Urban Legend: The Ghosts of Slaughterhouse Canyon

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Urban Legend: The Ghosts of Slaughterhouse Canyon of Arizona
In 1882 the town of Kingman, Arizona was officially established; throughout its history it had served as both a military camp and a reservation for Native Americans. It eventually experienced growth when a section of railroad was routed through the area.

The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush started in Arizona around 1858 and just like elsewhere in the western United States, it was a rough experience for those who expected to strike it rich. Once prospectors realized their chance of finding gold in Arizona was rare, they instead sought out the more common copper and silver ores. At one point, the worth of gold sank below that of copper and silver, due to its lack of prevalence in the region.

The established families that were uprooted and relocated in the west in search of wealth and success ended up being the ones who sacrificed the most. After lengthy and often excruciatingly difficult searches, many ended up starving to death.

The Ghostly Legend of Slaughterhouse Canyon

Like any urban legend that has arisen from times of extreme hardship, this story reeks of trauma spurned by sickness, starvation, heartbreak, and madness. This particular ghost story is one that swiftly turned from being a simple tragedy to macabre madness, which is why this canyon was put on the map of paranormal destinations.

Luana’s Canyon

When the first white settlers found the area, the area was named Luana’s Canyon, after the matriarch of the impoverished family who lived in a small wooden shack near the dry wash in the heart of the canyon.

Dreams of Wealth

As one might expect, living in a small shack in the desert was no easy task. One miner, notably a dreamer, wanted to be able provide a better life for his wife Luana and their children. This miner would regularly venture off into the mountains to work in the gold mines and to search for food for his family. Their lack of a regular income made it difficult to keep food on the table, so the only food the family had available to them was what the miner was able to bring back from his regular expeditions.

The miner would set of to the Northwestern Mountains on his trusty mule, but different accounts of this story can’t agree on whether the miner left home every two weeks, or if he would be gone for two weeks at a time. What is known is that this was a pretty typical experience during the Gold Rush era. Regardless of how often he was away from home, his family’s only source of food, money, and supplies was what the miner was able to bring back with him. Luana and the children could consistently expect the miner to return with what they needed for their comfort and survival.

One fateful day, the miner kissed his wife, Luana, and children goodbye and was on his way—unfortunately, that would be the last time the family would see their father. Days turned to weeks and soon Luana began to worry that something had happened to her husband. As the supplies dwindled, her concerns that her husband had fallen ill, had an accident, or worse, had been killed by wild animals, or even the victim of robbery. The miner had seemingly become another tragic victim of the unforgiving Gold Rush.

Descent Into Madness

Luana’s reliance upon her husband’s consistency meant that she had not rationed any of the supplies that her husband had brought back on his last trip, so when food and supplies ran scarce the family began to starve. Living alone in the canyon meant that the family had no other possible means of support and soon the children wither and wept in pain. Despite being pale and weak with starvation, their screams and cries echoed throughout the canyon and even traveled on the nighttime breeze. The starving sobs of her children constantly begging Luana for food began to tear her down mentally.

Each day that went by pushed Luana closer toward the brink of insanity until one day, she just could no longer stand to see her children suffer and she snapped. Unable to cope with the reality of watching her children starve to death, Luana’s psychosis drove her to do the unthinkable. One night during a thunderstorm, tormented by her children’s screams and own agonizing hunger, she put on her wedding dress and slaughtered her own children to end their suffering.

Her mind lost, she chopped their dead bodies up into several pieces, splattering the walls of the small shack with blood, which earned it the name of the Slaughterhouse. After finishing her horrible deed, she carried the pieces of her children and tossed their remains into the river. At the river she collapsed into a heap, her wedding dress soaked in the blood of the children she had slain. Luana was overcome with sadness and guilt; she remained on the river bank, wailing and screaming over what she had done until she succumbed to starvation herself, the next morning.

Slaughterhouse Canyon

Slaughterhouse Canyon

Today, Slaughterhouse Canyon can be accessed by the public, it’s only a twelve minute drive from Kingman, AZ. It is said, that on quiet nights when the moon is full and the air is thick, that those brave enough to venture into the desert canyon after midnight are likely to have experiences. The dark oppressive nights allow the anguished screams of the mother and the bloody cries of her slaughtered children can still be heard throughout the canyon.

