MSHS student lives in the Emma Crawford House

Emma+Crawfords+historic+house+still+sits+on+Capitol+Hill+in+Manitou+Springs%2C+CO.

Paige Harrison

Emma Crawford’s historic house still sits on Capitol Hill in Manitou Springs, CO.

Charlie Morgan, Reporter

Manitou Springs High School student Paige Harrison (12) lives in an unusual yet historic house on Capitol Hill, the Emma Crawford House. 

According to Manitou Springs legend, Emma Crawford Arrived in Manitou Springs in 1889. Crawford would die and leave a resonating quake behind just two years later. Crawford was born March 24, 1863 in Massachusetts with a rare condition called Tuberculosis which brought her to the setting of this story, Manitou Springs 1889. This location has always been known for its mysterious phenomena and “healing abilities” from the springs’ mineral water. During her time in Manitou, Crawford met a man by the name of William Hildebrand, an engineer from New York who was working on the construction of the Cog Railway at the time. Unfortunately, the springs’ water did not yield positive results. Crawford died at age 28 in Manitou Springs on December 4, 1891.

“Essentially, Emma comes to Manitou to try and heal from her illness. She, unfortunately, succumbs to her illness and is buried atop Red Mountain under her request. A big storm blows in and washes away part of the mountain, and Emma’s coffin comes racing down into town,” said Daniel Trammel, Director of Arts and Community Wellness at Manitou Springs School District 14. The city of Manitou Springs remembers the fate of Crawford’s coffin each year around Halloween in the Emma Crawford Coffin Races.

There have been multiple occurrences of paranormal activities, but the most common one is lights turning on and off. Specifically the bedroom which is suspected to be the one Emma would have resided in, which is mine. On a pretty regular basis, my bedroom light will flicker, or just turn off. The only time it has ever freaked me out is when I was talking about that I was scared because I had heard something, and it just turned off, and then turned back on. Other than that one time, there’s the occasional footsteps when home alone, weird noises, or doors closing.”

— Paige Harrison

The house Crawford lived in still stands in Manitou Springs. “I’ve lived in the house for about four years since my freshman year of high school,” Harrison said. “I enjoy living there a lot; it’s awesome! It’s in a desirable place, and I feel very safe there. I love living there, and I’m honestly going to be so sad to leave this year when I go to college. Maybe that isn’t the house itself, but the feeling inside and surrounding it, knowing I have my family and there’s so much history there is awesome.”

Many people say Crawford has left a spiritual effect on the residents of Manitou Springs, and Harrison says she feels this presence in her home as well. “As soon as you walk into the house there is and always has been a sense of comfort. There have been a couple of moments that would be described as paranormal, but for the most part, the house does have a very good spiritual essence. Nothing bad though, all good vibes,” said Harrison. “I think the coolest story I have is that many people have told me that as soon as they walked into my house they felt a sense of safety and comfort. I’ve been told many times that there definitely is a spiritual presence, but it has never been negative.”

Harrison named several occurrences of what she would consider paranormal activities in the Emma Crawford House. “There have been multiple occurrences of paranormal activities, but the most common one is lights turning on and off. Specifically the bedroom which is suspected to be the one Emma would have resided in, which is mine. On a pretty regular basis, my bedroom light will flicker, or just turn off. The only time it has ever freaked me out is when I was talking about that I was scared because I had heard something, and it just turned off, and then turned back on. Other than that one time, there’s the occasional footsteps when home alone, weird noises, or doors closing. The one thing I am certain of is that the tiny door at the top of my stairs has something weird about it.” 

Paige Harrison’s (12) stairwell ends at mysterious tiny door. “The one thing I am certain of is that the tiny door at the top of my stairs has something weird about it,” Harrison said. Her home was previously occupied by Emma Crawford. (Paige Harrison)

Crawford’s legend affects not only Harrison but the whole of El Paso County, especially Manitou Springs. The story adds to Manitou’s supernatural feel and has inspired a wholesome community gathering to watch as contestants run down Manitou Avenue carrying coffins to compete in the annual Emma Crawford Coffin Races. The Emma Crawford Coffin Races have been cancelled for the past two years due to COVID-19.  This year, the community will host The Spirit of Emma Crawford Celebration in Soda Springs Park from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. instead.

“I personally love the coffin races and I think it’s a bummer that they aren’t doing them this year, I was looking forward to them.” Harrison said.