If there's one upshot to metro Phoenix's idiotic penchant for tearing down older buildings in favor of replacing them with ginormous steel and glass monstrosities, it could be this: At least there's one less place for ghosts to haunt.
It seems like every single vintage building that's still standing in the Valley (and Arizona) has some sort of spooky story of ghosts attached to it. Just ask Marshall Shore, the "hip historian" and speaker on local lore who's probably familiar with many of these tales. It’s one of the reasons he conducts bus tours around Phoenix that explore some of the city's more famous haunts – and a separate tour focused on the murderous exploits of legendary local murderess Winnie Ruth Judd.
The featured locations in downtown and central Phoenix on Shore's tours aren't the only scary sites to be found around the Valley or throughout Arizona, however. That's why we've compiled a list of some of the more notorious spots in our state that are widely considered to be haunted.
Northern Arizona University's Morton Hall
224 McMullen Circle, Flagstaff
The near-century-old women's dormitory on the forested grounds of Northern Arizona University is said to be haunted by the forlorn spirit of a heartbroken student named Kathy, who supposedly hanged herself in a stairwell during a winter break back in the early 1950s. Depending on who's telling the tale, she was either abandoned by her family or had a boyfriend in the armed forces who died in combat. Over the decades, the alleged apparition has been blamed for a litany of phenomena, including lights flickering, radios and televisions malfunctioning, posters flying off the walls, and blankets being pulled off beds.
535 East Allen Street, Tombstone
The rough and ready city of Tombstone may have been the town that was "too tough to die," but its inhabitants over the past 130 years or so haven't been as lucky. Plenty of folks have shuffled loose the mortal coil since it was first settled in 1877, including the participants in the legendary O.K. Corral shootout and the longtime occupants of the equally renowned Boothill Cemetery. The Birdcage Theatre – a former saloon, gambling den, and brothel – also saw plenty of bloodshed in its day, as 16 different deadly gunfights took place on the historic property. As such, this former house of ill repute is a hot spot for alleged ghost sightings and encounters with otherworldly beings.
Arizona State Prison Complex
1305 East Butte Avenue, Florence
Death sentences have been carried out at the Florence Prison since 1910. According to the Arizona Department of Corrections website, roughly 100 inmates have been executed during the past century inside the confines of the state’s first hoosegow in Florence, either by hanging, lethal injection, or a trip to the gas chamber. So it shouldn't really come as much of a surprise that there have been more than a few (possibly apocryphal) yarns spun over the years about both inmates and guards witnessing several instances of "mists that looked in human form" or having their ears assaulted with "screams and other strange sounds" in the building that houses the prison's death chamber or the adjacent cell blocks.
26 Sowles Avenue, Bisbee
This funky, two-story bed and breakfast dating back to the early years of the 20th century is a favorite of ghost hunters everywhere due to its bloody history. Per local lore, the former boarding house has been the site of numerous murders stemming from cases of adultery. One particularly grisly tale involves a cop who blew away his cheating wife and her paramour in 1920 before going on to slaughter more than a dozen others throughout the building. Over the years, guests at the Oliver House have reported such unusual occurrences as doors and shutters closing, ghostly footsteps in the hallways, or sounds of gunshots being heard.
Thornton Road Domes
There's a very eerie aura surrounding the unusual-looking, UFO-shaped concrete structures located on a five-acre patch of desert terrain off Interstate 8 south of Casa Grande. Vacant since the early '80s, when a now-defunct California electronics manufacturer constructed the buildings for office space and a factory, the so-called Thornton Road Domes have become a quaint curiosity, fodder for local shutterbugs, and an impromptu gallery for graffiti artists. Some spooky stories have sprung up in recent years about shadowy figures scurrying about the property, slamming car doors, kicking around rocks, or unleashing demonic-sounding screams. Though they're still more or less standing as of this writing, Pinal County has ordered the demolition of the domes.
Jerome Grand Hotel
200 Hill Street, Jerome
They don't call Jerome a ghost town for nothing, as the quaint hillside hamlet in northern Arizona is filled with infamous yarns of specters and spirits that haunt its historic buildings. However, none are as notorious as the monolithic, four-story Jerome Grand Hotel that looms over the rest of Jerome. Debuting in 1927 as the United Verde Hospital, this was where local miners came after suffering gruesome injuries while digging for copper (many of whom succumbed to their grievous wounds), or where the insane were brought to be cured of their mental illnesses. After closing in 1950, the building reopened some 47 years later as a vintage hotel where many a visitor has supposedly been scared by visions of phantom nurses, faint cries of distress, or the odd scream or two.
Vulture Gold Mine
36610 North 355th Avenue, Wickenburg
As the cast members of Ghost Adventures could attest, the Vulture Mine is a truly spooky place indeed. Paranormal investigators from the Travel Channel reality show paid a visit to the abandoned, 1880s-era former gold prospector's paradise two years ago, and – if their exploits are to be believed – had rocks thrown at them, captured recordings of apparitions telling them "Get out!" and "You're gonna die," and had the willies scared out of them. Your mileage may vary if you dare pay a visit to the attraction, which is located approximately 70 miles northwest of the Valley.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Casey Moore's Oyster House
850 South Ash Avenue, Tempe
One of the many charms of this popular haunt for ASU students and Tempe residents are all the legends that have been built up over the decades regarding its resident ghosts. The most famous of which was a gal who lived upstairs in the former boarding house and residence built in 1910 and was strangled upstairs by her jilted boyfriend. Various neighbors have reported seeing figures moving around after closing time through the windows of Casey Moore's second floor (now a dining room) longtime manager Michael Loney and co-owner Gavin Rutledge have also had a few close encounters with anonymous apparitions over the years. Heck, New Times even investigated the legends for ourselves back in 2008.
Hotel San Carlos
202 North Central Avenue
When troubled ingénue Leone Jensen threw herself from the roof of the Hotel San Carlos in May 1928, her tragic suicide ultimately gave the downtown Phoenix landmark its most enduring legacy and a haunted hotel. The 25-year-old's tragic plunge off the seven-story building launched hundreds of tales of a ghostly woman in white roaming the hallways and certainly proved to be a profitable shtick that its ownership continues to play up to this day. Naturally, it’s been a stop on any number of local ghost-hunting tours, including Shore's.
Lost Dutchman State Park
6109 North Apache Trail, Apache Junction
Though a scenic state park, Lost Dutchman is historic and spooky as hell. Yes, the Superstition Mountains allegedly hold the fabled Lost Dutchman’s mine, which is also supposedly haunted and guarded by spirits. Dozens of people have lost their lives searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine or gold, or both. “Scattered at the foot of the Superstition mountainous area are ‘holes’ (known as a prospects) dug into the earth by desperate miners called ‘prospectors’ searching for that oh so rare yellow metal, we know as gold,’" says Lost Dutchman park manager Tim Kristof, “Gold fever was rampant in the Old West and somewhat for a few souls today.” Nearby residents have reported shadows, lights, and of course, tons of hearsay.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version, which first appeared in October 2012. Benjamin Leatherman and Lauren Cusimano contributed to this article.