The Dark Side of Colorado

by lizard

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Comin’ home to a place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend but kept the memory

—John Denver, Rocky Mountain High

~

I moved to Colorado Springs a few months after the Columbine shooting. My then-girlfriend’s parents had a house there, about 10 miles away from NORAD, right up against the front range. We only lived there for 9 months, but in that brief time I experienced enough to be unsettled by the energy there. If that sounds kinda new age, well, keep reading.

Stephen King picked Boulder, Colorado, as the setting for the good guys, led by Mother Abigail, in The Stand. I’m a big Stephen King fan; I think he’s one of those writers with a tremendous gift that allows him to tap into a source most aspiring writers don’t have access to. Some people call it “the muse” but it’s much more than that.

I believe there is a spiritual aspect to reality that we humans have a very poor grasp of, though I don’t think that was always the case. I think indigenous cultures have had a much healthier understanding of the spirit world.

Surfing the old internet today, I came across The Legend of Manitou Springs, which is the name of a little town next to Colorado Springs, where I worked as a dishwasher for those 9 months.

The gist of the legend is that two hunters from different tribes came to the crystal springs to quench their thirst. One hunter had been successful, and the other had not. Seeing this disparity, the unsuccessful hunter grew envious and picked a fight, which escalated to murder. Here’s what happened next:

Over the body stood the murderer, and no sooner was the deed of blood consummated than bitter remorse took possession of his mind where before had reigned the fiercest passion and vindictive hate. With hands clasped to his forehead he stood transfixed with horror, intently gazing on his victim whose head still remained immersed in the fountain. Mechanically he dragged the body a few paces from the water, which, as soon as the head of the dead Indian was withdrawn, the Comanche saw suddenly and strangely disturbed. Bubbles sprang up from the bottom, and rising to the surface escaped in hissing gas. A thin vapory cloud arose and gradually dissolving, displayed to the eyes of the trembling murderer the figure of an aged Indian whose long, snowy hair and venerable beard, blown aside by a gentle air from his breast, discovered the well-known totem of the great Wau-kau-aga, the father of the Comanche and Shoshone nation whom the tradition of the tribe, handed down by skilful hieroglyphics, almost deified for the good actions and deeds of bravery this famous warrior had performed when on earth.

Stretching out a war club toward the affrighted murderer, the figure thus addressed him:

“Accursed of my tribe ! this day thou has severed the link between the mightiest nations of the world, while the blood of the brave Shoshone cries to the Manitou for vengeance. May the water of thy tribe be rank and bitter in their throats.”

Thus saying, and swinging his ponderous war club (made from the elk’s horn) round his head, he dashed out the brains of the Comanche, who fell headlong into the spring, which from that day to the present moment remains rank and nauseous, so that not even when half dead with thirst, can one drink of the foul water of that spring.

When I worked in Manitou Springs, I had a couple of strange experiences. One day after work one of my co-workers took me on a hike up a ravine. He showed me a little trail that climbed the ravine wall to a ledge where there was what looked like a cave opening closed off by a metal door. The door was chained from the inside, which you could see through a hole where a knob should have been. It was creepy. My co-worker, Nate, was also the first person to clue me into the reputation Manitou Springs had of being a hotbed of occult activity.

In June of that year, I went home to visit family in Kansas City. When I came back, Nate informed me that the owner of the liquor store in Manitou—Robert Walter Dunn—had apparently murdered his 7 year old daughter by slitting her throat. When the police arrived to this awful scene, this is what Robert told them:

With his hands soaked in the blood of his 7-year-old daughter, Robert Walter Dunn turned to a police officer seconds before he was handcuffed and said: “I killed the devil. She was possessed; I killed the devil,” according to court records.

I found another piece about this area worth noting at examiner.com, titled Unseen Conflict. Here is how the topography is described:

Sitting at an elevation of over 6,000 feet above sea level, the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado faces the front range of the southern Rocky Mountains, staring up at Pike’s Peak. It is the home of a strong defense industry, along with high tech corporations, and Christian ministries, such as Compassion International and Focus On The Family. It is an incredibly scenic and beautiful city, with mountain views from nearly any location. It’s not surprising that ‘the Springs’, as it’s often referred, is known for it’s family atmosphere. Beyond these demographics, the city’s population are evidence of a deeper struggle. It is a struggle that is deeply embedded, and that many choose not to openly acknowledge, and that others are not even aware of.

