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Reno’s Most Haunted

 

Haunted Places in the Reno Area

 

Compiled by Dennis William Hauck

 

Carson City

 

Bee Hive Whorehouse  The ghost of a tall, bloated woman with straggly red hair and dressed in a dirty, white nightgown has been seen on the streets near the whorehouse where she once lived. Her name is Timber Kate, and she was part of a notorious saloon act with her female lover, Bella Rawhide. The two performed live sex acts in honky-tonks in Carson City, Spokane, Butte, and Cheyenne. But the young Bella fell in love with a half-breed ruffian by the name of Tug Daniels. After Bella and Tug ran away together, Timber Kate resorted to dressing as a man in white tights and lifting weights on stage, though she usually ended doing a bizarre strip-tease. In 1880, Bella and Tug met up with Kate in Carson City. In the ensuing showdown, Tug pulled a knife and cut open Kate's belly "from her crotch to her navel." The eviscerated woman died in excruciating pain on the whorehouse floor. Tug escaped and was never seen again. In 1882, Bella committed suicide by drinking cleaning fluid. (Carson City, the capitol of Nevada, is at the junction of U.S. Hwy 50 and U.S. Hwy 395 in the west-central corner of the state. The site of the old Bee Hive Whorehouse is on north Quincy Street, but Timber Kate's ghost has been seen on many of the streets nearby.)

 

Bliss Mansion  This 8,500-square-foot mansion was built on top of a graveyard. Lumber millionaire D.L. Bliss completed the three-story house in 1879, after the last bodies in an 1860 cemetery on the property were exhumed. Some believe those disturbed pioneers still haunt the grounds. (The mansion is now a bed-and-breakfast inn on the corner of West Robinson and North Mountain streets, across from the Governor's Mansion. Bliss Mansion, 710 West Robinson Street, Carson City, NV 89703. For information, call manager Ed Dilley at 702-885-9278.)

 

Brewery Arts Center  Built in 1874 by the Carson Brewing Company, this structure is now the center of cultural life in Carson City. It houses the Nevada Artists Gallery and the Donald Reynolds Theater. The building's change in cultural status is supported by a ghostly presence. A pleasant, discarnate voice makes suggestions and reminds workers to turn off the lights and lock doors. (The Brewery Arts Center is at 449 West King Street, Carson City, NV 89703. Phone: 702-883-1976.)

 

Curry House  Abe Curry left his wife behind in New York, when he came west to search for gold in 1850. It took several years for him to make enough money to bring her west, and in 1871, he built her a beautiful limestone home. But when Abe died his total wealth consisted of a single silver dollar he had in his pocket. That may be why he returns here, searching for his wife Mary, whom he left alone and destitute. See Nevada State Museum. (The privately owned house is on the corner of North Nevada and West Telegraph streets at 406 North Nevada Street, Carson City, NV 89703. The house is featured on the Kit Carson Trail Ghost Tour. For information, call 800-638-2321.)

 

Edwards House  The ghost of a maid keeps this place neat and clean, just like she did when she was alive. Built in 1883, the house is maintained by the spirit of a Paiute Indian woman, who dusts and folds clothes but refuses to do windows. (The Edwards House is a private residence at 204 North Minnesota Street, Carson City, NV 89703.)

 

Governor's Mansion  This stone mansion was completed in 1909 and has been haunted since the 1950s. That is when someone presented the governor with an antique mantel clock that apparently contained spiritual energy suspended in time. Doors in the parlor started opening by themselves, and a cold, moving presence was detected. Then, a housekeeper saw the ghosts of a woman and her 8-year-old daughter wandering through the room and into the halls. (The governor's residence is at 606 North Mountain Street, Carson City, NV 89703. Phone: 702-882-2333.)

