From moving mannequins to the ghosts of a cowboy and a bootlegger, these spots in Arizona have some creepy stories to tell.
As Halloween rolls around the corner, you can visit a haunted house like Fear Farm or the 13th Floor for some fun scares.
But this year, maybe take it one step further and visit some of Arizona’s reportedly ghostly places.
From moving mannequins to the ghosts of a cowboy and a grandma, these spots in Arizona have some creepy stories to tell.
Jerome – Ghost City Inn
Ghost City Inn (spooky name to begin with, huh?) was built in Jerome in 1890 as living quarters for mining workers. It now operates as a bed and breakfast.
According to “Haunted Jerome” by Patricia Jacobson and Midge Steuber, Ghost City Inn has at least two prominent spirits seen, heard, and felt by multiple people.
The first is a cowboy, always seen wearing a leather duster. He’s been spotted in guests’ rooms, on the building’s second-floor porch, and even in the middle of the road. One theory is that the cowboy was named Jake Stark and that he had been killed by a man named Cecil Thompson, whose family was run out of town for causing trouble.
The second recurring spirit is named Grandma Garcia, one of the women in the Garcia family, who owned the place for over 50 years. According to Jacobson and Steuber, legend is that during Prohibition, the men in the family made their own liquor and accidentally started a fire near Grandma Garcia’s room, making her fearful of flames for the rest of her life. She now reportedly appears when people smoke cigarettes or light candles.
Phoenix – Orpheum Theatre
The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix was built in the late 1920s. With a long history of bringing art to Arizonans, the venue has allegedly amassed some ghosts over time.
According to “Haunted Phoenix” by Debe Branning, the theater’s original owner Harry Nace died by gunshots under mysterious circumstances and is rumored to haunt the place.
The Orpheum is also home to a “house ghost” called either Maddie or Maggie. Branning wrote that the ghost appears in mid-20th-century clothing and has been seen on the balcony and in the back of the theater. Some patrons have reported being tapped on the head, presumably by the ghost, during performances. People across the street have even seen the ghost walking along what used to be the theater’s second floor.
The theater’s stage is also said to have some paranormal energy. Branning wrote that a sound tech allegedly recorded what sounded like a fistfight happening on stage. The sound is thought to be connected to a fight that happened there involving an orchestra drummer who was upset over the death of his wife.
Prescott – Palace Saloon
The Palace Saloon doesn’t necessarily have any house ghosts, but some creepy things have been reported to happen there. The business first opened in the late 1800s and had to be rebuilt multiple times due to fires.
Chairs, bottles, and other objects are known to fly across the saloon. According to Parker Anderson and Darlene Wilson’s “Haunted Prescott,” a group of teachers once came in to eat, and when the server went back to the kitchen, he heard screaming. The teachers had run outside and said condiments had flown out of a buffet cabinet and hit them. The server reportedly went back inside to find condiments scattered across the room.
According to “Haunted Prescott,” the saloon’s owner at one point has kept a porcelain mannequin upstairs, where two prostitutes used to live. One morning the mannequin was found shattered on the ground floor. The owner bought a new mannequin he named “Annie” and put her back in the original mannequin’s spot, but he kept finding her turned around. He allegedly set up a camera to see if someone was playing a prank on him but witnessed the doll twisting around itself.
Tombstone – Big Nose Kate’s Saloon
What is up with saloons and creepy mannequins? According to “Haunted Tombstone” by Cody Polston, Big Nose Kate’s Saloon has also had a weird encounter with figures moving.
The saloon as it’s known now opened in the 1970s, but the building’s history began back in 1880 when it was a hotel. It burned down in 1882, and a larger building was constructed over the area. Then another fire took out most of that building in 1942. It was rebuilt and operated as a bar until it was sold and became Big Nose Kate’s.
When manager Tim Ferrick first went into the saloon to interview for his job, there were two mannequins dressed in period clothing on the balcony at the back of the main room. According to “Haunted Tombstone,” Ferrick and the owners were standing near the balcony when they heard a loud scraping noise and saw the female mannequin move toward the railing and then fall over it, crashing to the ground. Then they reportedly saw the male mannequin’s head turn toward where the other mannequin had been.
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Big Nose Kate’s staff members have reported other ghostly encounters, including hearing heavy footsteps after closing time. Ferrick said in “Haunted Tombstone” that after the saloon installed a security system, he caught the sounds, but confirmed that the rooms were empty and the motion detector was not triggered. Waitresses have also reported feeling poked, pinched, slapped, and grabbed by spirits.
If you’d like to read more about haunted locations in Arizona, check out the Arizona State Library’s Reading Arizona digital collection. The books mentioned in this article are available there for free.