Mesa’s Buckhorn Mineral Baths. Did Elvis Presley sleep there? And does his ghost haunt the premises of the 15-acre roadside landmark at the northeast corner of East Main Street and Recker Road?
History buffs from the Mesa Historical Museum are all shook up about the possibility the King of Rock ’n’ Roll stayed there during the filming of a scene of his 1960 movie “Flaming Star” — and that maybe, his ghost is now frequenting the premises.
In addition to possibly staying at the Buckhorn, perhaps Elvis came there to see Tom Diskin, an old friend, who was the right-hand man of Elvis’ manager, Col. Parker, and used to book Elvis’ appearances and photograph him for many years throughout the 1950s and into the early 70s.
Rumblings of an Elvis connection were recently uncovered at the Buckhorn, a property on the National Register of Historic Landmarks once owned by Ted and Alice Sliger from 1939 to 1999, the year it closed.
The possibility of Elvis haunting the building, perhaps seeking a guitar he left there or a jacket he performed in, has lifted the spirits of at least one history buff.
“Elvis has left the building, or is maybe haunting the building?” mused Ron Peters, a member of the Mesa Preservation Foundation who knew Alice Sliger for 16 years. “I had never heard of anything like Elvis staying there, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. But Alice never mentioned it if he did.”
In order to see if any apparitions of Elvis or other spirit crooners are hanging out at the Buckhorn, for the first time, Arizona Paranormal Investigations will conduct a search of the Buckhorn buildings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 20. The public is invited to attend the event which is a fundraiser for the Mesa Historical Museum benefitting the Buckhorn’s restoration efforts. The cost to attend is $40 per person. To purchase tickets for the event, call the Mesa Historical Museum at (480) 835-7358 or visit www.mesamuseum.org.
Buckhorn owner Alice Sliger died at age 103 in November 2010, and her son Ted Sliger Jr. now owns the property. The Mesa Historical Museum and the Mesa Preservation Foundation are feverishly pursuing avenues to receive grants and financial support to restore the place that appears frozen in time. Ted Sliger Jr. has loaned many of the items of historical significance to the Mesa Historical Museum and to the Arizona Museum of Natural History for safe-keeping.
The inside of the main Buckhorn office building still looks as if the Sligers could appear behind the check-in counter at any time, and many species of mounted animals from throughout Arizona that were hunted by Ted Sliger Jr. also remain on the walls. The business also was known for attracting Major League Baseball teams such as the New York Giants (now San Francisco Giants) in 1947 and later the Chicago Cubs and was where baseball’s best such as Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and Gaylord Perry received massages.
While sifting through some of the boxes of items stored inside the lodging cabins at the Buckhorn, historical preservationists recently discovered items left behind from a man named Tom Diskin, who co-owned Jamboree Productions, a Memphis, Tenn.-based publishing company with Parker, who was Elvis’ manager for many years. Among the items: boxes of photographs of college sporting events Diskin took during the 1950s and 60s and negatives, a pair of binoculars, a bowling ball and a typewriter that Diskin borrowed from the Mesa Tribune. Diskin, who died in 1998, is seen in many vintage photos with Presley on various Elvis websites, according to published accounts, and that may be why Diskin left some of his belongings behind at the Buckhorn the year before it closed.
But when was Elvis there exactly?
“We don’t know exactly when he stayed there, but we’re trying to find out,” said Lisa Anderson, executive director of the Mesa Historical Museum. “But there’s evidence that Elvis likely stayed here at some point; we’re just trying to find out exactly when. We’re going through ledgers to see when he would’ve checked in, but there’s also the possibility that he could’ve checked in under an assumed name.”
According to Anderson, Ted Sliger Jr. said he had heard the story from his parents about Elvis filming a scene for Flaming Star somewhere around Mesa, and that he had stayed for a very brief time at the Buckhorn, but he never saw The King himself. Sliger Jr. also had told Anderson he knew Diskin often stayed at the Buckhorn when he was in Arizona and was friends with his parents, giving the Buckhorn an Elvis connection.
Ted Sliger Jr. could not be reached for comment, as other haunting questions remain: Did Elvis receive a massage at the Buckhorn? Who gave it to him? Does anyone living in Mesa remember seeing Elvis at the Buckhorn and were they lucky enough to get a snapshot of him?
And, what is Elvis’ ghost looking for on the grounds of the Buckhorn?
Jack Burns, a family friend of the Sligers, laughed at the possibility of Elvis staying at the Buckhorn.
“Anything is possible,” Burns said.
And that itself supports the fact that Elvis may have really slept at the Buckhorn -- and that he may have never left the building.
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