Similar Legends

The legend of Slaughterhouse Canyon bears striking similarities to other urban legends and ghost stories, such as the woman in white and the tragic Mexican legend of La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman. While it’s true that the stories are similar, make no mistake, they are separate legends.

What seems to be a common thread in all renditions of these stories is that the woman murders her children, but it’s the reason behind their vicious murder that varies from story to story. In La Llorona the most frequent rendition is that the mother kills her children after she finds that her husband has been unfaithful. However, every account of the Legend of the ghosts of Slaughterhouse Canyon alleges that the husband was not only a caring and loving partner, but a devoted father as well.

Personal Accounts & Experiences

Locals will tell you that it was popular when they were of high school age to load up a car with their peers and park down in the canyon by the remains of the old slaughterhouse shack. They would roll their windows down and sit in silence as they waited for Luana—inevitably, they would hear strange sounds that would prompt them to vacate the premises.

Another account recalls their experiences of hearing the stories of Slaughterhouse Canyon and their regular trips to the area with their brother. Their motives were simple curiosity and the desire to be teenagers away from prying eyes. They would have bonfires and act their age without consequence, until one night, after midnight they began to hear the wailing cries surrounding them. A quick search of the area revealed nothing, but frightened them enough to leave the canyon entirely.

Others still, primarily ghost hunters in search of the ghosts of Slaughterhouse Canyon, report that while driving down the road that leads into the canyon they would witness a mysterious woman wearing a black dress and dark veil while walking down the side of the road. Upon turning back to find her again she had mysteriously disappeared.

Sources

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Urban Legends: Scary Mary at the Golden North Hotel in Skagway, Alaska

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

As the forty-ninth state of the United States, Alaska is often described by locals as being thirty years behind the contiguous United States—with the days of pioneers and people flocking to take advantage of the gold rush set so recently in the past, it’s not too far-fetched to see how life might be a little slower in the Last Frontier. This also means that the ghost stories that haunt the oldest buildings in the state of Alaska are a little bit more recent and sometimes seem a little bit more vivid.

The Klondike Gold Rush

The Klondike Gold Rush began in the Yukon in 1896, when gold was first discovered, this drew roughly one hundred thousand prospectors into the territory—all of whom decided they would strike it rich. Skagway served as the most direct route to the gold-fields, so most of the traffic flowed through this deep-water port. This, of course, caused the population of Skagway to explode nearly overnight, with a population going from approximately seven hundred residents in 1897 to over ten thousand in 1898, it made it the largest city in Alaska at the time. That rush only lasted about two years and the population dwindled back under two thousand. The times in which the Klondike Gold Rush was underway, created an atmosphere that was rife with chaotic ambition, corruption, lawlessness, disease, shattered dreams, and many untimely deaths. Built at the height of the gold rush in 1898, the Golden North Hotel provided accommodations and refreshments to nearly one thousand prospectors who passed through the city on a weekly basis. It was a breeding ground for ghost stories.

The Origin of Scary Mary

One of the most legendary ghosts in Alaska goes by the name of Scary Mary and her story begins with a Gold Rush expedition. Mary came to Skagway, Alaska as a blushing young woman, already engaged to a prospector that went by the name of Klondike Ike—she checked into the Golden North Hotel where she and Ike became engaged and were set to start their future together. The two lovers spent several days at the hotel before Ike had to return to his prospecting ventures over Chilkoot Pass. Mary’s fiancé, Klondike Ike, set off over five hundred miles to the gold-fields with tremendously high hopes that he would win them their fortune—unfortunately for both Ike and Mary, Ike never returned. Ever the loyal partner, Mary waited for Ike to return home to her—she locked herself in the room the couple had rented, lost in the abyss of worry for her lover, and waited. When the housekeepers of the Golden North Hotel finally broke down the door with concern, they discovered Mary in the wedding dress she had planned to be married in, dead and waiting for Ike to return to her, so that they may marry. In many of the stories, it is said that Mary ended up coming down with a fatal case of pneumonia while waiting for Ike in room 23—other stories imply that after months of waiting for his return, she simply locked herself in her room disallowed any company and refused to eat.

