Tombstone, AZ is home to one of the most haunted eateries in the state, Big Nose Kate's Saloon. Come explore its mystery with Haunted Journeys.
The Big Nose Kate's Saloon of today first got its start as the celebrated and high-class Grand Hotel in September 1880. Hungarian-born Kate's real name was Mary Katherine Horony-Cummings (born as Mária Izabella Magdolna Horony). She was a pretty flamboyant and promiscuous woman who owned this property back then. She was also known to be the longtime companion and common-law wife of the old west gunfighter, Doc Holiday. Kate was also sort of a hero, once being credited for saving Doc Holiday's life in Texas! Now, let's get back to the hotel...
The hotel premiere was held with an outrageous "by-invitation-only" ball held on September 9, 1880. During its first few years, it housed some of Tombstone's most famous residents, including Wyatt and Virgil Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton Gang when they came into town. Ike Clanton and the two McLaury brothers were registered guests the night before the famous OK Corral gunfight.
Declared one of the finest hotels in the state, the building was built on top of a silver mine shaft, which runs throughout under the town. There was a basement saloon, a basement bedroom, a first-floor lobby, dining area, a second floor with an elegant parlor, and 17 rooms for the guests as well.
The Grand Hotel did not survive a devastating fire that occurred on May 25, 1882, destroying over 100 properties in town. Above ground, the only things that remained standing were her seven graceful arches and the floor joists on the main level. Only the two bars in the basement survived, which is what still remains in business! The rest of the building sadly collapsed into the basement.
Today, regardless of the hard beginning, Big Nose Kate's is the oldest bar in the State of Arizona. It also the center of spooky activity in the chillingly-named town of Tombstone!
The most notable of the multitude of phantoms at the Saloon is the ghost of an old miner named Swamper. He started out as a miner, and then for many years he was the hotel's janitor and handyman. He lived in the basement, where it happens to have a lot of strange activity today.
Today, the Swamper's room is preserved right next to the gift shop, and it looks more like a section of the mine shaft than a closet. Regardless, it was Swamper's spot. His tunnel to the mine has been left open in the basement of the joint and mostly untouched. The Swamper spent years digging a tunnel from the basement into one of the many shafts of the silver mines that ran under the town. Since most of his living expenses were covered with his labor up in the hotel, there is no telling how much silver he found and put away. There lays the problem. Lots of folks believe that he hid silver in the building and he is actively trying to make sure it stays secure.
Many of the ghostly activity does center around the basement, but the Swamper does get around upstairs as well. He has photo-bombed many photos taken by patrons of the bar. His apparition has also appeared roaming the halls, stairways, and of course, the basement. Many times you will see silverware falling off tables on its own, and they all think it's the Swamper doing it! Many employees have been so scared to go downstairs. Many times the gate downstairs that goes into the tunnel will open up and stop mid-frame, and then close right up, all on its own.
He's not the only wild phantom that spooks this lively bar, so you will be sure to have some kind of experience when grabbing a cold one here. For instance, you may get to see mannequins that are placed on the false balcony falling over on their own, or maybe just see them move a bit.
There are disembodied footsteps or even muted voices heard coming from the basement, even though no one is there. Multiple areas will all of a sudden get extreme cold spots or gust of an unusual chilled breeze. Sometimes the ghosts will be playful and yank folks hair, touch them or walk right by then, felt by the person. And yes, some of the ladies do get pinched!
One popular story occurred in the building's owner and some of the employees. They made themselves go exploring through the basement, towards the Swamper's tunnel. All of a sudden they heard a loud moaning sound followed by heavy footsteps coming down the stairs leading to the tunnel. Sure that someone had come into the building, they came out of the tunnel, immediately searching the premises, only to find the building empty and the doors still locked. Perhaps Swamper was afraid they were going to find his silver?
You would think that Big Nose Kate would haunt her own Saloon, but she actually prefers to lurk in another drinking establishment in tombstone called the Crystal Palace. When alive, this was her favorite place to hang out. So why would anything change now?
The Saloon has such a reputation of being haunted that Ghost Adventures featured the location.
This property, as part of our network, has been added for they may have history, validation, or folk tales of having spirited activities. Please take caution in approaching and visiting these locations, since courtesy, respect, and caution should be a top priority in every Haunted Investigator's style. Also do realize, some of these places may have permanently closed, changed ownership and/or names, or just are not available for your visits. Please respect this.
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