A wise man once said that there’s nothing scarier than a clown after midnight. That same man would have absolutely hated the Clown Motel.
This old motor lodge is located in Tonopah, Nevada, a former Gold Rush town that can be found on a rural stretch of highway between Reno and Las Vegas. It’s also jam-packed with tons of clown decorations. The main office, for example, is filled with dozens upon dozens of creepy clown dolls. The doors to the rooms feature plywood clowns and each one has a painting or two featuring those cheerful, but often incredibly unsettling, Jokesters.
Further adding to all the eeriness is the fact that the Clown Motel is located next door to an historic cemetery. It’s the final resting place of several victims of the “Tonopah Plague,” a mysterious disease that swept through the town in 1902. Eleven other graves honor the victims of a tragic mining accident in 1911.
These days, Tonopah is pretty desolate. Back in its golden age, it boasted a population of over 50,000 people. That number has since dwindled to under 2,500, many of whom work at a nearby military testing range. The local economy is so bad that the town’s only McDonald’s recently closed down. However, things are looking up now that SolarReserve, a solar energy company, has broken ground on a $980 million project on Tonopah’s outskirts.
Needless to say, those suffering from coulrophobia (a fear of clowns) should stay as far away from Tonopah as possible. Despite the town’s economic woes, and the fact that the Clown Motel would have made the perfect set for an ‘80s horror movie, it still does pretty good business. The lodge is a popular stopping point for bikers, tourists, and truckers looking for a place to spend the night before driving down another seemingly endless stretch of Nevada desert.
While you might assume that lodgers at Clown Motel would have tons of ghost stories to share, there aren’t too many tales of supernatural encounters to be found (online, at least). It’s ironic then that the creepiest place in Tonopah isn’t haunted, although Tonopah is apparently one of the most ghost-ridden towns in Nevada—there are dozens of reports of ghost sightings at the nearby Mizpah Hotel and Silver Rim Elementary School.
Maybe ghosts think clowns are totally freaky, too.