Swamper Ghost Tombstone, Arizona

When I wrote Gunfight at the O.K. Corral: Luke and Jenny Visit Tombstone I decided to include the Swamper as one of my characters because local legend has it that he is one of the town ghosts.

The Swamper was a handyman who worked for the Grand Hotel back in the 1880s. And while the Grand Hotel is long gone the adobe facade from the original building still stands, and it is now known as Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. Big Nose Kate’s is one of the more popular eateries in town, (in fact my characters stop there for lunch in chapter one.) And over the years Big Nose Kate’s employees have told me the place is haunted, and they believe the spirit haunting the place is the Swamper.

It was discovered that the Swamper had dug a secret tunnel into the silver mines from his basement room in the Grand Hotel, and legend has it he is still guarding his silver, even today.

You know, there may be a grain of truth to that story. I was in town the other day and ventured into the basement at Big Nose Kate’s. Today the basement is a clothing store, (with nice items at good prices,) and, off to the side, is the Swamper’s room, set of as a historic exhibit, and no doubt bearing a close resemblance to how it may have looked when the Swamper lived there.

The tunnel is also there. A wall, (which looks like is was later added on), with a barred door keep the room from being accessed by the public.

Being curious I wanted to take a photo for my own use. When I snapped it I looked at my LCD screen and wondered how I managed to get one of the bars in the middle of my shot. I could have sworn I was more careful. It wasn’t until later, when I looked at the shot on my computer, that I realized it wasn’t one of the bars at all. It is black mist, and, if you look closely, you can see right through it. It appears to be coming up from the tunnel, and there are also a number of orbs in the mist.

I mean the Swamper no disrespect, but it looks like the stories are true. The old boy is still guarding his silver treasure.


Tombstone Motors Ghost

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved.

Photography has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and when a friend in Tombstone, Arizona, opened up a new business called Tombstone Motors, I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the cool replica of a 1930’s gas station.

I wanted to take night photos, which I do using an old-fashioned manual 35mm camera and doing timed exposures. Of course, some of the locals, who are also into photography, warned me that the spirit people might really take the opportunity to mess with my pictures. So I asked them to please refrain, and they mostly did. I shot an entire roll of film and only had one anomaly show up, and it was on a test shot that I took at sundown. As usual, I got a bending light beam.

All my other ghost photos were taken with my 35mm point and click camera. This photo, however, was taken with my trusty old 35mm Nikkormat that I bought new back in 1978. So those of you who thought all the weird stuff I was getting before was because my camera was somehow broken need to come up with another way of debunking it.


High School Graduation Ghosts

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2007. All Rights Reseved.
Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

These have to be the two strangest photos I’ve ever taken.

My (now ex) husband and I had been invited to a friend’s daughter’s graduation from Tombstone High School in Tombstone, Arizona. This was the final graduation from the old high school, which was located on Fremont Street, just a few blocks away from the O.K. Corral.

We had parked next to the tennis courts, which are on the corner of 6th and Allen Street, caddy-corner from the infamous Bird Cage Theater. After we parked I decided to take a few family photos with a 35MM camera. Nothing out of the ordinary was going on that night other than the graduation, and everyone around us seemed to be in a festive mood.

I couldn’t believe my eyes it when I got my photos developed. I’ve never seen bending light rays, nor have I ever seen light rays with varying luminosity. These anomalies also appear on the negatives. I just have to write it off as another accidental ghostly encounter.


The Bird Cage Theater, Tombstone, Arizona

Photo by Gayle Martin. Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona, has a reputation for being one of the most haunted buildings in America, and it’s been featured in such TV shows as Ghost Adventurers and Ghost Hunters.

The first time I visited the Bird Cage was in the summer of 2003. It was also the first time I ever had a strange anomaly appear in a photo. My (now ex) husband and I came into the lobby and smelled cigar smoke. We asked the woman working behind the bar about it. She looked kind of embarrassed and said, “It’s just them.” She went on to say that smoking has not been allowed in the Bird Cage for many years, but that cigar smoke can sometimes be smelled when the ghosts are around.

So now we know there is smoking in the afterlife!

We went inside the theater auditorium and I took a few photos. At the time I was using a 35mm camera, and, after the photos were developed, we discovered is what appears to be a laser beam running down the stage, bending around corners, and then splitting in two to go around a barber’s chair.

Since went to light beams bend to go around corners?

Little did I know at the time, but this 2003 photo would mark the beginning of my adventures as The Accidental Ghost Hunter.