Ghost Adventures: “Amargosa Opera House”

“Ghost Adventures” tangled with the ghosts of borax miners, call girls and murder victims in the abandoned half of the Amargosa Hotel.

Despite its grand name, Amargosa was wide spot in the road called Death Valley Junction just outside California’s infamous Death Valley desert. It currently boasts three full-time residents. Amargosa started out as a borax mine in 1923 for the Pacific Borax company. Today’s hotel was half refurbished and included the old mining town’s former hospital, morgue and the ghosts of a number of former employees.

Site Manager Rick, front desk clerk Mary Lee and employee Maury all participated in Zak’s pre-investigation walk through.

Mary Lee told Zak about an “assisted hanging” and a suicide that were known to have taken place in the unrestored part of the hotel with the nickname “Spooky Hollow”.

Maury took Zak to Spooky Hollow in the daylight, sharing accounts of disembodied voices, full body apparitions and a hostile evil entity called “The Boss Man” who liked to attack large, macho men. The apparitions included many accounts of shadow men who ran back and forth between the derelict hotel rooms. Despite stern instructions not run in the rickety part of the hotel, Maury told Zak she had snagged several large men by the arm as they sprinted out of the building.

What frightened these strapping guys? According Maury they were “felt up” all over their bodies by a ghostly presence. Maury cautioned Zak that “Bigger, macho more aggressive men got more handled.” Zak immediately identified himself of that kind of guy.

During walk-through Aaron and Nick both saw a full body apparition of a workman in painter’s jeans just down the hall from where Maury was standing with GAC in Spooky Hollow. Maury confirmed that particular ghost was frequently seen in the area.

Maury called one of the empty rooms in Spooky Hollow as the “Pissy Room” because it always smelled like urine. Apparently this room was where some guy hung himself, but as Maury noted, it was impossible to know if he had chosen to hang himself or if he had help.

The ghost of the hung man stepped forward at this point and shared his story with me. He was a miner, a slight 90-pound weakling of a man with a scraggly beard and mustache. He told me his name was Heinrich, Henry for short. Henry said two large guys had strung him up after accusing him of cheating at cards. Henry admitted he had been cheating but expected to be beaten up if caught, not hung. I asked Henry why he kept feeling up the same large, mouthy kind of modern male visitors. I was surprised when Henry said he wanted to, “Do to them what was done to me.” Henry’s murderers did not otherwise assault him. So where did the deep-seated rage with sexual overtones come from? Turns out Henry had an abusive step-father who had molested him as a boy. Add his understandable rage at being murdered with the fury of a molested child and he came up with a rather unusual way of getting even with current visitors who reminded him of both his stepfather and the guys who hung him.

I asked Henry why he didn’t molest female visitors. He didn’t see them as a threat. He told me, “Women won’t hurt me. They may cackle like crows but they won’t string me up!”

The ghosts of Harry’s murderers continued to haunt the Amargosa Hotel.

Maury also told GAC about a dark, evil spirit called “The Boss Man”. Interestingly I think it was low-level imp drawn to the negative energy of a handful of murders that happened at the end of the hallway in Spooky Hollow.

Zak invited anything gray, dark or demonic to use his energy to make their presence known to GAC. Maury was taken aback. She said, “Oh, you are crazy! If you welcome them, they will do as you ask.” She expressed concern about the guys well-being using but concluded they had been doing such work for a long time and presumably knew what they were doing. I shared Maury’s reservations.

Amargosa Opera House actress Sandy shared a creepy experience she had had in her dressing room prior to a show. She was in the habit of taking a gauzy dark cloak and putting it over her face to get a bit of a catnap in before going on stage. She could see through the thin material, but it helped block out the room light. As she was waking up from such a nap she saw the ghost of a dark male figure snap a picture of her and vanish as it turned to walk away.

I asked my guides about this experience and I don’t think it was paranormal. The in-between transition from sleeping to waking is a vulnerable time. Sometimes people see figures from their dreams; sometimes they are more receptive to viewing spirits. My biggest question was, what would a 1920’s era ghost know about snapping a picture? Photography was a bulky, laborious affair in the 1920’s. Hand held box cameras were not generally in use, especially in a mining camp in the middle of nowhere.

Amargosa Owner Marta Becket stumbled upon Death Valley Junction in 1967 when her car broke down. She and her partner Willgut converted the old Pacific Borax buildings and opened their doors in 1968.

Before Willgut’s death, he and Marta were strolling along the column lined walkway. The spirit of a man walked up to Willgut and said, “I want to thank you for taking care of Marta for 23 years.” Marta didn’t recognize the figure, but was curious and asked a psychic friend who had spoken so warmly to Willgut. The friend responded it had been Marta’s father.

