The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

80° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Notable UA landmarks have haunted history

    Owen Forest

    The facade of Old Main on Thursday. The ghost of Carlos Maldenado, a construction worker on Old Main back in the 19th century, is said to still haunt the hallways of the building.

    Since its opening in 1885, the UA has been home to thousands of people, some of whom have never left.

    Old Main, the university’s first building, was completed in 1891. Carlos Maldenado was one of the men who oversaw the construction of the building, and he seemed to be incredibly invested in it. At the time, Arizona was in a dispute over which city was to receive an insane asylum, a university or a teacher’s college, and the city of Tucson was heavily leaning toward the asylum. According to historian John Southard, Tucson ended up unfairly receiving the university, which caused discontentment in the city.

    Maldenado was so deeply invested in this project, that when people were supposedly planning to burn down Old Main in the middle of the night, he would sleep in the partially-built building to protect it.

    On one of the mornings when Maldenado had stayed the night at the construction site, his fellow workers called to him, but received no response. Thinking it was a practical joke, they entered and searched the building until they found him on the second floor, sitting in a chair at his desk. Once again, they tried sneaking up and yelling at him, but there was still no response. As they moved closer to investigate, they saw a buffalo skinner’s knife thrust in Carlos’ throat.

    To this day, his death remains a mystery. It’s rumored Maldenado still roams his prized construction project from time to time, appearing before those who enter Old Main.

    Maricopa Residence Hall is another spooky spot on campus filled with urban legends. This particular residence hall is rumored to have three distinct ghosts roaming its hallways. The first two are said to be those of two dance hall girls who got into a bloody fight. 

    The girls worked in rival saloons across from each other on Congress Street, and were in the same competitive business of pick-pocketing miners.

    One night, after arriving at a Spanish Cattle Rancho — now Maricopa dorm — the two women entered into a heated argument, which ended with one being stabbed and the other shot and killed. Although only one of the women died on the scene, both are said to be heard arguing in the halls of the dorm to this very day.

    Maricopa’s third ghost is the daughter of a wealthy Eastern Railroad robber baron. In 1919, while the residence hall was still under construction, it is said the girl went out to visit some of her friends in town, and caught sight of her fiancé with another woman. 

    Overcome by sadness, she walked all the way back to campus sobbing. When construction workers came to work the next morning, they found the young woman hanging from the bathroom ceiling gas pipes on the unfinished second floor. To this day, residents and visitors say the crying girl can still be heard on some dark, stormy nights.

    Next week is the UA’s 100th Homecoming celebration. One of the events during the week is a Ghost Tour, led by the Student Alumni Ambassadors. Maricopa dorm and Old Main are expected to be highlighted stops.


    Follow Chelsea Cook on Twitter.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search