Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ep. 274 - The Goldfield Hotel

Moment in Oddity - Einstein's Brain

When the genius Albert Einstein died, his body underwent a formal autopsy. That autopsy was performed by Thomas Harvey. He photographed and weighed the brain and then he decided that he wanted to study the brain further. This was not something that was approved, but that didn't stop Harvey. He ended up losing his job at Princeton Hospital because he had kept the brain. He didn't give it back, rather he took it home and took more photographs and sliced pieces of the brain up. He discovered several areas of the brain, such as the parietal lobe and Sylvian fissure, that had grown larger than normal. Parts of Einstein's brain were absent as well. Scientists who heard about this later, theorized that these absent areas allowed the brain's neurons to communicate differently and for Einstein to think in a visual way. After his thorough study, Harvey stashed the brain away at his home for the next twenty years and that, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - The Guillotine Falls Silent

In the month of September, on the 10th, in 1977, the guillotine falls silent for good. The last person executed with the guillotine was a Tunisian immigrant named Hamida Djandoubi and he was executed at Baumetes Prison in Marseille, France. Decapitating machines had been used as far back as before the French Revolution. The guillotine became popular during the French Revolution when physician and revolutionary Joseph-Ignace Guillotin won passage of a law that required that all death sentences be carried out by “means of a machine.” The first guillotine was tested on cadavers before it put the first person to death on April 25, 1792. Eventually, the machine would also claim Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette, the former king and queen of France. Use of the guillotine continued in France through the 19th and 20th centuries. France outlawed capital punishment altogether in September 1981. There is a museum dedicated to the guillotine in Liden, Sweden.

The Goldfield Hotel (Suggested by: Anna Prado-Frias and Melissa Potter)

Many consider the town of Goldfield in Nevada to be a ghosttown and with a population hovering around 200, it really does seem to be that way. This was once a boom town though and for several decades millions of dollars in gold was mined here. During that boom, The Goldfield Hotel was built. This building is one of the few to have survived fire and time. Today, the only guests that stay here are those seeking a connection with the afterlife and based on the experiences reported in the media and those that I have heard personally, the hotel's reputation for being haunted is well deserved. Join me as I explore the history and hauntings of The Goldfield Hotel.

The town of Goldfield is located in the state of Nevada and is named for the gold that was found there. Goldfield was founded in 1902. By 1906, the town was booming and over 30,000 people were living somewhere near Goldfield. That year, $11 million in gold was mined. All types of people were attracted to this spot in southern Nevada from prostitutes to miners to outlaws. Buildings sprouted up all along the main street that included banks, hotels, three newspapers and, of course, saloons with their attached brothels. One of those saloons was Tex Rickard's Northern and it was said that it had the longest bar in town and probably the longest in any bar in the country at the time. It was so long that they needed 80 bartenders to service all the customers. Many people believe this is just a tall tale because it was not that big of a saloon. One of the banks was the Goldfield State Bank, which was opened by George Graham Rice who was a former check forger and newspaperman who decided to become a mining stock promoter. He started the Sullivan Trust Company that was backed by mining stocks. It collapsed in 1907 and the bank failed causing Rice to quickly leave town.

The Earp Brothers were connected to Goldfield as well. The gunfight at the OK Corral had already taken place when Wyatt wrote his brother Virgil from Goldfield and told him that he should come because this is where “money was flowing like wine.” Virgil arrived in Goldfield in the spring of 1904 and was hired as a deputy sheriff. Wyatt was working as a pit boss in Tex Rickard's place that was also a gambling casino. Virgil contracted pneumonia about a year after he got to Goldfield and he died and this prompted Wyatt to leave Nevada.

Another prominent resident of Goldfield was George Wingfield and he built The Goldfield Hotel. The hotel stands four stories and is located at the southeast corner of Crook Avenue (U.S. 95) and Columbia Avenue. in Goldfield, Nevada. Morrill J. Curtis and George E. Holesworth were the architects and they designed it in the Classic Revival style. Two earlier hotels had stood on the spot, but both had burned down. The Goldfield was completed in 1908 and cost nearly $450,000 to build. At the time, it was the most spectacular hotel in Nevada and to demonstrate this reputation, champagne flowed down the front steps during its opening ceremony. The hotel also boasted that its U-shape design ensured that each guest had an outside window. The exterior of the ground floor was built from grey granite stones and the interior first floor facade and all upper story facades were built of redbrick. The top floor has a white cornice. The front lobby was glorious with black leather upholstery, gilded columns, crystal chandeliers and mahogany trim. There were 150 rooms that had pile carpet and around half had private baths and one of the first Otis elevators west of the Mississippi would sweep guests up the floors. The food was as opulent as the rooms with special chefs serving high-end meals such as oysters, lobster, quail and squid at the hotel’s main restaurant.

