Halloween is here, and it has us peeking into some of the more spooky tales in Boulder’s rich history. Haunted houses? A haunted creek? With the help of our friends at the Museum of Boulder and the book “Haunted Boulder,” read on for two particularly chilling takes from different periods of the past that still have ways of creeping into Boulder life today.
The Ghost of William Tull
In the mid-1860s, William Tull was a young ranch hand in the farm area of North Boulder. While Tull was originally from Ohio, he was raised by the Arapahoe tribe led by Chief Niwot. He had a close connection with the tribe and would visit them when he could.
In June 1867, Tull asked to borrow two horses from his employer, James Tourtellotte, so he could travel near Fort Collins where the Arapahoe tribe was camped. When he did not return to Boulder on the expected date, Tourtellotte suspected he had stolen the horses. A group of trackers found Tull and brought him back to Boulder. He was placed in the jail, but that night a mob mentality brewed, and Tull was dragged from jail and hanged. The Boulder community was shocked. It was later thought that there had been a misunderstanding and Tull had actually purchased the horses before his trip, but no one is certain.
In the following years, people have claimed to see a ghost by the creek—so even though William Tull was laid to rest in Pioneer Cemetery, his spirit may still haunt the Boulder Creek.
Haunted Harbeck House
The prominent house at 1206 Euclid, formerly home to the Boulder History Museum, was built and first occupied in 1899 by John Harbeck. Harbeck and his wife Katherine were from New York City but enjoyed their summers in Boulder. The couple was considered to be odd, keeping their doors locked and curtains drawn at all times. Katherine, in particular, kept very much to herself and preferred the company of her pets. In fact, Katherine maintained a pet cemetery on their property. After John passed in 1910, he left the home to Katherine. She did not wish to live there on her own, but she could not bear to leave her pets. Katherine stayed in New York City but hired a caretaker to look after the large empty house and graveyard. The home stood unoccupied for 30 years, and tales of it being haunted grew in the Boulder community. After Katherine passed tragically in a revolving door accident at the Plaza Hotel in 1931, the house was sold.
As occupants of 1206 Euclid came and went after it was sold, tales of shadowy figures and strange happenings lingered. In 1985, the house became home to the Boulder History Museum. Employees of the museum reported seeing shadowy figures standing in the upstairs windows as well as hearing footsteps in empty hallways. Could it be the spirit of Katherine Harbeck?
To learn more about the Boulder’s spooky past, we recommend reading “Haunted Boulder, Ghostly Tales From the Foot of the Flatirons,” by Roz Brown and Ann Alexander Leggett.
This post was written by Elevations Credit Union in partnership with the Museum of Boulder. For more information on the history of Boulder Valley, we encourage you to check out the museum’s extensive archives. All historical photos courtesy of the Carnegie Library for Local History / Museum of Boulder Collection. Inspiration for this post and many details came from the book, “Haunted Boulder, Ghostly Tales From the Foot of the Flatirons,” by Roz Brown and Ann Alexander Leggett.