The Denver Post
StorageTek ‘ghost in Building 6’ mines fear
October 31, 2003
All it took was a tiny spark.
Eight men lost their lives as coal dust exploded in the Monarch No. 2 Mine. Seven bodies were recovered, but the remains of Joe C. Jaramillo never were found.
After that fateful morning of Jan. 20, 1936, the National Fuel company sealed the Louisville mine and erected a granite memorial. Decades passed. The horror faded. And Colorado’s economic base shifted from raw materials to high technology.
In the 1970s, StorageTek built its campus over the old mine shafts. The computer storage device maker began forging a new future above ground. But the past below wouldn’t die.
At some companies, the scariest things are the books and the top executives. At StorageTek, it’s something else.
Manager of corporate security Ed Mestas calls the problem “the ghost in Building 6.” Over the years, many members of his crew have reported doors opening and closing, lights flickering on and off, an elevator operating without visible passengers and banks of phones ringing all at once in the middle of the night. Some claim to have seen apparitions. Others report being pushed down stairs by forces unseen.
Security officer Stacy Derrington, like many employees, chalks up the disturbances to the ghost of Jaramillo, whom her predecessors named Howard.
Sometimes, in a break room on the second floor, Derrington would see the carousel of a vending machine spin inexplicably.
“Howard, stop it,” she would cry. And the carousel would stop.
“I would be embarrassed to say I believe in him, but I think he’s probably here,” she said.
Perhaps Jaramillo searches for his remains, which either were vaporized in the explosion or crushed beneath the rubble. Or perhaps he seeks his daughters, Henrietta and Josephine, who died mourning his death, say 1936 Denver Post accounts. Henrietta had a heart attack at 17 and Josephine fell fatally ill at 12. A Post story said they died of broken hearts.
“I sometimes get the creeps when I walk through the southeast corner,” security guard Phil Hagen said as he gives me a midnight tour of Building 6. “It’s a feeling that something’s just not right.”
The boxy, concrete building is a labyrinth of test labs and offices that were vacated more than two years ago when StorageTek moved jobs to Puerto Rico.
Dying fluorescent lights flicker and buzz. We walk past chillers, boilers, motors, wires, pipes and ductwork that ping and clank in the night. I do not sense a ghost, but on the carpet I see someone has laid masking tape in the shape of one. Two X’s mark the eyes and an O, the mouth. “Somebody has a sense of humor,” Hagen said.
Others are more serious. D.J. Blackwell, a 22-year employee, said she saw the specter on a security monitor.
“You could see through it, almost like a negative, and it was the image of a man with a miner’s helmet,” she said. “He was wearing a heavy bunker jacket and had a small, round bucket in his hand.”
Blackwell sent another guard to investigate as she sat by the monitor. Soon she could see the guard beside the image of the miner. But the guard checking the camera could not see the image, or find anything wrong. Blackwell went to the area, opened a nearby door, and called out to the spirit.
“I don’t know what your name is, but you are scaring people,” she said. “Your time is over, and you need to go and be with God.”
With that, the image vanished from the monitor, she said.
StorageTek spokesman Joe Fuentes acknowledges such stories have buzzed around for years. But he’d rather talk about recent sales and earnings gains, or StorageTek’s latest disk storage system.
When pressed about the ghost, he defaults to a canned corporate response: “It’s nothing we can confirm or deny.”
Al Lewis’ column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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