Ghost Hunting in Tombstone, AZ

by Carla Jean McKinney, Demand Media

    Tombstone, Arizona -- the town too tough to die -- has a rich and storied past of murders, shootouts and frontier justice. Because of this history, Tombstone is a mecca for ghost hunters hoping for a glimpse of strange lights over Boothill Cemetery, or a shadowy figure in the OK Corral. Capitalizing on the history of this famous southern Arizona town, several ghost hunting tours promise visitors a trip through Tombstone history, with stops at its most famous haunted sites.

    Tombstone's Haunted Past

    In the southeastern corner of Cochise County, Arizona, Tombstone is synonymous with America's Western frontier. Founded in the mid-1880s as part of the mining boom in southern Arizona, the town quickly gained a reputation for lawlessness and loose living. Hangings, shootouts and crimes of passion left their mark in Tombstone history, and fed legends of ghosts and other strange happenings in the town. Tombstone has been called one of the most popular haunted places in America, and a number of tours and events offer visitors a chance to see for themselves.

    Haunted Places in Tombstone

    Although many places in Tombstone saw violence and rough justice, three sites are the target of paranormal investigators and ghost-hunting tour planners alike. Boot Hill Cemetery, on the northern outskirts of town, holds the graves of many Tombstone denizens who "died with their boots on" in shootouts or other lawless acts. Legend has it that strange lights can be seen above the tombstones at night. The Bird Cage Theater has a supernatural reputation as well, with claims that laughter, music and voices can be heard there at odd times. Stories also say that in the OK Corral, home of the famous shootout between the Earps and the Clantons, ghostly gunslingers can sometimes be seen.

    Friends of the Dead Spirit Tour

    Friends of the Dead Spirit Tour offers a walking tour of key haunted spots around town, available at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday tours reserved for large groups. With an emphasis on contacting spirits associated with each of the landmarks visited, Friends of the Dead Tour is free to all ages and includes historical information about the town and its colorful past.

    Tombstone Trolley Ghost and Murder Tours

    Tombstone Trolley Ghost and Murder Tours offers an hourlong trolley tour of the town, with stops at Bird Cage Theater, Boot Hill and the OK Corral, as well as other places along Allen Street, Tombstone's main street in frontier days. Appropriate for all ages, tours include a recounting of historical events and ghost stories associated with each stop.

    Tombstone Ghosts and Legends Tour

    Visitors can explore Tombstone's haunted past on their own. Tombstone Ghosts and Legends offers a self-guided tour of Tombstone's history. Tourists can pick up an information packet and map, and plan their own itinerary around major landmarks and lesser known places in town.

    About the Author

    Carla Jean McKinney has been writing professionally since 1989. She is the author of three nonfiction books and numerous published short works, as well as articles on natural sciences and the environment. Also a photographer, McKinney earned her Master of Arts at the University of Arizona and is a graduate of the Sessions School of Design.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images