Hotel Congress’ Enigmatic Room 242

Located at the corner of Toole Avenue and Congress Street in downtown Tucson, Arizona, the Hotel Congress has had an interesting history, including a brush with the notorious outlaw John Dillinger. Dillinger’s ghost, however, is not believed to reside there. Instead, visitors have reportedly encountered the ghost of a former handyman, as well as a forlorn woman who haunts Room 242. These apparitions are only a few of the nightly attractions at the Congress. Club Congress is considered to be one of the 10 best rock clubs in the United States, and for over thirty years has served as a showcase for downtown Tucson’s creative community.

Hotel Congress was designed by William and Alexander Curlett, who designed several buildings that are currently listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1919 and contains four different bars. One of these, the Tap Room, has been open continuously since 1919. The Tap Room has been called “the drinking man’s Louvre” because of its collection of works by western artist and rodeo cowboy Pete Martinez. It is the largest private Pete Martinez collection in the country.

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Tucson’s Mysterious Manning House

The historic Manning House sits opposite a traffic circle along West Pso Redondo, near downtown Tucson, Arizona. When Levi Howell Manning built the mansion for his family in 1907, it was situated on 10 acres of fertile grazing pastures. Designed by architect Henry Trost, it is an eclectic combination of Spanish Colonial, Territorial, Italian Renaissance, and Prairie style architecture. It has been used for many purposes over the years, but rumors remain that it is haunted by either Mr. Manning or his son.

Levi H. Manning, son of a Confederate veteran, was born in North Carolina in 1864. While at home on summer break from the University of Mississippi, a fraternity brother and he played a prank that went awry when an elephant they acquired from a local circus escaped and went on a rampage around town. Manning’s mother advised him to leave before his father found out, so in 1884 he fled to Tucson, Arizona. He quickly rose to prominence, spearheading several business and development ventures before being elected mayor of Tucson on an anti-gambling ticket in 1905. One of Manning’s development projects turned the area around his home into an upscale subdivision known as Snob Hollow.

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Fort Huachuca’s Sorrowful Specters

Fort Huachuca, located at the base of the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista in southwest Arizona, has a storied history as a military outpost. Captain Samuel M. Whitside, at the command of two companies of the 6th Cavalry Regiment, created Camp Huachuca in March 1877 during the US campaign to suppress the Apache Indians. Since then, Fort Huachuca has played a valuable role in serving the US military.

Because of its history, the fort is also allegedly home to several haunted places. The Carleton House is the most famous, but “Hangman’s Warehouse” and the old Fort Huachuca Cemetery have their own macabre tales to tell. Even the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, which was originally the post’s jail, is believed to be haunted.

Fort Huachuca became a permanent military installation in 1882, to aid the fight against Bedonkohe Apache leader Geronimo. Geronimo, famous for his exploits against both Mexican and American authorities, surrendered on September 4, 1886 in Skeleton Canyon, Arizona. From 1913 to 1933, the fort was home to the 10th Cavalry Regiment.

The 10th Cavalry Regiment was an African American unit that served with distinction in the Western Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, and Philippine Insurrection. They were known as “Buffalo Soldiers,” a name given to them by Cheyenne warriors, who thought their curly hair resembled a buffalo’s. Today, Fort Huachuca is home to the US Army Military Intelligence Corps and is a training center for military intelligence disciplines and unmanned aerial system operations.

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Hoover Dam on the Colorado River

The Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel, truly one of the great monuments to American ingenuity and strength. Like Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, I couldn’t help being struck by the sheer size of the dam. It was a massive project on an unprecedented scale, like the ancient pyramids. An entire city was built to house the thousands of workers.

The Hoover Dam spans the Black Canyon on the Colorado River, between Nevada and Arizona. U.S. Route 93 used to cross the dam, but a bypass was opened in 2010 to divert traffic away from the structure. The steel and concrete bridge, called the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, is impressive in itself. The bridge is 1,900 feet long and 900 feet above the Colorado River.

The dam was built between 1931 and 1936 and cost $49 million ($700 million today). It was originally called the Boulder Dam, but Congress changed its name in 1947 in honor of former President Herbert Hoover. It rises 726.4 feet and spans 1,244 feet.

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The Copper Queen’s Lady Julia, and Other Unearthly Guests

The Copper Queen is a popular jewel nestled in the picturesque town of Bisbee, Arizona, but do guests share their rooms with something unseen?

  • Copper Queen Mining Company owner Phelps Dodge built the hotel in 1902 to attract investors.
  • According to eyewitnesses, three ghosts stalk its halls: “Billy,” “Howard,” and Julia Lowell.
  • Julia, a former prostitute, is the most famous ghost whisking her way through the halls of the Copper Queen.
  • The Copper Queen has appeared on both Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures.

