A HAUNTING TALE ON MAIN STREET
by Robert Philippe
For several years now, I have been hearing conversations in the Frisco Emporium about strange things and sightings of maybe a ghost, a specter, or some kind of otherworld goings on. Actually, I’m not surprised and think it would be better if you heard the whole story from me.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I was able to purchase a string of underdeveloped properties, two old motels and an early day gas station along the South facing side of Main Street Frisco.
At that time on the corner of Third and Main was an early 1940’s log cabin that had been the Chamberlain’s Café, “serving the best pie west of Denver”. That cabin is still there. Main Street was Highway 6, there were no sidewalks. Next door was the A-1 Gas and Diesel, formerly Chuck’s Texaco. Living in the log cabin was Edith ‘Sue’ Chamberlain, nee Giberson, wife of Chuck. Later she told me that she missed her “kitchen window on Main Street, knowing who was doing what to whom!”
That property is now the Frisco Re/Max campus. The gas station became Charity’s Saloon with the help of Jon and Susie Tuso, now Susie Magrino. Today it is the Masontown Building and includes Greco’s Pastaria. The first spirit appears here in the form of the late Doug Jones who as Mayor of Frisco built the Koa wood bar that still exists, lore says he placed a gram of cocaine somewhere under the façade.
Early on I had my office in the 1881 Denver Rio Grande Car #120, a railway post office car parked on rail next to Charity’s deck. I can’t imagine the ghosts that rail car must have acquired as it rolled over miles of narrow gauge rail from 1881 to 1951. D&RG #120, besides delivering the mail in often carried the remains of miners and soldiers, fallen veterans from the Spanish American War as well as WWI and WWII. The D&RG line went down what is now the alley to the north of Main Street. Soon after Charity’s opened I built the Junktique Building, later called the Antique Barn and now The Frisco Emporium.
Little did I know that a fellow named Scott Pohlman who had rented the rail road car as a do it yourself beer store when the car was still parked on rail on Main Street, would come back 20 years later as the founder and owner of Ein Prosit. His German beer garden in The Emporium is consistently rated one of the top bars in Summit County and is an attraction on its own.
In 1986 during the construction of that massive wooden structure at 313 Main Street, I acquired and restored the hulk of an 1881 Baldwin narrow gauge 2-6-0 steam locomotive. Built in Philadelphia and shipped around the Horn to Peru, I’m sure it carried ghosts of its own, but that’s another story. The locomotive eventually was restored and then displayed in that building, the construction took place on a vacant lot next to the Anderson’s Frisco Lodge. The lot was scraped flat by the late Tom Bradley (Bradley’s Plunge ski run at Copper Mtn.) Tom was the local high school math teacher turned excavator. His spirt appears every now and then as I use old construction wood scraps as fireplace kindling and find faint pencil equations made by Tom explaining some mathematical problem to me.
One of the leading haunting suspects appears as Eddie Richardson. One day Eddie, husband of Junktique owner Mauna, showed up and placed a ladder in the middle of the planned construction site. He then placed a gallon jug full of water and connected 100 feet of clear plastic hose also filled with water. Eddie announced we would build a 3 story, 6,000 square foot timber building using only a “water level!” And that’s what we did, using a crew of locals; Russ Wolfe, Keith Bilisoly, Darrel Thomas to mention a few.
Hard to believe but very few power tools were used, we gobbled up all of the rough sawn wood that Hester’s Mill in Kremmling and Dick’s Lumber Mill in Fairplay could supply. Looking around that building now you see pre-beetle kill pine boards some 24 to 30 inches wide. Eddie Richardson was a character with a capital C, his spirt looms large in the building today, but I don’t think he is the ghost.
Hard to believe that after 35 years a hand full of original tenants are still in business in what is now The Emporium. Memories of the past include other potential spirits including that of the late Colonel Bill Caffery, former fighter pilot turned antique sleuth extraordinaire. A good spirit was with us in the form of Jackie Crandall, Jackie is an original tenant and operated the sales counter for almost 20 years. Now there are 24 merchants in the Emporium. It is Jackie that thinks she has identified the ghost in the Emporium. Several years ago we lost an original tenant, Fred Swanson. Fred was the collector and dealer of hard to find antiques. Is it Fred’s ghost who walks the wooden floors and stairs late at night? Jackie is not the only witness to the specter nor is the apparition a rare occurrence.
Today there is a 1926 Model T that spent over 50 years in a barn on Bill’s Ranch in Frisco, it was owned by one of the original cabin owners, Ida Minneman and motored the roads in and around Frisco for many years from 1938 on. A good spirit is still with us in the form of Jackie Crandall, Jackie is an original tenant and formerly operated the co-op that manages the sales of over a dozen tenants, shops and dealers. It is Jackie that thinks she has identified the ghost in the Emporium. Several years ago, we lost an original tenant, Fred Swanson. Fred was the collector of hard to find antiques. Is it Fred’s ghost who walks the wooden floors and stairs late at night? Jackie is not the only witness to the specter nor is it a rare occurrence.
The Frisco Emporium also houses Ein Prosit, one of the most popular spots in all of Summit County. Prosit stays open late and several nights a week hosts music acts from The Austrian Boys to Beau Thomas and others. Maybe the music gets the spirt up as there have been incidents experienced by staff members during late night closing of the bar. The building has night lights, alarms and video surveillance, still the strange movements continue. Maybe it is the physical site of the building that contributes to the phenomena.
The building at 313 Main was built on the site of the old Leyner’s Hotel which served as the 1880’s stage coach station. While digging the foundation we hit the original outhouse pit and recovered literally 100’s of snake oil medicine bottles, wine and champagne bottles, ink bottles and other ceramic vessels buried for a hundred years. Quite a find. It was a very young Mark Helton (now Helton Backhoe Services) who spent several days retrieving the trove of treasures that I still have today.
If any building in Frisco deserves to be haunted it must be 313 Main Street. The spirits of yesterday linger as do the memories of many Friscoites of past and present. So is there a ghost…..?
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