When it comes to the bizarre, New Mexico is most well-known for its history with UFOs. However, its unearthly terrors don't just hail from another planet, but from the afterlife. This beautiful state has a long, storied history that lingers behind in unexpected and chilling ways.
From the remnants of a mass mining tragedy to specters of the Wild West, here are five of the most haunted places in New Mexico!
Dawson Cemetery (Cimarron, New Mexico)
Dawson was once a bustling coal mining town just outside of Cimarron, but now it stands as a ghost town mostly consisting of the cemetery which honors those lost in massive tragedies. In 1913, this region saw one of the worst coal mining tragedies in American history when an explosion killed 263 workers. A decade later in 1923, disaster befell the miners yet again, taking the lives of the remaining 121 workers.
Today Dawson Cemetery is considered on of the most haunted places in New Mexico—a not-so-shocking fact considering all the loss and terror that took place here. Those who are brave enough to set foot in the cemetery at night have had some eerie encounters. There have been reports of floating spectral lights, similar to what one might see on a miner's helmet. Some have even seen ghostly figures walking through the graves.
KiMo Theatre (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
The KiMo Theatre is a historical landmark that was constructed back in 1927. For years it saw all manner of performances, including dancing, singing, plays, and movie screenings. But on August 2nd, 1951, the theatre saw a devastating tragedy. A water heater exploded in the lobby, injuring seven people. One of those hurt in the incident was a six-year-old boy named Bobby Darnall, who later died from his wounds.
It is believed that Bobby still haunts the theatre to this day, causing little acts of mischief if he's not appeased. The staff makes a point of leaving toys, pictures, donuts, candy, and other gifts to keep Bobby occupied. Otherwise, the boy plays practical jokes that throw performers off during a show, such as electrical mishaps, opening and closing doors, and dropping cables.
Atoka School (Artesia, New Mexico)
There's a lot that's unsettling about the abandoned building at 26 East Atoka Road, but perhaps the most chilling is the unknown. The building was once the Atoka School, but the institution closed down overnight with seemingly no explanation. Of course, the location was repurposed several times over the years, but each business that moved in saw the same fate: closing down with little to no warning, more or less overnight.
Whether or not something terrible happened here to warrant an abrupt exit, the location now serves as the favorite hang-out spot for wayward teens. But those who visit are in for a scare. It's said that upon arriving at the plot, a dark presence can be felt. Beyond the feeling of being watched, people have reported hearing groaning, snarling, and the rasp of demonic voices. Others have said they heard wails and screams coming from inside.
Dona Ana County Courthouse & Jail (Las Cruces, New Mexico)
This haunted locale was put on the map by an episode of Ghost Adventures. The courthouse was erected in 1937, and while it's no longer in use today, the paranormal energy buzzing here makes it quite the attraction.
As one might expect from a jail, there have been numerous deaths here over the years, and the spirits of those lost still linger. Some say that shadowy figures can be found regularly wandering the halls, and there are cold spots all over the building. Ghost hunters investigating the building have reported encounters with an unidentifiable violent entity. One frequent visitor claims that an invisible hand left scratches on his body, and he witnessed a cell door shutting by itself.
While the ghosts are believed to be former inmates, most of them are unidentified. However, legend has it that one of the eternal occupants is that of Mary Waters. Mary was a waitress who was arrested in the 1950s over suspicions of public drunkenness. She was sequestered away in a cell, and immediately started screaming. When the screaming stopped, she was found dead, with a terrified look marring her features. The official coroner's report lists a ruptured kidney as her cause of death, others have their doubts about natural causes.
Her spirit is said to remain near her cell, making strange noises, slamming doors, and giving visitors the overwhelming sensation of being watched.
La Fonda on the Plaza (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
La Fonda on the Plaza is a beautiful historic hotel complete with lush modern amenities. However, many of its guests come from beyond the veil. The original inn was built more than 400 years ago, though the building that stands today was constructed in 1922. Considering the establishment's long history, it's no surprise that there have been numerous deaths—including many that were violent.
One of the ghosts that haunts the halls belongs to a gambler whose luck ran out in 1857. A lynch mob dragged him out of the gambling hall and hung him from a tree in the hotel's backyard. The hotel's La Plazuela restaurant sits where this horrid act occurred, and some diners claim to see the shadow of a man's body swinging from a branch.
La Plazuela also hosts another ghost, a business who spiraled into depression after gambling away all his money. In a fit of madness, he ran out to the courtyard and dove headfirst into the well. While the well was sealed to construct the restaurant, the man's ghost can be seen walking into the center of the dining area where the well once stood.
In 1867, another spirit moved in with the death of the Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court. After a heated argument with a member of the Territorial Legislature of Dona Ana County, Slough was shot dead. Now guests claim they see him wandering through the hotel in his signature long black coat.
Another inhabitant is the spirit of a young bride who was murder by an ex-lover on her wedding night. She lingers behind in the hotel's wedding suite, Room 510. Lucky guests may also see her drifting around in the elevator, lobby, and the basement.
There's a smattering of other hauntings here. If you pay a visit to the hotel bar, you may come face to face with a spectral cowboy. One housekeeper told the tale of seeing the outline of a body beneath the covers in a bed, only to find no one there when she pulled them back.