Haunted Tombstone

Hey, Readers. It’s time for another legend. It’s been a few weeks since I posted about a haunting, so I thought this would be a good time.

Tombstone, Arizona is a historic town founded in 1879 by prospector Ed Schieffelin. Known for its silver mines, it became one of the last boomtowns on the American frontier. It grew from a population of one hundred to around 14,000 in less than seven years. Today, a little over 1,300 reside there.

I visited there in 2006 while on a business trip to Tucson. My coworker and I took an early flight so we’d have time to see this legendary town. If you ask a resident what Tombstone first became famous for, they would say the silver. However, I doubt many would even know the town’s name if not for the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral involving the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday against Cowboy members Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton.

Tombstone was known for its lawlessness, or blatant disregard for the law, which resulted in the deaths of several people. As you might imagine, there are said to be lots of ghosts that still reside there, some even walk the streets.

On October 28, 1888, Curly Bill Brocius, a leader of the Cowboy faction gunned down Marshall Fred White. He died two days later, and his spirit is said to haunt the street near the shooting site.

Some have claimed to have seen another apparition, dressed in a long black frock coat on several occasions crossing the street. This occurrence is near the place where Virgil Earp was ambushed and shot in the arm. Earp lived but was crippled for life. Some believe it is his spirit that haunts the place. Interestingly, the ghost never makes it across the street.

As you might guess, the O.K. Corral itself is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Cowboys who died there. Several witnesses claim to see fading apparitions dressed in cowboy attire, often with guns drawn. Others say they feel cold spots in various places.

The graves of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury in Boot Hill Cemetery. The sign to the right states they were murdered on the streets of Tombstone.

Visitors to Boot Hill Cemetery report seeing strange lights and hearing unidentifiable noises in the old graveyard. Some say Billy Clanton walks from his grave back toward Tombstone. A number of people say spirits appear in photographs.

My coworker and I visited Boot Hill but didn’t witness any strange sights or sounds. However, another coworker went there with a group of friends. One of them took a photo of her standing near a grave marker. To Tami’s left was a dark image of what looked like a cowboy. This was in broad daylight. She showed me the photo, and I easily saw the apparition.

These are only a few of the reported sightings in Tombstone. But a town with its history is sure to have some hauntings.

The Phoenix Lights

Hey, Readers. It’s Monday, and you know what that means. Time for a new Mystery Monday post. This one occurred in the southwestern states of Nevada and Arizona

On March 13, 1987, a series of widely sighted unidentified flying objects appeared over the skies of Arizona. Between 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., thousands of people reported seeing lights of varying descriptions over a space of about three-hundred miles. This line stretched from the Nevada state line through Phoenix, and into Tucson. These sightings came to be known as The Phoenix Lights.

Image courtesy of USA Today via Wikipedia. (Fair Use)

Around 7:55 p.m. a witness in Henderson, Nevada reported seeing a large V-shaped object traveling in a southeasterly direction. At 8:15 p.m. a former police officer in Paulden, Nevada saw a cluster of reddish-orange lights disappear over the southern horizon. Not long afterward, reports of lights came from the Prescott Valley area of Arizona.

One man, Tim Ley, and his family first saw the lights when they were approximately sixty-five miles away. The objects first appeared as five separate and distinguished lights in an arc shape, much like the top of a balloon. As the lights came closer, they took on the shape of an upside-down V. When the lights came within two miles, the Ley family stated the shape looked like a 60-degree carpenter’s square with five lights. The lights passed over at a distance of 100-150 feet above them and traveled slowly enough they gave the appearance of a hovering object. They disappeared through a gap in the Piestewa Peak Mountain toward the direction of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

Witnesses in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, saw the light formation between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m. Mitch Stanley, an amateur astronomer in Scottsdale observed these lights through a telescope. He stated they were clearly individual airplanes. At approximately 10:00 p.m. a large number of people in the Phoenix area reported seeing “a row of brilliant lights hovering in the sky, or slowly falling.” Several photographs and videos were taken, prompting author Robert Sheaffer to describe it as “Perhaps the most widely witnessed UFO event in history.”

According to Sheaffer, the Phoenix Lights were two unrelated incidents, but both were the result of a pilot training program known as Operation Snowbird and operated by the Air National Guard out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. A retired Air Force pilot and astronomer investigated the incident and traced them to A-10 aircraft flying in formation at high altitudes.

