A nondescript garage on the alley of 500 E. Cleveland St. is Lafayette’s first jail and town hall. The building, built about 1894, is 15-feet wide on the gable ends and is constructed of soft bricks that are now covered with stucco. It has a corrugated roof placed on top of cedar shingles. There are anti-splay bolts showing on the exterior near the eaves on the north and south side. Anti-splay bolts are common in brick buildings that are/were showing signs of instability.
My newspaper family had often heard tales about tunnels connecting Main Street bars and businesses in Louisville, Colorado. One Prohibition-era tunnel, it was said, went 70-feet from the basement of Colacci’s restaurant (now The Empire Lounge & Restaurant) across Main Street to Pasquale’s (now Waterloo). According to the legend, patrons of the two bars (each a speakeasy because alcohol was illegal) used the tunnel to escape raids by county agents.
After posting (in 2016) the Colacci’s tunnel question to Facebook friends who are Louisville natives, responses ranged from a tunnel that connected Colacci’s, Old Louisville Inn and the Blue Parrot to rumors of a tunnel under the Louisville High School building, torn down in the last few years as a part of the middle school reconstruction.
As part of a 2016 Louisville get-together, a Denver-based ghost hunting group shared online the eerie narrative of the ghosts haunting The Melting Pot restaurant at 732 Main Street in Louisville. The ghost-hunting narrative, fit for any prime time cable channel, cites a legend that the mining tunnels under Main Street were used by Prohibition-era bootleggers to distill and sell alcohol, and to travel to and from the scattered speakeasies. According to legend, a still exploded in the mine tunnel under The Melting Pot, killing three bootleggers. The bootleggers were buried in the explosion, so the story goes, and it took workers several days to reach the bodies. Two bodies were recovered and third was never found, “it is said.”
Fast forward to the year 2000 and beyond, and ghost hunters’ tales of apparitions of the noisy, drunken “third bootlegger” abound. And not only in and around The Melting Pot, they say, but in “different locations on Main Street.”
In 2016, the Peaks at Old Laramie Trail Senior Living residence in Lafayette, Colo. placed a bronze interpretive sign commemorating the Vulcan mine on Coal Creek trail right-of-way about 1/2 mile west of S. Public Road. The plaque reads: