Everyone loves a good ghost story. That’s what makes authors like Stephen King, Bentley Little and Robert R. McCammon so popular. Arizona has its share of ghosts. Between the legends and beliefs of the Native Americans who call Arizona home and the violence of the Old West, Arizona has more than its fair share of haunts and phantoms.
We continue our tour of “These Haunted States of America” in Arizona. “The Grand Canyon State” is home to 5,130,632 people, and more than a handful of ghosts. So, the next time you’re in Arizona, here are 10 haunted locations to visit.
1. CASA GRANDE: Casa Grande National Monument
The ghosts of Native Americans performing strange ceremonies have been seen here and at other sites in the region. Casa Grande, or Big House, is probably an ancient monastery and astronomical observatory. The unique three-story adobe building sits atop a one-story platform, and windows and holes are constructed to observe specific astronomical objects. The Hohokam lived in this area from 200 B.C. to a.D. 1100 and probably built the structure to train medicine priests from many different tribes.
2. DRAGOON MOUNTAINS: Phantom Train
A ghostly train has been reported chugging across the arid plains here. Many have heard the steam engine’s distant whistle or seen its dim yellow headlight. Some have even gotten close enough to make out the figure of a black-sooted engineer pulling on the whistle of the locomotive. The problem is that no railroad tracks have ever been laid in this area. The Phantom Train of Dragoon has been seen crossing the alkali flats in southeastern Arizona, from the Dragoon Mountains to the town of Wilcox.
3. JEROME: Community Center
Locals call their community center Spook Hall, because of the phantom of a prostitute seen there. The ghost moves from the front of the building to a few feet from the Little Daisy Hotel where she disappears. The area used to be the site of the “cribs,” small shacks used by prostitutes to entertain their clients. One of the women, who was accidentally stabbed to death during an argument between two miners, still walks the street. Jerome was established in 1876, and a billion dollars worth of gold, silver, and copper were mined from the area in seventy-seven years. There are so many ghosts here that a monthly newspaper called the Jerome Ghost Post was published for a time. The town still offers such interesting diversions as the Spirit Room Bar and the Haunted Hamburger restaurant.
4. JEROME: United Verde Hospital
The frightening sounds of moaning and coughing miners who used to work in the old United Verde copper mine are still heard in the deserted halls here. An artist painting a picture of the hospital felt a zap of electric energy when he brushed against a ghostly figure floating through a corridor. The old Surgeon House, built next door to the haunted hospital in 1917, is now a bed-and-breakfast inn.
5. LAKE HAVASU CITY: London Bridge
When entrepreneur Thomas McCulloch bought the authentic London Bridge from the British government in 1968, he had no idea that the transfer would stir up ghosts residing in the ancient stones. At a cost of $7.5 million, the bridge was dismantled from its position over the River Thames and reassembled on the Colorado River in Arizona. It was reopened on October 10, 1971. Not long afterward, the ghosts of a woman and a British bobby were seen walking on the bridge at night.
6. NOGALES: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
This modern brick church, built in 1969, is haunted by the ghosts of Native Americans. One recurring spirit wearing an old blanket has been witnessed by rectors and visiting churchmen. A whole tribe of Native Americans materialized in the front pews during organ rehearsal one night. Priests, parishioners, police, and visitors have all witnessed strange phenomena here. During repairs on church sewer lines a Native American burial ground was discovered. Cremation urns and bones belonging to a one-thousand-year-old tribe were unearthed.
7. PHOENIX: San Carlos Hotel
The white cloud of a woman’s figure, accompanied by ghostly noises, has been reported by witnesses here. She is Leone Jensen, who on May 7, 1928, ended her life by jumping off the roof of the seven-story hotel. The San Carols had been open only six weeks when the tragedy occurred. According to her friends, the twenty-two-year-old girl was heartbroken after being jilted by her lover, a bellboy at a nearby hotel. The noisy ghosts of three young boys have also been reported to run through the halls of this Italian Renaissance showplace, and the unexplainable sounds of children laughing and running are heard coming from inside some of the rooms. The hotel was built in the 1920s on the site of the first elementary school in Phoenix. One reason the hotel is haunted might be an old water well still operating in the basement. The well, dug for the school in 1874, tapped into a spring that was considered sacred for hundreds of years. Native Americans worshipped the God of Learning on this spot long before the school or hotel was built.
8. PRESCOTT: Hotel Vendome
Two ghosts occupy Room 16 at this historic hotel. One is the apparition of a woman named Abby Byr and the other is her cat Noble. Abby came to Arizona for relief from tuberculosis, and before long she married. She and her new husband bought the Hotel Vendome but eventually lost it for unpaid back taxes. The new owners allowed Abby, her husband, and her beloved cat to stay on at no charge. She died in 1921, and her ghost and that of her cat started to be seen after World War II. At a séance held in the room in 1984, four psychics discovered that Abby had died of starvation, after her husband deserted her. Her cat Noble was locked in the closet and died in the room too.
9. SONOITA: Lost Trail Hotel
The severed head of a screaming woman has been seen floating high in the corner of a room here. The glowing head had long dark hair and bright red lipstick, and continued to scream even as it faded from view. The ghost appeared in 1976 to a couple from Sonoita, but no one has ever been able to explain it.
10. TOMBSTONE: Bird Cage Theater
This 1881 burlesque hall contains a stage, bar, casino, and dance hall. Prostitutes enticed prospective clients from fourteen red velvet-draped cages hung from the ceiling. Although it closed down after only nine years, the Bird Cage is still a popular place with a bevy of spirits. Hundreds of witnesses have reported the sounds of invisible people singing and talking in the deserted rooms. The ghosts of a little boy who died here of yellow fever in 1882 and a former owner who also died in the building are thought to be responsible for a number of poltergeist effects. The apparition of a man wearing a celluloid visor and carrying a clipboard has been seen walking across the stage. In fact, encounters with ghosts wearing old-fashioned clothing have been reported by dozens of employees and tourists. In an article in 1882, The New York Times called this “the wildest, wickedest nightspot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast.” It was the site of sixteen bloody gunfights, and 140 bullet holes riddle the walls and ceiling. Appropriately, Tombstone’s original Boothill hearse, the Black Mariah, is on display on the premises.
Up Next on our Haunted Road Trip Across America: “Haunted Arkansas, Fourth in a Series of ‘These Haunted States of America’: 10 Haunted Places to Visit During Your Next Trip to Arkansas.”