The second incident which was described as “a row of brilliant lights hovering in the sky” was due to a flare drop exercise by different A-10 jets from the Maryland Air National Guard. They also operated out of Davis-Monthan as part of Operation Snowbird.

As you can imagine these sightings became the source of much speculation with allegations of conspiracy theories (there always seems to be an abundance of those with every unexplainable event) and hoaxes. This spawned numerous websites, books, and documentaries. Even then Arizona Governor Fife Symington III gave some credence to the stories.

The Phoenix Lights became part of a local legend. A decade later, the lights returned in February 2007 and again in April 2008. Theories include a fleet of aircraft, top-secret military aircraft, and of course, UFOs.

My biggest question is in regard to the Ley family’s sighting. If the objects were aircraft and flew only 100-150 feet above them, wouldn’t they have heard a sound?

No matter what the cause, there will always be skeptics, and some will always be convinced aliens few over the skies of Arizona that night.

What say you?

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine

For this month’s Legend and Lore post, we’ll travel to the southwestern state of Arizona in an area known as the Superstition Mountains.

Since early times the Superstition Mountains, located east of Phoenix near Apache Junction, have been the source of legends and mystery. Their very name was inspired by Pima Indian legends. The area contains ancient cliff dwellings and caves—many of them still show signs of former habitation.

Superstition Mountains (Public Domain)

Some believe these early dwellers were Salado or Hohokam Indians who populated the area several centuries ago. Later, the Pima and Apache tribes occupied the region. It’s the Apache that’s more closely associated with the Superstitions because they had a stronghold there in the 1800s.

During the 1840s a family named Peralta of northern Mexico supposedly discovered and developed rich gold mines in the mountains. In 1848, the family made one last expedition to carry gold back to Mexico.

According to legend, Apaches ambushed the family, killing all but one or two who escaped into Mexico. The area is now known as the Massacre Grounds.

A number of people were said to have known the mine’s location. Many maps surfaced, only to be misplaced or lost if interested parties pressed for facts. Men who claimed to have found the mine were unable to return to it or disaster occurred before they could file a claim. These stories added to the lore.

The term Lost Dutchman’s Mine came about in the 1870s. A German immigrant named Jacob Waltz found the mine with assistance from a Peralta descendant. Dutchman was a common name for Germans, with Dutch being the English equivalent to Deutsch.

Waltz and his partner, Jacob Weiser, worked the mine and allegedly hid caches of gold in the mountains. Most believe the gold is near Weaver’s Needle, a well-known landmark. Weiser was killed by Apaches, although some say Waltz killed his partner.

Weavers Needle in the Superstition Mountains. Creative Commons photo by Chris C. Jones via Wikimedia commons

His health failing, Waltz moved to Phoenix in the 1860s. Before he died in 1991, he told a neighbor, Julia Thomas, about the mine’s location. But Thomas or other seekers have never been able to locate the mine.

In the summer of 1931, an amateur explorer and treasure hunter named Adolph Ruth disappeared while searching for the mine. In December of that year, his skull containing two bullet holes was discovered. A month later, searchers found human remains three-quarters of a mile away. Scavengers had scattered the remains, but many of Ruth’s personal effects, including a pistol with no missing bullets, his checkbook, and his wallet were located.

Inside the checkbook was Ruth’s handwritten note claiming he had found the mind. He ended the note with the words, “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

The story made national news and generated new interest in searching for the gold. Since Ruth’s death, many have died in their quest.

  • J. A. “Tex” Bradford began searching in 1933. By October of that year, he had been missing nine months.
  • Writer Barry Storm, using the pen name John Griffith Climenson, published a book about the mine in 1945. In it, he claimed to have narrowly escaped death at the hands of a mysterious sniper. Strom speculated the unknown sniper could have been responsible for Ruth’s murder.
  • Retired photographer James A. Cravey was reported missing on July 3, 1947. He had chartered a helicopter on June 19 to drop him off in the Superstition Mountains so he could search for the mine.
  • Denver resident Jesse Capen went missing in November or December 2009 in the Tonto National Forest. Searchers found his abandoned car and campsite. Capen was known to have been obsessed with finding the mine. His remains were found in a crevice by a local search and rescue team in November 2012.
  • On July 11, 2010, Utah hikers Curtis Merworth, Adrian Charles, and Malcolm Meeks went missing while searching for the mine. Their remains were discovered in January 2011. It was believed they perished due to the summer heat.

