Poor Essie Mentzer became the railroad ghost of Telluride, not by her own choosing. She had a little help.
Tales of her being sighted on the Rio Grande Southern railroad were common. In front of many witnesses, the railroad ghost would appear as real as you or I. She would be crying and in a state of great distress.
People on the train would offer her sympathy and help, but she was in fear for her life. She became hysterical repeating, "He's almost here! I have to go!"
Then, in front of everyone, she would simply vanish.
Essie's is a tragic tale.
She lived in Chicago and married a doctor named O.F. Mentzer.
By all who knew the couple, the marriage was a happy one. But Dr. Mentzer was hiding a dark side.
Essie's husband had a drinking problem. When he was into his booze, he would abuse Essie. He got worse the more he drank.
At first the abuse was rude comments about Essie and her family. Later, when he became royally drunk, he would walk around the house with a razor and a gun in his hands.
The doctor soon became a drug addict. He would write double prescriptions for himself and patients.
The more he drank and took drugs, the more violent he became. Many times Essie would run from her home screaming down the street with her husband right behind her.
Essie finally filed for divorce from her husband when he went too far and came after her with an ax.
The doctor left town before he could be served with the papers.
Supposedly, Dr. Mentzer sobered up and wrote Essie a sincere letter of apology, stating what he had done was inexcusable and he was going out west to Colorado, Telluride to be exact, to make a new man of himself.
Well, Essie, who was a trusting soul, decided to travel to Telluride to be with her supposedly reformed husband.
It didn't take her long to see that being out in the rough territory of Colorado increased his demons within himself.
He had been driven insane. Oh he was cleaned up and charming when he met her at the train in Telluride, his old self like when they first met, but she soon found out that he was pure evil.
He became cautious in his pursuit of his psychotic pleasures. All outward appearances showed a man of learning and a handsome one at that.
He gave Essie anything she could possibly want and she was quite content to stroll the streets on her husband's arm.
Behind closed doors, a different scenario emerged. His abuse used to be uncontrolled fits of rage, now they were calculated.
With her family too far away to help her, she was powerless to fight the monster her husband had become.
Everything came to a head in October, 1898 and Essie became the railroad ghost of Telluride.
Essie's brother and his wife came out to Telluride to visit his sister. They were welcomed in the home and stayed there overnight.
The story goes that brother Will and Dr. Mentzer were talking about business in Colorado after dinner.
Will's wife was watching Essie's increasing anxiety. The doctor would often leave the room and head for the bathroom. When he returned, his eyes were clouded over and couldn't talk coherently.
Not only was he drinking, but abusing drugs with Essie's brother in the house.
Finally, everyone decided to call it a night. Will and his wife were getting ready for bed, when they heard a terrifying scream from the parlor downstairs.
He raced from the room and came face to face with his brother-in-law, standing over Essie with a gun raised in the air. He had just smashed her head with it.
The doctor was leering and frothing at the mouth like a craven animal.
When Will confronted him, he grabbed Essie off the floor, put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
Essie's brother attacked the doctor, beat him senseless and almost broke every bone in his body.
He sat on the floor and looked at his dead sister, a pleading look on her face as she took her last breath.
This was the pleading look that living passengers saw when she appeared to them on the night train out of Telluride.
Many have experienced the railroad ghost. It is ironic that as much as Essie wanted to get away from her abusive husband, she only got as far as 10 miles outside of Telluride before her ghostly form would disappear.