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Haunted Places Along the Rails

ghosts story 2Enchanted is a term frequently used to describe New Mexico, but there are those who believe “bewitched,” or “haunted” is a better description. Along the New Mexico Rail Runner Express route from Santa Fe to Belen there are places where ghost hunters gather to seek spirits, and whether one believes or not, these ghost seekers often have fascinating tales to tell.

Peter Sinclaire, a professional tour guide, says his Original Santa Fe Ghost Tour is really a storytelling tour, not an effort to prove or disprove the existence of spirits in some extra-sensory gap between life as we know it and the next world.

His stories are entertaining, and visiting the landmarks of old Santa Fe certainly is worth a few hours and $16 on a warm summer evening when the hotel bars and restaurants in the City Different are bulging with chatty guests.

Secreto

Sinclaire’s tour starts at the Hotel St. Francis, just blocks from the plaza, where the first order of business is asking his ghost walkers whether they believe in ghosts or not. Skeptics are as welcome as true believers, and for the next two hours they will tramp together through the streets to $200-a-night hotels in search of any orbs, spirits, or paranormal mischief lurking in the ancient city.

The spacious lobby of the Hotel St. Francis includes the Secreto Lounge, a watering hole which occasionally is visited by one of the hotel’s resident spirits – The Lady in White. The Lady has been known to prevent service of certain drinks by fracturing enough glasses that bartenders give up and pour something else. After this introduction to the hotel, Sinclaire leads his guests to a window on the south side of the building where spirits have been seen and, in some cases, photographed.

ghosts story 1A child-sized apparition is seen here as well, but nothing mysterious materializes on this night, and the ghost walkers leave the St. Francis to pursue other possibilities. La Fonda reportedly has resident spirits and Sinclaire shows his group a photograph of a column of bright lights, perhaps all that remains of a gun salesman who dived into an old well that once sat in the hotel’s original patio now contained in La Plazuela restaurant. The gun dealer, Sinclaire says, took his life after losing all the money in his saddlebags playing cards, some of which was his commission and some belonged to his employer.

The most famous of Santa Fe’s ghosts, however, is Julia Staab, a grieving woman whose life was forever changed by the loss of a child. Her husband, Abraham Staab, was an enormously wealthy Santa Fe businessman who built a three-story palace, most of which is now in the resort and spa “La Posada.”

Julia is reported to make her presence known through toilet tricks and swinging chandeliers in the remaining two stories of her ornate home. She has been featured on Unsolved Mysteries and a great-great granddaughter, Hannah Nordhaus, has written a book about the woman who died in 1896. Sinclaire tells his guests he himself has witnessed the swinging chandelier, and he ends his tour encouraging them to keep their minds open to all possibilities before collecting his cash.

Learn more about Peter Sinclaire’s tour at theoriginalsantafeghosttour.weebly.com.

Old Albuquerque

The Wool Warehouse, KiMo Theater and most restaurants in Old Town provide ghost hunters with the opportunity to search for spirits. Albucreepy’s Downtown Ghost Walk is offered Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are available online at albucreepy.com. At 10 p.m. on Saturday nights the “Red Light Edition” is offered, and you must be 21. The walk starts with a pint of beer at the Back Alley Draft House then travels through the old brothel district called Hell’s Half Acre.

For Old Town spirits and orbs, visit toursofoldtown.com. Due to this neighborhood’s age, ghost walkers visit hidden cemeteries and hanging trees.

Even the administrative office for the Rail Runner in downtown Albuquerque has been known to experience paranormal activity. Augusta Meyers, communications manager at the Mid-Regional Council of Governments, says the original home was a show place in its day, and the first owner enjoyed sitting in a chair and watching the activities in Robinson Park across the street. A former colleague of Meyers used that office and reported her chair moving overnight to that window as if the first owner is still watching.

Belen's Harvey House

harvey houseThe Belen Public Library System manages the Harvey House Museum in Belen, an old railroad workers’ reading room which reportedly still contains spirits of Harvey Girls or other visitors. It has been searched by professional ghost-hunting groups like Purple Sage Paranormal.

Frances Zeller, a docent at the building constructed in 1910, says two ghost tours are being offered in October as fund-raisers for the museum. “The tours are by reservation only and seating is limited,” she says. The donation is $20 and the tours are October 27 & 28, 2017.

For more information, call the Harvey House Museum at (505) 861-0581.

Story by: Martin Frentzel

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