American contemporary writer Stephen King with his wife was the only guest to check in at Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado in 1973. He was convinced that they were staying in a haunted hotel and that inspired him to write his novel The Shining. The Kings stayed in Room 217.
The 140-room was opened in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora. Stanley was an inventor, co-creating Stanley Steamer motorcar. He built a hyroplant at River Fall providing electricity to the hotel as well as the residents nearby.
In June 25, 1911, there was a power cut due to thunderstorm. Hotel guests stayed at the lobby while staff were lighting the reserved acetylene gas lamps. A gas leak was not monitored in Room 217 so when chambermaid Elizabeth Wilson entered the room with a lighted candle, there was an explosion.
Fortunately, Wilson suffered injuries but recovered with Stanley paying the medical bills. When she improved, she was made head chambermaid and worked at the hotel until she died in 1950s.
Since her death, Wilson began to haunt the hotel, particularly Room 217. Strange activities have been reported in the room. Doors opened and closed on its own and lights switching on and off by themselves. Stories also held that sometimes clothes were mysteriously unpacked and guests were awaken with their blankets taken from them and neatly folded.
When the Stanleys died in 1940s, staff and visitors claimed to see the apparitions of the hotel owners. They were often seen in their formal dresses roaming the lobby, the main staircase and the billiard room. Stanley has been spotted in the administration office while Flora was seen playing the piano in the ballroom.
The previous owner of the place before the Stanleys is said to haunt Room 407. A ghostly figure has been reported gazing from the window even if no one is in the room. Children can be heard wandering and playing in the hallway at night. Lodgers often complained of noisy children. King himself saw a small child on the second floor looking for his nanny.
In 2015, a photograph surfaced claiming to be the ghostly image of a girl in a pink dress. Ohio native Stephanie Reidl was touring the haunted hotel when she took a picture of their tour guide descending the staircase. However, aside from the tour guide, another image standing behind the table was captured. The girl in pink was said to be Lucy, one of the Stanley Hotels’ ghosts.
Just recently, a visitor Henry Yau from Houston captured a ghostly figure at the stairwell. Yau said he does not remember anyone standing in the grand staircase when he took the photo. Many believed that the image was that of Freelan Oscar Stanley who refused to leave the hotel even after his death.