My last trip to Bisbee, AZ was over 10 years ago. We had some biker friends visiting, and they wanted to ride there for an overnight trip. One friend, a history teacher, wanted to see the old mines and stay at the historic Copper Queen Hotel. However, it was Easter weekend and all the rooms were sold out. We decided we should ride there anyway— maybe we would get lucky and there would be last minute cancellations.
So six of us rode off on Harleys and when we arrived at the hotel, sure enough, there was nothing available. I asked the front desk clerk if he could recommend another place we might check. He said that the city gets completely booked on holiday weekends and there was little chance of finding a room anywhere. Then a woman behind the desk said to hold one moment while she made a call. Two minutes later, she announced that The Oliver House bed and breakfast just up the street had 3 rooms available. Three rooms in a sold out town! What luck!
We quickly checked in, threw our overnight bags into the rooms, and rode into town for a cold drink before dinner. The old saloon that we stumbled into had been a stock brokerage firm from 1914 to 1964 and still had the original stock board with NYSE ticker tape on the wall. The history of the entire city is fascinating, but I had no idea that it was filled with ghosts.
After watching my friends play a couple games of pool, I was ready for a hot shower and a lot less leather. Standing by the saloon door, I noticed a bulletin board covered with miscellaneous ads pinned to it. A fresh newspaper clipping caught my eye. It read, “Priest Performs Third Exorcism at The Oliver House”. I knew there was a catch.
This would make a much more thrilling story if I could tell you about all of the paranormal activity in my room that night. However, I was smart enough to have that extra cocktail that guaranteed I would sleep soundly through any ghostly shenanigans. The next morning, we learned through the owner that 26 people had died in The Oliver House and that it was not uncommon for guests to encounter some of its spiritual inhabitants during the night. Thank goodness for alcohol.
This past weekend, Brian and I returned to Bisbee with another couple that is fascinated with ghost towns. If we had been alone, we probably would have hauled the Airstream with us to provide a ghost-free place to sleep. But the Caravel being a Caravel, and the Safari far from ready, we had to opt for another haunted hotel.
I discovered that Bisbee has an RV Park/Hotel, called the Shady Dell, that rents restored vintage aluminum trailers. The “resort” is a throwback to the 50’s with an interesting collection of mid-century trailers including a 1949 Airstream! They each have original kitchens and era-appropriate antiques and décor. There is even an authentic railroad style Valentine Diner that serves breakfast. Very cool.
Then I find that located just behind the little bushes at the back of the property is an old cemetery. Many famous people that supposedly inhabit some of the town’s buildings in ghostly form are buried there. Guests of the Shady Dell can wander the grounds of the graveyard at night to add to the “experience”. This was a bit too creepy for me. So were the stories about one of the trailers being haunted and the guests awaking in the middle of the night– all from the same nightmare of being buried alive! We didn’t stay there.
Even Airstreams are not ghost-proof.