By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern
As we get closer and closer to Halloween I find myself looking up more and more ghost stories. I want to find a story that will scare me so much that I need to sleep with the light on. I have yet to find one. What I have found, though, are some spooky tales of the haunts of Arizona. All around the state there are creepy stories of love-gone-wrong, murders, mysterious deaths, and disappearances; but is the folklore of Arizona only folklore, or are some of these tragic accounts true? We may never know what stories are real and what are whispers passed down to scare children (and adults!), but it is still fun to read them and tell them to friends on dark and stormy nights when the air is already heavy with an eerie feeling. So without further ado, here are some of the most popular (and my personal favorite) ghost stories of Arizona.
San Marcos Hotel
In Chandler, Arizona you will find the historic Crowne Plaza San Marcos Hotel. Built in 1912, the San Marcos was the very first golf resort in the state of Arizona. Dr. A.J. Chandler, the man the city of Chandler was named after, thought up the idea for the San Marcos Hotel and set the construction rolling in mid-1912. Just one year later on November 22, 1913, the San Marcos Resort was open for business. Through its doors passed many of the rich and famous, including President Herbert Hoover, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Joan Crawford among many others. The only death that was recorded to have happened inside the hotel was that of A.J. Chandler himself, but there is a long history of hauntings on the property. The most prominent ghost is of a woman who floats through the second floor halls of the San Marcos late at night. Some say she committed suicide on the property long ago, but there are no records to prove that claim.
The next spirit isn’t seen, but heard. A man’s voice moans and whispers to guests all throughout the property, making visitor’s hair stand on end when they come into contact with him. This ghostly voice is said to be Dr. A.J. Chandler trying to contact the patrons of his hotel. Lastly, the front desk has received numerous eerie phone calls from rooms that no longer exist.
Copper Queen Hotel
The Copper Queen Hotel, located in Bisbee, Arizona, was built back in 1898, but not completed until 1902. The town of Bisbee was a mining town, built upon a society of hard working copper miners and their families, so the hotel was constructed by Phelps Dodge Mining Company to add a touch of luxury where there wasn’t any. The Copper Queen was originally meant to be a place for people of importance to enjoy their visits to the town, but it is now one of the hottest paranormal spots in Arizona.
The first and perhaps most famous ghost at the Copper Queen is of a young boy named Billy. Billy was an 8 or 9-year-old boy who called the hotel his playground, but tragically drown in the nearby San Pedro River. Guests and staff members of the Copper Queen have seen him running around on the third floor, and turning corners into hallways that are deserted when investigated. As any young child, Billy is a mischievous spirit. He is said to hide and move guest’s items when they leave their rooms, and some have even felt him tug at their clothing or tap them on the shoulder.
The next spirit that roams the Copper Queen is a woman named Julia Lowell. Julia was a ‘lady of the night’ who frequently visited the hotel with her customers. She ended up falling in love with one of the men she met, and when he rejected her she hung herself in the hall just outside of her room. Her ghost is reportedly seen only by men, but her whispering can be heard by anyone who spends the night in her room. Julia appears as either a full apparition that is easily mistaken for a living person, or a white mist that slowly floats past the hotel’s grand staircase.
Another entity that inhabits the Copper Queen is an older man who can be recognized by the smell of cigar smoke that he leaves in his wake. Visitors have described him as being dressed very fancy, in a black suit, cape and top hat.
Lastly, there is the ghost of a woman who is dressed in a black evening gown that can be seen walking up and down the grand staircase and into the dining room.
The Oliver house is located in Bisbee, just like the Copper Queen. It was built in 1909 by Edith Ann Oliver, the wife of a mining executive. The Oliver House was a boarding house for most of its life until it was turned into a mining office and then a bed and breakfast to accommodate the many tourists that visit Bisbee every year.
The ghostly activity reported in the house is largely speculated to be from the 27 deaths that have occurred on the property, although that number is unconfirmed. One death happened in 1920 when a man named Nat Anderson was shot in the head outside the room he had been staying in. The story goes that he was having an affair with a woman whose husband he owed money to. When the husband found out, he tracked Anderson down and shot him. This story could never be confirmed, so Anderson’s death remains a mystery to this day.
Yet another story of an affair adds to the hauntings at the Oliver House. Allegedly, a police officer found out his wife was having an affair and that she and her lover were rooming at the Oliver House. In a jealous rage he stormed into the then boarding house and killed his wife, her lover, and anyone else he passed in the halls.
Today, guests have reported seeing a shadow figure near the room Nat Anderson was murdered outside of, as well as hearing voices through the halls when no one is around.
One of the more famous spirits of the Oliver House is an older woman who is seen in the ‘Grandma Room.’ Guests have seen her walking around in the room and rocking in the room’s rocking chair. She is said to be the friendly ghost of a woman who passed away in the room many years ago. The Oliver House also has phenomena happen that is unrelated to a specific phantom. Doors and blinds open and close by themselves, running water can be heard where there are no pipes, and like stated before, voices are heard when there is nobody else there.
The Hotel Weatherford opened in Flagstaff on New Year’s Day in 1900. It is another hotel that hosted many famous visitors including William Randolph Hearst, President Theodore Roosevelt, and Wyatt Earp.
