Down at the very bottom of Arizona, practically in Mexico, this hotel has a rich and varied history, including tragic fires, cowboy urban legends, and several TV specials about its haunting history. Named for the Gadsden Purchase, which brought the lowest sliver of Arizona and New Mexico into the union, the Gadsden hotel has stood as a historic reminder of Arizona’s rough and tumble past. It was once called the “Living room of Douglas,” as the lobby and saloon were popular places for the weary travelers and ranch hands. But, if you stay in the right room, you just might come face to face with one of those cowboys, still enjoying their leisure time at the hotel long after their death. Today, let’s explore the tallest building in Douglas, Arizona; the Gadsden Hotel, and the ghosts that call it home. 

The hotel was originally built in 1907, the hotel had a rocky first few years, as it was leveled by a fire in 1928 and rebuilt swiftly after, this time with stunning Tiffany stained glass windows and skylights and a marble staircase that has its own story to tell about a famous outlaw. The proprietors of the hotel say that the chip in the marble was made by the infamous Pancho Villa riding his horse up the stairs. No word how he got the horse back out of the hotel, however. 

With no expense spared during its rebuilding, the Gadsden was the first hotel in the hot Arizona climate to offer air-cooled rooms, making any guest’s stay a more comfortable one. Complete with a real manual elevator (a luxury in the southwest at the time) the reputation of this hotel was one of opulence, the wild west as it was settled, and the comfort of a nice beer at the end of a difficult day in the sun. The goal of the hotel today, according to its proprietors, is to give guests the feeling of living in another time, stepping back into history as they step over the threshold. 

One of the biggest draws of the hotel, however, is the legend of the ghosts that still wander the halls and a saloon with ghostly guests, disappearing when the last drop of whiskey is gone from their glass. The front desk has two binders filled with the ghostly experiences of guests and patrons, with the number of sightings steadily increasing throughout the life of the historic hotel. Often ghost enthusiasts request room 333, said to be the biggest hotspot of paranormal activity. It’s been reported that guests experience ghostly knocking on the walls at night, as well as their television turning off and on seemingly at random. One guest reported seeing the lock on the door open by itself and two apparitions entering the room as if they’d just returned from a day of shopping. Within a few moments, the spirits disappeared into ether, with the door still unlocked from the outside as if from a ghostly key. 

Still more patrons tell stories of having a rousing conversation with a fellow drinker at the saloon, only for them to disappear when they look away. Many spirits seem to enjoy interacting with the guests, even if their visit can leave some shaking in their cowboy boots. An employee has asserted that once, heading to the basement for a restock on drinks, she came face-to-face with a cowboy in a long duster, standing at the bottom of the stairs. She said it was like he wanted to make eye contact with her and confirm she saw him before disappearing around the corner. 

Spirits have appeared in photographs taken by guests, usually wondering what the extra person in their family photo is doing standing stoically in the background. Disembodied voices and the clanging of silverware can sometimes be heard in the coffee shop long after the doors are locked for the day and the chairs are stored away on the tables. Some find it comforting, knowing that the old hotel still has a bit of life, or rather the afterlife, after all of these years of stellar hospitality and respite for the local crowd of spirits. There are hundreds of reports of the supernatural in the opulent Gadsden Hotel, including more stories of guests feeling unseen people sitting on their bed, or even climbing into bed with them in the middle of the night. 

Some employees even say they find the spirits comforting, that they’d be lonely without them and certainly more bored without their constant interaction. If you feel like spending a night with spirits, be sure to check out the most haunted rooms of 114 and 333, hear the stories of the wild west and those who lived it, and hopefully– get a good night’s sleep. That last part isn’t guaranteed, however. You just might find yourself face-to-face with a piece of the hotel’s storied past. And you might see them disappear into thin air. 

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