The sleepy railroad depot in Tucson, Arizona became the scene of a western shoot out when Wyatt Earp shot Frank Stillwell dead near the platform on March 22 1882. The mourning Earp clan was taking the body of Morgan Earp aboard the train to California for burial. Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell hid at the depot waiting to ambush and overtake the grieving brothers. Instead, Stilwell became the one destines for death. Wyatt Earp fired a shot point blank under Stilwell’s ribs. Witnesses say several shots were heard in the train yard, and they found Stilwell’s body riddled with bullets several hours later.
Earp stated Stilwell’s last words were “Morg? Morg?” perhaps confused that he had encountered the ghost of Morgan Earp. Morgan and Wyatt Earp looked somewhat alike. Stilwell’s energy has been felt in the area of the old platform and railroad station that stood near the Southern Pacific tracks of days gone by. Some investigators have even recorded EVP’s of mysterious gunfire while exploring the area.
The current railroad station was built in 1941 and was in use during the heyday of rail travel of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Sometime in the 1970’s, the building was boarded up and left to be forgotten. In 1998 the City of Tucson purchased the Southern Pacific Depot from the Union Pacific Railroad. The depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building now houses an Amtrak station with some of the beautiful original 1942 wood furniture pieces in use. There is also a market, train museum, and a romantic restaurant on the premises called Maynards.
This writer stopped and talked to one of the Amtrak security guards to learn if he had witnessed any ghostly activity being alone in the Amtrak station on almost all occasions. He admitted that several of the security people have witnessed a man in a territorial military uniform who vanishes as you approach him. They also hear a woman scream from the restroom. Thinking there might be a lady in distress; they check the room and find nobody there. There is story of a runaway in the 1970’s that was found raped, murdered, and left along the tracks. An apparition of a tattered bloody man has been seen near the stairway as well. A grieving woman in black has been seen wandering the premises.
The old number 1673 locomotive is housed in a fenced area near the train museum. It seems to carry a little energy from its past as well. Once used in the 1954 movie “Oklahoma”, the engine seems to attract a misty green haze in photos. Some visitors have seen a middle age conductor standing nearby just gazing at the old iron horse.
Both the downstairs and upstairs dining area of the restaurant, Maynards was explored. Our waiter informed us that workers in the market have reported wine bottles rising up in the air and crashing to the tile floor. Strange odors from the basement have been known to filter up to the main floor. There was once a jail holding cell in the basement for transporting prisoners by the train.
Railroad travel and the depots were once as busy and hectic as the city airports are now. Men road trains off to war. Their loved ones road the rails to the coasts to greet the soldiers when they returned on the ships. Many diseased travelers rode the trains to Arizona in hopes of recovering from illnesses but never returned to their former homes. No wonder there are so many emotions, energies and apparitions left behind in the station.
Maynards Market and Kitchen
400 N Toole Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85278
Amtrak Station (with waiting room)
400 N Toole Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85278