 

Gustassen House  Remodeling here shook some lost soul loose from the past. Now, the ghost places fresh flowers on the doorstep. The ghostly figure passes through the front door, but the real-life tulips cannot follow. No one has ever been able to figure out the identity of the spirit, but the flowers on the front stoop are always put in vase of fresh water. (The house is a private residence located on the corner of Curry and West Robinson streets at 602 North Curry Street, Carson City, NV 89703.)

 

Nevada State Museum  Abe Curry was the head of the Carson Mint in the late 1800s. He built this rugged, fortress-like structure to house the U.S. Mint in 1869, and used the same type of stone to build his house two years later (see Curry House). Eventually, the building became the headquarters for the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society. Curry's friendly spirit is felt by many here. (The museum is at 600 North Carson Street, Carson City, NV 89703. Phone: 702-687-4810. Tours of Carson City's haunted sites are organized from this site in October. For information, call 800-638-2321.)

 

 

Fallon

 

Grimes Point Archeological Area  This earthquake fault area was where Shoshone shamans held sacred rituals. The rocks are covered with ancient, indecipherable symbols. Some modern visitors have reported intense visions after sitting calmly on the rocks for an hour or so. Several glowing figures are seen on nights when there is no moon. They walk the old mining area, which is now the loop trail. They have also been spotted by visitors taking the cave tour. (Fallon is 60 miles east of Reno in Churchill County. The site is east of Fallon on Hwy 50. For information on Nevada sites in general, call 800-638-2328.)

 

Naval Air Station  The Weapons Department here is haunted by the ghost of an old Gunner's Mate. The apparition is seen walking around the base at night whistling "Anchors Aweigh." When spotted, the ghost immediately disappears into thin air. At Barracks 3 on the 3rd deck, strange sound comes from the room where a suicide occurred. The lounge TV has also been witnessed turning on by itself late at night. In Tahoe House, the smell of strong floral perfume is detected. The 2nd deck room is said to be occupied by a pilot who was killed during a flight training exercise.


 

Fish Spring

 

Kelsey House  This simple, wood-frame house was the sight of several recent hauntings. The first series of encounters lasted from 1977 to 1981 and involved all members of the Kelsey family. A tall, mustached male ghost, called "Samual," appeared in the kitchen and bedrooms. The manifestations centered around 13-year-old Jennifer, whose bed levitated on several occasions. Three different ghosts haunted the Steve and Mona Robinson family, when they rented the house from the Kelseys in October 1989. The visitations began with footsteps and the disembodied voice of an angry man. Garrett, their 11-year-old son, was chased from the house one day, after hearing the voices of two male and one female ghost coming from the upstairs bedrooms. His 6-year-old brother, Miles, once levitated in his bed. In October 1990, the Robinson family could no longer tolerate the angry spirits and moved out of the house. The Kelseys sold the house in 1992. (Fish Spring is south of Reno, near Virginia City off Hwy 341. The house is a private residence in Fish Spring, NV 89410.)

 

 

Gold Hill

 

Gold Hill Hotel  The victims of a mining accident here took up residence in the local hotel after they died. Employees and guests of the old Gold Hill Hotel have reported the apparitions since the turn of the century. One is William, thought to be the original owner, who died in a fire at the hotel in the late 1800s. He is a dark-haired man who smells of cigar smoke. The ghost of Rosie, a red-haired former housekeeper, smells like rose water perfume. Several apparitions who appear in the second floor hallway and bathroom. The hotel is renowned as a haven for supernatural occurrences, and many visitors have seen strange thing while staying there. It has been featured in many haunted documentaries. The original stone structure was built in 1859, thus making it Nevada's oldest hotel. A new addition was built in 1987. (The 15-room Gold Hill Hotel is 1 mile south of Virginia City on Hwy 342. Follow Hwy 341 from Carson City or via Hwy 342 from Reno. Phone: 702-847-0111.)

 

 

Reno

 

Mapes Hotel Site The original Mapes Hotel, a grand beauty of a building near the Truckee River, was haunted for decades by an unknown spirit. After it was torn down, the same presence has been reported lingering near the ice rink on the spot of the old hotel that is set up in the winter months.

