The Copper Queen Hotel is located in southeastern Arizona in the historical district of Old Bisbee. Boasting its reputation as the longest continually operated hotel in Arizona, having not closed its doors once since opening day, the Copper Queen Hotel remains a charming vision of luxury accommodations in the old mining boom town of Bisbee. Guests love the building so much that a handful of non-living have reputedly failed to check out.
Construction on the Italian themed building started in 1898 and the doors opened on February 22, 1902. This luxurious hotel was commissioned by Phelps Dodge (also called the Copper Queen Mining Company) to lure investors to Bisbee. Originally, the hotel had seventy-two rooms with a bathroom at the end of each hallway. Later, the building was remodeled and the center room of each grouping of three rooms were converted to two private bathrooms for each adjoining room. After this renovation, there were forty-eight rooms to let. Future additions also included an elevator and 5th floor housing the elevator mechanics, which were added in the late 1940’s as well as the addition of a pool, which was completed in the mid-1970’s.
Ghost journals aren’t an uncommon thing to see at reputedly haunted hotels, but The Copper Queen’s Ghost Journal is unique because there were enough entries to substantiate a book– The Ghosts of the Copper Queen.
There are allegedly sixteen spirits who haunt the Copper Queen Hotel. Three of them are regular enough as to have been spotlighted and profiled in the book. There is the ghost of an older gentleman whom hotel staff refer to as “Howard”. His presence is most notably smelled in the form of a floral pipe smoke. A young boy named “Billy” often begins to cry when you turn on water to take a shower. Then, there’s the ghost of Julia Lowell, a woman who loves to tease men staying at the hotel.
The ghost of “Howard”:
In a second-hand account of an encounter with the cigar smoking gentleman, I’ll briefly describe my mother-in-law’s own experience. My in-laws frequent the Copper Queen every year on their wedding anniversary. Two years ago, they’d stayed at the hotel and my mother-in-law had smelled that indicative floral cigar smoke in the bathroom as she was freshening up for the day. She was the only one in the restroom and the smell didn’t waft into the adjoining room where my father-in-law was at the time.
Though most people only smell the gentleman, some have experienced his presence– most frequently in the fourth floor hallway, near the Teddy Roosevelt Room. “Howard” is usually described as an older man with long-ish hair and a beard. His dress usually includes a top hat and black over-cape. In this entry from page 51 of The Ghosts of the Copper Queen Hotel, one guest describes an experience seeing a nondescript gentleman’s ghost.
September 14, 2002
While standing in the hallway where the Saloon and bathrooms are and reading the articles in the display case, I could see the reflections of people walking behind me. I noticed that a gentleman had stopped and was looking over my shoulder, reading the same thing I was. He looked like a very nice person, so I turned to say hello, and there was no one there.
Another more recent entry from page 120 goes so far as to describe another encounter with a mysterious gentleman:
October 35, 2006
Room 317. We arrived in the early morning and detected a faint odor of floral pipe smoke. My wife thought it smelled floral, and I thought it was a bit on the smoky side, like a tobacco. I awoke at 3:56 a.m., uncharacteristically wide awake. I remained this way for nearly a full hour. The room felt comfortable and relaxing; however at about 4:15 a.m., I noticed a thin veil of smoke entering the room through the outline of the door. My eyes were irritated, but I continued watching the haze fill the room, with unnatural slowness. After a few minutes of this, I decided to get up and check the hallway and see what was causing the smoke. Just as I was getting out of bed, there appeared the outline of a man dressed in a waistcoat, pacing back and forth in the smoke. Just as fast he was gone.
Mischievous Ghost “Billy”:
“Billy” is a mischievous ghost of a child who is approximately nine years old. Guests will frequently report things being moved around their rooms. Billy always takes the blame. Some entries described rings being taken from fingers in the night, earrings being moved to the tops of medicine cabinets, and room keys that disappeared only to be found later. Billy also likes to jiggle doorknobs and to unlock guest’s doors. He also enjoys opening and closing doors.
My favorite Billy stories from the Copper Queen’s ghost book are those of empty candy wrappers. If you’re staying in the Copper Queen, try leaving some candy out for Billy to encourage him not to move your belongings around the room.
One guest’s entry on page 30 of the ghost journal book, describes this haunting experience with Billy’s ghost:
February 17, 2002
Room 401, 2:45 a.m. As my husband and I were relaxing and watching some TV, we heard a very faint tapping. It sounded like it came from the bathroom. Then, the two of us noticed the door handle to our room door turning and the door start to open. My husband called out and said, “Someone is in this room. You must have the wrong one.” The door continued to open. My husband jumped up, went to the door and pulled it the rest of the way open. No one was there or in the hallway. Before my husband got the door closed, we heard the laughter of what sounded like a couple of little kids in the hallway.
Though Billy’s ghost performs a modicum of childhood pranks, his ghost has a darker side. Poor Billy has been heard crying as guests take their morning shower. Sometimes, he writes messages pleading for help in the steam covered mirrors. The hotel owners don’t know who “Billy” really is, but they suspect his death had something to do with drowning in the nearby San Pedro River. They also believe his connection to the Copper Queen was his mother who was possibly a former employee, though no one has been able to pin down the boy’s identity or his connection to the hotel with certainty.
The Ghost of Julia Lowell:
The ghost of Julia Lowell has even been given her own room at the hotel– Room 315. Her presence is most noted by male guests of the hotel. Thought to be a “lady of the night” who “entertained” gentlemen at the Copper Queen, Julia enjoys whispering in ears of sleeping men, tickling their feet and ripping off their covers. She has also been known to climb into bed with couples or to sit on the edge of the bed.
A guest entry from page 27 records a wife’s account of her husband’s brush with Julia:
Oct 18, 2001
Room 315. My husband and I checked in earlier today, we had a lovely evening in town and returned to our room and went to bed. At some point in the night I awoke to find my husband at the door to our room. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I saw a woman walk from the window and through the door,” he said. “Don’t be silly,” I said. I looked at the clock; it was 2:05 a.m. We turned the light on, and the door was still locked. Just then I heard a woman laugh from the hallway. We opened the door just in time to see the hem of a black skirt disappear up the staircase. We ran up to see who the woman was, but she was gone!
Linda & Bill
All-in-all, if you’re the type of ghost hunter who is searching for some sort of ghostly experience, The Copper Queen is a good place to visit. You’ll never know what will happen during your stay!
For more information pertaining to Bisbee’s Copper Queen Hotel, visit their website http://copperqueen.com/
* “The Ghosts of the Copper Queen: A Journal of Actual Experiences from the Historic Copper Queen Hotel”, Starsys Publishing Company, August 2010.