The population began to taper off in 1910 with only around 5,000 residents. Goldfield Consolidated Mining Co. shuttered in 1918 after producing $125 million in gold. A devastating fire swept through Goldfield in 1923 and burned down most of the buildings, except for the hotel. Newton Crumley bought the hotel after the fire and attempted to mine gold from beneath the building with no luck. By the 1930s, Goldfield was basically a flophouse for wayward cowboys and the population of the town was below 1,000 people. The last people to take up lodging here were the family of officers stationed at the Tonopah Air Field during World War II. When they checked out in 1945, the hotel closed its doors to guests for good.

On March 4, 1981, The Goldfield Hotel was added to the Nevada State Register of Historic Places and in 1982 it was placed on the National register of Historic Places. For seventy years, the hotel changed owners and has been dormant when it comes to guests. If you don't count the paranormal investigators that have stayed. About a year ago, in September of 2017, the current owner, Red Roberts, began a renovation to get the hotel back to a place where it could open once again. The work started in the basement and the first two floors and the plan is to open at the beginning of 2019. Red was a rancher who purchased the property in 2003 for $360,000. He has bought the parcels of nearby land as well, which has some people speculating that he will expand the hotel. The former gatekeeper to the keys to the hotel was Virginia Ridgeway. She handed them over to Malek DaVarpanah, an antique-shop owner.

One thing that seems almost certain is that while The Goldfield has not had any paying guests, there have certainly been some unseen guests still staying here. Many paranormal investigators have come through including Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and The Dead History's Jennifer Jones. All of them have captured some kind of unexplained activity. The main ghost story that is told about the hotel is clouded in legend with little proof. Apparently, George Wingfield took up a prostitute named Elizabeth and he got her pregnant. He feared the scandal that this kind of news would bring for him, so he chained her to the radiator in Room 109. He supplied her with food and water and kept her there until the baby was born. Some stories claim she died while giving birth, while others claim she was murdered by Wingfield. The baby was thrown into an old mining shaft. The disembodied cries of a baby are said to be heard, as are the cries of Elizabeth who wanted to be free of her prison. Photographs show the ghostly image of “a woman having long flowing hair, wearing a white gown, and looking terribly sad as she paces the hallways, calling out to her child.” The problem with the story is that the Elizabeth referred to was probably the daughter of a hotel manager and she was in town long after Wingfield had already left. Could some woman here have lost her baby and died in childbirth? Possibly, but the legend doesn't seem to be true. Room 109 is said to be the most haunted.

The George Wingfield Room is located on the first floor and is reportedly haunted by his ghost. Piles of fresh ashes have been found in the room and the lingering scent of cigar smoke can be detected. Wingfield's spirit has been sensed near the lobby staircase. Two small children have also been seen in the lobby and they are said to be pranksters who sneak up on people and tap them on their backs before giggling and running away. A weird part of this story is that some people claim their is a little person hanging out with the children too. The basement is creepy with darkened hallways and unfinished stone walls. In one video I watched, there does seem to be a shaft in the basement. The YouTube Channel About Van Life visited the hotel and they felt as though there was some kind of paranormal wind blowing down in the basement. They also claimed to smell cigar smoke.

There was a suicide here in 1915. J.B. Findly was a hotel porter before he took his life by jumping from the roof of the hotel. The day after he died, someone saw his ghost. Another suicide was committed by a woman who hanged herself in a room on the third floor. She has been seen by more than a dozen people. The Gold Room is on the third floor and has a spectre of a man nicknamed "the stabber." He got this name because his ghost is said to lunge at visitors with his arm raised and he appears to be holding a large kitchen knife. No one has ever been harmed by it, but he is definitely scary. Generally, the ghost disappears right after it lunges.

Psychics have claimed for years that the hotel is a portal. They also claim that the mine shafts under the building are a gateway to hell, but I've heard the only shaft is next to the building and not under. The Dead History caught some EVP, one of which might be saying "Hello." I'm not sure I heard that, but I clearly heard a voice that was creepy and moany and didn't seem to belong to any of the investigators. Jennifer also wrote that they clearly heard voices at the top of one of the stairs as though a party were going on, but there was no one up there. Could this be residual from the past? The group also heard boots walking above them when no one was in that location. Ghost Adventures made a documentary at Goldfield and captured what appeared to be a brick levitating in the air and then shooting across the room in 2004.

There are many stories of paranormal experiences at the hotel. Are these former guests and owner still hanging out in the hotel in the afterlife? Is The Goldfield Hotel haunted? That is for you to decide!

Show Notes:

The Dead History has some neat videos from inside the hotel here:

Ghost Adventures brick throwing video:


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