s. Cripple Creek sprung up after a prospector , Bob Womack discovered a large amount of gold in a place called “poverty gulch.” At the height of this gold rush, Cripple Creek’s population rose to 25,000 citizens. The mines gave up 600 million dollars.

This historical building has sat on this property since 1896, built as an annex to the then popular 1893 Collins Hotel. A devastating fire had left some folks homeless, so this annex was built, with 26 rooms. It was called The Imperial Hotel.

George Long was an architect and painter by trade, with a love for his wife and children and scotch whiskey. George left England as a young man, because he was an embarrassment to his family; being deaf. George immigrated to America, settling in Denver, Colorado, as he had extended family there.

While living in Denver, he fell in love with his first cousin, Ursula and married her there, before there were laws against the practice., due to genetic issues in such close family marriages. His Colorado family shunned both of them, so they moved to Cripple Creek around 1905. This marriage produced the heart ache of loss that eventually took place down the road.

Cripple Creek, like many 1800s towns, Cripple Creek was built out of wood; making them prone to destructive fires. In 1896, two huge fires swept through town; killing six people, causing two million dollars in damage, and made 5,000 people homeless.

During Cripple Creek’s reconstruction, a new, beautiful hotel was built, The Collins Hotel. Around 1900, the name was changed to the New Collins Hotel. In 1905, George Long and his immediate family moved to Cripple Creek, where George became the manager and owner of this hotel. He changed the name from the New Collins Hotel to The Imperial Hotel.

The Imperial Hotel became one of the finest hotels in Cripple Creek, do to the talent and insight of George Long who had a knack in business and managing. George and Ursula Long owned The Imperial Hotel until the 1930s’.

He and his wife had two children while managing The Imperial Hotel. They lived in the large room next to the Lobby. His daughter Alice, had mental problems due to genetics, due to her parent’s marriage. The older she became, the greater the behavior issues; making her hard to handle. Her temper became explosive; especially when Alice reached the teen years.

Rather than sending her to a mental hospital, her parents decided to keep her locked up in their family’s room apartment when she had her temper outbursts. This safety measure worked for themselves and their guests as well; except for one deadly incident, when April started to hold grudges.

George and Ursula Long owned The Imperial Hotel until the 1930s’. After the family tragedy, Ursula continued on, probably with her son’s help.

The Imperial Hotel continued to be blessed with talented owners; Ursula and her son. They too were willing to be inventive in how to bring in money to keep this business open. The Imperial Hotel survived as a business through Prohibition,; perhaps with a Speak-easy in the basement. They also found ways in the Depression to soldier onward and upward, like adding the Gold Bar Theatre to the basement. They even managed to make a living through World War 2.

The Imperial Hotel survived the eras because it was sturdily built “with good bones”, impressive architecture and western artistry and lots of spaces for use for bringing in revenue. This building attracted and inspired would be owners with dreams for this beautiful building. This property sold itself and has never been in danger of being torn down.

In 1946, Ursula sold the Imperial Hotel to Stephen Mackin in 1946. Stephen Mackin and family moved into the same apartment next to the lobby. Stephen and family proved to be creative, inventive, and willing to take a chance in starting something new; a potential revenue source. They wanted to bring the theatre experience into Cripple Creek; an innovative step to grow their business by offering something that wasn’t in town. They built a stage in the basement, to be a part of their The Gold Bar Theatre.

In 1948, a troupe of thespians came to town and were invited to perform in the new Gold Bar Theatre. It was such a success, that they decided to stay;renaming themselves, the Imperial Players. By 1953, The Imperial Players were presenting popular melodramas. It was a long gig that lasted fifty years, until 1998, when they moved to the Butte Opera House.

Throughout the years, owners set up bars, a restaurant, a theatre, a casino, made a place for local bands or solo artists to play. Owners also offered rooms for short term stays for visitors; and for locals looking for a place for long term rent.

At some point the apartment next to the lobby was renovated to be a great space for the Red Rooster Bar.

Casinos with limited gaming opportunities was given the green light in Cripple Creek in 1992. At the same time, Mackin sold the Imperial Hotel. The next owner added the slot machines, and changed the hotel’s name; The Imperial Hotel and Casino; much to the annoyance of the resident spirit. A casino of course was added as soon as possible to The Imperial Hotel. The name was changed to The Imperial Hotel and Casino.

