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Legend of the Red Ghost

Updated on July 16, 2012
Depiction of the Red Ghost
Depiction of the Red Ghost | Source

Red Ghost Encounters

The story of the Red Ghost began in 1883 at a ranch near Eagle Creek in southeastern Arizona. The Apache wars were ending, though a few renegade bands still prowled the area as isolated ranches far from any neighbors were easy targets for the occasional Apache raid. Early one morning, two ranchers rode out to count their sheep, leaving their wives and children behind. Some time that morning, one of the women went to a nearby spring to get a bucket of water. Suddenly, the other woman who was inside the ranch heard the dog begin to bark followed by a terrified scream. When she peered out the window, she saw a reddish-colored beast race by. Riding on its back was an evil looking creature that some thought to be the devil.

Horrified, she locked herself and her children up in the house until the men returned home and told them of what she saw. When they searched by the spring, they discovered the other woman's body, which had been trampled to death. The next morning when they went back to the area, they discovered reddish strands of hair and cloven hoof prints that were much larger than a horse's and nothing like they had ever seen before.

A few days later, prospectors who were camping nearby close to Clifton, Arizona reported awakening to the thundering sound of hooves and people screaming. Though their tent collapsed, they managed to escape just in time to see a large creature run off. The next day, another woman was found trampled to death. As news of the beast, which came to be known as the Red Ghost spread, people began to make up or embellish stories. One man claimed to have seen the creature kill a grizzly bear and eat it, while another said that he actually chased it, but that it vanished in front of his eyes.

Months later, two other prospectors were searching for precious metals along the Verde River when they spotted the Red Ghost, again with something attached to its back. They fired their guns at the creature but missed. However, as it ran away they saw a chilling object fall from its back: a human skull with flesh still covering part of it. Embedded into the flesh was strands of red hair.

About a year afterwards, a cowboy near Phoenix caught sight of the creature grazing on grass while he was on his horse. Wanting to capture the beast, he took out his rope out and managed to lasso the animal's head with it. However, instead of attempting to running away, it charged at him and knocked both him and his horse to the ground. As it galloped away, the cowboy saw that on its back was a headless skeleton.

What is the identity of the Red Ghost?

Sightings of the Red Ghost continued for nine more years until a rancher in eastern Arizona saw the creature feeding on vegetables in his garden. He pulled out his Winchester and managed to take it down with one shot. When he went to the inspect the animal, he saw that it was a camel. There was no skeleton, but the rawhide strips that had been used to tie the person to its back were still there. Some of them had cut deeply into the poor animal's flesh, leaving behind large scars.


How did a camel end up in Arizona?

Back in the 1850s, the United States Army had purchased thirty-three camels from Egypt and brought them to Arizona so they could be used to carry cargo and people while a road across the northern part of the state was being surveyed. It was thought to be an excellent idea, as camels need less water than mules and horses and can carry a lot of weight.

However, the plan had to be abandoned once the Civil War began. As a result, the camels were no longer needed. Some were sold at auction or to circuses or zoos, while others were simply released into the desert. It seems that the Red Ghost was one of the latter.

Even today, it still remains a mystery how a person ended up strapped to the back of the camel or who he was.


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    • profile image

      gwyllion 4 years ago

      poor camel

    • mizjo profile image

      mizjo 5 years ago from New York City, NY

      Yikes! This is the reason I do not watch horror movies. I get so-o spooked.

      Great hub, voted up.

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for commenting Tillsontitan and Amanda. I'm glad you liked it!

    • Amanda Gee profile image

      Amanda Gee 5 years ago from Cameron, Missouri

      Very nice! I enjoyed it! :) Thanks!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      This was great! Isn't it strange what people see when they're afraid? I had to keep reading to find out what happened then was sad to learn it was a poor, scared, hurt, camel! Just goes to show people can imagine things that aren't there!

      This was a great story that I, like many others, had never heard. Great story, well written, makes a great hub!

      Voted up and interesting.

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the comment bravewarrior! I didn't think about writing a continuation to this. If I find additional information on the topic, I will definitely add on to this hub or write an entirely new hub on it. I'm glad you liked this story!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Intriguing! I've not heard of this. I'm assuming this is something you're building upon? If so, I can't wait to see what comes next. I'm reading more and more fiction from my followers. Since joining HP, I no longer have the time to read books (I'm a voracious reader!). I so enjoy when I have a story to read, chapter by chapter in HP.

      Voted up and awesome. Please bring us more!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you for the comment and vote kashmir!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for commenting mejohnson. I agree that this story would make a pretty cool horror movie. :-)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      A very interesting story, i have not heard of the legend before . Well done !

      Vote up and more !!!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for commenting mejohnson. I agree that this story would make a pretty cool horror movie. :-)

    • mejohnson profile image

      mejohnson 5 years ago

      What an interesting story. Never heard of this before. Surprised it hasn't inspired some kind of spooky horror movie.

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I did too, melpor- that's what inspired me to write it. :-) thanks for stopping by!

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for commenting and sharing DS Duby! I agree, it's pretty crazy how so many people mistook an ordinary camel for some unknown murderous beast.

    • melpor profile image

      Melvin Porter 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Very good hub. I just saw this on the travel channel a few days ago.

    • DS Duby profile image

      DS Duby 5 years ago from United States, Illinois

      I loved this hub, very cool indeed. It's amazing what our minds conjour up when encountering the unknown. Voted up, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Eric- thanks for stopping by. I didn't know that the Arizona sand was one of the reasons that caused them to discontinue using camels. Thanks for the additional facts. :-)

      Loveless- thanks, glad you found it interesting. :-)

    • Loveless City boy profile image

      Loveless City boy 5 years ago from LAS VEGAS!!!!!!!!

      I'v never heard this legend. Interesting to say the least... Good hub

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Jolly Jolly is what we learned of this in gradeschool in Arizona. That was the camel driver's nick name. However we were taught that the quartz type makeup of Az. sand cut into the softer hooves of the camel and made the project undisireable. I think really it was the war and public opinion, they did not do well with horses, cattle and mules.