Throughout its life, the Weatherford has housed many different businesses including a theater, multiple restaurants, the first telephone exchange company in Flagstaff and a radio station.
Today it once again is the place travelers and visitors of Flagstaff call home, if only for one night. There are quite a few ghosts that still inhabit the Weatherford. Two of which are a husband and wife that are said to have been murdered in room 54 in the 1930s. Guests often report seeing two people, a man and a woman, walking into the room together. People have also heard what seems to be a heated argument coming from the room, but when staff goes to check, the now storage room is empty.
Yet another spirit inhabiting the Weatherford is one that calls staff members names on the fourth floor. Lastly, in the hotel’s Zane Grey Ballroom, a woman’s ghost can be seen pacing back and forth, and quiet conversations can be heard coming from the vacant bar.
Jerome Grand Hotel
The Jerome Grand Hotel was built as the United Verde Hospital back in 1927. It was constructed to serve the growing population of copper miners and families that moved to the city in hopes of finding work in the mines. The 30,000-square-foot building was, and still is, a structure of great integrity, as it was made blast-proof by the original builders so it wouldn’t slide down the hill when a mine blast shocked the town.
Sadly, in 1950 the hospital closed its doors when the mines ran out of Copper and many residents moved on to new towns and new opportunities. The hospital was taken care of and maintained just in case it was needed until 1971. After that is was left to collect dust until 1994 when the building was purchased by the Altherr Family and remodeled into the Jerome Grand Hotel, which opened in 1996.
From the moment the hotel opened its doors ghost stories ran rampant. Staff members and guests have frequently reported hearing talking, yelling, and moans among other sounds all throughout the hotel, and doors like to slam shut whenever left open.
A very popular ghost at the Jerome Grand is of a man who many people believe is a miner. His hauntings date back to when the building was still a hospital. Nurses and patients of the United Verde Hospital had reported seeing a bearded man walking up and down hallways and standing at the end of halls. Today, guests have also seen this mysterious bearded apparition pacing the second and third floors of the hotel.
Another spirit that haunts the hotel is reported to be a man named Claude M. Harvey. Harvey was employed as an engineer at the hospital when on April 4, 1935, he was killed in the basement. Somehow he became pinned underneath the elevator, which crushed his head, killing him. To this day people still believe his death was no accident, but no one was ever charged with his ‘murder’. Harvey’s apparition is said to still haunt the basement where he died, as well as other random areas of the hotel. Sometimes lights can be seen in the elevator shaft even when the elevator is stopped at the top floor, and every once and a while patrons of the hotel have reported feeling an angry presence, which is attributed to Harvey.
Hotel San Carlos
In the heart of Downtown Phoenix you can find the Hotel San Carlos still standing tall although it is almost 88 years old. It was built on the land where the first schoolhouse in Phoenix stood and when it was opened on March 20, 1928, it was the first air-conditioned hotel in Phoenix. Over the years, many Hollywood stars and other famous faces passed through the beautiful front doors of the San Carlos, including people such as Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Clark Gable, and Mae West. The San Carlos Hotel was the place to be if you wanted to be somebody. The hotel has been in continuous operation since its opening in 1928, and was recognized in 1974 as a State Historic landmark.
Of course through the years the San Carlos has gained a few ghost stories, one of which is a tragic tale of a young woman. Leone Jensen was staying at the hotel in May of 1928 when she allegedly jumped to her death off the roof of the building. Apparently her relationship had failed, which led to her decision and her early demise. Guests of the Hotel San Carlos have reportedly seen a figure standing on the roof that disappears when you go looking for it, as well as the apparition of a young woman that walks the hallways and stairs to the rooftop.
A few more ghosts that a heard but not usually seen at the San Carlos are a handful of young children. These children race up and down the halls of the hotel, knock on doors, and can be heard laughing when no one else is around. Some say they are the spirits of the children who attended the school that sat where the hotel not stands.
The beautiful Hassayampa Inn was built in Prescott back in 1927. Named after the Hassayampa River, the hotel was a place that was designed for guests to experience maximum rest and relaxation. It was also built as a haven from the scorching summer temperatures of Phoenix.
The inn doesn’t have a very violent or gruesome past, but it does have its fair share of hauntings. Soon after the inn had opened, a young and newly married couple visited, and checked in for their honeymoon. The husband went out to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never returned. Three days later he had still not returned, and his new bride hung herself from the suite’s balcony. Today, guests have reported seeing the ghost of this woman, named Faith, walking the halls of the inn. She has also been spotted on the balcony where she died, and even at the ends of guest’s beds in the middle of the night.
Some of these stories may be true, and some may just be folklore, but ALL of them happen to be at least a little bit creepy. All of these places are open for business, and if reading the stories wasn’t enough of a scare for you, you can stay overnight and experience the real thing.
If one wonders why the Fill Your Plate team is covering ghost stories, well it is Halloween! Plus, ghosts have to eat don’t they? Well, at least when you’re visiting one of these famous ghost-infested hotels, you have to eat, and they have wonderful food! Happy Haunting!