Cigar smoke still lingers in the air …
Industrialist John Cleveland Osgood came to Colorado in 1882, and some say he hasn’t left.
Osgood and his second wife, Alma, are said to make the occasional trip from beyond the grave to the Redstone Castle, the enormous home they occupied during the rise of Osgood’s Redstone coal mining operation.
Cleveholm Manor, the 42-room Tudor-style mansion that Osgood built as the fifth wealthiest man in the country, was completed in 1902. After purchasing a mining claim in the Crystal River Valley for just $500, Osgood set up the entire town of Redstone as a community for the men who would mine the land’s coal.
Hundreds of people still tour the castle each year, to hear the story of Osgood, his succession of three wives, the dissolution of his coal empire and the continuing saga of the castle.
Someone with such a strong tie to a place may leave behind an impression: Castle caretaker Sue McEvoy says John Osgood loved cigars, and she and many others have smelled cigar smoke during moments alone in the mansion.
Osgood’s first wife, romance writer Irene, died before the castle was completed. His second wife, Alma, was known as “Lady Bountiful” by Redstone villagers because of her generosity. During the castle’s time as a lodge, some guests reported smelling perfume or the scent of lilacs in winter when they stayed the night in Alma’s room.
When the mansion was put on the market in the 1980s, potential buyers brought in psychics to probe for evidence of paranormal activity. McEvoy says the “experts” didn’t seem to find much, although there were reports of a “presence” in the Teddy Roosevelt Suite.
Even so, McEvoy says workers at the castle believe John Osgood and Alma come back to check on the mansion they lost.
“I have often had people on the tour who said their mother, aunt or grandmother worked for the owners in decades past,” McEvoy says. “Once a woman told me about a housekeeper who saw someone in the mirror in Lady Bountiful’s room, and refused to ever come back.”
McEvoy tries not to think about the strange tales while walking through the darkened mansion, especially when the eyes of John Cleveland Osgood’s portrait in the entry hall follow her up the stairs.
“I have a certain respect for this house,” she says.
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As Colorado Rocky Mountain School students, Makaya Mackie and her classmates get to see the Crystal River each day from the school’s Carbondale campus. But that view comes from ground level and doesn’t necessarily mean the students understand or appreciate what is in their backyard.