Any hotel with as much history as the Mizpah Hotel is bound to pick up a few ghosts, and the historic Mizpah is no stranger to the paranormal. The hotel certainly looks the part, and it has the credentials to boot. Over the course of the last century, the hotel has seen a few murders, and even the hidden corpse of a senator.
The Lady in Red is said to haunt the entire fifth floor. Legend has it that she was murdered in the hallway. Legend has it that the Lady was a kept woman who lived on the floor. One day, her sugar daddy had left to catch a train out of town, but the train was cancelled. He returned back to her room only to catch her with another man. An argument ensued, concluding with her death in the hallway outside her room.
The Lady in Red has been seen gliding around the hotel ever since. If she is fond of a guest, she is known to leave pearls in their bed. The Lady in Red Suite is named in her honor, and the room certainly does her justice. Even though it is not the room that she inhabited in life, she favors it a bit more now, likely due to the period furnishings and overall beauty of the suite.
The spirits of a few children are said to roam the hotel as well. Their presence is a bit of a mystery since no children are known to have died there. Donna Otteson, the hotel manager, believes that the children may have died elsewhere but chose to return to the Mizpah because of happy memories they may have had of the hotel in its heyday. We will likely never know for sure, unless they decide to tell us someday.
Regardless of how they got there, guests have complained of hearing children running up and down the hallways on nights when there are not any children staying on the floor. Tugging at the back of shirts and unexplained giggling are also attributed to their antics. The children are a curious bunch; they occasionally ask the maintenance staff, as well as Donna, what they’re doing.
The transparent shade of Senator Key Pittman has also been seen drifting about the property. Sen. Pittman is believed to have died in the hotel, just before the election of 1940. Not wanting to forfeit the election, it is rumored that his party kept his body on ice in a bathtub somewhere in the hotel until after the election was over. As it turned out, he did win the election and his body was then sent for burial.
This story has been challenged. Nevada historians now claim that Sen. Pittman actually died in Reno and that the “body on ice” tale is just that, a tall tale. Donna says that she has met with aging locals who remember the fateful election, and they confirm that Sen. Pittman did in fact die in Tonopah. One possible source of confusion in this matter could be due to the fact that there was a second, unrelated, Mizpah Hotel in Reno. Perhaps, as was common at the time, reporters were confused as to which Mizpah Hotel the senator was at that night. No matter where he died, the senator can still be seen wandering the halls of the Mizpah—the one in Tonopah, that is.
All of the spirits at the Mizpah are generally benevolent. The most malevolent experience guests have complained of is trouble sleeping because they felt as if someone were standing next to the bed watching them all night. However, most guests, particularly men, report sleeping exceptionally well in the hotel—possibly thanks to the Lady in Red’s feminine “touch,” says the hotel manager.