The Shady Dell – A Ghostly Tale

This is an another story from Bisbee, AZ that took place back in the spring of 2009.  I was truly terrified!

Over this past weekend I went down to Bisbee, AZ for a yearly trip I take with some girlfriends. Bisbee is an old mining town and the locals say there are more spirits than people. The town has quite the history.

For a change of pace we decided to stay at The Shady Dell campground which features a series of refurbished campers from the 1940s and 1950s that you can rent.  We decided on the Tiki Bus which is a converted 1947 bus done up in Polynesian style, complete with Tiki gods and a grass roof on the inside.  One thing I happened to notice is that this campground is at the edge of an old cemetery.  I didn’t think much about it though.

We arrived this past Friday and marveled at the outdoor bar and all the antiques inside, including old music records and funky 1950s lamps.  After relaxing for a while we three decided to hit the hay.  The bus has one full twin mattress and one smaller twin mattress.  Both are located across from each other.  I shared the larger bed with one of my friends and decided that I would sleep on the inside closest to the wall.  It was a windy night and the trees above the bus kept scraping the metal roof.  It was very loud at times.  After about an hour of sleep I woke up.  The mattress was very uncomfortable.

I laid there awake for some time when all of a sudden I heard what sounded like nails scratching down the side of the mattress.  Now I have a pet ferret who likes to climb on things.  The sound was identical to when she is trying to climb up on the bed and loses her footing.  The only problem was my ferret was at home.  My blood went completely cold.  I tried to reason with myself that it was the wind outside.  But then again, this sound was only inches from my face and it was definitely the sound of scratching on fabric –not metal.  Now my heart is beating out of my chest.  I calmed myself down when I started to feel something moving in the mattress.  I could hear it through the pillow.  What the heck is that?  After repeating the Lord’s Prayer several times, I convinced myself that it was the springs in the mattress.  After all, I thought, everything in here is vintage.  Why not the mattress?

I turned over on my back and started to feel like things were touching my face and hands.  It felt like a spider web at first and then graduated to what felt like someone sprinkling sand over my face.  I’d go to wipe it away and nothing was there.  Let me say that at this point I was completely terrified.  In addition to the Lord’s Prayer, I conjured up every prayer I had learned as a child and said them over and over again in my mind until what ever it was went away.  After what seem like an eternity, the sun came up.  I’ve never been so grateful!

One of my girlfriends went down to the restroom to take a shower and I let my other girlfriend know about the strange experience.  She and I lifted the mattress up to find that it was a futon mattress –no springs.  So that ended that theory.  I had also thought that maybe an animal had gotten into the platform the bed was at from the wheel well of the old bus.  Then I discovered that the wheel wells were not even close to where we slept.  I only told her about the scratching sounds and the feeling of movement through the mattress. I  did not mention the feeling of stuff falling on my face (this will come into play later).

After a wonderful breakfast at Dot’s Diner, which is a restored 1950’s diner on the premises, we spent the day downtown and explored the shops and galleries.  My birthday was last week so my girlfriends decided they wanted to take me out to dinner.  We ended up at the Copper Queen Hotel, which is the oldest continuously running hotel in Arizona.  They first opened their doors in 1902 when it was built for executives from the Phelps Dodge Corporation who ran the nearby mines.  I would also like to mention that Ghost Hunters did an investigation there a few years ago.  I actually got to meet the lady who accompanied them around the hotel on a different visit to Bisbee.

After dinner we sat on the patio to people watch and enjoy a few drinks.  I got up to use the lady’s room which consists of two stalls.  In the stall next to mine the toilet suddenly flushed.  That’s funny, I thought.  I didn’t think anyone else was in here.  I waited to hear if someone would exit but there was nothing.  Only silence.  I went to wash my hands and noticed that the other stall door was open and there indeed was no one in there. Needless to say I finished up quickly and went back to join my friends.

All day long I was dreading sleeping on that bus.  I thought about sleeping in my friend’s car.  Later in the night we stayed up playing dominoes.  I didn’t feel quite as frightened as the night before.  When it was time to go to sleep, my friends were nice enough to let me have the smaller twin bed. My one girlfriend who I had relayed the experiences to of the night before, decided to sleep in the spot I had then.

It took a long time for me to fall asleep but when I did I was awoken to sound of a gasp/scream from the girlfriend that stayed in the same spot I had on the larger bed.  I asked her if she was okay.  She said, yeah, bad dream.