 

Park Lane Mall  This modern shopping mall, home to Gottschalks, Century Theatres, and 70 stores and restaurants, is haunted by the ghost of a former shopper who was murdered there. In 1976, a young woman was found dead in the old downstairs bathroom. Her murder was never solved, and she is said to still haunt the bottom floor of the mall. The apparition appears most often around 9:00 PM on the third Saturday of the month. (Park Lane Mall is at 310 East Plumb Lane in south Reno.)
 
Robb Canyon The ghosts of four homeless people haunt this quiet canyon. After four bodies of transients were unearthed in this canyon, their apparitions started appearing. The apparitions are seen most often on Autumn moonless nights. Some have reported unexplained lights and the terrifying sounds of people being murdered. Noted psychics feel the spirits of these murdered men are attempting to provide clues to who killed them and why. (Robb Canyon is just north of I-80 outside the city of Reno.)

South Virginia Street  Busy Virginia Street, south of the Truckee River, is haunted by the sounds of children crying. Sometimes ghostly children are reported walking in the street. The eerie sites and sounds are believed to originate decades past from Native American children, who died from the chicken pox and are buried somewhere in the area.

 

Wooster High School  Earl Wooster High School has varsity, JV, and freshman football teams and the Wooster Boosters are known for their avid support. However, in the early 1980s, after a devastating football loss in the sectional finals to the McQueen Lancers (from Robert McQueen High School), an overwrought fan shot himself on the playing field. Now when the Lancers play the Wooster Colts on the Wooster field, visiting athletes will trip over nothing, as if some unseen hands have knocked them down.  (Wooster High School is at 1331 East Plumb Lane in Reno.)


 
Virginia City

 

Cemeteries  Virginia City has fifteen cemeteries clustered on the north end of town. Sections are divided according to race, religion, social status, occupation, and fraternal organizations. While people have reported sensing many discarnate souls here, the grave of a mule is the first to confront visitors. The animal was named Mary Jane Simpson and died in the Great Fire of 1875. The inscription says: "The Within Was Only A Mule; Still She Was Nobody's Fule." But the marker of August Bouhaben tells a more somber tale: "Born in Lasseube France, MURDERED March 31, 1892; Aged 31 Years." A glowing headstone is sometimes seen from observers in town, but when they arrive at the graveyard, the stone is dark again. Investigators trying to identify the mysterious marker must communicate over walkie-talkies with someone in town. There are also reports that a man's gravestone that moves from his gravesite frequently, although the guards report that no one has entered the cemetery. It is a large stone and normally requires three people to move it back into place. Julia Bullette, a famous Virginia City prostitute, is supposedly buried in the graveyard. Many think that her remains are not in her grave however, since the apparition seen rising up from her grave is a thin, young woman looking nothing like Julia. The unidentified apparition wears a brown, bustled dress, with a dark velvet collar. The ghost of a young child is also sometimes seen playing at her feet. Julia had no children. (Virginia City is located at the intersection of Hwy 341 and Six Mile Canyon Road in the mountains between Carson City and Reno. From Carson City, follow Hwy 50 to Hwy 341 north. From Reno, follow U.S. Hwy 395 to Hwy 341 and take the Geiger Grade to Virginia City. The city is at 6,220 feet elevation. The graveyard is on the north outskirts of town, across a gully from the Ophir Mine, at Carson Street and Cemetery Road. An RV park is near the entrance to the cemetery. The address is Virginia City RV Park, 355 North F Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 702-847-0999.)

 

Bonanza Saloon The old Bonanza Saloon building is said to be haunted by the apparition of a lady, who waves from the balcony.

 

Delta Saloon  The Suicide Table here is haunted by the ghost of Black Jake. The notorious gambler owned the Delta Saloon in the 1860s. One evening he lost a huge amount of money at this Faro Table, where he committed suicide by shooting himself. Afterwards, players at the table reported seeing the ghost of Black Jake putting a gun to his head. Soon, no one would sit at the table, and it was retired from use. (The Suicide Table is on display in the casino. Delta Saloon and Casino, 18 South C Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 847-0788.)

