Haunting at Holder Heights
Holder Heights was a small, but relatively prosperous mining town in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The mine was first opened by a German immigrant prospector, one Albert Reiniger, and his friend, Rafe Holder, in the middle of the 19th century and they quickly established a small town around the mine. Despite rough beginnings – problems with the weather and attacks from what were assumed to be wolves, it became a bustling community with a reputation for the friendliness of its occupants and its great community spirit. This was especially exemplified by the big Christmas party that the mining company used to throw for the whole town.
The town also started to attract hunters, seeking bears, wolves and, it was rumoured, more exotic creatures that were said, in local legend, to haunt the area. There were other visitors too – tourists, attracted by the friendly spirit of the town and the spectacular local landscape. This was especially the case in December, as the Christmas party developed into somewhat of a Christmas festival, attracting visitors from all over.
Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, some 100+ years ago, everything changed. A particularly heavy winter had the town cut off for a couple of months, and then, in December, when the people were looking forward to their Christmas celebrations, there was the avalanche. A very heavy avalanche that swept away a good portion of the town, and completely obliterated the mine, trapping a considerable part of the working population within. With the town cut off by the heavy snowfall, it would be some time before any help could get there. The surviving citizens did their best, but were unable to dig their way through to the mine. Exhausted, the townsfolk retired to what was left of their homes to wait out the rest of the winter. The hotel was one of the buildings that did survive, so many had to stay there, those who had lost their homes. There was sufficient food in store to feed everybody, but there was no Christmas party that year.
Come the thaw, when help arrived, they were still unable to reach the mine, as a collapse of rock had all but obliterated the entrance and it was deemed unsafe to try to approach from any of the remaining access points. The mining company – Reiniger-Holder Minerals – was forced to close the operation down. The town looked doomed.
And it would have been, but for the vision of Gudrun Reiniger, Albert’s daughter, who now ran the company, and with his demise, had inherited his fortune. She used her assets to keep the town going, re-inventing it as a tourist and ski-resort. It was tough going through the time of the First World War, but then came the roaring 20s – a time of prosperity, and with that prosperity, an increase in spending on leisure. Gudrun invested wisely in the hotel and ski-lodges, inviting jazz bands and hosting parties. She made special effort to revive the Christmas festival as part of the town’s heritage. She also did not neglect the other opportunities. With a bit of shrewd marketing, she played up the rumours and legends associated with the town’s past – of wolves and other beasts – to encourage the more adventurous hunter types, keen to bag a new trophy head for their walls, and those who believed in such things as werewolves, Bigfoot, Sasquatch and such like beings.
The town prospered once again, even surviving the Great Depression, albeit with a slump in its fortunes, just like everywhere else, and grew to the popular resort it is today. There are few signs of its past now, as almost all the buildings of the old mining town are gone. Reiniger Corporation, now manned by the great-grandson of the founder, also named Albert, still owns much of the town, and is largely regarded as a benign influence, supporting many philanthropic causes.
Come the present day, the town is, as ever, gearing up for the Christmas festival, with many visitors arriving for the season. However, in a cruel twist of fate, there is yet another avalanche. Fortunately, the developers had learned the lessons of the previous disaster, and so the town itself was spared, however, the roads are cut off and are likely to remain so for a while. What the avalanche did do, however, is expose the old mine entrance. Now, the ghosts of the long-dead miners walk freely again. It has been a long wait, but they want their party…
Welcome to Holder Heights, the Rocky Mountains’ friendliest ski and holiday resort, well known for its Christmas festival, but popular also with hunters and those who seek the mythical man-beasts known as Bigfoot and the like.
You have arrived as the town is gearing up for the festival, but disaster has struck. An avalanche has buried the roads in and out of the town and you are stuck here for the holidays. All the buildings survived and nobody was injured, but there is still some considerable chaos and some people are missing. It is also said that he avalanche has uncovered the entrance to an old mine, once the source of the town’s prosperity, but buried over 100 years ago by another avalanche.
Few, as yet, have been brave enough to venture in, for fear of the wolves that are known to congregate in the area, and for fear of what they might find. Those who have ventured nearby report ghostly sounds, and passing chills that have nothing to do with the weather. Some have reported ghostly figures, possibly miners from the past. Still others report voices, cold, ghostly voices, crying out, over and over again, for the Christmas party they missed.
Can you help those long-dead miners move on? Can you help to throw the party they once missed? Can you ensure that the festival happens? Everything you need is out there somewhere, if only you can find it. Go forth and search, but beware. Who knows what ghosts and beasts lurk around the town?