Big Nose Kate’s Saloon

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Big Nose Kate’s Saloon has a protective spirit,
and fun-loving cowboys who tease with ease.

A female spirit enjoys the musical entertainment.



“The Best Cowboy Bar in the West.”

Built on top of a silver mine shaft, as was the whole town, Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, since 1985, is a restaurant with two bars, that offers events and musical entertainment for its patrons; both living and in spirit form.

This establishment still offers great food and beer on tap for visitors and local residents on the first floor, which has a long, original bar from the basement set-up, complete with mirror, along the side of the room, with tables scattered throughout the first floor.

There is a space against the western wall for musicians and singers to perform for the guests, patrons and apparently spirits.

There is also a basement with a bar area, that has been popular since Big Nose Kate herself, the main squeeze of Doc Holliday, opened up her Grand Hotel so long ago. There is also a store in the basement called The Shaft, which sells “unique Southwestern” attire and other items of interest, to say nothing of the tunnel in the basement from Swamper’s old digs that leads to the silver shaft tunnels that belonged to the the silver mine.


Lots of memorabilia hangs from the walls in this saloon, made complete with the head mount of a long horned steer. Tom and I ate dinner here, and we enjoyed the authentic western atmosphere. While live music is performed some nights, there was nothing playing on stage when we visited this time capsule of a place.

Long gone is the original second floor that once connected to the Grand Hotel’s first floor restaurant and bar by a handsome staircase. The second floor was for the guests of the Grand Hotel who stayed overnight. There was an upstairs elegant parlor and seventeen rooms for the guests, as well as a small balcony.

While the handsome staircase and the second floor are both gone, there is still a little balcony, open only to the residing spirits. Two dressed-up mannequins have been placed up in the balcony, sitting on two chairs.

Patrons can get into the spirit of the old west. “Dress up and take pictures, behind the bar, on our piano, or with a cowboy or saloon girl! FOR FREE! Enjoy the toe-tapping, hand-slapping, live country entertainment!”




Tombstone was founded on a mesa between the Dragoon Mountains and Huachuca Mountains, after a scrappy prospector, Ed Schieffling found a rich deposit of silver.

While Tombstone was a booming silver mine town, from 1880 through 1889, with a notorious and wild reputation, it’s colorful history is what has given it a new lease on life throughout the years, as a popular tourist attraction.

Perhaps the most memorable event which took place in Tombstone was the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, between Virgil Earp and his posse the upholders of law and order, and the law-breaking bullies, the Clanton and the McLaury Gang.

The Big Nose Kate’s Saloon building opened in 1881, as a high class establishment, called The Grand Hotel, where the weary rested their heads, enjoyed fine dining and a good brew in the basement bar. All the best amenities that were found in big city hotels were offered, bringing a slice of high society to this frontier town.

Local people, lawmen, good and bad cowboys, miners and out-of-town travelers all enjoyed having a nice hotel and saloon in town. Big Nose Kate saw the need, and created it for her guests.

“Rooms were fitted with solid walnut furnishings, toilet stands, fine fixtures, and wallpaper. The lobby was equipped with three elegant chandeliers and more luxurious furnishings, while the kitchen boasted hot and cold running water and facilities to serve some 500 people in the span of a couple of hours. The hotel opened with an invitation-only ball on September 9th, 1880.”

It hosted social events like weddings as well, as high-class hotels and homes often offered to provide the space for such occasions of celebration or wakes.

Wyatt and Virgil Earp, the Clantons and the McLaurys all stayed here. The Clantons and the McLaurys were here the night before three of them were killed at the shoot-out at the O.K. corral, on Wednesday, October 26, 1881, around 3:00 pm.

Unfortunately, the Grand Hotel burned to the ground in 1882. The remains fell into the basement. Fortunately, the bar in the basement was spared, so something from the Grand Hotel still exists today.

Someone else rebuilt the first floor, probably when buildings in the town were fixed up in the mid 20th century, to cater to tourists.  Tourism was bringing funds into Tombstone to keep the city alive. The second floor was never rebuilt. “As early as 1946, Tombstone’s Council  took advantage of all this interest, and made investments for the full-scale restoring, the real fixer upper opportunities and even the ruins of stores, all of which made Tombstone a true step back in time.”

