Flagstaff has its share of ghost stories.  Most of the buildings in Flagstaff’s historic downtown have an obligatory story of an apparition that may or may not haunt the site.  But there are many stories that circulate about The Museum Club, one of Flagstaff’s oldest “haunts”.  The Museum Club (known as The Zoo to locals) is a Route 66 landmark and can be described as part roadside attraction and part country honkytonk.  Built in 1931 as a taxidermy museum and “the largest log cabin in Arizona”, it became one of the most well known road houses in the nation featuring many touring country and blue grass acts.  But what follows is a true account of one of the many ghost stories that circulates about the Museum Club. At the end, I will prove to you that this ghost story is true!


But first some background.  Many of the past employees have described encounters with ghosts in The Museum Club.  Most of the stories involve Don and Thorna Scott, who owned the night club in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Here is a site that describes the Museum Club and how the Scott’s met their unfortunate end:

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/az-museumclub.html

Stories of the Scotts seem to take on a life of their own, as seen in this article:

http://www.theroadwanderer.net/Flagstaff/museum.htm

So…lots of stories circulate about weird happenings at The Zoo.  Workers that feel cold spots, bands that come in after closing to find a roaring fire in the fireplace and a moving rocking chair where none stood before.  One gentleman sitting at the bar told the bartender he could feel a “presence” standing in the doorway.  But most people believe that stories of The Museum Club are fiction. Like all ghost stories, they are contrived exaggerations of the unexplained noises we encounter in strange places. But this one is true:

In the early 1990’s there was a manager of the Museum Club that worked there for a period of about 3 years.  He was a local, having grown up in Flagstaff and worked there running the place between careers, we shall say. To protect his identity (he doesn’t want people to think he is nuts) we will call him Thomas.

One night in the fall of 1991, Thomas was by himself very late at night after the bar had closed and the waitresses had all packed up, cleaned up and headed out.  At about 2:00AM, Thomas was in the office and heard a strange voice coming from the bar or dance floor area. Walking out to see what was going on, he was startled by a video game machine that was babbling some incoherent rant. He unplugged the machine, checked the place out, turned off all the lights and made sure everything was as it should be.

About 20 minutes later, Thomas got ready to leave for the night himself. Slipping on his Pendleton coat and his cowboy hat, he distinctly heard that voice again.  Slowly, Thomas opened the door into the main bar area and walked as softly as he could toward the “back bar” that was across the dance floor. Thomas assumed there were loud people outside the building, perhaps at the motel across the large parking lot. But he stopped dead in his tracks, because sure enough, it was a woman’s voice speaking in hushed tones. And she obviously was inside and sitting at the table around the corner just steps from where Thomas stood.  He crept forward trying to overhear the female voice and figure out what she was saying.  As soon as he stepped off the carpet, dead silence.  The voice stopped and sure enough, no one was there. Thomas went outside and there was not a person stirring anywhere near the building. Thomas did the smart thing and went home, chalking this event up to the fact that it was late, he was tired and there must have been somebody outside, just loud enough to sound like they were inside. Thomas always kept that story to himself. He didn’t believe in ghosts and thought that people have a tendency to exaggerate those types of things….especially to make a buck.

The office for the Museum Club was very long and narrow.  Just enough room for a desk and chair with cabinets on one side and shelving on the other.  On the shelf was a satellite receiver, a video recorder and a small television that showed what was on the big screen out in the bar area.

 About six months after Thomas’s encounter with the strange voice, he was again by himself, very late at night.  Thomas had pretty much forgotten the night and the sounds he had heard months before.  On this night, he had already secured all the doors, checked things over and turned everything off for the night.  He was sitting in the office working on the employee schedule for the following week.  At the same time, he was recording videos off of Country Music Television for replay later on the big screen that descended over the stage area. 

Thomas stood and turned to the wall, checking the employee schedule for the following day.  It was going to be a busy night and he wanted to make sure his best people were scheduled to work the anticipated crowds.  One of their most popular bands was playing and there would be a line out the door, for The Museum Club was THE place to be for the young “new country” crowd that was sure to be there.  As he stood, deep in thought he suddenly was startled as something small hit the wall inches from his head.  It fell onto the floor shattering into pieces of small plastic and two small AAA batteries. Thomas looked down at the pieces scattered around.  Picking them up, he realized that they were parts from the remote control that went to the TV that was behind him on the shelf.  The strange thing was that the remote was never used.  With the room being as small as it was, it was never needed. Thomas could just reach over and turn the TV off and on or adjust the volume easily. But the volume was very low, so that the TV was not vibrating in any way. Even stranger was the fact that the remote control was normally tucked up under the handle of the television and Thomas was the only one that knew it was there.  Even the owner of The Zoo didn’t know or need to know where it was.

“How did that fall off?” thought Thomas as he looked at the pieces of the remote in his hand. Suddenly, stark realization hit Thomas in an instant. That remote had not fallen to the ground!  It had hit the wall first and only about a foot to the right of him! Then it fell to the ground!

 A chill went through Thomas as he realized he was wide awake, and had been deep in thought, going about his work.  No doubt about it, he had not imagined the fact that someone had thrown something at him. With this realization came another.  That cold chill that he was experiencing?  It was real too.  Thomas felt chilled to the bone. Goose bumps rose on his arm as the hair there stood on end.  A sharp prickly sensation went throughout his body.  Then slowly, a rising feeling of dread.  Thomas knew that someone or something did not want him there.

 Leave.

 That was the feeling he was getting.  “The feeling is mutual”, is the next thing that popped into Thomas’s head, as he quickly grabbed his coat and hat and made for the exit. He drove home as quickly as he could.

Those were the only instances that Thomas had with the “ghosts” that occupy The Museum Club.  He had conversations with others that claimed they saw things too.  The leader of one of the most popular bands that played there claimed he saw the roaring fire in the fireplace and the rocking chair first hand.  A janitor told Thomas that he saw a female upstairs in the unused “apartment” that was now used only for storage and rarely opened.  Thomas was there when a man said that he felt a “presence” in the place.  Thomas always took those stories with a grain of salt, but knew his was true.  He had been there.

And now you know a true ghost story too.  And how do I know that Thomas was telling the truth? Because I was the manager of the Museum Club way back then. My middle name is Thomas. That happened to me, and still to this day…I can see that remote hitting the wall about a foot to the right of me. You can take this story however you would like, but I know the truth. Those stories about that haunt called The Museum Club and The Zoo?  They’re true.

 


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.