Tag Archives: colorado

The ”Crying Lady.”

A is a 59-year-old Hispanic American female originally from La Junta, a small town in Southeastern Colorado. A currently works as a background detective in Phoenix Arizona.

A informed me of this folklore over a dinner discussion. I asked A if she had any folklore, specifically legends or ghost stories she would be willing to share with me.

A: So this is the story I heard as a little girl of La Llorona, the “Crying Lady.” She lost her babies somehow, and wandered through the waterways, rivers, creeks, anything where there was a bridge overhead.. So as a kid we were always told “don’t cross the bridges at night” because La Llorona would be out there trying to steal children because she doesn’t have babies of her own.. So, even as a teenager, I would not walk over a bridge at night, I would walk extra, blocks to get away from the waterways just because it was too creepy to try to walk over it.

Reflection: The rendition of the La Llorona legend that A was told as child is consistent with the American Hispanic South-West understanding of La Llorona as a scare-tactic for children to discourage them from misbehaving or wandering away from home. I believe A’s story demonstrates how impressionable children are in relation to folklore, as La Llorona was still having a direct effect on A’s life well after childhood. Stories also tend to be more impactful when told by family members, as there is often an underlying sense of trust between blood ties that will lend immediate credibility to a story whether it is true or not.

 “For another version, see Schlosser, S. E., and Paul G. Hoffman. 2017, Spooky Southwest: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore., Page #85

The Spirit of Chipeta


The Ute Native Americans are in three reservations in Colorado and Utah: Unitah-Ouray, Southern Ute, and Ute Mountain. They have their own sovereign nations that have their own tribal leadership. Within reservations there are different bands of Ute Natives. The story told takes place in the Ute Indian Museum Montrose, Colorado. There Chipeta and her brother John McCook are buried. Chief Ouray, Chipeta’s husband, is said to be buried in Utah.

Chief Ouray was designated chief by the U.S. since he spoke English. He was Apache and Ute, he belonged to the Uncompahgre Band. He had one child with his first wife Black Mare, however she passed away unexpectedly. Since Ouray spoke English, Spanish, and Ute, the U.S. government decided to make him the proxy for treaties, regardless of how the Ute governed themselves. Nevertheless, Chief Ouray always strived for peace.

When gold was found in the San Juan Mountains, settlers began to encroach. The lands of all natives got smaller and smaller. The Utes were moved to what is now known as Montrose County. A settler was ploughing land near the reservation assigned to the Utes. The young Utes, as accustomed, raced their horses. However, they had raced on some of the ploughed land. This dispute eventually exploded, but no one knows who shot first. The incident did lead to the involvement of Nathan Meeker, the Indian agent at the White River Indian Agency that managed the Utes. Meeker did not care about the culture and customs of the natives, he was predisposed against Utes. The small dispute led to more conflict and eventually Meeker called on federal troops. The Utes viewing it as a threat rebelled, and took Meeker’s wife and daughter. After, finding out what had occurred, Chipeta wept for Josephine Meeker and her daughter. She showed kindness. The U.S. successfully negotiated to have them released and they went to Ouray and Chipeta’s ranch.

However, the Utes were forced to relocate, after a final battle, to Utah and further away from their lands. Chipeta didn’t have children, but she loved them and adopted many. Chief Ouray was blamed for the relocation of the Utes, and labeled a traitor, but given U.S. history, Ouray also saved his people from genocide, he saved the children of the tribe and their future.

It is extremely important to recognize that the entities and spirits in the Ute Indian Museum are not malicious

The museum has been here since 1956. It closed down in 2015 to remodel, and expand the museum. The original structure is still present. The staff has reported viewing orbs of light and shadow-people. When they watch the cameras, they move around quickly. They move around real fast, and trigger sensors, so they do get a police officer. He was scared of coming out to the museum.

The Story

We sat in CJ’s office at the Ute Indian Museum. Flute music played in the background. Photographs of the museum and her children lined the walls, along with Ute artifacts. Two words describe CJ, spiritual and calm.
My name is CJ Brafford. I am the director at the Ute Indian museum, I am Ogologo Lakota. I was born on the Pine-Ridge Indian Reservation and have been the caretaker of the Ute Indian Museum for 24 years. When I came here for the job, the doors to the museum were locked, and no one gave me a key. I wandered the grounds and met Chipeta. I didn’t know yet, who she was.