One need not look very far to notice that Colorado Springs is a popular location for followers of new age, pagan beliefs, and the occult. It is an area of intense spiritual warfare. Non-Christian spirituality has a strong undercurrent in this area, along with various cults and followers of witchcraft. Just a few minutes from Colorado Springs is the small city of Manitou Springs. Although a beautiful place, it is believed that Manitou was at one time dedicated to Satan, and is the wiccan capital of the nation. Many people may call this foolishness, but it’s interesting to note that the word Manitou means ‘a supernatural being that controls nature, or an object that possesses supernatural power.’

What got me thinking about all this is, of course, another Colorado tragedy, this time at Arapaho High School (located just 12 miles from Columbine and 14 miles from the theater in Aurora):

Carrying a shotgun, a machete, a bandolier of ammunition and a backpack with three incendiary devices, Karl Halverson Pierson entered Arapahoe High School and launched 80 seconds of terror as he hunted his debate coach, who was also the school librarian.

New details emerged Saturday as authorities described the country’s latest school shooting.

As soon as he entered the building Friday, Pierson fired a round down the hallway and another from point-blank range that critically injured one student. He fired a third round down the hall and entered the library, where he fired again and set off one of the Molotov cocktails, igniting bookshelves.

As fire and smoke poured through the room, Pierson fired a fifth round and went into the back corner of the library, where he fired his last shot, killing himself.

As an agnostic, I believe there is more going on in this world than can be explained. That belief has led me down some strange paths. High in the Rocky Mountains, I’ve wondered what’s hiding below. Some knowledge, though, comes with considerable risk. Stay tuned.


  1. That’s hardly the only problem in Springs.

    James Dobson and Focus on the Family spawned the Family “Research” Council which lobbies long and hard for legislation to isolate our gay brothers and sisters, keeps dopers from having access to clean needles, touts laws regulating “lady parts,” and most troubling, perhaps, supports wars against Musims.

    It’s the home of Fort Carson which has seen the return to CONUS from Afghanistan and Iraq of many thousands of tortured souls, often suffering from PTSD and finding themselves abandoned by the army, and expressing their rage by an endless series of murders, rapes, etc.

    Ted Haggard was known as possibly the most moderate preacher in Springs, the one who thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea not to despoil the environment for the benefit of the Koch brothers.

    It also hosts the headquarters of the Colorado Department of Corrections, which once extended to a noxious mix of public and for-profit prisons, run by a series of scamsters. Although the very decent department director was assassinated there by a neo-Nazi six or seven months ago, his efforts to reduce the size of the inmate population and the long-standing connivance with the for-profit prison industry to loot the public treasury has continued.

    Deep in the bowels of nearby Cheyenne Mountain is buried the headquarters of NORAD, a Strangelovian chamber wherein the generals (and I assume where Cheney may have hid out immediately after 9/11) plot their survival from the nuclear holocaust they may help unleash.

    I don’t believe in spirits, evil nor benevolent, but I suppose if there were really sinister stuff going around, that would be a fitting place for it to reside.

    As for me, my only memories of Manitou Springs are good. It was the start and end of the Pike’s Peak Marathon where I had fun times four and a half decades ago.

    • I’m working on a book for someone in Switzerland right now that’s about secret societies. That NORAD comment rings eerily true in the light of the research I’ve been doing into that over the past few days. Or at least coincidental.

  2. I think this is the best post you’ve written in awhile. You’ve got good personal stories in here that can pull people in. I liked it.

    This novelette I’m finishing up has a character with an arsenal very similar to what that young student was packing. Do books and TV and movies and video games have an influence on this? Maybe, but a lot of people who tap into that kind of entertainment don’t do those things.

