Matrimonial Tragedy

Haunted places love newlyweds…or maybe it's the other way around. Maybe it’s a place where the bride last experienced love. Maybe it’s because that was the last place where she was with her husband.

Hotels are especially riddled with ghosts and disturbed spirits. Usually it's a spooky ghost story that makes a hotel famous. Perhaps the recipe for an exciting, memorable place to stay on vacation includes love, murder, and an attempt to cover it up. 

The Golden North Hotel in Skagway, Alaska tells of an engaged couple seeking fortune during the Yukon Gold Rush. This gold rush experienced around 100,000 prospectors to Alaska and Canada from 1896 to 1899. The idea––like everyone else––was to move here, make a lot of money, and live happily ever after. 

The woman’s fiancee was nicknamed “Klondike Ike.” Her name was Mary. While he went in search for gold, she remained in their hotel room, waiting for his fortuitous return. One wonders what she did in the room as she waited. In the late 19th century there wasn’t much if you were in a hotel room all day. She likely read or enjoyed one of her favorite hobbies while she waited.

But Mary couldn’t wait forever.

There’s a point in waiting when a feeling of dread pokes into one’s heart. That dread says, “He’s not coming back. Something’s happened to him and he’s not coming back.” Klondike Ike hadn’t returned, and eventually she could only hope for the worst.

Mary locked herself in the hotel room, refusing to come out for days. At some point someone who worked at the hotel went to the room to check on her. He gingerly knocked on the door, asking in a slightly raised voice if she was all right. Mary didn’t reply. He knocked harder, speaking louder, still hearing nothing on the other side of the door. He broke into the room, fearing she might be in trouble. Whatever trouble Mary suffered had already passed, however. He found her dead in the room, wearing her wedding dress.

Those who have stayed at the hotel since, even up until today, recount sightings of a ghostly woman wearing a wedding dress, peering out from a window. Cold pockets of air in the hotel are passed off as Mary moving by the person. There have even been reports of visitors waking up in the middle of the night at the sight of a woman in a wedding gown staring down at them, making sure Klondike Ike isn’t in bed with another woman. 

It seems as though by locking herself in her hotel room, she has locked herself inside the hotel for eternity, waiting for a fiancee to come back who never will.

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An old postcard of Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.

An old postcard of Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park was founded in 1872 and Old Faithful Inn was built in 1904. Surrounded by the beautiful and natural wonders of the park, countless visitors have lodged in the  beautiful inn. 

In 1915, one newlywed couple honeymooned there all the way from New York. The trip couldn’t have been quick or easy to get to Yellowstone. When in love, though, the obstacles seem less menacing. 

However, the bride’s family didn’t see this marriage built on the foundation of love. The bride’s father owned a successful shipping company, allowing him to provide abundantly for his family and for generations to come. He even arranged a marriage for his daughter to a man of similar backgrounds. He wanted the best for her, to make sure she would be taken care of by her husband.

Unfortunately, his daughter did not hold the same ideals. She had fallen in love with a servant of their family. The man was considerably older than her, and her family were suspicious of the man’s intent. They told her he was after her fortune. She told them they were in love. There must have been several arguments about this, many of them heated and others ending in cold silences. In the end, her father simply wanted the best for his daughter. So, he allowed the marriage, writing them a sizable check with the stipulation that they would move away from New York and could not inherit the fortune or business at any point. If the marriage was only about their love, that should be enough.

The newlyweds took the money and the demands and left the state, nervous and excited––at least the bride must have been. A month into their vacation, the husband had already spent most of the money on gambling, resulting in raucous fights people could hear in their hotel room at Old Faithful Inn. The couple asked for more money from the bride’s parents, but the only reply they received was a one way ticket home for the bride.

Perhaps their marriage wasn’t rooted in love. Perhaps the bride’s naiveté got the better of her. 

After a particularly harsh fight in their room, the husband stormed out, leaving her alone inside. The man was never seen again. 

Others at the hotel gave the bride her privacy, but when days passed and no one had seen her leave the room, questions circulated throughout the hotel.

A housekeeper let herself inside to check on the situation, most likely expecting to find no one but a disheveled room to clean up. She did find a whirlwind of a mess: sheets ripped from the bed, clothes strewn on the floor, personal items in every corner of the room. The housekeeper might have called out for the bride, or she might have gone straight to the bathroom to check out the mess there. What she found was beyond what her already wandering mind was capable of.

The bride was in the bathroom, or at least her body was there. Half bent over the bathtub, blood filled the basin like a dark red pond. The reason for all the blood: the bride’s head was missing.

No one knew where the husband went, nor was anyone ever able to find him. We can only hope fate made him serve for the crime he committed, if he was the one who committed it. 

The bride’s body was shipped home and buried headless. For an extended period of time no one knew where her head might be. Thrown out the window and lost in the forest? It’s possible, but none of the windows were open when the housekeeper let herself in and there were no reports of any heads found outside. 

Then, finally, in the crow’s nest––where bands played music in the hotel––a sickening smell cascaded down and permeated about the building. Up there was her head. 

While the bride’s body was shipped back home, her head was not. Perhaps that’s why she’s been seen wearing her wedding dress, walking around with her head tucked under one arm.

In the decades to come, the public would find out that the hotel manager in the 1990s made the story up. Yet, he does confirm in the hotel’s records that a murder had been committed at the hotel, and it involved a new bride being found decapitated in the bathroom of her room, and the husband was never reported as being found after the murder. The details have been embellished over the years, but the fact remains that many visitors have seen a headless woman wandering the hotel, probably searching for her murderous husband.