Being Native I have been around many things, and seen many too. I have been here for 20 years and I have traveled and researched the Utes. So, I think I about gathered as much information as I can. I have seen many archival records, but one day a community member of Montrose called. She wanted to see me and share something with me. When she arrived at the museum she came in and she showed me a picture. I had not seen this picture, and I got so excited, like oh my gosh, I’ve never seen this picture. Chapita is buried here, she died in Utah in 1924 but she was brought back to Montrose in 1925. The Ute were removed in 1881, but nonetheless Chipeta is here today. On the museum grounds next to her brother John McCook. So, when she came in, I thought she was showing me a picture that she found at the archives or found somewhere else. It’s a picture she took just the night before on the museum grounds. She wanted me to identify the person in the picture. She knew it was an Indian woman, but I knew it was Chipeta.

Another time, I was at the front desk when somebody in the gift store said, “I don’t want you to think I’m kind of strange, but Chipeta’s standing right behind you”.


After the story I had two questions, why is Chipeta still on the grounds and why is Chief Ouray not buried beside her, CJ provided answers.
Chief Ouray went to go sign another treaty, but he got sick and passed away in Utah in 1880 away from his home. The Southern Ute did not allow his body to be taken back with the agent from the White River Indian Agency. A year later, two Ute bands in Colorado were forced to relocate to Utah. The Ute at that time placed their deceased in caves. Chief Ouray was placed among other chiefs. Chipeta was with Ouray when he passed, and she knew where he was buried.

A federal troop account said that they saw Utes and a horse with a body over it. It is believed that Chipeta brought him back and buried him in a disclosed place. Utes have come by and said he is in the Black Canyon. There was an attempt to bring Ouray to Chipeta’s burial ground, and Chipeta to Ouray’s.

CJ heard was that after the Ute bands were removed, Chipeta would travel from Montrose to Dragon, Utah through train. Chipeta befriended a wealthy man, who had the first car. His employers would pack Chipeta a picnic lunch and he would drop her off here. She would sit here to do her choosing, and she would cry. I think part of her spirit is still left here, even when she journeyed over. This was her home, and up there it was foreign. The place given to them was barren, we had mountains. There was greenery here, they were given a desert.

Chipeta is a guardian, consoling all who are tied to the land where her history is in the landscape. When it was taken from the Utes, she came back to Montrose, rueful that many of the Utes would not return.
Chipeta and her brother John McCook remain buried in Montrose, Colorado.

CJ Brafford Ute Indian Museum Director
Platts, Henry. “Ouray.” Colorado Encyclopedia, https://coloradoencyclopedia.org/article/ouray. Accessed 29 October 2020.

Colorado Springs Haunted Mine

Main Piece
So there is this mine in Colorado springs, and what happened was a school bus full of children was murdered in the mine in the 1950’s, and so the myth is that if you cover your car with baby powder, and then drive in like the middle of the mine, because you can drive through part of it, and then you park and you turn off everything, and you come out, after you turn your lights on and stuff, and there will be handprints where the baby powder was. You hear children laughing too. We’ve done it, and like yeah you see handprints, and so nobody really knows what it is. I mean, it might be like water dripping or something, but its legit so creepy.

The informant grew up in Colorado, and therefore learned many of the area specific stories and traditions. She specifically lived near Colorado Springs, where she claims this mine to be. She did not state the name of the mine, but insisted she had been there from personal experience.

The informant is a 25-year-old women studying law at Loyola in Los Angeles. The information was collected outside my family home in Palm Springs, California on April 20th, 2019.

This ‘textbook’ scary story is classic of horror narratives – there is an old murder, and ghosts who still haunt those grounds. I think this story is interesting in particular because the ghosts here are children, which makes it all the more creepy. This doesn’t seem to be a cautionary tale, but one of more intrigue and suggesting of trying it out. I really like that the informant had tried out the tale, and had confirmed it as being true, although she offers her own possible explanation for what causes the marks in the powder on your car. I think it must be really fun and possibly scary for those taking part in the tradition, but they are really keeping the memory of the dead children, if they really existed, alive. Even if the background of the tale is not fully true, the ritual and tradition associated with it continue to keep the mine and its questionable history relevant.

“It’s Greeley!” – Folk Saying

“It’s Greeley!”

The informant said that when he and his friends would smell horse manure in Boulder, they would say: “It’s Greeley!”  According to my friend, the city of Greeley would always be blamed in some form by Boulder residents when there is a scent of horse manure in the air.

