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A True Ghost Story

by Gary Nelson

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:

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

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.


 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

Flagstaff Ghost Tours 2015

by Gary Nelson

You may have seen my earlier blog a few years back about ghost tours in Flagstaff. 

Since writing that blog, I have found a few more links and some info that I thought were kind of interesting.  Maybe I am just thinking of scary things, what with Halloween rapidly approaching, but I have had a lot of fun on these ghost tours the past few years.

The Flagstaff Visitors center has a do-it-yourself ghost tour available.  It could be a great way for a group to do their own ghost tour! Pick up a printed walking tour brochure at the Visitors Center, which is the Flagstaff train station.  Or, here is a link to the tour brochure:

The Riordan Mansion, one of Flagstaff’s historic buildings and our very own state park, is conducting night tours during Halloween week.  Here is a link to the park site, but the tours are not on there as of yet:

Tours will start at 7:00PM on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, October 28th, 29th and 30th, 2015.  Cost is $12 and it is suitable for ages 12 and up. Call 928-779-4395 for more info.

Here is a link to a write-up of the most haunted places in Flagstaff.  There are several buildings mentioned.  It’s funny, but I had always thought of the Weatherford Hotel as being the “most haunted”, or the Museum Club, but according to this site….not so.  Here you go:

And speaking of the Weatherford Hotel, I have to say that it has become a favorite for my family. We love going to Charlie’s restaurant for weekend breakfast, and as a Realtor, I can never go wrong at Charlie’s if I need to take a client or business associate to lunch.  Try the Navajo Taco, trust me on this.  But, I also stumbled across a Youtube video about the Weatherford Hotel and ghosts, take a look:

Now, that video is from 2010.  Since then, that old basement has been remodeled and is now the Gopher Hole Tavern.  Unfortunately, good ol’ Matt has moved on, but you can do your own ghost hunting at the Gopher Hole, and maybe tip a few spirits at the same time.

I would be remiss if I did not share a link to some info on our other historic and haunted hotel, The Monte Vista.  Here is a nice write up about the Monte-V from Legends Of America:

and also from the Monte Vista’s own website:

I do admit that I miss the old Monte Vista Coffee Shop that was a fixture in downtown Flagstaff for decades.  But, I also admit that PaTo Thai that is in the same location is the arguably the best thai restaurant in Flagstaff.  Or maybe Swadee Thai that is just around the corner.  Or Ewa's on South San Francisco. Go to all 3 and you decide! Yummy!

And finally, I thought I would give you a hint about my next blog.  This is about The Museum Club, one of Flagstaff’s most famous Route 66 watering holes and a “haunt” you will want to visit.

It is also going to be my final Flagstaff ghost blog for 2015.  Stay tuned, because it will be a true ghost story, something that actually did happen…

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

New Restaurants In Flagstaff!

by The Gary Nelson Group

You may have heard of a few of these…but maybe not.  Flagstaff has gotten a few new restaurants in the past several months!  Here are some new places you may want to check out:

  • Martanne’s: What?! (you may be thinking…)  Martanne’s isn’t new!  True.  But what is new at Martanne’s is that they are now open for dinner.  And it is very, very good.  Good to the point that some established Flagstaff Mexican places might want to take notice.  This is a restaurant that started out years ago as Martan’s Burrito Palace, named for the family that opened it.  It has gone through a sale, an actual move around the corner and has been handed down a generation.  But what hasn’t changed is that it is THE go-to Mexican breakfast place in Flagstaff.  Also, it is quickly becoming THE go-to Mexican dinner house.  It is very well known for Chilaquiles and Enchiladas with Eggs.  It is now becoming popular for Carne Asada and fish tacos.  And trust me on this piece of advice: Order the Chipotle Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp. You’re welcome.  112 Route 66.​


  • Southside Tavern: OK, this is more of a bar than a restaurant, but the food is pretty good too.  We love the décor and the location on South San Francisco Street.  It has a great vibe, great cocktails and bar food that stands up to scrutiny.  It also has quite a few employees that made the jump over from Charlies and the Hotel Weatherford for unknown reasons.  They are an established bar crew that can handle a busy place and, if I was placing a bet….it would be that Southside Tavern will become a Flagstaff staple.  If you have the Bacon Bleu Burger, remember to save room for the S’Mores Dip.  117 S. San Francisco St.


  • SoSoBa: Have you ever been to one of those great noodle shops in San Francisco where you get those big, fat Udon noodles in a rich broth with a mix of meats and veggies over the top and it’s the best thing you could possibly get on that cold, blustery day?  Yeah…this is better.   SoSoBa is a noodle shop with attitude.  It has something for vegans and omnivores alike.  And best of all, it’s in downtown Flagstaff.  And here is what you order when there: The Mic Drop.  The name says it all.  12 W. Route 66, #104.


  • Street Side Saigon:  This is another great addition to South San Francisco Street that brings Vietnamese street food to south Flagstaff.  Located near the University and other similarly good eateries, this nice spot should gain a foothold and a following pretty quickly.  Try the Pho, of course which is what everyone wants!  But, you may want to go early because they do run out of this popular Vietnamese soup pretty quickly.  121 S. San Francisco Street.


  • Agave: This is Flagstaff’s newest Mexican fair, and I have to say, it is pretty good!  It has been around for about 6 months or so, so it may not be new to some of you, but may be to others.  It is located in the Western Hills hotel, which has seen a lot of change over in that restaurant space over the years.  Several restaurants have met with their deaths in that location, which is very strange since it is right on Route 66.  However, Agave is good enough that it should be here for many years to come!  Try the chicken mole!  1580 E. Route 66
  • The Oakmont: Another restaurant that is now several months old, but I felt like it needed a mention.  This is the newest incarnation of the restaurant at the club house at Continental Country Club.  It takes the place of Jakes On The Green or Jotini’s before that.  The location has benefitted from the facelift that the new owners have given it, a more relaxed atmosphere, better use of the patio space and a pretty good menuBrought to Flagstaff by the guys that own Taverna, Field House and most recently they purchased Busters.  The Oakmont features a very well rounded menu, great views and great Country Club crowds. 2380 North Oakmont Drive.

Rumor has it that there is a new sushi restaurant going in Downtown at 106 North San Francisco Street.  This is the building just north of Pa

To Thai that used to house the Seasoned Kitchen.  Both the inside and the outside of the building are being spruced up right now, so we shall see what progress brings.


A second and even stronger rumor is about a new place going in at 409 South San Francisco.  This is the building that housed El Charro since God was a baby.  El Charro closed and was replaced by The Patio.  Unfortunately, The Patio only lasted a short while, so it will be interesting to see what is going in at that spot.  As of this writing, remodel work is in progress and a partial Airstream Trailer is being installed in the patio area.  Supposedly this will be an outdoor bar area.  That sounds great!  I will try to update you on that in another future blog.

Flagstaff has some great places to eat! Stay tuned and we might take you just a bit further into Flagstaff’s culinary gems!

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


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Contact Information

The Gary Nelson Group
Realty Executives of Flagsaff
15 E. Cherry Ave. Suite 101
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Direct: 928-225-3510
Office: 928-773-9300
Fax: 928-774-1102