Golden North Hotel in Skagway, AK
Photography by Kira Picabo

First-Hand Experiences

Legends tell us that Mary still hasn’t checked out of her room at the Golden North Hotel and since her death arrived all-too-soon, that she has been checking up on guests in the middle of the night. Her apparition appears as a pale figure and is seen looking through the hotel windows, waiting for her lover’s return from the mountains. There have been reports of cold air pockets when walking through the hallways and a subsequent glimpses of white rushing past them—even more strange are the reports of the unfortunate guest who wakes up to Mary’s ghost hovering above their beds as if checking to be sure that Ike isn’t in bed with another woman.

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Urban Legends: The Gypsy Curse of Lafayette, OR

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

It’s said that the town of Lafayette, Oregon has been cursed since the 1800s when a woman was accused of witchcraft and then hung for her alleged crimes. Before her execution, she placed a curse on the town, saying that it would burn down three times–and it has since burned in its entirety twice–those who are wary of the curse she placed wonder when it will happen again! To this day, her ghost is seen roaming the town’s cemetery. Another version of the legend has it that in 1886, a woman and her son killed the woman’s boyfriend, her son was arrested and hanged for the crime–in this version of the story, while her son was being executed, his mother screamed that the town would burn down three times.

Here’s the real story…

Richard Marple, his mother Anna, and his wife Julia moved to Lafayette, Oregon from Corvallis in 1885. Despite the availability of jobs, Richard was unable to keep a job, so he turned to a life of crime–allegedly–but he was suspected of multiple robberies. Between 1885 and 1886, his mother Anna became involved with a local shop owner by the name of David Corker. Unfortunately, on November 1, 1886, Corker was found hacked to death by an ax and his store had been pillaged and town Sheriff Harris brought Richard in for questioning. While Richard was not a fan of Corker–even disparaging the man during his questioning–he maintained his innocence. Evidence of his guilt, including a bloody shirt, a bloody piece of paper, as well as tools that he could have used to break into the store were found at his home. Richard, not relenting, made a claim that the evidence had been planted at his home by the sheriff’s office to frame him.

Neither his mother nor his wife corroborated his alibi and stated that he had not been at home when the murder was being committed; Richard was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder on April 9, 1887. His mother, Anna, was indicted as an accomplice, but a lack of evidence resulted in the charges against her being dropped. By November 11, 1887 Richard was set to be executed by hanging next to the county jail and thirty people bore witness to his death. Sheriff Harris ordered that Richard be executed with a black hood over his head, and Richard desperately yelled one last thing out into the crowd, “Murder! May God judge you all!” Unfortunately for Richard, when the trap door was released, the knot slipped under his chin and instead of breaking his neck, he was slowly strangled to death over the span of eighteen minutes.

It is true that during Richard’s execution, his mother Anna shouted that the town would burn and never prosper–after his death, Richard was buried at the Oddfellow’s Masonic Cemetery in Lafayette. According to sources, Richard apparently confessed his guilt to a fellow inmate while his execution was pending and ended up implicating his mother, stating that she had become involved with Corker in order to gain his confidence. After Richard’s execution, his mother moved to Jackson County for the remainder of her life and was buried in the cemetery there. Several years after she moved out of the area, their home in Lafayette was destroyed and the bloody ax used to kill Corker was discovered. It’s not known whether Anna Marple was a witch or a gypsy, but since she was not buried in Lafayette, it is unlikely that she haunts any of the area’s cemeteries. The fact that she was reported to have cursed the town to burn down and it completely burned down twice may have been entirely coincidental. Fires were actually a commonplace occurrence that people had to face in the years before buildings were constructed out of less-flammable materials.

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Urban Legends: The Haunting of Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City, Oregon

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

When the Geiser Grand Hotel opened in 1889, it was originally known as the Queen City of the Mines–perhaps just as a nod to the Gold Rush that flurried on its doorstep. At the time of its conception, it boasted state-of-the-art technology, the third elevator built west of the Mississippi River. The four-story clock tower gave the area an air of sophistication, while the two-hundred-foot cupola gave the building more natural lighting that filtered through a stained glass ceiling.

