We’re now entering that most wonderful time of the year – leaves are turning, there’s a nip in the air and it’s time to revel in all things scary.
And it’s also a good time to catch up with Durango residents who don’t know they have died and are lingering in some of downtown’s oldest buildings – like the ghost of a little girl who has set up shop in a basement in the 900 block of Main Avenue. People have seen her – she’s in a white nightgown and her hair is in braids, although one has come loose, like she’s just woken up from an otherworldy nap and is now looking for a playmate ...
For the living, it’s also a great time for a good old-fashioned ghost tour in downtown Durango.
Laine Johnson, owner of Horsefly History Tours, is offering two ways to get your local ghost and history fix this season: a traditional, in-person tour around downtown and a new virtual experience through the Junket app.
Johnson said the idea of a virtual walking tour came to her this summer when she was brainstorming ways to continue to safely run her tours. She decided to still offer her Halloween Ghost Tour this year because the in-person walks are mainly outside, are kept to 10 people or fewer and face coverings are required.
And the addition of Junket is a cool new feature, which allows Johnson to not only include information about specific places along the tour, she can also add additional content as well.
“There’s all kinds of digital content, too – there are pictures, YouTube videos, some of the stops I’ve videoed myself so you can actually see me telling it; there’s a paranormal investigation we did at the Ranch ... there’s a lot more material than any of my regular tours,’ she said. “I was able to add a lot more and connect other information.”
Junket is free to download to your phone, but the virtual tour is $10. Once you’ve created an account, you can see all the tours available in the region. And once you buy the tour, you don’t have to take it all at once – the download is good for at least a few days, Johnson said.
“I created my own route and everything, it’s GPS-enabled, so you do it with your phone, so the Rochester is on it, and a lot of the same stops from my regular ghost tour, plus some different ones, too,” Johnson said. “It’s really cool because if you’re taking it with your phone and you get within a certain distance of, like the Rochester, the location pops up. It was a leap for me because I’m kind of sharing all of my secrets on there, but it’s worth it, too, for people just to get to know things.”
Johnson is also offering the in-person tour through Halloween. This year, because of the seemingly never-ending COVID-19 pandemic, she’s shortened the tour to an hour and has lowered the price to $20 per person. The tour is limited to 10 people (which it’s always been), and masks are required.
And while there’s nothing better than getting all goosebumpy listening to spooky stories about Durango’s past residents, Johnson said there are other lessons to be learned from the tours.
“I think it’s a great way for people to learn about the history of downtown. Obviously, I tell ghost stories, but I tell a ton of the history that’s connected with them,” she said. “I think of all the tours I’ve done, the most interest has been over the ghost stories from downtown. And I just myself have been so interested in the little secret hidden places downtown, like the basements and the stories that you hear because there’s a lot. I just like giving some of the facts to the lore that circulates around town.”