Once the first floor and basement were reconstructed and remodeled, this structure probably became a restaurant and bar once again, as both tourists and locals needed a place to eat and drink.  When they discovered that the long wooden bar in the basement was still in one piece, they simply moved it to the first floor, and got a new bar for the basement area.

Big Kate’s Saloon opened in 1985, and has been very successful as a restaurant, a piece of western history and a watering hole for both locals and visitors. Apparently, the spirits also still love this place, feeling right at home.



When people die suddenly and unexpectedly, their spirits sometimes choose to stay at a structure in this world that gives them a sense of peace. While the second floor of Big Nose Kate’s Saloon was totally destroyed, what remained of the first and the untouched basement, appealed to the spirits who loved the old place and even the land itself. They happily moved back  after it was partially reconstructed.

Kahler Grand, MN (A spirit who unexpectedly was and brutally killed by underworld thugs, visits/stays here for peace and possibly justice).

Coronado Hotel, CA (The gentle spirit of an upper class lady who was suffering from a terminal illness probably had a friend shoot her on the steps near the beach. She has stayed to enjoy the beautiful Coronado Hotel resort).

Biltmore Hotel, FL (Edward Willson shot and killed  Thomas “Fatty” Edward without warning, and killed Fatty in front of the speakeasy fireplace on the 13th floor. He still is partying on).

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, AZ (It is suspected that the spirits of some members of the the Clantons and the McLaurys who were suddenly killed here, as well as Morgan, who unexpectedly was assassinated at the Buffalo Trading Company. The spirit of Swampy, who also died suddenly, is still here).

Sometimes spirits still enjoy visiting commercial places where they enjoyed themselves, during the good times of their life. If the place is named after a departed spirit, that spirit may like to visit the structure as well.

St. James Hotel, NM (Past customers in spirit form still come inside to try to enjoy a brew at the bar).

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, CA (Past spirits of guests still enjoy the hotel; from the rooms to the swimming pool, remembering their wonderful memories).

The Comedy Store, CA (A variety of spirits still enjoy watching the comedians who perform on stage).

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, AZ (Cowboys, locals, past hotel guests, travelers and miners all used to stay, hang out and enjoy a brew or two and hard stuff as well at The Grand Hotel. Apparently, they still do as spirits).

(The spirit of Doc Holliday may be there as well, perhaps to be with the spirit of Big Nose Kate, who may like to visit a saloon named after herself).

People who enjoy their life who are suddenly stopped by a serious accident or attack, or by other circumstances beyond their control, sometimes as spirits strive to continue to do what they loved to do while alive.

Liberty Hall, KY (Mrs. Varick had her heart set on helping her niece but died just a few days after arriving. Her spirit has been trying to help the living here for years).

Pittsburgh Playhouse, PA (The spirit of an actor who, in life, had worked hard to prepare for a stage role, and died suddenly before he could perform on stage is still here).

Jennie Wade House Museum, PA (The spirit of Jennie Wade is still making bread to feed the Union troops. She was killed by a stray bullet during the Battle of Gettysburg).

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, AZ (The spirit of a miner, Swamper, worked as a handyman at the Grand in exchange for a room in the basement while secretly digging down into the silver mine just below the hotel, acquiring quite a lot of silver. He suddenly disappeared and probably died in the mine while digging for more silver).

(The spirit of Virgil Earp has his headquarters across the street at the Crystal Palace Saloon to once again be a lawman, after having to quit being Sheriff while alive because of disabilities suffered from a street ambush. He may walk across the street to Big Nose Kate’s Saloon to visit and keep an eye on the rowdy living and spirits here).

(The spirit of Doc Holliday may be there as well, perhaps to be with the spirit of Big Nose Kate).

Spirits can claim a space in a structure, and will protest the living’s intrusion into it.

Buford House, AZ (The spirit of an elderly woman has claimed her bedroom and doesn’t want to share it with the living, becoming quite vocal about it).

Dutton House, VT (One of the spirits who loves this house does not like all the Shelbourne Museum visitors tromping through his work space in this house museum, disturbing this spirit’s privacy).

Buffalo Bill’s Ranch State Park, NE (The spirit of Buffalo Bill has claimed his old bedroom, not liking the docents to store anything on top of his dresser).

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, AZ (The spirits who like to sit in the little balcony consider those seats a perk and have been known to take action against intruders in a fun way).

(The spirit of Swamper is protective of his tunnels and his access to the silver mine shaft, especially with anyone who he thinks can take over his silver mining).




