By Robert Lucke
Ever since Stephen King wrote "The Shining," a story about ghosts being the only winter inhabitants of a spooky hotel called the Overlook, along with the caretaker (Jack Nicholson in the movie) and his family, the rumor has persisted that the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park is haunted.
And it has not helped that the rumor persists (not true) that the story was filmed at Many Glacier.
So there were and are stories about strange noises, things that go bump in the night and ghosts.
Small wonder, for even in the summer the hotel is old. The winds are fierce so that there are lots of moans and groans.
Winter caretakers, Kate Richardson and Jason Wilmot, had heard all the stories before snow conditions left them and the hotel together for two months last winter.
"Glacier Park Inc. employees, who work at the hotel, told us of scary experiences they have had," Richardson related. "There is the smell of perfume and cigar smoke sometimes and in a hallway once the lights turned all red for no reason. And I saw for myself that the contractors, who worked on the hotel last fall and this spring, were scared. They would turn up their music real loud."
Still someone had to check the building daily and every single room weekly. Early on, Jason and Kate learned that that was a job better done together than alone.
"And as it was, we went in really fast, checked the rooms, and got out fast," Richardson said.
There were strange feelings in some parts of the hotel, and places where the couple's hair stood up on the backs of their necks more than once.
"When I did go in by myself, I got this weird feeling," Richardson said. "There were certain areas that I would go into and just shake. That's when we learned not to go in alone." Then there was "that" day.
They had talked about what they would do if they ever heard music playing in the building. You have thoughts like that in the hotel in the winter.
"It was one of the windy days. It was the day after we had gone through every room in the hotel. We came in and heard piano music. We were panicking," Richardson confided. "But just like in a horror movie, we were drawn to trying to find where the music was coming from. All the pianos were in the San Moritz room downstairs, so we went down there. At times the music would stop. Then it would go again. We went back upstairs and in the gift shop we found a cassette playing."
Why was the cassette playing? That was the question.
"My logical mind said that it had turned on itself. Maybe the wind did it," Richardson related. "And yet the gift shop is an inside room. No wind could get in there."
No answer except the obvious (a haunt) was ever found.
And last fall and this spring construction workers were very uneasy about the hotel.
"There were five or ten of them here this spring and it snowed hard and they got snowed in," Richardson remembered. "They just panicked. Being snowed in and being at the hotel. Well, when the snow plow did come, some of them just jumped in their trucks and followed the snowplow out."
"They never did return," related chief ranger, Steve Frye at Park headquarters.
So is it haunted? Certainly, as a winter caretaker, Kate Richardson, should know.
"I think it is haunted," Richardson said, "but not by an evil spirit. But it is haunted!"