    People in Colorado are sure trying to figure out what’s going on. There sure does seem to be a terrible undercurrent of some sort running through the very fabric of our society, permeating it’s being and nearly rotting it to the core. What that is exactly is quite hard to put your thumb on, however.

    • lizard19

      thank you Greg. I should also have mentioned in the post that Nikola Tesla had a laboratory in Colorado Springs:

      Pilgrims of physics — and metaphysics — had come to pay homage to the man who said he made his most important discoveries on the small rolling hill just adjacent to the Colorado Springs Deaf and Blind School.

      While it would be easy to poke fun at those who migrated to North Foote hoping to absorb any lingering vibes or energy left by Tesla’s experiments, it’s undeniable that something unique and powerful happened at the site.

      Tesla himself felt that his work in Colorado Springs would change the planet. “It was on the 3rd of July — the date I shall never forget — when I obtained the first decisive experimental evidence of a truth of overwhelming importance for the advancement of humanity,” Tesla wrote in his journal.

      In short, as lightning got farther away, the pulses being picked up by Tesla’s equipment didn’t fade. Tesla felt he had discovered evidence that the Earth itself contained “stationary waves” that could serve as a good conduit for electromagnetic energy, opening the possibility of worldwide, instantaneous communication and global transmission of power through the Earth’s crust.

      Many modern physicists don’t buy this notion, but perhaps the man in the VW bus was contemplating the implications of that: free power for the masses, anywhere on the planet, without messy power lines cluttering up the streetscape.

  3. Big Swede

    As a high schooler I played football against Arapahoe, Columbine had yet to be built.

    Reading your last statement about risk jolted my memory concerning these two school shootings. At Columbine the police arrived at the school almost immediately after the first shots were fired. Unfortunately protocol or “rules of engagement” prevented a swift response and many more students died while officers discussed tactics.

    At Arapahoe the opposite reaction.

    “The rampage might have resulted in many more casualties had it not been for the quick response of a deputy sheriff who was working as a school resource officer at the school, Robinson said.
    Once he learned of the threat, he ran – accompanied by an unarmed school security officer and two administrators – from the cafeteria to the library, Robinson said. “It’s a fairly long hallway, but the deputy sheriff got there very quickly.”
    The deputy was yelling for people to get down and identified himself as a county deputy sheriff, Robinson said. “We know for a fact that the shooter knew that the deputy was in the immediate area and, while the deputy was containing the shooter, the shooter took his own life.”

    He praised the deputy’s response as “a critical element to the shooter’s decision” to kill himself, and lauded his response to hearing gunshots. “He went to the thunder,” he said. “He heard the noise of gunshot and, when many would run away from it, he ran toward it to make other people safe.”

    I not sure if that deputy or the other unarmed men were followers of Dobson, some cult, the Tea Party, or pro military but their quick reaction definitely saved lives.

  4. Billings Dad

    It’s not just Colorado Lizard. It’s everywhere that human life means little or nothing to someone. Many years ago in Lewistown, a 14-year-old took his fathers .41 magnum pistol to school to kill the French teacher who was flunking him, and he ended up killing a substitute teacher and wounding the principal. It had nothing to do with the location, he was a kid who didn’t think anybody cared about him, and therefore didn’t care about anybody else. He blamed the shooting on Stephen Kings book ‘Rage’.

    • They can never blame there parents or themselves. How come teen mothers aren’t blaming TV, books, or movies for their pregnancies?

      “I had to get knocked-up, dad, Murphy Brown did it!”

      Maybe I’m a little biased because I write violent books, but chances are it was a lot more factors that he wasn’t even aware of. Why not have guidance counselors get trained for mental health? They don’t seem to do much else.

    • lizard19

      I remember reading Stephen King’s Rage, it’s pretty creepy, considering what school violence has become. I also think Running Man will prove prescient. The Long Walk is also a possibility.

      he felt it coming.

  5. Amy

    Now that was just dumb and misleading.

  6. Great read!

  7. Manitou springs

    ….Manitou means “Great Spirit” and the energy here is beautiful and palpable.

    That ravine you went up was Williams Canyon which is the old entrance to cave of the winds.




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