Ladies in White
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Ladies in White

If you’ve been on ghost tours in a couple of different states, you’ve probably noticed that a certain spirit shows up everywhere. Red state, blue state, wild west, down south or back east–all towns have “ladies in white.” This spirit is usually seen dancing or twirling her way across a ballroom floor or in the corner of a local bar. The sightings are so common that I asked Dr. Karen Renner, professor at N.A.U. and lover of the macabre, to write an afterword in my upcoming book, Haunted Flagstaff, about shared mythologies. She graciously agreed, and she included several paragraphs on these ghostly women who are reportedly seen throughout the country.

  Flagstaff has several ladies in white, the most famous one residing in the Weatherford Hotel. This misty, feminine figure has usually been seen upstairs in the Zane Gray Ballroom, dancing by herself in the southwest corner near the fireplace. Whether she’s connected to the murdered bride in room 54 or is a different spirit entirely is left to the ghost hunter to parse out. Another ghostly figure frequently reported in town is the twirling spirit of a woman inside the Rendezvous. The Rendezvous is the downstairs bar at the Hotel Monte Vista and, like the Weatherford Hotel, it's steeped in history and tales of death.  

There are many reasons why the sightings of ladies in white are so memorable. For me, it’s because those stories are the ones filled with romantic loss and tragedy. Jilted brides who later commit suicide, clandestine trysts broken up by an angry family member, and unlucky souls who lost their beloved to an untimely death are universal themes that are still relevant. By the time young adulthood is reached, almost everyone has experienced a romantic loss or two. Fortunately, most broken hearts don’t end in a gunfight or suicide.

Karen Renner wrote that some of the universal sightings may be linked to a tragedy that occurred weeks or months ahead of the reports. If you think back to the 1940s or 50s, people read newspapers to learn about events across the country. When I sit down to do research on a ghostly sighting–even one that’s long been incorporated into local lore– I keep her idea in mind. Whether it’s a male or female spirit, if it’s been reported in several locations across town and in other cities as well, there might be a link to a public tragedy that occurred somewhere else, some time before.

Boo.