The informant first heard a friend in middle school mention Greeley.  He started using the saying himself when the saying’s blaming of Greeley was confirmed – He visited Greeley and it smelled of the same scent as the wind that would occasionally sweep over Boulder.

Greeley is a city that is approximately 50 miles away from Boulder, and has a lot of stables and horses.  Sometimes the wind is strong enough to carry the scent of the horses and their manure to cities as far as Boulder.

When the informant started using the joke itself suggests that some knowledge of Greeley is essential to understanding the joke.  In fact, the informant did not know what his friend was talking about at first when he mentioned Greeley.

The saying relies on the audience’s knowledge of Colorado’s cities, particularly Greeley, in order to be humorous.  While not explicitly used to distinguish Colorado residents from outsiders, understanding of the joke would determine whether or not you live in/know of Colorado, or of the city of Greeley.

According to my friends, other cities in the area know of Greeley’s reputation as well.  He does not know if they talk about the city in the same way.

You’re from Colorado if… Joke cycle


winter statistic:




Now, you’re from Colorado if………

You eat ice cream in the winter.

It snows 5 inches and you don’t expect school to be cancelled.

You’ll wear flip flops every day of the year, regardless of temperature.

You have no accent at all, but can hear other people’s.

And then you make fun of them.

“Humid” is over 25%.

Your sense of direction is: Toward the mountains and Away from the mountains.

You say “the interstate” and everybody knows which one.

You think that May is a totally normal month for a blizzard.

You buy your flowers to set out on Mother’s day, but try and hold off planting them until just before Father’s day.

You grew up planning your Halloween costumes around your coat.

You know what the Continental Divide is.

You don’t think Coors beer is that big a deal.

You went to Casa Bonita as a kid, AND as an adult.

You’ve gone off-roading in a vehicle that was never intended for such activities.

You always know the elevation of where you are.

You wake up to a beautiful, 80 degree day and you wonder if it’s gonna snow later.

You don’t care that some company renamed it, the Broncos still play at Mile High Stadium!!!

Every movie theater has military and student discounts.

You actually know that ** South Park ** is a real place, not just a dumb show on TV.

You know what a ‘trust fund hippy’ is, and you know its natural habitat is Boulder .

You know you’re talking to a fellow Coloradoan when they call it “Elitches,” not “”Six Flags.”

A bear on your front porch doesn’t bother you.

Your two favorite teams are the Broncos and whoever is beating the crap out of the Raiders.

When people back East tell you they have mountains in their state too, you just laugh.

You go anywhere else on the planet and the air feels “sticky” and you notice the sky is no longer blue.


The informant is a 65-year-old ghost writer and editor who lives in Carefree, Arizona. He lived in Colorado for about 25 years before he moved to Florida 7 years ago then moved to Arizona about two years ago.

The informant told me his brother- or sister-in-law in Iowa sent this email to him.

The informant told me he liked it because

People from Colorado could relate to it. [He liked that it talked about the] regional things Coloradans take for granted. It’s the inside joke thing. People love to share jokes that other people wouldn’t get, and this is one of those.

He told me he, sent it to everyone he knew that either lived in Colorado or had lived in Colorado because he thought “they would get a kick out of it.”

To me, as a fellow Coloradan, this joke certainly was funny, the wording makes it seem like these jokes are the ones that circulate about Coloradans rather than those Coloradans would say about themselves. For one things, the first joke has a clear tell that the “joke teller” in this email is not from Colorado – they had the Coloradan ask the passenger to hold their “soda”. Coloradans make fun of people incessantly when they say “soda” instead of “pop”. Soda to a Coloradan refers to club soda, not Coca Cola. Also, most of these one-liners need an outside reference to make them funny. “Humid” to people in the Midwest and on the East Coast is 90% humidity; 25% is nearly unheard of. And yet to a Coloradan 25% is more humid than normal. Unless one is able to take an outsiders perspective on most of these jokes, they aren’t funny – they’re simply how life is lived. So what. For example, for someone who eats ice cream in the winter all the time, it’s pointless to point it out. I think it is telling as well that the informant, a man who hasn’t lived in Colorado for 7 years, sent it to me, another ex-Coloradan, and initially got it from an Iowan. None of us currently live in Colorado. I don’t think this joke cycle would be as funny to someone who’d spent their whole lives in Colorado. Its humor depends on the transience of populations with people comparing the norms of one place with those of another. In this way, this joke cycle represents the transient nature of Americans as wells as the idiosyncrasies of Coloradans.