Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Bird Cage Theater

Basement poker room, where the longest game in poker history took place!

The Bird Cage Theater is located in Tombstone, Arizona and opened it's doors for business on December 25, 1881.

Originally called The Elite Theater, it's name was changed to the now infamous, Bird Cage Theater.

Inside the three sets of tall wooden doors, was a brothel, saloon, a gambling parlor and theater. Long before Las Vegas was even a glimmer of a thought, the Bird Cage blazed a trail by operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

In the basement is a very, very, tiny but notorious poker room. (Laughable, really,... when compared to today's marble casino palaces.

Legend says that the longest game in poker history happened right at this spot. The game was said to have lasted more then 8 years!

(Can you imagine a game lasting that long?)

As one man would get up to leave, another anxious player would quickly take his seat.

Tensions and negative energies flared, in this dank basement room and blood was spilled upon the floor boards on many rage filled occasions.

Some of the most well known Western figures in our history, played poker at the Bird Cage. Diamond Jim Brady and Doc Holiday are two of the more well known patrons. Doc Holiday enjoyed the diversion of gaming so much, he was actually a dealer for the game called Faro on occasion.

Dusty, dirty, wild, violent, with every kind of sin going on under it's roof, it is no wonder the building's floors, ceilings and walls are riddled with 140 bullet holes. Almost every where your eyes land is evidence of an attempted murder.

Many a knife and gun fights were played out at this old saloon and numerous dead bodies were solemnly carried out of the old wooden, front doors.

A minimum of 26 souls met with their demise in the senseless violence that took place at the Bird Cage,... and it all happened within the short period of time that it was opened to the public.

The pool table that Morgan Earp was murdered on, still stands as it did on that fateful day, complete with crusty, dried blood staining what is left of the ancient fabric.

The spooky hearse that was used to haul away the dead, can be found parked within the museum section of the building. 
This ominous looking black carriage would roll slowly along, carrying the unfortunates that were laying stiff inside, Boot Hill Cemetery for burial.

Twenty dollars in those days would buy you a strong bottle of whiskey and a lovely lady to entertain you in a private box.

The boxes were commonly referred to as "cribs" in those wild west days of long ago.

(Believe me, is NOT the kind of crib we are all familiar with.)

These cribs were small rooms built into the sides of the wall of the Gambling Hall, where the ladies of the night conducted their business.
Seven rooms lined each long wall, with red curtains draped over the front of a room. When the curtains were closed, the ladies were at work and when the curtains were opened, the ladies were available to select their next customer.

The ghosts are still partying it up at the Bird Cage,...... as it seems even in death some spirits could not bring themselves to leave the emotionally charged and exciting atmosphere.

The stories of these Western phantoms go all the way back to  the year,...1921.

The frightened whispers were started by the local school children, who would report seeing, smelling and hearing lost souls, while walking on their way to and from school.

The school was located directly across the street from the Bird Cage Theater, giving the children an unobstructed view and endless hours to ponder the haunted structure.

Ghost investigators have a whole host of unusual phenomenon to report,..such as,........

* Scents waft to your nostrils of cigar smoke, cheap perfume and whiskey. You can walk into and out of a phantom sent, with nothing in the surrounding vicinity to account for it.

* Shadowy figures are caught moving, out of the corner of your eye and faint outlines of people in full Western attire are occasionally spotted walking through the building.

* Equipment malfunction. The spirits are very aware of you here and they seem to play with most of the ghost investigator's equipment. (So be warned if you go!)

The Bird Cage boasts that 26 different ghosts are on the premises, to patrons who take the tour.

Most accounts of ghostly interactions start after 9pm, where according to the locals and the theater employees, you do NOT WANT TO BE. This is when strains of music can be heard faintly playing,.... voices can be heard singing, laughing and whispered conversations take place between phantoms.

Lastly,....let us not forget the occasional ghostly scream. (Is this spirit reliving it's nightmarish death, or is it just lamenting in duress?)

When the silver boom was over in the late 1880's, the Bird Cage suffered financially and finally had to close it's doors in 1889.

In 1934 the building was purchased and opened as a tourist attraction, by the Hunley family.

The building is now open daily from 8AM to 6PM, for those who want to have a tour and maybe meet a ghost. Call 520-457-3421, for more information.

If you would like tourist information on the city of Tombstone, go to

For a complete list of ghost tours, historical sites, museums, accommodations and restaurants of Tombstone, go to..
Here is a very short clip of the Ghost Adventures Crew investigating this location.

Want to see a picture of a ghostly orb? Check out,

In this clip you will see a large, lighted, floating orb on the stage of the Bird Cage Theater.

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