PIOCHE, Nevada — Situated on the outskirts of desert nothingness, on the southeastern border of Nevada, where vultures and ravens skim the sky above dilapidated buildings, Pioche exists as a living ghost town. Among its numerous historic structures — many of which were built in the late 1800s — stands the Overland Hotel & Saloon where many say ghosts linger … particularly in room number 10.
Inside, the air is cool, Halloween decorations hang from the ceiling and adorn the walls, and a steep staircase leads to the rooms of the Overland Hotel & Saloon, located at 662 Main Street in Pioche, Nevada. On the bottom floor, cigarette smoke hovers in the air above the bar – a seemingly perfect scene for an Alfred Hitchcock horror film.
Stephanie Haluzak, of Panaca, has been working as a maid and bartender at the Overland Hotel & Saloon for six years and said she has, on many occasions, experienced visits from spirits. She said that when she first started working at the hotel, she never thought about it being haunted, until she started hearing footsteps and voices … and she realized she was not alone.
“One time I was upstairs cleaning and went into room 8 and opened the door,” Haluzak said. “I left to get something and came back to find a ghost sitting there — that’s the best way I can describe it; a mist in the shape of a body that started floating across the room.”
That instance, she said, made her a believer. A while later, she was in the laundry room folding a towel, when a heavy glass ashtray came flying across the room.
“I said, ‘OK I’ll stop smoking in here,'” Haluzak said. “I didn’t smoke in there for years. I’ve never been afraid. I’ve never felt threatened. But by all means, the Overland is haunted.”
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, 59-year-old Doug Hendershot, of Pioche, has been working at the hotel for around three years and said one time a young man rented a room for a month, room 23. After not seeing him for a few days, the maids checked his room and found him dead. Another time, a man ran from room 10 and said that someone had tried to smother him in the middle of the night, Hendershot said. Aside from these occurrences, Hendershot said he has also experienced his own strange encounters.
“When I’m walking down this hallway, sometimes I’ll see a person standing here,” Hendershot said pointing to where one hallway intersects with the main hallway, “then I’ll walk back and look and no one will be there.”
Despite the attention the hotel receives for its paranormal activity, residents of Pioche say that’s not all that’s haunted.
Kathy Hiatt, who was born and raised in Pioche, said that she believes that spirits wander the streets.
“My granddaughter was playing at my dad’s barbershop, and she looked up and waved at something,” Hiatt said. “We looked to see what it was and there was nothing there. She waved again and we said, ‘who’re you waving at?’ And she said, ‘that man. Him, smoking.’”
Perhaps the ghostly happenings of Pioche stem from its wicked past.
Pioche was known as one of the most violent towns of the Wild West and during its heyday, between the years of 1868 to 1875, some 10,000 miners pulled $100 million worth of silver from the hills, said Pioche resident Jim Kelly, who hosts tours of the million dollar courthouse and works part-time at the Overland Hotel & Saloon.
“During this time, 72 people were murdered and buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery before anyone died of natural causes,” Kelly said. “One of the men murdered was my great grandfather who got shot by Morgan Courtney.”
The big fire of 1871 started in a restaurant on Main Street and then spread to the hardware store, where several kegs full of blasting powder sat behind the steel doors which caused an explosion and killed 8 people, said Pioche Chamber of Commerce volunteer Leslie Derkovitz.
By 1874, as with all mining boom towns, findings of high-grade ore became slim and miners packed up and left town. The Overland Hotel & Saloon was built years later in 1915 and then later restored. In 1953, robbers came into the saloon and one of the men pistol whipped the owner of the hotel and then shot him to death, Kelly said.
The Overland Hotel & Saloon is no stranger to ghost-hunting gurus. The Travel Channel featured the hotel in an episode of “Ghost Adventures,” where camera crews spent a week in April filming. The Las Vegas Paranormal Task Force is expected to investigate the Overland Hotel & Saloon Feb. 13, 2015 — on a Friday.
No ghosts were harmed in the writing of this article.
Resources for your ghostly travels
- Overland Hotel & Saloon | Address: 662 Main Street, Pioche, Nevada | Telephone: 775-962-5895
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Ed. note: The year 1974 has been CORRECTED to 1874 in the third-to-last paragraph.
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