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Bisbee

On My Bookshelf: Southern Arizona’s Most Haunted, by Renee Gardner

Bob and I were in Bisbee last month staying at The Copper Queen Hotel in connection with our upcoming book with Llewellyn “America’s Most Haunted Hotels: Checking in With Uninvited Guests.” We booked a tour with Renee of the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour and she briefed us on many of the legends associated with The Copper Queen Hotel as well as many of the historic hotels in the two mile radius of historic downtown Bisbee.

If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend that you book her tour for your evening outing. She will take you on a flashlight walk around the town and if you are in a smaller group, you may even get to go inside some of the other hotels on the tour like we did! She also runs ghost hunting programs inside The Copper Queen Hotel and her book contains many personal accounts from those experiences.

I ordered her book from Amazon when I got home and sent her a few follow-up questions which she has answered below:

Tell us about growing up in a haunted house!

Growing up in a haunted house was fun looking back. At the time it was a little scary. We named the ghost George Hossinfeffer and he seemed to like my sister. I believe it lived in the attic which was accessed through my bedroom. He never hurt anyone, he was more of a nuisance.

Bisbee seems to be sort of weird or paranormally charged, if you will, throughout the town. What are your theories as to why?

I believe Bisbee has a lot of paranormal activity because the town itself sits atop a large source of minerals, especially copper. What is copper? A conductor of energy. What are ghosts? Energy. GET IT?

The Mining Museum has an exhibit that informs visitors that many homes in Bisbee come with their very own subterranean passage-ways. What can you tell us about this?

Subterranean passageways are simply the steps and cobblestone paths that lead to their homes. Some of the homes here don’t have streets, they were built into the side of the hill. Getting to them can be an adventure!

Have you made any attempts to get the Bisbee Queen Mine on board with your ghost tour company taking folks down? I think that would be amazing!

They allowed us to do an investigation inside the building for one of our Paranormal Weekends.  The building use to be where the smelters were. We caught some crazy stuff including footsteps! Going into the mine would be difficult because of all the dusk and dirt, it would cause for a lot of contamination to do an actual investigation.

The story about the boys who claimed to have been saved from a rockslide by the Lady in White – is this one of those legends that has been lost in time, or does anyone know what happened to them when they grew up? Any chance they are still in town?

Yes one of the boys still lives in town. The owners of the Bisbee Inn know his name, at the moment I can’t recall it.

How did you come to start the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour and the hunts over at the Copper Queen?

Bisbee is such a haunted town I was shocked that there wasn’t a ghost tour here already. It seemed like a natural location for one, so I started it! Same with the Ghost Hunt at the Copper Queen Hotel. It seemed like it would benefit both them and us to have a bi-monthly hunt there for guests interested in the paranormal.

Have there been any additional events or personal experiences that have happened since this book was published that you wished you could have updated in a following edition?

I am writing a second book…so you will have to wait til it comes out to find out 😛

Looking back, how hard was it to get your first book deal, and what have you learned over the years about publishing and marketing?

It really wasn’t hard at all to get my book published. My publisher was looking for an author in my region to write stories about the ghosts. I have also learned that unless you are a huge best selling author don’t bet money on making money off your book! I market the book to my guests on the tours and sell most that way, though you can find it on Amazon and in big book retailers in Arizona!

Take us through your writing process for a non-fiction book. (Do you write by hand or always type? Do you keep a writing schedule? Do you have a certain number of drafts you complete before turning in final copy?)

I type because I am a super fast typer and it is easier for me. With the first book I kept a very strict writing schedule, the reason the second book is taking me so long is because I don’t have the same schedule or time as I did when writing the first book. I did one draft then sent it to a gazillion friends to proof for me. Then I rewrote the changes they recommended and then I sent it off to the publisher for print.

Tell us how to keep up with you and about your upcoming projects/happenings. 

I highly recommend everyone to follow me or the tours on Facebook.  Old Bisbee Ghost Tour or Sweet Midnight, or Renee Harper!

Bisbee, AZ – One Perfect Day

An old mining town in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is home to The Copper Queen, and we were there on an official investigation for our upcoming book with Llewellyn “America’s Most Haunted Hotels: Checking in With Uninvited Guests.” last week. One cannot live on ghost hunting alone, so off to the streets we went. When possible, I like to soak in the culture of the local town to better understand the atmosphere and history of the place I am writing about. Artsy, quirky, and weird is what I saw during my short time there (although to be fair, it was my second visit). “Weird” is not a derogatory designation, by the way.

Bisbee is a winding, hilly town populated with too many sets of stairs for me to count, let alone climb in a few short hours. Officially, the 1,000 step challenge does come with a map at the Visitor’s Center, but I think I found myself climbing up many sets of random stairs before I realized that I was trespassing onto someone’s property instead of staying on the official path. Thank God everyone was cool and this doesn’t seem like the type of place where people are going to call the cops on you (like Charleston, for instance, where they call the cops if your dog pees in the wrong yard). I can dig that.

Random stairs?