Rising above the colorful tapestry of tightly clustered homes and businesses blanketing the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona, the Copper Queen Hotel stands as a gilded monument. For over 100 years, it has served as a social anchor for the former mining town of old Bisbee. I first stayed at the Copper Queen Hotel in 2009 while visiting friends from Phoenix.

I had heard rumors that the hotel was haunted, but it wasn’t until I returned a few years later that I discover just how much. In the interim, the hotel had published its logbook of ghostly encounters from 2000 to 2008, and the book contains many interesting gems.

Phelps Dodge, owner of the Copper Queen Mining Company, built the grand hotel in a bid to lure investors to the area. It took four years to complete the hotel, and it opened on February 22, 1902. When the copper mines closed in 1975, Bisbee had to find a new focus. It became a cultural destination for artists and tourists.

All the while, the copper queen hotel continued to provide a luxury accommodations. Sitting on the balcony, guests can still enjoy a sip of wine while looking out over the town of Old Bisbee nestled in the picturesque mountains. The chill on the back of your neck may be the mountain breeze, or it might be something else…

According to various eyewitness accounts, there are three ghosts stalking the halls. One, only known as “Billy,” is an adolescent boy who was said to have drowned in the San Pedro River. He is drawn to the hotel because his mother was a former employee. “Billy” has rarely been seen, but he is accused of stealing and moving guests’ personal items. Others have heard him laugh or cry.

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“Diamond Lil” and other Ghosts of the University of Arizona

Does the ghost of a murdered construction foreman linger on the campus of Arizona’s oldest university?

  • The University of Arizona was founded in 1885 and built on land reportedly cursed by a saloon girl named “Two Tooth Gertie.”
  • Carlos Maldenado supervised the school’s construction until his murder in 1888.
  • The ghost of a woman wearing dark colored Victorian garb is said to haunt Centennial Hall.

Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona is the oldest university in Arizona, predating the state itself by 27 years. It is a large school with a total enrollment of around 40,000 students and is known for its research in astronomy. The aesthetically appealing campus occupies 380 acres in the heart of Tucson, Arizona.

While attending class and strolling its park-like paths and sidewalks, students have occasionally reported startling encounters with the unknown. Although scientific pursuits have led many to dismiss these sightings, rumors of ghosts in several campus buildings persist. Old Main, Maricopa Hall, and Centennial Hall are just the most prominent places believed to be haunted.

Built in the late-1880s when the University of Arizona was known as Territorial University of Arizona College of Mines, Old Main is the oldest building on campus. It is rumored to be haunted by Carlos Maldenado, who supervised its construction and lived in Tucson from 1841 until his murder in 1888.

One dark night, startled construction workers found Maldenado sitting in a chair in the unfinished building with a large buffalo skinners knife sticking out of his throat. It was believed that he had been murdered by locals angry over Tucson losing its position as territorial capitol in favor of becoming home to the college. The historic building fell out of use in the early 1900s and was in serious need of repair when the United States War Department took it over to train officers at the outbreak of World War 2.

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Haunted Tombstone, Arizona

This legendary Wild West town offers a glimpse of the past—sometimes unintentionally!

  • Tombstone was founded in 1879 in southern Arizona by prospector Ed Schieffelin.
  • It was the scene of the famous “Shootout at the OK Corral”, which became the subject of popular movies and literature.
  • Big Nose Kate’s, the O.K. Corral, and Crystal Palace Saloon are all believed to be home to restless spirits.

I first visited Tombstone in 2009, which was a dream come true for this fan of old Westerns. Even though I was born in 1981, I was raised on TV shows like Rawhide and Bonanza. I never had the opportunity to travel out west until after graduate school. When I did, some friends from Phoenix and I made sure to explore everything the town had to offer. One of the most famous buildings in Tombstone is the Bird Cage Theatre.

I never thought I would return, but I recently found myself back in that oddly-named showcase of the Wild West. As I sat down for dinner at Big Nose Kate’s, two cowboys sat at the table next to mine playing cards. Yeah, that felt right. I could feel the living, breathing history there. As it turns out, many of Tombstone’s buildings are said to be haunted, not just the Birdcage. Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is one of these.

Big Nose Kate’s, located at 417 East Allen Street (you can’t miss it), was named after John Henry “Doc” Holliday’s companion, “Big Nose” Kate (Mary Katharine Horony). The saloon sits on the site of the former Grand Hotel, which burned in a fire in the spring of 1881. Sylvester Comstock, owner of the hotel, erected a more modest building in its place.

Patrons and staff have reported hearing the sound of boots thundering against the floor, beer mugs and other objects moving on their own, and even catching a glimpse of an ethereal cowboy. Joshua Hawley, author of Tombstone’s Most Haunted, witnessed one of these moving objects himself when a trophy slid off a mini fridge–narrowly missing one of the employees!

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