417 E Allen Street, Tombstone, AZ
This twentieth-century saloon is an oddball in "The Town Too Tough to Die." Big Nose Kate never stepped foot in the establishment, and the "resident specter" is a far cry from Doc Holliday. Tunnels, treasure troves, the handyman of The Grand Hotel – What's haunting Big Nose Kate's?
Locals and tourists alike have experienced paranormal activity within this spooky saloon. One employee felt cold, clammy hands around her throat. Another spotted spectral guests, like the spirits of “soiled doves” and saddle-bums.
Others witness phantom cowboys standing in the staircase or knocking over cases of beer in the basement. Who are these sharpshooting spirits? Are these the Earps or Doc Holliday, coming back for one last brawl?
The poltergeist of Big Nose Kate’s is no gunslinging specter. Instead, the establishment is stalked by The Grand Hotel’s handyman – the “Swamper.”
Swamper was a handyman for The Grand Hotel, the former establishment of the location. He was a friendly though reclusive chap who inhabited a small room in the basement.
Curiously, no one was allowed in his bedroom. No one thought to ask why – perhaps wanting to give Swamper his space.
One witness who kept a room close to Swamper alleged that he was a treasure hunter. Yet Swamper didn't scrounge the city for silver. Instead, he dug shafts within the safety of his room. He believed that that the treasure was buried beneath his feet, digging day and night.
Some testify that Swamper found his treasure but didn't how to sneak it out of his hidey-hole. Relocating the cache would involve walking past the downstairs bar and the upstairs hotel. His secrecy would be jeopardized. He'd have to keep his treasures in his tunnels, where locals say they remain today.
Although employees discovered Swamper's tunnels after his death, they were never able to find his treasure. The tubes were even traced to the abandoned shafts of Toughnut Mine, yet were discovered vacant.
Do they hold phenomena of a different kind?
During one expedition, excavators heard load moaning once they approached Swamper’s space. They even heard footsteps upon the staircase, leading them to think that someone had entered the building.
They immediately searched the premises once they emerged aboveground, but found the building abandoned. The doors were still locked.
Was this Swamper, anxious that the excavators had discovered his treasure? Although they didn't find Swamper’s silver, perhaps he feared they’d come too close for comfort.
Those sensitive to spiritual energies speculate that's why Swamper sticks around – to protect his treasure trove. Young men are particularly unwelcome in Swamper's room, often pushed or poked by unseen hands.
Swamper also seems to take pleasure in making messes for the establishment. He's the first suspect whenever objects are misplaced or spontaneously combust. Is he causing mischief for the staff of Big Nose Kate's?
He's sometimes spotted in the staircase, but more frequently in the basement.
Visitors witness the sound of phantom singing in empty rooms. Others overhear talking long after the building's abandoned. Spirits toss silverware from tabletops; lights turn on and off by themselves – even the balcony mannequins are moved and tossed about by unseen specters.
Cameras malfunction or reveal inexplicable, hazy blurs. There are cold-spots and unidentified foot-steps. Who else is haunting this spooky saloon?
Built on the former site of The Grand Hotel, Big Nose Kate’s is “the Best Cowboy Bar in the West.”
Before it held a saloon, the property housed The Grant Hotel. Opening in September of 1880, the hotel experienced a short tenure: it caught fire two years later, catastrophically destroyed. The fire reduced this once high-profile hotel to ash and ember. It’s thick carpet, chandeliers, and hand-carved furniture were lost to the flame.
The hotel’s saloon was one of the few surviving structures, kept safe in the building’s basement. It's now the saloon used by Big Nose Kate’s.
For those on the lookout for Big Nose Kate, you’re better off searching Crystal Palace. Kate lived in the establishment during her affair with Doc Holliday, leading some to believe that her spirit stays there now.
Visitors will find themselves entertained at this spooky saloon. They operate daily in Tombstone’s historic downtown. Be careful, Swamper’s around!