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Back on the path:

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The downtown view and street shots:

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The Copper Queen Mine Tour and the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum were world-class facilities that really impressed us. I know they will never do it, but if they opened up that mine to ghost tours, they would really see a lot more money roll in! You tell me, wouldn’t you pay $100 per person for you and ten friends to shut the mine down on Friday night for a few hours?! The place is AMAZING!

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After a fantastic pizza at the Stock Exchange Saloon and a brief conversation with the Duchess (who was wonderfully charming and fascinating!), we were off to meet Renee, our Ghost Host from the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour (and author), who briefed us on many of Bisbee’s historic haunted hotels. We then settled down for the night in the Julia Lowell Suite inside the famous Copper Queen Hotel.

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And that, my friends, is a tale for another time.

As always, we log our adventures inside our “Play” Journal by Stealth Journals. “Play,” by Stealth Journals, is an indexed book journal that should be used to record all of your good times!

Further Reading:

http://www.discoverbisbee.com/index.htm

http://www.bisbee1000.org/

http://www.queenminetour.com

http://www.bisbeemuseum.org/

http://www.stockexchangesaloon.com/stock-exchange-saloon.aspx

http://www.oldbisbeeghosttour.com/

http://copperqueen.com/

Weird Arizona

New Year’s Day 2013 and Bob and I were driving from Sedona to Bisbee, with a stop in Tombstone. We passed through Tucson (and would be coming back through for our last night in Arizona).

Tombstone

Birdcage Theatre - Tombstone, AZ
Birdcage Theatre – Tombstone, AZ

Like every good ghost hunter, I had marked the 1881 Birdcage Theatre on my list of must see stops. We did not do any hunting there, this was a straight tourist stop during business hours. We were met by a weirdo woman who totally creeped us out at the cash register. The main area of the museum is nicely preserved, but the place reeks of sadness and dusty desperation. (I think this is an accurate portrayal of what it must have actually been like when it was brand new and serving it’s purpose, by the way). The basement area that holds an old gambling table and some more cribs is downright haunting. It would not be hard to imagine ghosts rambling around this basement when they shut the lights off for the night.

I wanted to like Tombstone. I was excited to travel there for the first time. However, my impression of the town is that it is what Disney would contrive to preserve an old Western town. I saw Boot Hill Cemetery and it made me feel dirty, as though I were guilty of exploiting the dead. Bob and I both turned around and got out of that place in less than two minutes. We burned rubber out of Tombstone and never looked back.
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Boot Hill Cemetery - Tombstone, AZ
Boot Hill Cemetery – Tombstone, AZ
Tucson Cactus - Arizona
Tucson Cactus – Arizona

Tombstone made me wish we had spent more time hiking in Tucson amongst the gorgeous, taller than us, cactuses.

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Bisbee

Downtown Bisbee, Arizona
Downtown Bisbee, Arizona

We settled in to the Letson Loft Hotel, overlooking the main street of historic downtown Bisbee. I didn’t think about all the shops and galleries being closed because it was New Year’s Day until we got here! I missed out on some good shopping, but there were a few antique stores still open so I got a quick fix, at least. I also got in a good walk and a great lower body workout while I was navigating my way over black ice traps, and I had a lot of fun picking out locations from The Great Stair Climb. The whole town is built on the hills.

I also witnessed a fantastic female drunk outside of a bar in the middle of the day just losing her mind and yelling in some language that was not quite English or Spanish, or any romance language I have ever heard, actually. I entered her line of vision by accident when I turned left at a dead end street. Except she was deliriously and dangerously drunk, so she never saw me. I stood there frozen for a few seconds, watching the drama play out before me. For a moment, I contemplated helping her. Then my roots kicked in, and I did what any self-respecting Southerner would do in the same situation: I turned and walked away. It has never benefited me to insert myself into the dealings of others.

Dinner was at the famous Copper Queen Hotel, and sadly, it was not worth mentioning.

Here’s the thing about Bisbee. It’s weird. I didn’t know why until we left the next morning, but I could sense that the atmosphere in the town was “off.” The night before, as the sun was setting and we were exploring the streets of historic downtown, I looked at Bob and said: “Something bad happened here. Something is really not right here.”

I had the Queen Mine marked on my list of things to do, but in the morning, I looked out over the town once more from our hotel room, and I didn’t want to go anymore. When we got back to the highway, I was googling Bisbee and tragedy, trying to figure out if there was a tangible reason for the way I was feeling. It turns out that in the summer of 1917, about 2,000 men were kidnapped right out of their homes and boarded onto trains that would drop them off in the New Mexico desert. The owners of the mine did it as an act of retaliation for the striking workers, and this was the largest mass kidnapping in America.

I swear this left a mark on the land.

I shivered as our car sped back to Tucson, carrying us just as fast as we dared go. And I said, in a tone of voice that could never convey what I was actually feeling on the inside (my gut-speak raw innards): “I told you something bad happened in that place. It’s time to go.”

As always, we like to index our travels inside our “Play”Journal, from Stealth Journals. A sample entry page is contained below:

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Arizona: Indexed inside our Play Journal, by Stealth Journals.

Further Reading:
http://tombstonebirdcage.com/
http://www.discoverbisbee.com/
http://www.copperqueen.com/

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