Cloudcroft Lodge - Cloudcroft, New Mexico

Tale from Shady

outside view of the lodge "She wanders around the elegant old lodge in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, nightly, her flaming-red curls tumbling over piercing sky-blue eyes as she glides 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 disapeared from the premises sometime in the 1920's. They claim her restless wraith had made her presence known here ever since.

The lodge was constructed in 1899 by the Alamogordo & Sacramento Mountain Railway. It was intended to be a resort for workers who were involved in the railway's search for timber. It was immediately successful—its breathtaking location in the lushly wooded Sacramento Mountains offered a welcome cool retreat to thousands of heat-punished Texans (New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arizona were not yet states at this time). An article published in the Alburquerque Journal-Democrat near the compleation of hte lodge stated, 'This beautiful building will be known as Cloudcroft Lodge and its 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.'

On June 13, 1909, a raging fire blazed through the lodge, utterly destroying it. By 1911 the building had been rebuilt and reopened on its current site, and its appearance has remained virtually the same since then, a historic, timeless gem. Over the long, distinguished history of the lodge, it has played host to numerous famous folk, including Pancho Villa, Gilbert Roland, Jusy 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 the most famous guest of all is the specter of Rebecca.

painting of Rebecca Rebecca was said to be a gorgeous red-haired chambermaid who worked and lived at the lodge in the 1920s and '30s. She lived in the employees' rooms, which were located in the basement. She was by all accounts a very friendly and flirtatious young lady. There was a rumor that Rebecca moonlighted as a prostitute, although no proof of this claim existed. Whatever the case, Rebecca's jealous lumberjack boyfriend caught her in the arms of another man at the lodge (possibly in room 101, the Governor's Suite) and became enraged. Shortly after, Rebecca disappeared, 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, Hallway in the Lodge 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 nightdress rearranging flowers in a vase on top of an antique chest. hallway view 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 appliences turning on and off by themselves, furniture moving inexplicably, and even faucets turning on and toilets flushing for no apparent reason.

But 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 employees' showers used to be. This is a very active spot-lights go off and on untouched. Nineteen thirties-era poker chips have been mysteriously found in the middle of a floor that had been clear only minutes before. Lodge patrins 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. Reportedly, an apparition of a twirling woman has been 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 hot spot seems to be found in the tower, a three-story structure that stands tall above the lodge itself. The tower, which is kept locked, has 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 of the lodge, where the locked door leading to the tower can be found, apparently is also paranormally active. There is also said to be a lot of activity surrounding the Governor's Suite. Even when no one was in that room at the time, the lodge staff has gotten calls from the Governor's Suite, and there was no one on the other end. Despite the fact that the lodge has a modern computerized phone system, the phone calls from room 101 persist. The light in the ceiling fan just outside the room 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 lain or sat there. She also said that guests' shoes would mysteriously move a few rooms down from where they were supposed to be. It would seem that Rebecca is a very fun-loving and mischievous spirit.

To this day employees and guests alike still report strange and mysterious encounters at the lodge. In fact, when we were there to shoot pictures, one of the clerks told us that the toilets in the ladies' room had been flushing by themselves earlier that day. Whether you believe in Rebecca or not, the lodge is still an amazing, unique place with a lot of fascinating history. There is even a fabulous restaurant called (what else?) Rebecca's.

The last time we were at the lodge, we photographed a carved wooden box set up on the beams in the dome of the tower. We asked someone about the box later, and nobody wanted to tell us anything or acknowledge it, as if it weren't up there. But it IS, and if you look at it, you'll see how deliberately it was placed there. Finally we talked to an employee who told us the story. It is a kind of memorial to some of the lodge's most beloved patrons, who frequented the place for decades until they passed away. You could even say the mystery box, which has a glass front and is set up to 'look' out the front window of the tower, is a resting place."-Shady