Ghost hunting at the Tombstone Motel

The adobe-made motel dates back to the town's O.K. Corral days.

The Tombstone Motel building was originally built in the late 1870's (photo credit: Facebook.com).
  • The Tombstone Motel building was originally built in the late 1870's (photo credit: Facebook.com).

A little while back my mother and I decided to go on a ghost-hunting expedition to Tombstone, Arizona. Being the “professionals” that we are, we packed our equipment (flashlight, electromagnetic field detector, digital audio recorder and video camera) in a make-up kit and headed out.

Our first hunt was to take place at the purportedly haunted Budget Host Inn (formerly the Tombstone Motel), an old adobe-made place that dates back to the OK Corral days. My mom went in to get the room and asked for the most haunted one they had. The manager told her that indeed the hotel had quite a collection of ghosts, but he did not, as a rule, let people stay in the room that had the most activity. Too many complaints about bumps and noises and too many calls he received in the dead of night demanding a room change. He strongly advised her to choose a different one, and she just as strongly insisted on that one.

Like all good ghost-hunters, we waited until dark to begin our “investigation.” We did a baseline EMF reading (obtaining the electromagnetic areas in the room that could be caused by wiring, appliances, etc.) and then we set up a little flashlight on one of the old end tables.

I started what I hoped – but doubted – would be a spooky interaction with something unseen by saying who I was, who my mom was, that we meant no harm, but we wanted to ask a few questions, etc. I added, “If the answer to a question is ‘yes’, please turn the flashlight or torch [old term] on.”

After a few false starts: “Did you hear that?” “What!?” “Was that a light glowing on the wall?” “Where!?” We still didn’t have a response; no lights, no bumps, nothing at all. So I said rather desolately, “If you’d like to talk at any time tonight, just turn the flashlight on so we know you’re here,” and we both turned in.

Thirty minutes later I hear my mom say, “Caryn? Caryn? The light is on!”

“What?” I opened my eyes and sat up. Sure enough, across the room from us the flashlight was shining brightly.

I jumped out of bed, turned on our audio and video recorders, and started in with questions. My mother, on the other hand, being the great ghost hunter that she is, said in a quavering voice, “I’m not going out there!”

“I need to know if you are really here and communicating with me. Please turn the light off right now,” I requested.

The light went out.

“If you are or were a male, please turn the light on.”


“If you are or were a female, please turn the light on.”

Light clicks on.

When I asked the “ghost” to turn off the light if it wanted us out of the room, the light went off. (But not before my mom yelled, “Don’t ask that!”)

Since she had her face buried in her pillow, I had to tell her, “Uh-oh. It wants us out of the room.” This did not please The Great Ghost Huntress one bit.

More questions were asked and answered, and finally I thanked the “ghost,” turned off the cameras and climbed into my bed. I was pretty excited, yet disbelieving as well. Not for long.

After finally falling asleep I was awakened by my bed shaking. I mean it was really moving! Not a Linda Blair thing where I am hanging on for dear life, but a strong back-and-forth shake.

“Are you awake?” I asked my mom. “Did you feel that?” (Even though she was in another bed).

“Feel what?” she asked.

“My bed was shaking.”


This in and of itself is bizarre, but when morning came I found that the “box spring” the mattress was on was just a wooden frame. How the entire bed moved was a mystery.

I finally fell back asleep again only to be awakened by something lightly rubbing my leg. I figured I imagined it in some sort of twilight sleep, so I laid there quietly with my eyes wide open and waited. Sure enough, that touching went right up my calf again – almost like a child playfully walking his two fingers up my leg.

“Are you awake?” I asked again.

“I am now.”

“Something just rubbed my leg.”


As phenomenal as our first ghost hunting night was, we ran into even more adventures the following early morning when we were alone at The Bird Cage Theatre. Call it beginner's luck or whatever, but that tale will have to wait for another ghostly time.

Oh, and by the way, these two “ghost hunters” won’t be staying at the Tombstone Motel again, either.

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