Creepy Kingman Tales: Settle down with these Halloween stories

The Hotel Brunswick in downtown Kingman is the setting for many a ghost story.  (RYAN ABELLA/Photo Illustration)

The Hotel Brunswick in downtown Kingman is the setting for many a ghost story. (RYAN ABELLA/Photo Illustration)

KINGMAN - Our town is home to plenty of urban legends and myths, and in the spirit of Halloween here are some of Kingman's more notorious stories.

The Red Ghost

The "Red Ghost" tale isn't nearly as farfetched as most of Arizona's urban legends, as the possibility of a camel roaming the desert with a headless rider is completely plausible because of an experiment known as the U.S. Camel Corps.

In 1848, Quartermaster Major Henry Wayne suggested to the War Department that importing camels for military purposes was something worth pursuing for their campaigns in the American Southwest.

"Camels were known for their ability to endure climates similar to that of our southwestern deserts and for their surefootedness traveling uneven, steep terrain," wrote Joanne Lamm, from the U.S. Army Military History Institute, in 2009.

"They could carry at least twice the amount of weight as horses or mules and could last longer periods without water and required only prairie grasses for sustenance."

Their survivability, as well as their intimidating nature, led Congress to approve $30,000 for the purchase and importation of camels in 1855.

Seventy-four camels were brought in and used extensively up until the beginning of the Civil War. When the war broke out, most of the military's resources were devoted to fighting in the east, so the camels were sold at auction or let loose into the Arizona desert.

One of those loose camels was known to be exceptionally violent and was easily identified by the decomposing rider strapped to his back and the blood-stained fur that gave him his red color.

He was known as the "Red Ghost."

While nobody knows for certain why the rider was strapped to his camel well after death, many believe he was a cowardly soldier who was deathly afraid of camels.

To teach him how to overcome his fear, his captain strapped the soldier to the camel and let him run. The camel eventually outran the soldiers and escaped into the desert, with the young soldier still strapped in.

They never returned.

Reports of a large beast attacking miners and camps across the desert started coming in over the next few years. A woman in 1883 was found trampled to death, with hoof prints matching those of a camel around her camp.

Another group of miners reported seeing the camel wandering the desert, crimson as blood and carrying something suspicious on his back. They saw something fall off the back of the camel, and when they went to pick it up, they found that it was a human skull.

The camels let loose into the desert eventually died off, with the last reported sighting coming in 1907. However, the camel known as the Red Ghost was never found. Hikers to this day still look out into the desert for the camel and his headless rider, his fur caked with the blood of his victims.

Death Trap Rock

"The Death Trap" has many disputed origin stories, but they share the same concept: a rock in the Cerbat Mountains that, if touched, will kill any living thing on the spot.

Some credit the Hualapai Native Americans for the story, which has been passed down as a warning to those who look for the rock.

In the late 1800s, hunters in the Cerbats were chasing game into a whistling gorge deep in the mountains. They came across a sheep, which was frightened and ran into the gorge. They followed the sheep with their rifles and, without firing a shot, watched as the sheep fell over dead.

Stories told of an elder Hualapai who appears out of the bushes to warn hunters and explorers from venturing into the gorge. The gorge entrance was littered with the bones of victims who didn't heed the warning.

Fortunately for many, this rock is easy to identify. In the daylight, the rock glows a pale blue color. On moonless nights, it shines with an array of neon colors.

Theories of how the rock came to be range from a rock thrust from the middle of the Earth wielding the power of the rarest of metals to a rock that was cursed by a medicine man fleeing his hunters.

While no rock in particular has been identified as the infamous Death Trap rock, there are some theories about how a rock could be so deadly.

The Cerbat Mountains are littered with radioactive elements: selenium, beryllium, other rare earths. Even quantities of uranium and mercury are rumored to exist in the Cerbats. They are all toxic, but would never cause a living thing to drop dead on the spot.

One in particular, yttrotantalite, is a mineral rumored to exist in concentrated pockets in the Cerbats. The mineral consists of iron, yttrium, uranium, columbium, and tantalum in the form of black and brown crystals.

Regardless of what the rock may be made of, visitors to the Cerbats should stay clear of any rocks glowing or surrounded by the bones of its victims.

Hotel Brunswick and J. Watt Thompson

Lyle Sharman is the owner of United Private Investigations, a fully licensed private investigation company in Arizona. He also operates Route 66 Paranormal Investigators. Its primary goal is to document paranormal activity in public places around Arizona.

His team works in the vein of Syfy's "Ghost Hunters," utilizing video and audio equipment to capture paranormal activity.

"We try to collect evidence and prove that it's real," said Sharman. "We're interested in proving facts rather than debunking them."

One of his investigations, and he admits that it's of his more active ones, is the Hotel Brunswick in downtown Kingman.

The Hotel Brunswick has a storied history dating all the way back to 1909 when it was built. It was the first hotel in the region to have three floors, and was famous for its luxury in the Wild West.

The two owners at the time, J. Watt Thompson and John Mulligan, operated the hotel for a number of years. At one point they feuded over a woman and split the hotel down the middle, erecting a wall in the middle of the building. That wall eventually came down as the hotel bounced between owners.

In Sharman's investigations, he and his team claim they have made contact with Thompson. His evidence includes audio recordings and first-hand accounts of doors secured shut slamming open, items moving, footsteps along the corridors and strong, consistent readings on their electromagnetic detector.

While Thompson isn't considered an angry spirit, he does like to play jokes. In Debe Branning's "Sleeping With Ghosts!" she talks about some of the pranks Thompson has played.

One case involved a German couple staying on the second floor. During the night, the woman was yanked out of bed by an unknown force, her leg dangling in the air.

Another case involved a former owner, who was alerted to plumbing issues by punctures in the pipes. The holes were too small to make any noise, but the pipes made a loud audible noise to alert the owner.

Branning also mentions that Sarah, who is allegedly the woman Mulligan and Thompson loved, died in the hotel.

A housekeeper in the hotel, according to Branning, believes they are friendly spirits.