Legends that just won’t die: The myth of Louisville’s tempting tunnels

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.

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Legends that won’t die: Louisville’s ghostly bootleggers and the myth of the haunted mine tipple

Everyone loves a good ghost story.

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.”

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History Flub: Let’s memorialize the correct Vulcan mine

An expensive bronze plaque that memorializes the Vulcan mine in Lafayette, Colo. is chock-full of errors.

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:

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Honoring veterans: Lafayette’s Blue Star Memorial Highway plaque

The 1998 Blue Star Memorial Highway plaque in Lafayette, Colorado.

The late Bill Kellett wrote in “History of Lafayette, Colorado: Treeless Plain to Thriving City,” published in 1990, that Lafayette sent more men and women to the services in WW II per capita than any other city in the country. There are two memorials to these brave young men and women, one in the Lafayette cemetery and one at the northeast corner of U.S. 287 and Baseline Road. The Blue Star Memorial Highway plaque, which recognizes veterans’ service and sacrifice, was placed in 1952 on a fireplace at a roadside rest stop and picnic area that occupied Colorado Highway Dept. (now CDOT) right-of-way. The blue star symbolizes hope and pride.

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