LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – She’s said to be friendly, as far as ghosts go. And why wouldn’t she be, given her reputed profession.
Legend has it The Lady in Red, arguably Nevada’s most famous apparition, was a Tonopah prostitute. With Halloween costumes still hanging in closets and a paranormal tour scheduled next week for Tonopah, what better time to revisit – in a strictly chaste manner – The Lady in Red’s reputation. Sweet, affectionate, welcoming.
“Why? It’s obvious,” says historical ghosthunter Marie Mason of The Lady’s behavior. “What does she do for a living? She’s a salesman. She’s trying to get business. ‘Hi, sweetheart. You want to visit with me?’
“It’s her demeanor. It’s who she was.”
Mason is leading a paranormal tour of Tonopah from Nov. 10-13 that will include the historic Mizpah Hotel, where The Lady in Red roams the fifth floor and its elevator. The one-time mining town, known for several other apparitions, is about a 3½-hour drive from Las Vegas on U.S. 95.
Mason is quick to point out the reason for Tonopah’s resplendent reputation for ghostly activity. “Because it’s rich in history,” she says. “Ghosts stay where they have experienced something important in their lives.”
Tonopah had its important happenings, and important people. Old West lawman Wyatt Earp ran freight and operated the Northern Saloon during the mining heydays. Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight boxing champ from 1914 to 1927, spent time there. So did Howard Hughes, who married actress Jean Peters at a hotel — not the Mizpah — in 1957.
The Mizpah is perhaps the neatest attraction for those interested in all things paranormal.
But the seat of Nye County also boasts the Old Tonopah Cemetery, the Clown Motel, the Tonopah Liquor Company and the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Ghosts are said to inhabit each business.
Mason, who lives in California, got into paranormal history in 2019, just before the pandemic. She researched Randsburg, California, where gold was discovered at the Rand Mine in 1895. From her experience there she wrote “Ghosts of Randsburg: The Madame’s Secret,” which tells the story of Marguerite Roberts, a mining camp madame.
“Along the way, this stuff just started happening to me,” she says. “A paranormal window opened for me.”
She said her visit to the Mizpah, on New Year’s Eve in 2021, was the one time she was frightened. After visiting the hotel’s basement, she fell asleep in her room on the second floor.
“I heard a voice in my ear, growling,” she said. “I jumped out of bed, hit my head. The Mizpah is the one place that scared me.”
The upcoming tour seeks to show there is more to Tonopah than the Mizpah and The Lady in Red, Mason says. She wants those who take the tour to experience history through paranormal activity.
“Everyone knows the Mizpah,” she says. “But what about the Liquor Company? They had a brothel on the second floor where the girls stuck a leg out a window and said to the men, ‘Let’s go.’
“Well, let’s visit that, too.”
As for the hotel’s famous Lady? There are two ghost stories, each presumably from the 1920s, tied to her.
The most common is that she was a popular and attractive sporting lady named Rose who entertained suitors on the fifth floor. It’s said a boyfriend, in a jealous rage, beat her to death between rooms 502 and 503.
The other account is that a husband who missed a train went back to the hotel to catch his wife cheating on him. He, too, killed in anger.
Male visitors to the renovated five-story hotel — named after the Mizpah mine and built in 1907 to celebrate Tonopah’s prosperity — report The Lady in Red whispering sweet nothings into their ears, often on the elevator. She’s said to have left pearls on visitors’ pillows, too. When attacked, a pearl necklace was ripped from her body, legend has it.
The spirits of George “Devil” Davis and Hattie, a brothel employee and barmaid, are said to inhabit the Tonopah Liquor Company.
Davis, who owned the Eureka Saloon, was shot to death by his wife in 1907. Hattie is said to be incredibly maternal and fond of children, according to tonopahnevada.com.
Then there’s Bina Verrault, who was on the run from New York City law enforcement when she died in Tonopah in 1907. People say she roams the visitor center at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park.
And we haven’t even touched the spirits attributed to the Clown Motel, built next to the Old Tonopah Cemetery. And, yes, the cemetery also is said to be haunted.
Mason says she’s always been a thrill-seeker, so another visit to Tonopah is a must.
Her plan for the November tour is to take a page from The Lady in Red, to be warm, caring and gentle.
“Because whatever it is, residual energy, I can’t tell you for sure, but the ghosts feed off you,” she says.
For more, visit the Tonopah NV – Paranormal Investigations.