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It's Nevada Day. It's Halloween. We're talking about the creepiest haunts in the state

Albert Szukalski's The Last Supper in Rhyolite, Nevada.
Albert Szukalski's The Last Supper in Rhyolite, Nevada.

Happy Nevada Day. And of course, happy Halloween—and if you’re in a business that benefits from Halloween, it’s probably even happier: the holiday has grown into one of the most popular and profitable in Nevada.

Nationwide, retail sales for Halloween are expected to be more than $12 billion this year. Last year, Nevada retail sales ran up to $171 million and that’s expected to increase.

At the same time, paranormal investigators believe Nevada is one of the most haunted in the country. Plus, the idea of ghosts, ghouls, poltergeists, lost souls — can be both scary and fascinating. Are they real? Are they figments of imagination?

Tracie Barnthouse, the chief communications officer for Travel Nevada, said we have 100 zip codes throughout Nevada but about 600 ghost towns preserved due to our dry climate, "so there's a lot to see and do out there."

Nevada has always had a haunted reputation, but shows like Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, as well as social media, popularized the idea, she said. Her favorite ghost town is Rhyolite, "Nevada's most photographed ghost town."

21 N. Main St., Tonopah, NV 89049

"The Clown Motel has definitely made a lot of those haunted lists," Barnthouse said. "If you're scared of clowns, which a lot of people are scared of clowns … it's a clown-themed motel and that's kind of creepy and [what] ups that spooky factor is that next door to the Clown Motel is a 1900s-era miner cemetery. You could do a walking tour and learn about the lives of the people … in that cemetery right next door to the Clown Motel, so [you] get a two for one there."

Could I survive a night in their motel of terror?

100 N. Main St., Tonopah, NV 89049

"The lady in red was a popular lady of the night who lived and received her customers on the hotel's fifth floor. … Very sad story a jealous ex-lover strangled her to death. But despite her tragic end, she is said to whisper kind words to people in the elevator and to leave [pearls] on people's pillows from her broken necklace. So she is said to haunt the Mizpah, but in a in a friendly way. You can actually stay in room 502, which is the room that this is said to have happened. There's also the lady in red room as part of the Mizpah, as well."

From 2011: The Mizpah Hotel is back, and hopefully here to stay.

662 Main St., Pioche, NV 89043

"The Overland Hotel in Pioche, so that's definitely a haunted experience," Barnthouse said. "We recently had our team from the United Kingdom out here with the media, showing them around this part of the state and in the middle of the night, our rep told me that the lights of her room turned on, just all of them, and she couldn't turn them off. And this is a very old hotel. So it's not, you know, a technology error. It's nothing like that. … Light switch wasn't working. So that's something specifically that happened to her. The property itself attracted the crew of Ghost Adventures, who were able to capture some of their most successful interactions with paranormal spirits there."

69-79 Columbia Ave., Goldfield, NV 89013

"Goldfield hotel is said to be haunted by a couple people. The most famous spirit is a woman who's named Elizabeth and she was the proprietor's mistress; she became pregnant with his child, he got super jealous of that and in order to protect his marriage … the story goes that she was initially paid to stay away from from him, but he was fearful that she would expose him, so he chained her to a radiator in the Goldfield Hotel. And after she gave birth, she disappeared but many people have claimed to hear crying in the Goldfield … when they do offer tours from time to time. There are lots of things … a tobacco odor that maybe permeates throughout the hotel … it also is said to be declared as a portal to the underworld, so it's definitely one of the scariest places on earth."

Goldfield, Nevada was the site of the last great goldrush on the western frontier. The town marks its birth from the discovery of gold in December 1902.…

420 N. Valle Verde Dr., Henderson, NV 89014

Also with us on Tuesday was Heather Leigh Carroll-Landon, PhD., a paranormal researcher. She's the author of two books on haunted Nevada places: Haunted Southern Nevada Ghost Towns and Ghost and Legends of the Vegas Valley.

"Upon deep diving into the history of the park, the biggest haunt is a little boy that is rumored to be swinging on the swings. And then when you approach him, his eyes turn red, and he turns into a demon and attacks. And it's believed that this is the spirit of a little boy who was hit by a car near the park, and he just remains at the park. But now he's being influenced by demonic entities. And I personally was not able to find any type of record of a small boy dying anywhere near this park. So I truly believe that it started off as an urban legend, and has now developed into almost a self-manifestation. … I truly think that that park is haunted. But it's not of the spirit that people think it is, just because I think with all the legends in the sharing of the story, it just kind of developed into its own haunting."

Florence Mine #1 Ramsey Road, Goldfield, NV 89013

"It's owned by John Aurich, and he welcomed us into do some filming. And we did an investigation of one of the mines. We were there three days; from the time we arrived to the time we left was nonstop paranormal activity. We were greeted by spirits watching us from a shed as we pulled up the driveway. We were psychically attacked in a collapsed mind where I was suddenly had to be pulled out because I could hear screaming of men … then all of a sudden I couldn't breathe and I felt like I was being crushed. And it was the exact same area where the mine had collapsed. They still don't think they got all the bodies out yet," Landon said. Then on their way home, "We were smelling fire burning. I was woken up in the middle of the night to someone screaming, "I didn't start the fire," which Goldfield had several fires and that mine also suffered several fires."

310 NV-161, Goodsprings, NV 89019

"People have seen the image of Clark Gable at the end of the bar where he drank himself into a stupor, and the bar still has a cigar marks where he put a cigar out on the wood bar. People will see him, they're just you know, drinking and laying on the counter like he did back then. And then others have seen Carole [Lombard] walking through the bar almost like she's looking for her husband to console them," Landon shared.

Long after their mining boomtowns went bust, these rural bars still serve brews and burgers — and a hair-raising ghost story or two.


"Some of the research that I've started doing is, it's basically based off the Superman theory [as to why Nevada is so haunted]. And this is where there's high concentrations of quartz crystal in the environment. … And over time, [recordings are] being replayed over and over and over similar to the Stone Tape Theory, it just starts to fade. So because the hauntings are so old in the Vegas area, and throughout Nevada, they're slowly fading. And that's why a lot of them in my theory — I mean, everybody has a whole bunch of different theories on it — but that's my theory as to why. Also, the Nevada triangle is there, that goes just south of Vegas to Area 51, and then out west just to the California border, and that is where a lot of hauntings occur. And it's believed that's because of the different metals and everything in the environment. Just kind of makes a lot of things happen similar to the Bermuda Triangle."

Travel Nevada: Paranormal Passport
Travel Nevada: Dirt Road Code
Heather Leigh PhD - Exploring the Paranormal

Guests: Tracie Barnthouse, chief communications officer, Travel Nevada; Heather Leigh Carroll-Landon, author, Haunted Southern Nevada Ghost Towns

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Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She curates content on, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.
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