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Ghosts and Legends of Flagstaff
Visitors to Arizona’s mountain town are drawn to Flagstaff’s versatility and intrigued by the authentic Old West feel of downtown. Locals are proud of the historic preservation that keeps buildings like the Weatherford Hotel and the Hotel Monte Vista the center of activity all year round. But amid the noise and bustle of modern life, the spirits of a town built on the rumblings of the railroad are sometimes restless. While the area is gaining popularity as a place for ghost hunters, one local group has been leading explorations for over five years. Freaky Foot Tours take to the streets and transport their guests back in time to the Wild West of the late 1800s. Their nightly walking tours are led by local guides well-versed in the town’s quirky past and eccentric characters. Not only that, they know where the bodies are buried and where the ghosts hang out!
Here are a few of the stops on the Downtown Haunted History Tour:
The Weatherford Hotel hosts three of Flagstaff’s favorite watering holes: The Zane Grey, the Gopher Hole and Charly’s. It’s also home to several spirits—and not the ones you drink!
The hotel’s first owner, John Weatherford, opened the establishment on January 1, 1900, to enthusiastic reviews. The Weatherford boasted in-door facilities, a restaurant, running water—all the amenities a weary traveler desired. It attracted visitors, professionals as well as the occasional honeymooner. One of the hotel’s most infamous hauntings involves an unfortunate bride and groom who didn’t survive their wedding night. While the couple’s exact manner of death is up for debate, the ghostly specters and eerie music that continued in room 54 caused hotel management to change the suite into a storage closet. That didn’t stop the hauntings though; reports come in today of unexplained footsteps and doors that lock and unlock on their own on the third floor.
When the Hotel Monte Vista opened on January 1, 1927, it was seen by some as competition to the popular Harvey Houses. Modern and luxurious, the Monte V (as it’s known by locals) soon became the place where businesspeople and visitors mingled with the town’s politicians, many of whom maintained an office in the hotel. However, it was Hollywood that added that dash of excitement and class that made Hotel Monte V the place to be during the 1930s and 40s.
One of the most enduring tales of paranormal activity involves none other than actor John Wayne. Wayne was a frequent guest at the hotel when many of the popular Westerns were filmed on the Reservation. One night, Wayne came back to Flagstaff and went directly to his room. He called down to the front desk and asked not to be disturbed. Not even an hour later there was a loud knock on the actor’s door and when Wayne gruffly asked, “Who’s there?” a male voice replied, “Room service.”
The great man stomped over to his hotel room door and threw it open, only to find …nothing. Since then, the phantom bellhop has been seen roaming the halls and sometimes knocking on a guest’s door.
Everyone knows ghosts like to hang out in theatres. The Doris Harper-White Community Playhouse is home to several mischievous spirits. The building itself was raised in 1964 on the site where C.J. Babbitt’s magnificent home-- known as The Castle --once stood. It went through several incarnations, serving as the Laborer’s Union Hall and a temporary library before Theatrikos assumed the space in 1988, transforming it into the community playhouse.
There are so many reported hauntings inside the building it’s hard to choose just one. The Victorian lady who watches rehearsals from the audience then disappears into whiffs of smoke is a favorite. There’s also the spirit of a young woman who has appeared in the lobby, but only from her shoes to her waist.
These are just three of the haunted, historic stops on Freaky Foot Tours nighttime walk. The company has an adults-only Mountain of Madness tour most weekends and has been offering pub crawls as well as private tours. Visit freakyfoottours.com and book your adventure today; the group is dying to take you around town!
Nick Jones is a serial entrepreneur who got his start on the early Uber and Lime expansion teams. He now has returned to his hometown of Flagstaff where he runs a consulting company www.EatSleepLaunchRepeat.com and a ghost tour business www.FreakyFootTours.com and has been featured on ABC, NBC, Fox, and the Travel Channel among others.