I thought I’d tell you about one particular ghost who haunts a beautiful inn, located in the mountains of Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Originally constructed in 1899 by the Alamogordo and Sacramento Mountain Railway as a by-product of the railroad’s search for timber and railway ties, the resort area of Cloudcroft became an immediate mountain retreat, and a vacation hotel was built. The Lodge, as it was called, was owned and operated by the railroad, and was a cool reprieve to thousands of overheated Texans—as it still is today.
On June 13, 1909, a disastrous fire destroyed the Lodge, but by 1911, it had been rebuilt and reopened on its current, more scenic site. The Lodge has entertained and hosted politicians, artists, entertainers, astronauts and business leaders, including Poncho Villa, Judy Garland, and Clark Gable.
Rebecca was a gorgeous red-haired chambermaid with striking blue eyes, who worked and lived at the Lodge in the 1930’s. Her room was located in the basement at the time. She was a very friendly and flirtatious young lady, and unforgettably beautiful. According to legend, Rebecca may have moonlighted as a prostitute. Whatever the case, Rebecca’s jealous lumberjack boyfriend caught her in the arms of another man and she disappeared, never to be seen again. Well, not alive…anyway. Soon after her disappearance, people began to report strange experiences and ghostly phenomena.
Even today, many employees and guests have reported seeing the apparition of a beautiful, red-haired woman wandering the halls wearing a long dress, arranging flowers in a vase, and whispering in the ears of male guests.
Rebecca’s manifestations and playful pranks are many. One of her favorite hangouts is the Red Dog Saloon, an old-west style saloon with rough-hewn walls, which is located in the basement of the Lodge. Lights have been known to go on and off randomly there. Piles of 1930’s-era poker chips have been mysteriously found in the middle of the floor, which had been cleaned only minutes before. Lodge patrons have called the front desk complaining about the loud music coming from the saloon at times when the bar is closed. Workers cleaning up after the saloon closes have seen her twirling apparition on the dance floor. Ashtrays move by themselves and flames appear in the fireplace with no logs or other fuel source. Bartenders have often seen a reflection of a pretty, red-haired woman in the bar mirror, but when one turns to look at her, she disappears.
Rebecca’s body was found near what is now the Lodge golf course. It was determined she was murdered, but the crime was never solved. There are some who believe she is in search of a new lover who appreciates her flirtatious and mischievous ways.
The Lodge is a three-story, Victorian style, elegant European mountain inn that is surrounded by huge pine trees and mountain scenery. Its fine-dining onsite restaurant is called “Rebecca’s”, named after the legendary resident ghost.
I travel to New Mexico often and have visited The Lodge several times. Having made an impression on me, I wrote a scene in my contemporary western romance, Lucky in Love, which takes place at the Lodge and in Rebecca’s restaurant. This novel will be released in June 2010. To read an excerpt, please visit my website.
Although I, unfortunately, never witnessed Rebecca’s apparition during my visits to the Lodge, I have had other ghostly encounters in my lifetime, but I’ll save those stories for another time… Until then, happy ghost hunting.