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Desert Grave

Fairbank Ghost Town Cemetery, San Pedro River in Cochise County, Arizona.

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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

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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Desert Ruins

Brunckow Cabin, San Pedro River, San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

Diamond Lil and the Ghosts of the University of Arizona

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.

During renovation in the winter of 1941/42, construction workers began to report strange experiences. Since then, Maldenado’s ghost, described as a shadowy figure, has been spotted around the building by students and faculty. While working on more repairs to Old Main in 2013, Sundt Construction foreman Tomás Avilez told University of Arizona News that he had twice seen Maldenado’s ghost. “He doesn’t stand still long enough to take a picture,” he said. “He kind of hides. I’m not afraid of him, because I’m not afraid of stuff like that, but if you sit in the attic long enough, he might appear.”

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