Monday, May 16, 2011

The Borego Phantom

The Borego Phantom is a skeletal apparition that appears to potential gold-seekers between Borego, Arizona and the foothills of the Superstition Mountains.

The Borego Phantom manifests itself as a humanoid skeleton, standing well over eight feet tall and appearing only after darkness falls. Within the Phantom’s chest is a fiery lantern that burns brightly, swinging slowly from side to side from the rib from which it hangs. Despite this, the apparition appears without warning and appears suddenly from the darkness.

In most cases, the Borego Phantom seems uninterested in mortal affairs and simply wanders past terrified onlookers. Its feet may touch the ground and kick up sand, but no footprints of any kind are ever left behind, nor can it be followed for any amount of time. But when traveling through cactus stands, over boulders, or through narrow tunnels, the Borego Phantom has exhibited incredible agility that is rare among the undead.

The Borego Phantom may be an aimless wanderer, but the irrefutable fact that it appears only to miners and prospectors indicates that the apparition may in fact have some sort of motive. The lantern in its chest and its choice of witnesses indicates that the Phantom was once a prospector who had died while searching for the legendary Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, but it is also possible that the Phantom is a “collective phantom,” created and empowered by the ghosts of the innumerable people who perished in pursuit of the Lost Dutchman.


The Borego Phantom is a spectral entity that is said to wander the desert wastelands between the Superstition Mountains and Seventeen Palms. A few years back, it is said that a gold prospector named Charley Arizona had decided to settle down for the night in an area about four miles southeast of Borego. In the early hours of the morning, Charley was suddenly awoken by something in the dark. He decided to investigate, thinking that someone had stumbled upon his camp. In the distance, he saw a faint, eerie glow, perhaps a torch. Now he thought that a lost traveler had found his campsite. As the eerie light drew closer, Charley could begin to make out a figure in the darkness. What he saw would haunt his memories for the rest of his life...

Charley stared silently in terror, unable to make even a single sound. A large, gaunt skeletal figure traveled noiselessly across the desert sands, and a bright light, like a lantern, dangled from the ghost's ribs. The figure was over eight feet tall, the light from it's ribcage casting a creepy glow in the stillness of the night. As quickly as it came, the apparition faded from sight behind some large rocks. Charley remained motionless with fear for the rest of the night, unable to sleep...

Two years later, two prospectors in the area reported a sighting of the mysterious entity whilst camping out for the night. One of the men claimed to have seen a dim light in the darkness, and was then approached by a gigantic skeletal figure with a lantern in it's chest. His companion was skeptical, and dismissed the sighting by saying that the other man only saw the glow of the fire reflecting off of the rocks. A year later, however, another man who was making his way through the Superstitions encountered the entity as well, describing it as a clumsy, stumbling skeleton of immense proportions, with a light emanating from it's chest. The man promptly recounted his experience at the Vallecito Station, where rumors of this terrifying apparition began to spread rapidly. Thus, the legend of the Borego Phantom was born. Thrill-seekers began to journey recklessly into the Superstition Mountains, hoping that they would somehow catch a glimpse of the dangling lantern and it's eerie glow that preceded the ghost's appearance. All that awaited them, however, was terror beyond measure...

One particular group of ghost hunters encountered the apparition at night when they had set up a night watch. When they saw the Phantom, one of the men fired his gun at the specter, only to have the bullet pass through it. They could only watch as the ghost stumbled and tripped awkwardly across the sands. They attempted to follow it, but eventually lost sight of it in a valley.

Most people believe that the Borego Phantom was once a prospector who searched for his fortune in a local mine, but died in the process. They believe that he is now cursed to be the guardian of the Lost Dutchman, and that he will lead anyone astray who comes even remotely close to the mine and the treasures within, but at the same time also seeking the mine himself. Others believe that the entity is only seen by miners and prospectors, or by those who have some sort of connection to the mine itself. Either way, this skeletal phantasm should be avoided until it's true nature and it's purpose is discovered. It has not been seen in recent years, but that doesn't mean that the Borego Phantom doesn't still walk the dunes...does it?


Blackman, W. Haden. The Field Guide to North American Hauntings: Everything You Need to Know About Encountering Over 100 Ghosts, Phantoms, and Spectral Entities. New York: Three Rivers Press. Copyright ©1998 by W. Haden Blackman.

Arnold, Neil. Monster! The A-Z of Zooform Phenomena. Great Britain: CFZ Press. Copyright ©2007 by CFZ Press.

Anza Borrego's Haunted Desert (DesertUSA)

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