Imperial Hotel and
Casino: 123 N. Third St., Cripple Creek, CO
Written by Haunted Poker for exclusive
Cripple Creek is home to many casinos that offer
limited-stakes gaming. Thousands come to Cripple Creek
to try their luck at Poker, Blackjack, and slot
machines. Others come just to take in the scenery of
this former gold-mining town. There are many mines still
dotting the landscape, some still in operation. Cripple
Creek is also home to a few hauntings.
The Imperial Hotel Casino used to be called the Collins
Hotel, in existence since the 1890’s. In 1948, the
hotel’s Gold Bar Theatre was host to an acting troupe
named the Imperial Players. This long-running melodrama
theatre was at the hotel for nearly 50 years—the longest
in United States history. In 1992, the Hotel started
operating as the Imperial Hotel Casino, adding
limited-stakes to its repertoire.
In 1993, a new employee came to the casino after twenty
years in the Air Force. He worked the graveyard shift to
fund his college education and have time for his
classes. The casino doors closed at 2 am, and he reports
that it would get quiet. Sometimes too quiet! He had
heard talk of “George”, a slot-playing ghost. The new
employee was wide-awake and looking over his shoulder
for weeks! On the one hand, he was half-way afraid, and
on the other, he was hoping for a glimpse of the
In 1992, the hotel/casino had its first encounter with
George. A security guard heard a slot machine paying out
at around 4am one night! It is mechanically impossible
for this to happen on its own. If a slot machine pays
out even one coin more than it is supposed to, the
machine will shut down. Anyway, one Saturday night, the
new employee was cleaning up downstairs. The doors had
been locked for about half an hour when he heard the
distinctive sound of a coin dropping in a slot machine!
Upon investigation, no one was found to be in the area.
George was at it again!
George Long - behind the bar
(partially obscured by camera flash)
The resident ghost is believed to be George Long. George
was an Englishman who controlled the hotel in 1905.
Emigrating as a young man, George had settled in Denver
and married a first cousin. He was an excellent manager
and made the Imperial Hotel one of the finest in the
Cripple Creek area. George had two daughters and a son.
The older daughter Alice suffered from a mental
disorder. (A result of marrying his first cousin
perhaps?) As Alice reached adolescence, she became
difficult to control and had to be locked up in the
apartment next to the lobby.
The Red Rooster Bar is located in that site now. It is
told that one day George went down the narrow,
treacherous stairs to the basement below the kitchen and
met up head-on with a cast-iron skillet wielded by
Alice. The former employee reports that the stairs are
covered in centuries-worth of grease tracked in from the
kitchen, and are narrow, steep, and dangerous. Whether
it’s true or not that his daughter hit him on the head,
he fell down the steps to his death.
The former employee has had an occasion where a guest
has come up to him stating she was a sensitive, and
telling him that the place was haunted. He and a
coworker decided to take her on a tour. The sensitive
got quiet as they entered the lobby. The lobby hasn’t
been changed much in 100 years and retains much of its
original Victorian charm. The sensitive felt a presence
down the stairs, and wanted to investigate. The three
went down the stairs to the theatre, and went through
the dressing rooms to the stairs that led up to the
kitchen, where George Long died. In this spot, the
sensitive revealed sensing a very angry presence.
Suffice it to say, the three explorers went back
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