A Look Into Tucson's Most Haunted Dwellings
You know the feeling — the unnerving feeling that even when you’re alone, you’re still in the presence of another. The hairs stand on end at the back of your neck as an unfamiliar sound comes from nowhere. The room gets cold with no explanation while the dog looks curiously at an empty spot on the wall.
Luckily, there usually is a good explanation: a child’s toy was left on or a forgotten window was left open, begging the night wind to rattle the curtains. For some in the Old Pueblo however, Tucson continues to remain prevalent for hauntings and otherworldly activities, as it has for over a century.
There are so many reports of unexplained occurrences that you can book year-round walking or driving tours of haunted areas. Feeling a bit crowded in your cozy home or don’t know why the lights flicker every time you rearrange furniture? Several teams of “ghost hunters” willing to investigate possible hauntings can be hired with top-notch tech equipment to track paranormal activity in your home or business, while a dozen registered paranormal societies are based in the city.
From theaters to hotels, homes to highly frequented bars, the town has seen its fair share of the supernatural. We’ve chosen the locations that have the worthiest backstory, the most spine-chilling sightings, and the most inconceivable hauntings of Tucson.
Centennial Hall, located on the campus of the University of Arizona in the University neighborhood, has had several ghost sightings. One is a Victorian ghost— a lady described by some as “pushy.” Commonly spotted during classical performances, it is said she tries to disrupt performances by making strange sounds. The University has acquiesced to the idea of several creepy locations on campus to the point where they offer a history of ghost sightings tour several times during the fall.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is one of the largest air force boneyards (a place for excess military and government aircraft) in the world. Located in Southeast Tucson, this aeronautical graveyard houses more than 4,400 post-WWII planes for agencies including the Air Force, Coast Guard, and NASA. Unsurprisingly, many of the planes were piloted by those who have passed, including one who terrifies the workers. This WWII pilot’s ghost likes to wander the base and many have witnessed him walk through fences and disappear into thin air. Lights seem to stop working when he’s present. Prepare to go through a security clearance if you want to tour the boneyard. They don’t just let any mortal roam the carcasses of these planes.
Hotel Congress is a popular hangout for supernatural guests. Located in the heart of Downtown Tucson, the site is the home of the Club Congress dance club, several bars, and a restaurant. When you’re not possessing the dance floor or sipping java on the patio, you might be witness to several ghosts lurking the hallways who have died in the hotel. One guest, who checked-in in 1950 and never checked out, passed away in 2001 and was infamous for stealing butter knives from the restaurant. Staff still finds them randomly placed in certain areas.
On South Stone Avenue in Armory Park is the Velasco Pueblo, a popular destination on multiple ghost tours offered in town. Built by Señor Velasco, who died in 1890, the house has passed onto several owners and undergone multiple renovations. Apparently the ghost of Señor Velasco does not approve. His spirit is rumored to bedevil the new owners with shadows, loud noises, and furniture rearranging. Unlike the friendlier ghosts of other dwellings, this ghost has destroyed property, including that of ghost hunters investigating his presence.
22nd Street Antique Mall
Katie Mullaly, author of several books on hauntings and a volunteer at the Windbridge Research Team, which studies the afterlife, chose to feature the 22nd Street Antique Mall in her book “Scare-Izona". Located on the border of East and Southeast Tucson, the antique shop offers 31,000 square feet of haunted space. Visitors are encouraged to write any sightings in a journal kept at the front of the store. According to some reports, rocking chairs sway back and forth, mysterious pennies are found in odd places, and a ghost dressed in black hovers down the aisles.
For a true Tucson ghost experience book a tour with the Tucson Ghost Tour and test your bravery. Written about in multiple articles, the group favors investigations at La Cocina restaurant in Downtown where they provide equipment like EMF readers, k2 meters, and dowsing rods to track activity. Not up for ghostbusting? Try dining on the eclectic Mexican food and see if you get bumped by the resident ghost, a feisty cowboy who is making room for the little girl that travels beside him.
Rounding out the list of the most haunted spots is an urban legend that covers a lot of Tucson’s geography, including ravines, ditches, and sandy washes. It’s the tale of La Llorona, or the weeping woman, the ghost of Malinche. The story is passed on from generation to generation among locals in the Old Pueblo. Seen on moonlit nights wandering in a white dress, she drowned the child of a Spanish conquistador, a child he fathered with another woman. Malinche’s ghost haunts anywhere that water might flow, forever searching for her victim. Local author Jane Eppinga explains in her book, “Arizona Twilight Tales,” someplace as inconspicuous as the Stone Avenue underpass in Downtown or a stroll along the Santa Cruz River might lure the ghost of La Llorona.