By 2009, this beautiful building had become a real fixer upper opportunity with some issues that needed money and TLC to fix in a restoration. It was put back onto the real estate market, but didn’t sit empty for long. It was a beloved town landmark.

In 2010, Gary and Wini Ledford, long-time Cripple Creek residents, who could be on HGDV with their own restoration show, bought this real fixer upper opportunity Imperial Hotel and Casino; giving it a new life! Within this structure, they bought a bar, a theater, a basement, a casino and twenty six rooms!

The Ledfords, who love to restore and repurpose old buildings took on this huge restoration/renovation project with high goals. They knew what they were doing, after transforming the old Cripple Creek High School into the Carr Manor, a bed and breakfast.

The first step was to clean out the junk, filling 5 gigantic dumpsters. before tackling the casino area, theater, restaurant and rooms. Apparently, unneeded stuff had accumulated for a very long time.

After the first general clean out, they were ready to transform and restore this historic building, preparing it to be family friendly. They didn’t plan to open up the casino until they found another group to run it. They did however, plan to sell rooms for stays by patrons of the gambling casinos around the corner on Bennett Street. Some patrons of the casinos were attracted to a historic, western style hotel.

A lot of the antiques were sold, because they believed that some of the antiques are too delicate to be used by the general public. However,all three pianos were tuned. The rickety central staircase was fixed as well, so people won’t feel like they had over-indulged in drinking.

By late 2011, they finished turning the twenty-six rooms into twelve larger rooms with modern amenities, and had renovated the entire building, including installing a new boiler. They opened up for business, offering a “Western-themed rooms & suites in a family-run, 19th-century hotel, plus an Italian eatery & a bar.” They changed the name as well: Imperial Hotel and Restaurant. They added a Conference Room for events, another way to bring in funds.

The Imperial Hotel went full steam until sometime in 2018, when it was offered a boatload of money to sell to a large Las Vegas entity;Full House Resorts Inc. who formed the corporation; Cripple Creek Casinos. This Las Vegas group through Cripple Creek Casinos bought out a whole block of businesses, including Bronco Billy’s Hotel and Casino, and The Imperial Hotel as well. They were committed to a dream; build a big, glorious hotel; have a big, flashy casino,and other important draws fro people living in Colorado Springs; just an hour away.

“The Company has recently acquired land and options on land surrounding Bronco Billy’s, forming an approximately six-acre site. Cripple Creek does not have a hotel of such size and quality, despite the fact that most of its customers reside in Colorado Springs, approximately an hour away. The assembled land package includes the former Imperial Casino, which Full House intends to reopen; the historic Imperial Hotel, which offers 12 refurbished guest rooms and would be part of the complex; and approximately four acres of vacant or underutilized land.”

Raising funds through a large stock option, Full House Resorts Inc have the goal of “expanding Bronco Billy’s Casino and Hotel, refurbish the adjoining Imperial Hotel, build a 286-space parking garage, and refurbish and re-open the Imperial Casino.”

They are planning on offering irresistible properties and gaming that will draw even more patrons from Colorado Springs, only an hour away! Daniel Lee, CEO of Full House Resorts, explained, “We’ve spent almost a year assembling land and designing a project that will provide a luxury experience and complement the unique historic nature of the town. We believe it will help transform Cripple Creek into a stronger, year-round tourism destination.”

This is a win-win situation for this historic building of the Imperial Hotel and Restaurant. They promised to refurbish and reopen the building, plus reopen its casino area; making the structure part of a large, Las Vegas supported complex. It now has an owner with deep pockets and a will to preserve a building of historical history, giving it another life again. So far, it remains closed, but has a bright future, if promises are kept.



Sometimes when changes are made to a beloved structure, they can act like a environmental trigger, either activating the spirits already residing there, or drawing others back. New changes that use electricity are especially exciting! New changes that spirits don’t approve of can also draw them back to protest/ or make suggestions.

Slot machines were added in 1992, when limited gambling became legal in CO in 1991. A spirit here became very active, finding ways to show his annoyance!

When people die suddenly unexpectedly often like to continue on in their favorite place, making the best of being in spirit form.

The talented owner and manager George Long truly loved his job. After around twenty of years of business success at the Imperial Hotel, he fell down the slippery steps that went down from the kitchen to the coal area in the basement.

Another version has him falling down the hotel’s central staircase.

When a person is attacked and dies quickly at the hands of another, they sometimes can’t accept it and try to continue on in the life they enjoyed despite being a spirit.

It is suspected that George Long died at the hands of another. He had help in falling down the stairs.