The Spirit of Swamper

Called “Felix” by the staff, this spirit is dressed in 1880s attire and is seen wandering around the halls and rooms of the building, while keeping an eye on his silver.

He still helps out the living, possibly getting some chuckles along the way.

He pokes or tugs at young men who come into his areas in the basement, feeling threatened by them.

Spectral Music Lover

A nicely dressed female spirit, perhaps the spirit of Big Nose Kate or one of her female guests, is dressed in 1880s attire.

She wears shoulder-length ringlets, and likes to hold a parasol.

She has been spotted enjoying the musical entertainment from the balcony seats.

The Spirits of 1880s Cowboys

These spirits have been seen standing in doorways and sitting at both the basement bar and the bar on the first floor.

They find the living are a great source of amusement, and like to play jokes and get their chuckles at the expense of the saloon staff.

Female employees are the favorite people to tease.

Making a Point

Spirits had fun making it clear that the seats in the Balcony were for them.

Two mannequins which were placed in the closed off balcony have been known to be moved by unseen presences, who get their chuckles by scaring the living.

After hours, the owner, his brother and friends were sitting at a table, when the female mannequin suddenly took a header off the balcony to the floor below.

The male mannequin then turned its head.

The living made a hasty retreat, leaving the first floor to the spirits.

Visual Activity

Various items and objects have shown a tendency to move around the building by themselves.

Glasses on the bars and tables have been known to move by themselves.

Doors and cupboards open by themselves.

Trash can lids lift themselves off the cans, drop to the floor and roll around by themselves.

Tactile Activity

People have experienced extremely cold spots and gusts of cold wind in various areas of the building.

One not-so-nice spirit put its “clammy hands” around a female employee’s neck for a moment. This act hasn’t been repeated.

Playful touching happens.

Auditory Activity

Witnesses have heard disembodied voices coming from the basement.

Booted footsteps and jingling spurs are heard on the stairs from the first floor to the basement and in the first floor saloon.

Spectral Bouncer

Another male spirit is protective of female employees, sort of a spectral bouncer.

Perhaps he was once a lawman who now steps in to help when needed.

This spectral bouncer could be the spirit of Morgan, Doc Holliday or even Virgil Earp.

Experience with the Bouncer

One female employee noticed two men who had had too much to drink and were bothering other patrons.

She decided to go over and ask them to leave.

As she stood before them, she felt the strong pressure of an unseen male presence’s hand on her shoulder.

The drunks looked at the spot above her shoulder, seeing someone who wasn’t visible to the woman, and left quickly.

A Playful, Cheeky Spirit

Hangs out on the main floor and basement.

Some say it is Swamper/Felix, though it could be any male spirit who enjoys women and likes to tease.

An unseen male presence likes to pinch the waitresses, pull on their bows and hide their pens.

He likes to playfully push female employees on the lower part of the staircase, which leads to the basement.

He likes to call their names.

A Male Spirit

This spirit is seen sitting at the bar in the basement, wearing a long-sleeved shirt.

Perhaps he was once a patron who loved to come here for an after-work drink.

Other seen/unseen presences probably join him there.


Visitors, patrons, employees and owners have had a boatload of experiences with the spirits who reside or visit this structure.

Return to Tombstone. Season 13 • Episode 5. The Ghost Adventures crew returned to Tombstone and caught some EVPs and sounds inside Big Nose Kate’s Saloon. They bumped into Swamper.

Other paranormal investigators, like Southwest Ghost Hunters, also were not disappointed investigating Big Nose Kate’s Saloon.



Oh yes indeed!

Employees and owners realize that spirits come with the building and have a sense of humor about their behavior. There is one negative spirit here, but there is also a spectral bouncer. Spirits here are pleased with the decor, enjoy the music, drink again through the living, and can entertain themselves through jokes and teasing in a playful manner.

The spectral bouncer has stepped up to the plate to help female employees, and keep an eye on the spirits who love the place, especially the negative spirit, to keep all safe.




417 East Allen Street
Tombstone, Arizona 85638
(520) 457-3107

Big Nose Kate’s Saloon Building can be found in the center of Allen Street, the main drag which runs through old town Tombstone, a traditional spot for the major hotel in a western 1880 town.



Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Our Photos by Tom Carr unless otherwise credited in sources


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