Albert Geiser, a mining investor, purchased the property just after the turn of the century and rebranded the hotel as The Geiser Grand Hotel in 1902. In these early days of the hotel, the Grand was considered a place for wealthy men and women to make their presence known, including one Granny Annabelle, who made herself out to be a sight-to-be-seen. She would make her grand entrance from her residence in room 302, to her permanently reserved chair at the bar, from which she presided over the hotel.

Within the hotel’s basement, there are apparently subterranean windows that open up into underground tunnels that were created in the 1880s–this was during the time of the gold frenzy, and the tunnels led to brothels. They also gave passage to Chinese immigrants who at the time were not allowed to be on the streets at night, were handy during seasons of heavy snow, as well as for stashing booze during the Prohibition years.

The historic Geiser Grand Hotel of Baker City, Oregon is considered a landmark and a site of incredible paranormal activity, there have been reports of apparitions on many occasions and the hotel staff give ghost stories on Halloween. The hotel’s most famous ghost goes by the name Lady in Blue, who has been seen dressed in a turn of the century gown, walking up and down the main staircase. It is speculated that this beautiful Lady in Blue is actually Granny Annabelle, in her beautiful Victorian gown, where she forever ascends and descends the staircase before disappearing into the wall. Apparently she never had any intention of leaving “the most fortunate place in the country,” as the Geiser Grand Hotel was touted to be in 1906.

Geiser Grand Hotel, Baker City, Oregon
Geiser Grand Hotel, Baker City, Oregon

Haunted Facilities…

The hotel was built in 1889, destined to be extravagant living quarters for mine investors and wealthier people, the Geiser Grand hosts several apparitions on the premises. There have been several reports of a young girl, a 1930s woman wearing a purple dress, a saloon dancer from the 1920s, a former chef who appears headless, a cowboy and his girlfriend, as well as the Lady in Blue. One of the former owners, Maybelle Geiser, who lived in Room 302 is said to be incredibly haunted, with her ghost rearranging the guests’ jewelry and eating their complimentary snacks.

The current owner jokes that while the beds may be comfortable, you should expect to be woken up at least three times a night because of the apparitions.

First-Hand Experiences…

One visitor to the hotel reported having investigated the Geiser Grand a few times and had experienced the most activity in the bar; their report was that the overall experience was as if they had stepped directly into the 1800s, the rooms being magnificent and period-authentic. They were able to capture an EVP, experienced doors opening and closing, but was skeptical that all of the reports were true. A second guest reported having taken photographs of the entire hotel, except for their room, but upon reviewing the pictures they took found that there was a picture of their room–knowing that they did not take it themselves–and saw that there was the figure of an unidentified boy.

Paranormal investigation groups, S.P.I.G. and S.L.A.S.H. regularly take groups through the premises, where the customers were not made aware of the specifics of each haunting before they investigated the rooms. They reported having physical responses to particular rooms, including the library, and the basement, but were unable to determine the identities of any specific spirits.

The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.) who hosts the television show Ghost Hunters visits the Geiser Grand quite regularly, with the sole mission of gathering evidence to back up all of the claims that have been made. In an attempt to make the process as scientific as possible, they conduct double-blind studies with reliable equipment that doesn’t incite controversy or welcome criticism. During an interview, one of the newer team members, who self-identified as a skeptic, offered up their own experiences. He believed it could have been a coincidence, but also added that it was an experience that he would never forget–during his investigation, he heard the name Wayne several times over the span of a three-hour investigation. A few days later, while researching, he found the name Wayne in a news story–an eighteen-year-old Presley Wayne–who in 1998 had been named Nashville’s Performer of the Year and touted as a rising country music star. The night after his show at the Geiser Grand, young Presley Wayne was found dead, the victim of a gunshot to the head.

Oregon resident, Amy Venezia, travels the country as a professional medium and communicates with spirits regularly. She stayed at the Geiser Grand one Christmas Eve, where she reported experiencing a dark mass floating by her bed. Recounting her story, she felt it was an incredibly frightening experience.

I’m very accustomed to spirits and not scared of much, but this was a very old, strong spirit, a different type of entity, not a typical connection … I was frightened … The spirit was like a big dog that doesn’t know its size when it pounces on you. It was too much for me then. With time though, I see it’s taken me to a deeper level, and that is good. There’s no doubt that hotel is haunted

Amy Venezia, Professional Medium

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