Mary Lee took Zak into room 15. One day she had been making up the bed and suddenly found herself frozen in place. She couldn’t move. It terrified her. She wasn’t alone. Mary Lee told Zak that new employees were not told about the paranormal activity on the property as they need to be focused on their work, not freaked out.

Site Manager Rick gave Zak a tour of some of the more active rooms in the hotel. Some featured cold spots, and beds that moved. Others had a history of female staffers being briefly possessed or compelled to channel the ghosts in residence. In my book forced channeling is hostile possession.

Twice Mary Lee slept in room 20 and felt sick. Rick described the experience of laying on the bed in room 20 as trying to rest on ocean swells. He said it was like someone was repeatedly pushing down on the mattress with both hands.

Room 24 was known for emitting sounds of a crying baby. Invisible children were also heard playing in the hall outside room 24.

Room 11 had a history of cold spots, orbs and voices coming from thin air.

Room 15 not only had cold spots but periodically something tried to take over the bodies of female staffers working in the room.

Rick and Zak checked out the former miner’s hospital and moruge. The company hospital functioned from 1923-1929. During those six years it saw some severe injuries. I saw the ghosts of former patients. Some had crushed limbs; one guy had a depressed skull fracture. He didn’t live long. The crushed limbs were from mining accidents, but they guy with the bashed in skull fracture sustained it in a drunken brawl. He showed me that someone had taken a bit of 2”x4” and brained him from behind.

To prepare for lockdown, Rick roped off space around the hotel to keep headlights from any passing cars from contaminating GAC’s investigation. To keep the EMF meters from going crazy the power was turned off.

GAC placed X cameras in the Opera House where past apparitions had been reported in the audience. I got a brief glimpse of a fair-haired young man and his female companion in 1920’s era formal evening wear. They had three young children, also in their best finery. I got the impression the blond young man in tails and a celluloid collar was the son of one of the primary mine owners. They stood out in an audience of scruffy miners who generally didn’t have formal suits at the best of times.

Another X camera was set up back stage where actress Shelly allegedly had her picture snapped by a ghost. Two X cameras covered the central hallway of Spooky Hollow.

GAC had their DVR’s running from the beginning of the investigation. Zak began with his standard invitation for any local ghosts to attack all three guys. At this point both Nick and Zak heard what they described as a disembodied scream. On enhanced audio replay it sounded more like a female laugh or chuckle to me.

Zak demanded the big, dark, evil entity that enjoyed attacking living people show itself. The EVP response also sounded female to me. It said, “…do we have to?”

As provoking ramped up GAC noticed a door at the end of the hallway tried to open by itself. Aaron told the ghosts that GAC was taking over repairs of Spooky Hollow. That got a response in the form of an unexplained noise that sounded like a door being slammed shut.

Zak continued to taunt, insisted the big, bad dark thing in the building “…show us your power.” At that moment Nick saw something on his thermal camera. The fleeting image was a side view of a male head and shoulders. It was exiting an otherwise empty room, heading for the door at the end of the hall. This exodus was followed by second recorded loud bang.

Now matter how many times GAC duplicated their camera work, they didn’t see the side view of the man’s head and shoulders again.

I asked who was behind the door at the end of the hall wiggling. I saw one of the beefy guys who strung up Henry. The ghost who gave his name as John said, “Nobody is getting in.” with grim satisfaction.

I got a second visual of a stern German governess or nanny closing the door behind her and shushing three little kids under her care, telling them to be quiet and go to sleep. I asked, but the German woman was not Marta. She had stayed at the hotel with the family who employed her.

The side view of the ghost GAC captured on their thermal camera was Henry’s shade. It was neither “The Boss Man” nor either of the bullies who strung him up. Not trying to burst Zak’s bubble, but he didn’t catch the main attraction (aka, the darkest, most foul spirit in the place) on thermal. Henry was a wretchedly poor cheat at cards, but he was not a person to generally inspire fear in the living or the dead.

Once more, Zak tried to engage the “… evil spirit attacking the living.” Something responded on EVP, “… all the lights are off.”

After inviting ghostly attacks once more, Zak and Nick listened to an EVP of disembodied male moaning in the room to the left of the door at the end of the hall.

I saw a male murder victim, (not Henry) clutching an abdominal wound inflicted by a knife. He didn’t believe God or the other side would be interested in him. He told me, “I’m no saint.” Nevertheless he was willing to cross over, especially when his elderly mother met him on the other side with a hot apple pie. I got the impression her apple pie was his favorite. Other than quarts of ale, this was the only time I have seen a transition into the presence of the divine involve food. There really doesn’t seem to be a “right way” to cross over. Whatever makes the most sense to the person crossing over seems to be the right way to do it.

