Guests stay indefinitely in Bisbee

Guests+stay+indefinitely+in+Bisbee

Graham Thompson

The town of Bisbee is situated in the Mule Mountains, a leisurely two-hour drive from Tucson, and is the southernmost mile-high municipality in the United States. Of the many little towns that populate southern Arizona, Bisbee is by far the most charming when viewed from the outside.

The Copper Queen is staple of Old Bisbee and an attractive destination for ghost hunters and tourists, especially around Halloween. Established in 1902, it is “”the oldest continually running hotel in America,”” according to owner Dan Finck. It has 48 rooms and no two rooms are alike. Each boasts imported English and Italian wallpaper, all varying in size. At the front desk there is a guest log containing a list of registered guests and their experiences, as well as a list of unregistered guests, including one Julia Lowell.

“”Julia was a ‘lady of the night’ who fell in love with a man who would not leave his wife, and she committed suicide. Room 315 is dedicated to her,”” says Finck. “”Then there’s Billy, a small boy who drowned in the San Pedro River. We believe that his mother was a cleaning lady in the hotel.””  

Both Julia and Billy’s presences have been felt by guests and employees. Many guests have stated that late at night they will smell “”cheap perfume,”” and single men will tell you their feet have been played with at the foot of the bed. Shoes have been left in piles in rooms and then will be rearranged in neat lines by the door. Fans will turn on and off. Words have been written in steamed mirrors. But nothing malevolent ever happens. “”My apparitions are friendly,”” says Finck. “”Have I seen a lot? No, I’m too ornery. But lots of my guests and employees have.””

Gary Roberts, who has been working at the Copper Queen for 10 months, says that he has had several ghostly encounters. “”I was cooking in the kitchen and went to get a pot. As I was reaching for a pot, one by one they started flying off the rack,”” Roberts said.  

The Copper Queen hosts ghost walks on Thursday nights for those hoping to catch a glimpse. But if you are looking for a real scare, go to the cemetery and look for the abandoned plantation-style home that overlooks it. Supposedly, in 1993, an escaped mental patient murdered the cemetery caretaker who lived there. The story goes that upon shooting the man, the intruder beat and raped the wife and locked her in the closet with her dead husband. The husband and his murderer are said to both haunt the house. The only way in is through the front door, as the back doors and windows are bolted shut. As I was turning to leave the back door opened of its own accord.

While our own campus has legends of ghosts haunting the Modern Languages building and Centennial Hall, they don’t quite compare to the activity going on in Bisbee. If you are looking for ghosts, head to Bisbee and see for yourself. In the words of Roberts, “”It’s crazy, and that’s all I can tell you.””