In the morning she told me she had dreamt that she was being buried alive in a coffin and could literally feel -get this- like sand was falling on her where she was being covered up.  I had never told her that part.  I still haven’t.  I didn’t want to freak her out.

Most of the weekend I spent on the unnerved side.  I’ve been to Bisbee many times and although I have written about one other occurrence, it really wasn’t as terrifying as this.  The campground itself is very cool.  I highly recommend it.  Just beware that people there talk about the ghosts as if they may mention the weather.  I would definitely go back but I would think twice about ever sleeping on the Tiki Bus again!

Here is their web site: http://www.theshadydell.com.

Was It The Ghost of A Miner?

At the end of this past March (2008), my sister, her boyfriend (now husband), my husband and I took a trip to Bisbee, Arizona for a weekend of camping.   Bisbee was known as a mining town throughout the Southwest in the late 1800s.   The Copper Queen mine opened up in the 1880s and the town became populated almost overnight with miners, saloon owners, and ladies of the evening.   A lot of the original miner’s cabins are still standing and there are quite a few stone foundations left from the ones that have crumbled.   These foundations dot the hillside like a rugged constellation.

In 1975 this mine closed for good ending an era that more often than not, contained three or more generations of people who had worked there. When the miners moved out, the artists and hippies moved in creating a laid-back, fun and historical place to visit and shop.

After an afternoon of sightseeing, the four of us returned to our campsite that was stationed directly to the left of the Copper Queen Mine.  There are tours that still take place in this now defunct mine and to give you an idea of how close we were to the mine, we had to cut through the mine’s parking lot to get to our campsite.   After enjoying s’mores and some music, we decided to all turn in for the night.   My sister and her boyfriend slept in a tent, and my husband and I turned in to our camper.   I had left the door unlocked just incase my sister and her boyfriend might need anything during the night.   I often read before going to bed and did so this night before I started to get tired and decided to turn off the lights.

While waiting for sleep to come, I heard the camper door open and someone come in.   I didn’t open my eyes assuming it was my sister’s boyfriend that had forgotten something inside.  I heard heavy footsteps which I assumed were hiking boots, walk to the end of the camper, back again, and then the door opened and closed.  It sounded like a man wearing heavy boots. I fell asleep and didn’t think much more about it.

In the morning I asked both my sister and her boyfriend what they had forgotten in the camper the night before.  They both looked at me blankly and said that they both had gone right to sleep after turning in.  I asked them if they were sure and they both said yes, they were sure.  My husband is also the type that will fall asleep within 10 seconds of closing his eyes so he didn’t hear it either.  So if everyone was asleep, then who or what had walked through the camper?  Could it have been the ghost of a miner that was checking us out? I have no idea. I do know that I was completely awake and I had not been drinking.

Ghost of a Miner

Another thing was that this ‘person’ did not turn on any lights. It was pitch black in there. They also walked in and walked out. I was expecting to hear a bag unzip but it was only the footsteps.

I’ve attached a picture of Bisbee. The town is literally carved into the hillside. If you look across to the mountain, there is a cave in the wall. Although you can’t really see it, the campground and Queen Mine entrance is located to the lower left of that mountain.

The Lady of The Lake – A Ghost Story

My maternal grandfather grew up in a remote area of Nova Scotia, Canada in the 1930s.  His mother passed away of a severe ear infection when he was quite young.  In the area they lived in, there were no real doctors to prescribe antibiotics, which quite possibly could have saved her life.  My grandfather’s father remarried a woman whom I met as a teenager when she was in her late 90s.

The story I am about to relay has been in my family since I can remember.  As a little boy of about 6 or 7, my grandfather didn’t really have much supervision.  As they weren’t the wealthiest of folks, my grandfather’s father spent many hours away from the house as a ferry captain.  I no longer remember the name of the boat but I believe it is actually pictured on the Canadian dime.

My grandfather and his buddies one day decided to take a row-boat out onto the nearby lake.  They rowed to the middle of the lake and were messing around like little kids do when suddenly they dropped an oar into the lake.  They paddled their hands to reach it.  My grandfather reached for the oar and the boat started to tip.  Much to all their surprise, a female hand rose out of the water and handed my grandfather back the oar!  All the little boys sat quietly for a few minutes in shock.  They scanned the water’s surface to see if someone had possibly gone for a swim.  There was no one in the water coming up for air.  There were no other boats at the lake either.  They rowed back to shore as quickly as they could and each ran home.  My grandfather relayed the story to his step-mother who stared at him warily.  In later years she confessed that she believed him to be telling the truth.

