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Haunted Tombstone - Page 2

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Bird Cage Theatre


One of the oldest original buildings in Tombstone and most authentic attractions in this once booming mining camp, the Bird Cage Theatre also has the reputation as being the most haunted place in town, allegedly continuing to host as many as 31 ghosts.


The Bird Cage was named for its 14 small "cribs" hanging from the ceiling that once housed "painted ladies,” dressed as finely feathered birds. After its opening in 1881, it quickly gained a reputation as the wildest place in town, so much so that even the far away New York Times said of it: "the Bird Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast."


Between 1881 and 1889, the Bird Cage never closed its doors 24 hours a day, as it provided gambling, drinking, and other vices to its many customers. The saloon was the scene of 26 deaths, which can be attested to by the 140 bullet holes which can still be viewed at the Bird Cage today.



The Birdcage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona, 1933

Bird Cage Theatre in 1937, photo by Frederick D. Nichols.

This image available for photographic prints & downloads HERE!




Since 1934, the old building has served as a museum owned and operated by the Hunley family. It still houses the gilded "cages," hand painted stage, and the original Grand Piano. Here, where tourists can walk along the floors of this historic honky-tonk, once walked the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.


The Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona today

The Bird Cage Theatre today, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints and downloads HERE!



Seemingly, some of these old legends of the past continue to stalk the old saloon as both staff and guests, alike, have reported seeing ghostly apparitions in 1800's clothing. Most often sighted, is the figure of a male stage hand that appears wearing black striped pants, a visor, and holding a clipboard, as he walks across the stage. Other occurrences include the sounds of raucous laughter and music pouring from the doors of the old theatre at night. Others report hearing the faint sounds of a woman singing and the museum's sound system has inexplicably turned on of its own accord, blaring old time music. Others have reported strange sounds coming from the balconies of the main floor and the sharp scents of cigar smoke and whiskey. After closing time, staff have reported hearing the sounds of clinking glass and cards shuffling.


The haunting reports date back to 1921 when a school was built across the street and students began to report the sounds of laughter and music coming from the abandoned building, as well as the smell of cigar smoke.


Cribs at the Bird Cage Theatre

Cribs at the Bird Cage Theatre, Kathy Weiser, April, 2007.


Over the years, the Hunley family, staff, and visitors alike have experienced a number of strange events. One of the most fascinating tales is of how a dice table, which weighed several hundred pounds mysteriously moved the night before. When staff arrived the next morning, they table had been moved in front of a door with a sign that read: "Don’t Disturb Our 26 Resident Ghosts.”  The table is so heavy that it reportedly took eight men to move it back to its former position.


Another story tells of a statue of Wyatt Earp that was made and placed in one of the cribs overlooking the theatre. When it was first placed there, staff would arrive in the morning to find "Wyatt's” hat continually knocked off and thrown into the floor below. This occurred over and over for about six months. On one occasion, staff arrived to find the statue was turned around, with its back facing the view from below. Some time later, a local historian told the Hunleys that they had placed the Wyatt Earp statue in the crib that was usually reserved by the Clantons.  When the statue was moved to the crib that Wyatt actually frequented when he was alike, the hat tossing finally stopped.


On another occasion, a valuable antique poker chip, which had been missing for years, suddenly reappeared on the poker table. Upon finding it there, it was locked away in a safe until it could be authenticated by historians. However, when the historians arrived, they were disappointed to find that the chip had suddenly gone missing again. Only after they left, did it reappear in a locked desk drawer.


The Bird Cage Theatre has been the sight of a number of paranormal investigations featured on popular television programs.

The Bird Cage Theatre is located at 517 E Allen Street.



Continued Next Page

Black Moriah hearse at the Bird Cage Theatre

 The Black Moriah hearse carried those killed at the O.K. Corral to Boot Hill. It was the first "vehicle” to ever have curved glass, is trimmed out with gold, and is reportedly worth nearly two million dollars. Kathy Weiser, April, 2007.

Doc Holliday Faro Table

The faro table that Doc Holliday dealt cards out continues to stand

 in the Bird Cage Theatre Kathy Weiser, April, 2007.


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