The Mizpah Hotel is in Tonopah, Nye County, Nevada, United States.
Tonopha’s growing prosperity following its emergence as a mining town inspired a group of financiers to build a luxury hotel there. They wanted the Mizpah Hotel to be the “best hotel in Nevada.”
It became a hub of social activity in Tonopah in the 1900s. It also became a gambling center after a casino opened in the 1940s
Tonopah residents allege that ghosts haunt the Mizpah Hotel. People often describe it as the most haunted in the U.S.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation added the Mizpah Hotel to its list of Historic Hotels of America in 2013.
In the early 1900s, a group of financiers, including George Wingfield, George S. Nixon, Cal Brougher, and Bob Govan, teamed up to finance the construction of the Mizpah Hotel. Architect George E. Holesworth of Reno, Nevada (some say it was Morrill J. Curtis) designed it.
The builders reportedly spent $200,000 constructing a five-story building from reinforced concrete steel, granite, and bricks. The rooms had leaded and stained glass windows, oak furniture, steam heat, and hot and cold water. The interior fixtures and facilities included brass chandeliers and electric elevators.
The Mizpah Hotel opened in 1907
The Mizpah Hotel opened in Tonopah in 1907 (some sources say the hotel officially opened for business on November 17, 1908).
It was one of the first luxury hotels in Nevada and the first in the mining town of Tonopah. The hotel derived its name from the nearby Mizpah Mine. It was the tallest building (alongside the Belvada Building) in Tonopah until the late 1920s.
[Note: Tonopah started as a mining town in the early 1900s after Jim Butler discovered silver-rich ore there. The town’s nickname, Queen of the Silver Camps, testifies to its perceived importance in the silver mining history of Nevada.]
The Mizpah Hotel was a center of social activity in Tonopah in the early 20th century. It had many famous and wealthy patrons. The owners introduced gaming facilities to the hotel in the 1940s, and by 1945, the casino had a roulette wheel, blackjack, craps table, and many slot machines.
Developer Frank Scott, who built Nevada’s Union Plaza Hotel and Casino in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, bought the Mizpah Hotel in 1979. He renovated and upgraded it but preserved its historic features.
Fred and Nancy Cline
Mizpah Hotel closed down in 1999.
Fred and Nancy Cline, founders of the Sonoma winery, Cline Family Cellars, acquired the hotel in 2011 and reopened it in August after restoration and renovation. Today, the Mizpah Hotel has 52 luxury rooms, two restaurants (the Pittman Cafe and the Jack Dempsey Room), a bar, and a dining room.
The Mizpah Club Casino is next to the hotel.
Local legends associated the hotel with prominent figures from the American frontier era, such as the Dodge City and Tombstone lawman Wyatt Earp.
Earp is known to many Americans for his role in the celebrated gunfight at O.K. Corral (1881), Tombstone, Arizona, alongside brothers Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday. According to folklore, Earp used to stay at the hotel.
Earp had a history of moving between boom towns. History records he lived briefly in Tonopah. He and his wife, Sadie (Josephine Sarah Earp), arrived in Tonopah in February 1902 but left in the summer of 1903 before Mizpah Hotel opened in 1907,
Although some disputed that he stayed at the Mizpah Hotel after it opened in 1907, he’s known to have visited nearby Goldfield after he left Tonopah and might also have been in Tonopah.
The Mizpah Hotel today has a bar named after Earp.
Locals claim that Jack Dempsey (1895-1983), a professional boxer and former world heavyweight champion (1919-1926), served as a bouncer at Mizpah (Michelle Dearmond, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1997) and tended the bar.
Some dispute that Dempsey worked as a bouncer at the Mizpah Hotel. Other sources even claimed he denied it.
Nevertheless, today, one of the hotel’s two restaurants is the Jack Dempsey (Dining) Room.
Billionaire Howard Hughes and actress Jean Peters wedding
Folklore claims that the Mizpah Hotel was the venue of billionaire Howard Hughes and actress Jean Peters’ secret wedding on January 12, 1957.
Senators Key Pittman and George Nixon
Mizpah’s website claims it was one of the favorite hangouts of two prominent Nevada politicians, Senators Key Pittman (1872-1940) and George Nixon (1860-1912). The owners named Mizpah Hotel’s Pittmann Cafe after Senator Key Pittman.
Pittman was a member of the U.S. Senate for Nevada from 1913 to 1940.
