"He loves me.... he loves me not...."

"He loves me.... he loves me not...."

"He loves me.... he loves me not...."

"He loves me.... he loves me not...."

illustration by Shady

Oh! there are spirits of the air, and genii of the evening breeze, and gentle ghosts with eyes as fair as star-beams among twilight trees --Percy Bysshe Shelley



(photos from Cloudcroft's haunted Lodge: click here)

She wanders around the elegant old Lodge nightly, her flaming-red curls tumbling over piercing sky-blue eyes as she glides soundlessly through the hallways and staircases. The thing is, she's dead. Yes, the beautiful young woman that roams these halls is thought to be the flirtatious spirit of "Rebecca"... a chambermaid who reputedly disappeared from the premises sometime in the 1920's/30's. They claim her restless wraith has made her presence known here ever since...

The Lodge was originally constructed in the rustic mountain community of Cloudcroft, New Mexico in 1899, by the Alamagordo & Sacramento Mountain Railway. It was owned and operated by the railroad and intended to be a resort for workers who were the by-product of the railway's search for timber. It was immediately successful- it's breathtaking location in the lushly wooded Sacramento Mountains offered a welcome cool retreat to literally thousands of heat-punished Texans (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arizona were not yet states at this time). An article published in the Albuquerque Journal-Democrat near the completion of the Lodge in 1899 stated, "This beautiful building will be known as Cloudcroft Lodge and it's interior will be furnished with a lavish hand, yet in keeping with the character of the place. Fireplaces, with wide, hungry mouths, will sparkle, crackle and dart forth welcome tongues of flame to hundreds of merry guests, who will find new pleasure in life during the long, sultry summer." In 1908 the El Paso & Southwestern Railroad System- the Lodge's new owner- advertised that the hotel, restaurant, dancing pavilion, tennis court, golf links, bowling alley, billiard parlor, burro trips and children's playground were accessible for "weekend rates of $3.00 round trip," and that Lodge rates were "$12.50 and up" per week. On June 13th 1909, a raging fire blazed through the Lodge, utterly destroying it. By 1911, the Lodge was completely rebuilt and reopened on it's current site, and it's appearance has remained virtually the same since then- a historic, timeless gem suspended in time. Over the long, distinguished history of the Lodge, it has played host to numerous famous folk- including Pancho Villa, Gilbert Roland, Judy Garland and Clark Gable (in fact the last two carved their names into the wall of the Lodge's Tower, where they can still be seen to this day). But by far the most infamous guest of all at the Lodge is the specter of Rebecca.

Rebecca was said to be a gorgeous red-haired chambermaid who worked and lived at the Lodge in the 1920's/30's. Similar to her fellow Lodge employees, she lived in the employee's rooms, which were located in the basement at the time. She was by all means a very friendly and flirtatious young lady, and unforgettably lovely. There was some rumor that Rebecca moonlighted as a prostitute, although no proof of this claim existed. Whatever the case, according to the story, Rebecca's jealous lumberjack boyfriend caught her in the arms of another man at the Lodge (possibly in Room 101, aka the Governor's Suite) and became enraged. Shortly after, Rebecca disappeared from the Lodge, never to be seen again. Well, not alive, anyway. Because soon after her disappearance. people began to report having some very strange, even ghostly, experiences...

Over the years, there have been many sightings of an auburn haired apparition floating through the halls, a vision seen by both employees and guests alike. One guest heard scraping sounds in the hallway late one night and opened the door to see a red-haired woman in a 30's style night dress rearranging flowers in a vase on top of an antique chest. Another guest was shocked when he went to take a shower, only to find a "vaporous female" reclining in his bathtub. There have also been reports of objects such as watches, ashtrays, and silverware sliding across surfaces untouched... doors opening and closing on their own... lights and other appliances turning on and off by themselves... furniture moved inexplicably... and even faucets turning on and toilets flushing for no apparent reason. But perhaps one of the strangest events happened one Halloween night, when a man dressed in a tuxedo came into the Lodge's dining room and sat alone at an intimate, two-chaired table. He ordered two dinners and two glasses of wine. Everyone in the room watched closely as the man ate his meal and carried on a conversation with someone who wasn't there. No one ever saw anyone sit with the man or even go near him, yet at the end of his meal, both wineglasses and both plates were empty.

Rebecca's manifestations are many. One of her favorite "hangouts" is the Red Dog Saloon- an old-west style saloon with rough-hewn walls and Southwest decorum- which is located in the basement, where the employee's showers used to be. This is a very active spot- lights go off and on untouched... 1930's-era poker chips have been mysteriously found in the middle of a floor which had been clear only minutes before... Lodge patrons have called the front desk to complain about the loud music coming from the saloon at times when the saloon was empty and wasn't even open... an apparition of a twirling woman has been reportedly seen on the dance floor... and a bartender claimed to have seen the reflection of a beautiful red-haired woman wearing a long dress in the mirror behind the bar- yet the woman wasn't there when the bartender turned around to look at her. Another paranormal hotspot seems to be found in the "Tower"... a three-story structure that stands tall above the Lodge itself. The Tower is kept locked, with two levels of small sitting rooms with windows that yield a panoramic view of the lush mountains. Some have reported feeling cold spots and a "presence" in the Tower, and the third floor- which is where the locked door leading to the Tower can be found- is reportedly very paranormally active as well. Additionally, there is also said to be a lot of activity surrounding Room 101, the Governor's Suite. Some have theorized that Rebecca carried on her "trysts" in this room and was perhaps even caught in the act there by her lumberjack boyfriend one fateful day. Whatever the connection, the Lodge staff has gotten calls from Room 101 where no one is on the other end, even when no one is in the room at the time. Despite having a modern, computerized phone system, the phone calls from Room 101 persist. The light in the ceiling fan just outside of Room 101 is also said to turn off and on at will. A former housekeeper claimed that after making up a bed, she would come back only to find an indentation as if someone had just laid or sat there. She also said that guest's shoes would mysteriously move a few rooms down from where they were supposed to be. It would seem that even in spectral form, Rebecca is a very fun-loving and mischievous spirit.

To this day, employee's and guests alike are still reporting strange and mysterious encounters at the Lodge. In fact, on the day I was there to shoot pics, one of the clerks told us that the toilets in the ladies room had been flushing by themselves earlier that very day. Whether you believe in Rebecca or not, the Lodge is still an amazing, unique place with a ton of fascinating history. The forest scenery and mountain views are heavenly, and the Lodge itself is a graceful and timeless treat lavishly furnished with the Victorian and country lodge decor of a bygone era. There is even a fabulous restaurant called- what else?- Rebecca's (the food is great, by the way). I have a soft spot for the Lodge... it really is a magical, lovely place and definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in things ghostly and mysterious... after all, they do have one of the friendliest ghosts this side of Casper! *wink*

Check out the spooky and lovely pics from our visit to the Cloudcroft Lodge

Visit the Lodge's website... tell 'em Rebecca (and Shady!) sent ya! *grin*


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