Coulrophobia is a fear of clowns that is often extreme. It is also a condition that has become far more recognized in recent decades.
Perhaps this wider fear of clowns is a result of the terrifying clown monster in Stephen King’s It, the film version spawning an image of the clown monster that has been burned into pop culture. Or maybe serial killer John Wayne Gacy, with his alter ego of “Pogo the Clown,” and later the “Killer Clown,” helped to establish a more prevalent fear of clowns.
Regardless, coulrophobia is a very real thing, and if you want to play a really dirty trick on a coulrophobic family member or friend, taking them to the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, may be the perfect gag.
In fact, FOX 10 Phoenix reports that the Clown Motel has been called “one of the scariest motels in the West,” and not just for those with clown phobias, but also because of other spooks that reportedly haunt the Clown Motel environs.
The Clown Motel sits in the Old West, which is full of scary history born from the danger and haunted beauty of the vast deserts and mountains that met American settlers as they sought to build their lives in the often harsh and unforgiving landscape.
Tonopah, Nevada, home to the Clown Motel, is at the center of some of that haunted history, rising up out of the high desert between Reno and Las Vegas in the early 1900s when silver and gold were discovered in the hills by a man who was throwing a rock at his escaped burro.
People defined by hopes, dreams, and grit, followed, carving lives out of the wild environment. Miners, gamblers, prostitutes, barkeeps, outlaws, and lawmen lived and died in Tonopah, leaving behind a cemetery that became vastly populated during Tonopah’s heyday.
So where better to build a clown-themed motel than right next to a century old graveyard?
The folks that originally created the Clown Motel chose its location next to the cemetery because their dad was buried there.
Allen Metscher helped restore the cemetery after years of weather, neglect, and vandalism left it in bad shape. He also helped identify some of the cemetery occupants which include a murdered Sheriff, 14 miners killed in a fire, and a man named William Murray who died trying to save the miners.
“All of [the miners] died from smoke inhalation,” said Metscher. “They found [And William Murray’s] remains down 1,400 feet; decapitated and mutilated.”
One of the Clown Motel guests, Joe Appel, has first-hand accounts of the ghosts that lurk in the cemetery next door.
“My daughter saw the spirit of a young girl, some people say they see miners and things like that there,” said Appel before returing to the subject of the Clown Motel. “Walking into the lobby I was not prepared, I was not prepared for the onslaught of clowns,” he said.
Clown Motel owner Bob Perchetti says his spooky inn has about “600 clowns.” They’re in the rooms, on the doors, and in the lobby — which attracts some guests and sends others running.
“I go and take (clown) pictures off the walls of the rooms, or cover them up with a dishcloth, and (frightened guests) will stay, but they couldn’t have the clowns around,” said Perchetti, who also notes that guests report seeing “clown shaped figures passing by their windows.”
“One guest said he woke up, and he said there was a large life-size clown like the one in the corner standing in front of his bed, he said he wiped the sleep out of his eyes, and the clown was still there. Then all of a sudden (the clown) just disappeared, completely disappeared,” said Perchetti.
FOX 10 went into the Clown Motel graveyard on a recent night with Appel’s daughter and her friend, who are “amateur ghost hunters.”
According to the FOX10 News reporter, the video portion of an interview they did with the girls, shot with a night vision camera, inexplicably disappeared leaving behind only the audio. Other uncommon equipment problems also plagued the interview throughout. That is until the interview was almost over, and the equipment began working again.
So if you’re ever touring the Old West, or just happening through Tonopah, Nevada, check out the Clown Motel. If you don’t already suffer from coulrophobia, you may after your visit.
[Images via Yelp, Wikipedia, and RoadTripper.com]