The first version of April’s attack: One day it is said that Alice escaped the apt while still furious. She went to the kitchen, grabbed the iron skillet and laid in wait in the basement for her father to come down the stairs at the time he usually did. She met him on the stairs and hit her father on the head making him fall down the stairs to his death; though the blow could’ve killed him.

The second version is that April attacked her father with the frying pan on the second floor landing on the central staircase, and he fell down two flights of stairs. The door to the lobby is in the back of the Red Rooster bar, near the central staircase.

If either of these versions indeed happened, it wasn’t made known to the authorities, and perhaps George doesn’t want to accept that his own daughter killed him.

People who are incarcerated for what ever reason, sometimes like to stay where they were locked up against their will. Or energy from their illness or suffering stays behind, manifesting as residual paranormal activity.

Spirit of Alice may be here as well,though it may just be residual energy. Sometimes when a person suffering from mental illness leave their crazy self in this world while the healthy part goes to the spirit world.

If she is an intelligent spirit, the spirit of George may be keeping her in tow.



Spirit of George Long

Described as a man with a bald spot in the middle of his head, with a “monk-like turf of hair” growing around his bald spot.

This spirit sometimes wears a top hat. This see-through spirit was dressed in nice clothes from an earlier era.

His see-through apparition has been seen throughout the hotel: beginning in 1953, when the theater was in full force. Mackin down-played all the paranormal reports; not wanting ghost seekers to invade his hotel.

The director and several actors saw George watching them rehearse. In 1980, an actor reports seeing George standing behind the bar.

During the time that Mackin owned this property, George apparently was supervising the kitchen staff.

During the years of The Imperial Hotel and Casino, George became really active when the casino was added in 1992 to stimulate income for the hotel.

Apparently, George didn’t agree. He amped up his activity.

George’s Mischief

George found ways to annoy the living, using those blasted one arm bandits. Richard L. Duwe was employed at the hotel from 1994 to 1997. He states most employees who worked the night and graveyard shifts encountered this new level of George’s activity. Because of the slot machines, the unseen presence of George often came into the hotel’s casino after hours, to cause some mischief. He had a blast making the machines give out the jack pot money; in protest of their existence here. As time passed, he started to use coins to do this.

Besides causing mischief in the slot Machine Room, he made it as clear as he could how he felt. “In one secure room where the rolled coins are stored, Duwe heard a knock and then extremely loud slams on the two sets of entry doors. He searched but no was at the door or in the hall. Duwe then announced out loud, “Knock it off, George.” During the time that Gary and Wini Ledford owned the hotel, he must of been happier, because the casino no longer was open. A restaurant was opened instead!

A much happier, peaceful spirit of George still showed himself to the living. He is still seen going down the central staircase to the back door of the Red Rooster bar to go into his former apartment to see April. He has been seen all over the hotel, going up and down the stairs. He liked to wander the hallways. He wasn’t completely a benign fellow; He likes to annoy the guests in two guest rooms.

Rooms 39 and 42: He would open and shut doors, and turn on the sink faucets in both rooms, when guests were staying there. When thew living tried to shut off the faucets, we would stop them by opening a drawer.

Spirit of April

When the Red Rooster Bar doors are closed after hours, a scratching noise is heard on the inside of the doors.

The spirit of George is seen going down the stairs toward the bar doors; the site of his former apartment. Could he be visiting April, or just following an old habit?



Despite being temporarily closed, the Imperial Hotel is still the home of George Long and maybe the spirit of April or her residual energy. There have been a boatload of reports of paranormal activity; mostly caused by resident spirit, George Long.

In 2016, Spirit of the Rockies Paranormal Convention was being held in The Imperial Hotel and Restaurant’s conference room.

Dennis Batchelor caught a one in a million interesting photograph of a see-through male spirit passing the open doorway of the conference room.



123 N. 3rd St.,
Cripple Creek, CO 80813

The Imperial Hotel and Casino historic building can be found near the corner of Bennett and N 3rd. the other cross street to the north of the building is E Carr Ave.



  •>, By Ben Miller – Contributing Writer Mar 23, 2018, 8:53am EDT
  • – Ghost of George Long at the Imperial Hotel in Cripple Creek, Sept. 15th, 2016, by Dennis Batchelor
  • – StanJanParanormal, Nov. 11th, 2012
  •,- Cripple Creek-Haunted, Imperial Hotel, Ricky Rock, Sept. 27th, 2007

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