For centuries, people have told tales of ghosts and spirits from beyond the grave. Does a good ghost story, one spun out beside a crackling campfire, give you a creepy chill or an exciting thrill?

Stories about ghosts, a spectral figure that exists after a person dies, have been around for thousands of years. But why do people share ghost stories? Is it just a form of entertainment, a way to scare your buddies, or is it something more? 

Colin Dickey, author of “Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places,” writes that ghost stories are a way to come to terms with history that may not otherwise survive. These stories offer a way to grapple with “uncomfortable truths, buried secrets, disputed accounts.”

Ghosts are often tied to specific places, and the author notes that this is important. The place and the story “depend on each other” and “bring each other alive.”

So whether you are a skeptic or someone who believes in ghosts, a good ghost story offers you a window into our past—a past that you might not be able to find in a history book.

Goldfield Ghost Town and the Superstition Mountains

Out searching for gold were the miners of old,

but the mountains held dangers,

harsh terrain, hostile strangers.

Some doomed prospectors found

themselves trapped underground, 

the treasure they sought, 

it all came to naught.

Northeast of Apache Junction, Goldfield Ghost Town takes you back in time to the days of the gold rush. Built near the original Goldfield settlement, between the Goldfield and Superstition mountains, it is sure to evoke the ghosts of desperate miners whose luck ran out even before the gold did. 

Some would-be miners didn’t have their luck run out—they had no luck at all! They got lost in the mountains and never made their fortune, but instead they came to an unfortunate end. 

Miners in the mid-1800s through the early 1900s searched the Superstitions for the fabled Lost Dutchman Mine. Inspired by the tales of gold coveted by the Spaniards hundreds of years earlier, men headed into the treacherous terrain to their peril. The mine held a “curse,” according to legend. Those who sought riches in the Superstition Mountains often went missing, their fate a mystery.

At Goldfield Ghost Town, things are still mysterious. Visitors can check out The Mystery Shack. The balls on the pool table seem to have a mind of their own, things hang at weird angles, and the running faucets aren’t connected to pipes. And you’ll certainly feel a chill in the air if you go on a mine tour. Find out what Goldfield has to offer at goldfieldghosttown.com.

Jerome and Bisbee

Old buildings make noises, 

Floorboards creak, old walls moan.

If you hear some strange sounds

hope that you’re not alone!

Some claim they have seen pale,

ghostly apparitions.

Is it their imaginations

or just superstitions?

If you spotted a ghost 

would you freeze, run or yell?

Or would you LOVE to stay

in a HAUNTED HOTEL?

The town of Jerome is on the Travel Channel’s list of Top 10 Most Haunted Places. Jerome was established as a mining town in 1876.

The Jerome Grand Hotel is located on the site of an old hospital. Guests sometimes report being disturbed by the former hospital patients—miners from the nearby United Verde Copper Mine. These phantom miners are heard coughing, wheezing or moaning. Hotel guests and staff members also have reported doors opening and closing, lights going on and off and the sounds of footsteps. Ghosts and ghost stories are so much a part of Jerome’s history that for a while there was a local newsletter called the “Jerome Ghost Post.”

Bisbee boasts at least two haunted hotels, The Bisbee Inn and the Copper Queen Hotel. The Copper Queen claims to be home to over a dozen ghosts. Out of the corner of your eye, do you see a gentleman in a top hat or a lady wearing an old-time dress? In the hallway, search the shadows and you might catch a glimpse of a ghost boy named Billy.

Overnight guests at the Copper Queen who stay on the first or third Thursday of each month can go on a special ghost hunt. 

Old Tucson Studios

Built back in the day,

many stars came this way.

Scores of silver screen cowboys

filmed in its heyday.

Though it burned in ’95,

the Western spirit stayed alive,

but some say that other kinds

of spirits survive.

Are ghosts haunting the place?

Will they make your pulse race?

Oh, what would you do if you came face to face?

One ghost calls out for help,

and she might pull your hair,

But when you look ’round,

there’s nobody there.

Old Tucson Studios was built in 1939 for the movie “Arizona.” Later, legends like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood were just a few of the movie cowboys who filmed there. The site’s historic buildings and sets, which had become a popular tourist attraction, burned in a massive fire in 1995. But it rose from the ashes, maintaining the spirit of the Old West.

Some folks say another sort of spirit is in the place—the kind that gives you goose bumps! At Rosa’s Cantina and the Grand Palace Saloon, a disembodied voice sometimes startles visitors and employees. The spirit, known as Rosa, will say your name and call out for help. She has reportedly pulled hair or brushed against people. People who have heard Rosa cry for help sometimes go looking for her, but all they find is an empty room.

The Storyteller Theater is even spookier. Workers have reported hearing bloodcurdling screams in the theater. They also blame a malevolent spirit in the theater for pulling pernicious pranks.

At this time of year, Nightfall offers the young and old fearful frights and Halloween fun.  

So, will you stay home and hide under the covers? Or are you a brave soul ready to go where the spirits roam? You can find hours and tickets for Nightfall at Old Tucson at oldtucson.com.

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