Legend claims that the spirits of past guests, residents, and staff haunt the Mizpah Hotel. Some of the best-known ghosts that allegedly haunt the property include:
The ghost of the Lady in Red
The Lady in Red is Mizpah Hotel’s most famous ghost.
According to legend, a call girl allegedly murdered by her jealous lover haunts the building. The lover murdered the girl on the fifth floor of the Mizpah Hotel.
Some versions of the legend claim that the girl named Rose lived permanently in a fifth-floor suite where clients visited her. She had many clients because she was generous, kind, and sweet.
However, a former lover or patron came and found her entertaining a rival. Enraged, he stabbed, strangled, and decapitated her.
A different version claims that the killer was the girl’s husband. She caught him with another man and murdered her in a rage.
Some said that the killer was a patron who fell in love with her and wanted her to quit the profession and marry him. But she refused. The person went berserk when he visited Rose one day and found her entertaining another man.
Rose haunts male guests
Staff and guests reported sighting Rose’s apparition dressed in red on multiple occasions (Michelle Dearmond, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1997).
Male guests at Mizpah reported hearing Rose whispering in a sweet and soft voice as if attempting to catch their attention and tell the story of her tragic ending.
The alleged encounters usually occurred on the fifth floor or in the elevator. Rose reportedly used to escort her clients to the elevator and the lobby.
Other male guests claimed they found a pearl under their pillow while staying in the fifth-floor room she used to occupy. Folklore says that Rose used to wear a necklace with a pearl pendant around her neck. The necklace broke, and the pearl went missing during the struggle with her assailant.
Some guests on the third floor reported being woken at night by the noise of young children playing in the halls. They heard the excited voices of children running around, laughing, and shouting on top of their voices.
When guests opened their doors, they found the halls empty. But the din resumed after they closed their doors.
One guest went to the front desk to complain about the noise. The puzzled staff told the guest that no children were staying at the hotel.
Ghosts in the basement
Another story claims two male ghosts haunt the basement. Paranormal investigators suggested that the ghosts were probably former miners who died while working underground.
Legend says that people who died in mining accidents years ago haunt the mineshafts and tunnels that stretch beneath Tonopah. The Mizpah Hotel is on top of Tonopah’s underground tunnels. Thus, people speculated that the ghosts haunting the basement might have wandered there from the tunnels.
Another version of the folklore claims the two basement ghosts were two former bank robbers who got double-crossed and murdered by their gang mates.
Senator Key Pittman’s ghost
Senator Key Pittman of Nevada died in 1940.
According to a local rumor, he died of a heart attack before his election while staying at the Mizpah Hotel. Folklore adds that some party leaders preserved his body in ice in a bathtub at the Mizpah Hotel until after the election.
Historians deny the rumor. However, some guests claimed to have seen Pittman’s ghostly apparition at the hotel.
A soldier’s apparition
A soldier’s specter allegedly haunts the hotel. The soldier’s identity remains a mystery, but legend claims he died while staying at Mizpah.
Some guests reported seeing the apparition on the third and fourth floors of the building.
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Top image courtesy of Raquel Baranow is used under Creative Commons license CC BY 3.0.
|100 N Main St, Tonopah, NV 89049
|Haunting, Poltergeist, Shadow Figures
Where to find
In the media
Season 5, Episode 2 of Ghost Adventures, titled Mizpah Hotel, aired on Travel Channel in September 2011. The episode investigated claims that ghosts haunt the Mizpah Hotel.
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1997-02-23-me-31627-story.html, “Legendary Hotel Struggles to Survive in Nevada,” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://www.themizpahhotel.com/dining.html, “Pittman Cafe,” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://www.themizpahhotel.com/about.html, “Mizpah history,” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=89426, “Mizpah Hotel: An elegant retreat into Nevada’s past,” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://www.theclio.com/entry/95839, “The Mizpah Hotel (1907-1999) (2011-Present),” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://travelnevada.com/weird-nevada/meet-the-lady-in-red-nevadas-most-famous-ghost/, “Meet the Lady in Red: Nevada’s Most Famous Ghost,” accessed on April 27, 2023.
https://www.vvdailypress.com/story/lifestyle/travel/2021/10/17/beyers-byways-night-tonopahs-haunted-mizpah-hotel/8467116002/, “Beyer’s Byways: A night in Tonopah’s haunted Mizpah Hotel,” accessed on April 27, 2023.