Elevators are a trifle spooky to some people: they can malfunction and trap you between floors; the lights can go out and leave you in such intense darkness that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face; and, of course, the cable could always break plunging you rapidly downward to probable death (is it true jumping up and down might give you a 50/50 chance of surviving?).
Many horror movies include elevator scenes: thousands of gallons of blood cascading out from elevator doors; knife attacks in the small compartment leaving the victim with absolutely nowhere to run; and, one of my very favorite zombie scenes takes place in a shopping mall in which a bitten human emerges fully-zombified.
In the year 1935, the dead body of a maintenance man by the name of Claude M. Harvey was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the United Verde Hospital in Jerome, Arizona.
It is uncertain whether Harvey was killed accidentally, or murdered. The truth of that matter may never be determined, but many locals believe that Harvey’s ghost is still there.
The town of Jerome, Arizona was once a booming copper mining town. Construction of a hospital for the miners began in 1926. Completed and opened in 1927, the hospital was proud of its Otis--one of the first self-service elevators in the country.
Eventually the copper mine dried up, and the United Verde Hospital closed in 1950. In 1996, it reopened as the Jerome Grand Hotel. The very same Otis elevator, under which was found the body of Claude M. Harvey, is still in use at the hotel today, and many feel it has some very eerie activity surrounding it.
Witnesses have reported seeing lights for which there is no discernible source, sounds of the elevator mechanism running (even when not in use), voices, screaming, labored breathing, and coughing.
Throughout the hotel, ceiling fans turn on and off by themselves. Doors open and close by themselves. Telephones in vacant rooms ring up the front desk. Footsteps, cold spots, and objects seeming to move of their own accord are reported by staff and guests of the hotel.
A small boy has been glimpsed on the third floor. The ghost of a nurse carrying a clipboard and appearing to check patients in their beds is often reported. Another ghostly woman supposedly looking for her deceased baby is said to roam the halls.
One of the most reported sightings if that of a bearded man wandering the halls, turning lights on in his wake. Many state that they sense a feeling of anger surrounding this entity, and some locals believe this is the ghost of Claude Harvey seeking vindication, or perhaps the answer to the mystery of his death.
I plan to visit Jerome on the way to see my son at Camp Pendleton, just a short time before Halloween. Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to experience the Jerome Grand Hotel first hand. I'll let you know!
Robson, Ellen, and Dianne Halicki. Haunted Highway: The Spirits of Route 66. Phoenix: Golden West Publishers, 2003.
Hippies, hogs and ol’ haunts By Dennis Sigman and Eve Conant
January 14, 2007