GAC found a way into a back hallway that might have given the figure on the thermal camera someplace to go after passing them. They poked around with their thermal but nothing else showed up.

Nick and Aaron investigated room 20 using the new RT-DR (Real-Time Digital-Recorder). Zak took infamous room 15 where Mary Lee had been forced to channel on two past occasions.

Aaron asked “Why do you make people sick in this room?” The EVP didn’t seem like a direct response. It said, “…behind you.” Nick and Aaron obligingly looked behind themselves, but didn’t see anything. Nick asked if he and Aaron were feeling the pain and sickness a present ghost had endured in that room in the past. This time the EVP response was definitely connected. It said, “…I seek help.”

A further EVP resulted when Aaron asked, “Do you have something you want to tell us?” The response in real-time was, “…need some help.”

Nick said he and Aaron felt crazy energy surrounding them, when all three guys heard the sound of a phantom door closing.

Meanwhile Zak was busy getting himself in hot water in room 15. He asked the ghosts around about their treatment of Mary Lee. Zak demanded to know, “Why in the hell are you scaring her?” The EVP response was, “…it was fun.”

Pushing ahead, Zak asked, “Do you not like people in this room?” He followed this question with another invitation for any ghosts in the room to touch him. Not sure which comment the EVP was meant to address, but it came through as, “…dammit”.

Maury was right, the ghosts in Spooky Hollow were going to do as Zak requested. Zak asked to be frozen in place just as Mary Lee had been. At first nothing much happened. Zak repeated his request, miming Mary Lee’s actions of making up the bed. It worked. Zak felt himself being frozen in place, a sensation he described as, “My whole body is going numb.” Despite being numb, he felt ghostly touches all over.

I saw the ghosts of four “working girls” in room 15 with Zak. All had been abused and killed in the room. Three of them died on one night and the fourth about two weeks later. Other than the fact their assailants were male I don’t know who mistreated and murdered them.

One thing I was sure of is the first three girls were behind Zak’s invited manhandling and freezing. They were furious about their deaths. Considering they were in their early 20’s or younger I felt they had a point. The disconcerting part of their rage was how they choose to express it. Terrorizing Mary Lee was not the way to go about it. I think the ghosts of the three young prostitutes were the ones touching Zak while he was numbly held immobile.

The three making Zak uncomfortable were not interested in reconsidering their ways. The fourth girl who died a few weeks later was ready to move on. A young man close to her in age arrived from the other side, took her by the hand and they peacefully walked into the presence of God.

When Zak heard the door close in the hallway he left room 15 to investigate, only to find Nick and Aaron checking out the same sound. They walked down the hall to try to figure out which door the sound had come from. Once they reached room nine a suddenly flurry of banging sounds came from behind the room’s closed door. It was so regular for a moment it sounded like a drum roll.

Inexplicably Zak found the door to room nine locked. He quickly raced through the adjoining room and found that door also locked. When he returned to the main door to room nine it was suddenly unlocked. Zak felt a presence telling Nick and Aaron, “Guys there’s somebody in here.” “I know,” Nick agreed.

Always happy to be the test subject (when he isn’t making Aaron do it) Zak decided to stay in room nine and see what happened. He got sick. Zak felt dizzy, nauseated and confused. For some reason he started coughing hard. The cough didn’t sound like it came from him. If I hadn’t seen a grown man bent over coughing I would have thought the cough came from a terribly sick little girl. Zak didn’t feel like the sound came from him either. Rather he speculated that some spirit was manipulating his vocal cords.

Granted dark entities can play some misleading tricks with voices as seen in past “Ghost Adventures” episodes. In this case I think Zak was picking up on the past illness of someone long gone.

Zak noted his experiences in room nine showed and warned ghost hunters how easily spirits can take over. An important point he didn’t mention was that he had repeatedly invited spirits into his body, to take his energy, to attack him or his buddies. It is a lot harder for ghosts or entities to take over the body of a living person IF YOU DO NOT GIVE THEM AN INVITATION.

It is possible to document a great deal of evidence and pick up quite a bit about ghost’s stories via EVP without being a psychic or subletting your body to any Tom, Dick or Harry in spirit form.

A final look at the male silhouette Nick’s thermal camera picked up was handed over to experts Wally and Mike. Zak recalled how warm Nick felt at the time the thermal image was recorded. Wally stated that feeling heat around entities always indicated a malignant spirit. He called poor Henry’s thermal image “unholy”.

I understand Wally’s statement made good television, but I don’t accept for a moment that all entities that emit warmth are malignant. Does that make every cold emitting entity a God centered spirit? Of course not! The intent of a ghost or entity matters, not what temperature changes it briefly caused.



Lynne Olson can be contacted for private readings via email at:

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About Lynne Sutherland Olson

Professional Psychic Medium
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