 

Fourth Ward School   This four-story school has sixteen classrooms, two study halls, and accommodated over 1,000 grammar and high school students. It was the first school west of the Mississippi to boast indoor plumbing. Built in 1875-6, it graduated its last class in 1936. But a tardy ghost named "Miss Suzette" still walks across the school yard to the front steps, where she vanishes. A local couple even gave the phantom a ride one evening. They saw a woman in an old-fashioned clothes walking down the street and offered her a ride. She said that her name was Suzette and had to get to the school. When they dropped her off, she disappeared before their eyes. She is thought to be a teacher who worked at the school in 1908. “Miss Suzette,” as the ghost has come to be known, is still seen walking across the old schoolyard. (The old school is on the corner of B Street and C Street in south Virginia City. For information, contact the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce, Box 464 C Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 702-847-0311.)  

 

F Street House  Many private residences in Virginia City are haunted. A good example is an old wood house on F Street, where the ghost of the “Woman In Red" is seen. She is believed to be the apparition of a former saloon keeper. The female spirit likes to rock in the attic's rocking chair. Sometimes at twilight, she has been spotted, standing on the house's second floor verandah, waving exuberantly at passersby. Witnesses have also reported "hazy forms of old miners" socializing with her on the verandah.
 

Longbranch Building  The muffled sounds of a child’s crying have been reported many times in this old building, but no one has ever been able to trace the source. Some believe it to be the sounds of a little girl, who was trampled by a stagecoach in front of the Longbranch in the 1870s. She was carried into the building, where she died. Sometimes happier sounds are heard coming from the old building. The eerie sounds of banjos playing and people laughing have been heard coming from the deserted building between 2:00 and 3:00 AM. (Today, the Longbranch Building is a series of shops near the assay office on the north edge of town.)

 

MacKay Mansion  The apparition of a woman dressed in Victorian clothing has been seen sitting in a high-backed chair in the living room here. She is also seen floating around on the third floor. Another upstairs room is haunted by the presence of child who likes to lay down on freshly-made bed. A former servant keeps herself busy, traipsing up and down the staircase, trying to finish her chores.  A former Army Colonel, who lived in the house after his retirement, sits passing the time in the kitchen. The mansion was built in 1860 and housed both the living quarters of entrepreneur John MacKay and the offices of the Gould and Curry Mine. (The mansion is located between South D and Washington streets in south-central Virginia City. The address is MacKay Museum, 129 South D Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 702-847-0173.)

 

Main Street  On Virignia City’s main street, which is Highway 341, several ghosts are seen. The apparition of Katie Hillyer, who died in 1968, has been seen hurrying down the street to visit the bookmobile. She was an avid reader and was herself a freelance writer. Her apparition is dressed in her heavy, old favorite jacket, and her customary baseball cap. Katies’s ghost is seen as a "filmy silhouette" in some of the bars lined along the street. Once she was observed leaning on the bar railing at one of her  favorite bars. The apparition "smiled and nodded at others, in a 'detached' sort of way."

 

Ophir Mine  The ghost of Henry Comstock haunts the site where he discovered the "Comstock Lode" in January 1859. He lost millions of dollars when developers took over his claim and dug a mine nearly 1,500 feet deep. In the winter of 1874, an eerie light shot out from the mouth of mine and rose sixty feet into the air. Townspeople arrived to put out what they thought was a fire, but no smoke or flame could be detected. All they could see was the weird light coming from halfway down the shaft. The next morning, strange things were reported at the long-deserted 700-foot level. The cage would be summoned when no one was there, and odd sounds could be heard coming from that level. Investigators discovered the glowing ghost of Henry Comstock, who identified himself and said he was reclaiming his gold. Chunks of skin were hanging from his decomposing skeleton and "his eyes were an orange-yellow color with pupils that danced as if filled with blue flames." The ghoulish phantom continued to harass the miners, blowing out their candles one at a time in a row, calling the cage when no one was around, and filling the tunnels with his howling, insane laughter. (The mine is south of D Street, between Six Mile Canyon Road and Carson Street, in north Virginia City. It is just south of the Virginia City cemeteries. The mountain of tailings from the Ophir Mine is easily visible.)