Not too long after my grandfather and his friends were back at the lake.  They were standing on a bridge looking into the water when they could see stones being thrown into the water.  The stones were coming from above them and seem to appear as if they were falling from the sky.  My grandfather looked down into the water and there, just below the surface, was the image of a woman looking up at him.  I don’t have anymore details of what this woman looked like. It has long been believed in my family that the woman who handed him the oar and the woman under the water, were his mother looking out for him still from the other side.

On that same trip where I met my great-step-grandmother as a teenager, I was taken to the area where my grandfather grew up.  It was a remote, wild, and beautiful area.  I saw the lake where all this occurred.  My grandfather passed away from cancer in the early 1970s.  I was only 4 years old.  I do not have much by way of personal memories of him but this one story of him as a brave little boy who had lost him Mom will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Uncle Roy’s House – A Ghost Story

In the mid-1970s my Uncle and his family purchased an old house located outside of Boston in a town called Newtonville. Although I don’t remember the exact date the house was built, I know it was around the late 1700s. The date had been painted in black on the chimney as most of the houses in this historical neighborhood were. It had two staircases; the first being in the front of the house and the second in the back. The one in the front was very narrow and steep.

We would visit my Uncle on occasion and there was something about this house that I, as a child, just was uncomfortable with but could never put my finger on.

My Aunt and Uncle helped out with the Boston Ballet at the time. Both my cousins were ballerinas, which for an 8 year old girl was the coolest thing ever. They invited me to come to a performance of Sleeping Beauty one Friday night in November. I was then going to spend the night with the younger of my two cousins, who was 11 at the time. Although I wasn’t thrilled with sleeping at the old house, the opportunity to be at the ballet and with my much cooler older cousin was much too good to pass up.

That night I dressed in my best dress and headed to the Wang Theater with my Uncle, Aunt, and cousin. I got to go back stage with them and witness the dancers getting ready. I was in awe. After the performance and then dinner, we headed back to the house. My cousin and I changed into our nightgowns and got ready for bed.

I remembered I had to go ask my Uncle something so I headed down the back staircase into the living room. It was dark and very cold downstairs, with a little light coming in from the upper hallway. Once I realized I was alone in the living room, I turned to head back up the stairs. Off of the living room was an alcove that contained a grand piano. All of the sudden I started to hear what sounded like a man moaning. I froze in my tracks. Thinking it was my Uncle trying to scare me (as he knew his home gave me the creeps), I whispered, “Uncle Roy?” The moaning continued.

At this point my eyes had adjusted to what little light there was. I leaned down to see if my Uncle was hiding behind the piano, intent on catching him trying to scare me. There was no one there. Then I heard my Uncle upstairs in his bedroom speaking to my Aunt. I completely froze in sheer terror. If my Uncle is upstairs then who or what is behind the piano?! Finally I mustered up the courage to go up the stairs. I don’t think my feet even touched the ground. I told my Uncle what had just happened and he did not believe me. I did not speak about this again until a few years later, in fear of being ridiculed.

A few years passed and my Uncle and his family moved out of that house. I asked him if he remembered what had happened the night I joined them at the Ballet. He said he did, and that he definitely felt now that the house they had been living in was haunted. He relayed the following story…

There were times when objects in the house would disappear only to reappear in other places. There were odd noises at night and the attic door in my cousin’s room would be closed at night, only to be found open in the morning. Then my Aunt and Uncle made a terrible decision. They decided to use a ouija board to contact whatever spirit might be in the house.

They started off by asking a few questions like, who are you? Did you used to live here? Then the planchette kept moving to “Good-bye…” My Uncle kept pushing with the questions. Apparently this ticked off whatever was there. The room became extremely cold and the air turned heavy and oppressive. Suddenly their German shepherd dog, who was outside at the time, began to howl. In fear of waking the neighbors as it was pretty late, they dragged the poor dog into the house. They sat in bed and read the Bible until the early morning hours when the bad feeling finally went away. They never messed with a ouija board again and advised me to stay away from it if I were ever tempted.

Once in a great while I’ll run into my Uncle at a family gathering if I’m back east and this story always comes up. He still reminds me to stay away from the ouija board. I’d have to say that is pretty sound advice!