After the disappearance of Capen, the term “The Dutchman’s Curse” was used in an episode of the program, Disappeared.

Is a curse behind the deaths of these explorers, or in most cases did they succumb to the harsh elements? Does the mine exist? Whatever your beliefs, these legends will live long in the chronicles of Arizona history.

Week In Review

Sometimes I’m beginning to think doing NaNoWriMo caused some of my brain cells to disappear. For some reason, I can’t seem to get it together. I scrambled at the last minute to get the Friday writing links done for January 10 and 17. Last week, I was determined to get ahead of the game.

I usually begin the Friday post a week earlier and start collecting links. This makes it much more manageable. I insert a place holder for an intro story as well as a photograph. To keep me from accidentally pushing the publish button early, I schedule the post. Works well most of the time. Until last week.

I went to bed on Thursday night, thinking all was well and being quite proud of myself. Friday morning, as I got out of the shower, reality hit me. I forgot to add a story, photo, and the featured image. The post went live just after midnight. I rushed to the computer, but of course, several people had seen the post. I tried to add a photo and a brief explanation. Naturally, Murphy’s law prevailed. My computer was doing some behind the scenes update that made everything crawl speed. I managed to get the featured image uploaded but that was it.

So, I’m writing this first part on Saturday morning. Six days in advance, and I already have my story and image. (Let’s hope I do the links correctly.)

This is a photo from my archives. I’ve made several trips to Tucson, Arizona for training on a software program I use at work. Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert, but Mt. Lemmon is nearby. You can climb to an altitude of around 8,000 feet and feel like you’re in the Colorado Rockies. Last time I went, my coworkers and I took a drive up the mountain to watch the sunset.


Beautiful, isn’t it? Now, that’s enough rambling from me. It’s time for this week’s links:

On this site:

On Story Empire:

On other sites:

Glen and Bessie Hyde #MysteryMonday

Hey, everyone. I first heard this week’s Mystery Monday years ago on the television show Unsolved Mysteries. You may or may not have heard of this story, but it is an intriguing mystery.

Glen and Bessie Hyde met in 1927 while traveling on a passenger ship to Los Angeles. They married on April 10, 1928, one day after Bessie’s divorce from her first husband was finalized.

Glen and Bessie Hyde

Glen Hyde was from Twin Falls, Idaho and had some experience with river running. The couple went to Green River, Utah with the idea of running the Green and Colorado rivers as a honeymoon trip. Glen built his own boat, a twenty-foot wooden sweep scow. He and Bessie departed Green River on October 28.

Twenty-six days later, they arrived at Bright Angel Trail in the heart of Grand Canyon where they met famed photographer Emory Kolb. Supposedly, Bessie was tired of the trip. Kolb asked them to stay with him through the winter and warned then of the dangers ahead.

Glen refused to heed any warnings and declined the loan of Kolb’s life jackets. November 18, 1928, was the last time anyone saw the couple.

Weeks later, when the couple failed to appear, a search team was organized. They located the boat floating intact near an area called Diamond Creek. Bessie’s diary was inside, with the last entry made on November 30. Nothing indicated the couple was in distress. A more extensive search yielded no clues. The search team never located their bodies.

That’s when speculation began. Some claimed Bessie killed Glen because she was unhappy and wanted to get out of the trip.

In the early 1970s, a group rafting down the Colorado stopped for the night near Diamond Creek. The guide relayed the story of Glen and Bessie. An older woman claimed she was Bessie and that she killed Glen. She later recanted the story.

After the death of Emory Kolb in 1976, a man’s skeleton was found in his boathouse. Many thought it to be Glen Hyde and that Kolb killed Hyde because he was in love with Bessie. But experts compared the skull to a photograph of Glen and determined the skeleton didn’t belong to him.

In 1992, a famed rafter named Georgie Clark passed away. Friends discovered her first name was Bessie, and she had a copy of Glen and Bessie’s marriage certificate. However, Georgie Clark had no resemblance to Bessie Hyde. It’s unclear why she had these items.

The mystery of the Hyde’s disappearance will likely never be solved, but it does make for a good story. Especially if rafting along the Colorado River and stopping for the night at Diamond Creek.