 

St. Mary's Art Center  The ghost of a White Nun stays in the upstairs rooms here, and her face is frequently seen at an upper window. The two-story brick building used to be a Catholic hospital. One night in 1878, a patient in the psychiatric ward started a fire, in which he and the nun on duty burned to death. The nun's spirit is tied to the place, where she so selflessly served. (The former hospital is in east Virginia City at 55 North R Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: (775-847-7774)

 

St. Mary's In-The-Mountains  The distinctive footsteps of Father Meinecke are still heard coming from an upstairs alcove in the church. The priest walks with a cane but has been dead for many years. Both parishioners and visitors have reported hearing the inexplicable sounds. The church was built in 1868, burned down in 1875, and was rebuilt in 1876. Local mine owners donated money to rebuild the church and cast a massive bell out of pure silver for the steeple. (The Catholic church is on the corner of South E and Taylor streets at 111 South E Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 702-847-9694.)

 

St. Paul's Episcopal Church  Many people have reported seeing the ghost of a woman with a shawl over her shoulders standing in an upstairs window here. Her agitated apparition turns from side-to-side, as if suffering some great distress. The church was built in 1876 on the site of a previous church that burnt in the Great Fire of 1875, when 2,000 buildings burnt to the ground in Virginia City. (The church is on the corner of South F Street and Taylor Street, across from St. Mary's.)

 

Six Mile Canyon  The ghost of outlaw Jack Davis still haunts the secluded canyon where he buried his loot. Davis led a double life. He arrived in the area in 1859 and set up a livery stable in Gold Hill. In his spare time, he robbed stagecoaches, trains, and bullion wagons on the Geiger Grade. He built a small bullion mill in Six Mile Canyon and melted down his stolen gold. Then, he sold it as legitimate gold bars and buried his proceeds so people would not catch on how rich he was. Finally, in 1870 he was caught trying to rob the Verdi train. In 1875, he was paroled but two years later was shot in the back during an attempt to rob a stagecoach south of Eureka. It is thought that the outlaws cache of buried gold coins is still in the canyon, but treasure seekers have been frightened away by the white, screaming specter of Jack Davis. Sometimes, his ghost sprouts wings and rises into the air. (Six Mile Canyon is just east of Virginia City.)

 

Virginia City Flats On the barren land surrounding Virginia City, visitors have reported poltergeist effects, such as rocks and debris moving. Pieces of metal and rocks have even been thrown at visitors.

 

Washoe Club  The nebulous form of a blonde-haired woman has appeared on the spiral staircase in this saloon so many times that patrons named her "Lena." The unique staircase was built for the Millionaire's Club, an exclusive men's group which met in the building in the 1870s. Lena ghost has also appeared in front of the wall across from the bar. The apparition of an old prospector has materializes on one of the stools at the end of the bar, and the ghost of a 13-year-old girl, thought to have been murdered in the basement, has appeared in the second floor bedroom. Owners Doug and Sharon Truhill have reported a number of other unusual manifestations, including moving chandeliers and the presence of an "angry spirit" that breaks glasses. (The saloon/casino is on C Street, which is Hwy 341, in central Virginia City.)

 

Wild West Museum  This is one of the eeriest places in Virginia City. Hundreds of authentic artifacts are on display, as well as recreations of murder scenes and a Spook Room upstairs. The collection of skulls includes several from outlaws, such as the Apache Kid and a Zuni ceremonial skull adorned with turquoise. (The museum is at 66 North C Street, Virginia City, NV 89440. Phone: 702-847-0400.)

 

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