The Ghosts of Las Vegas, New Mexico

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The Ghosts of Las Vegas, New Mexico. This historic New Mexico town has many former residents who refuse to leave, even though they've been dead for decades.
LAS VEGAS, NEW MEXICO, USA - Lauren Addario doesn't spend a lot of time at the Plaza Hotel anymore. During the 1990s, she worked in the hotel restaurant, the Land Mark Grill, and her late husband worked in the property's maintenance department.

She still remembers the history of the Plaza - originally built in 1882; closed and reopened several times over the years; popular backdrop during silent movie era; and restored during the 1940s after its former owner, Byron T. Mills, died. She also remembers the ghost.

"I was willing to dismiss it at first," Addario said of her 1997 experience. "But a woman stayed in the same room a year later and described the same experience."

It was during the winter of that year, and Addario and her late husband were staying in room 316 of the hotel. Her husband was on call for heating problems, and he was out of the room during an early morning issue with the furnace.

"A little while after he left, I heard the door open, and I felt someone sit on the edge of the bed," Addario recalled, thinking it was her husband returning to the room. "But something seemed askew, and I felt the bed release like someone got up. ?Then, I heard someone pacing at the foot of the bed. Whatever this was, I felt the bed depress and then release again."

Addario now was nervous and agitated because she knew it wasn't her husband. It was someone - or something - else. She didn't' want to reach across for the phone because whoever was in the room was between her and the phone.

"I was afraid to move,"she said. So she lay there for about two hours until the sun came up, her husband returned and the noises stopped.

Initially, she chalked it up to a dream that seemed real and told no one of her experience until a year later when a hotel guest reported a similar occurrence. That's when she stepped forward with her tale of the supernatural.

"Oh, that's just Byron T.," came the response from a coworker.

Mills, whose name adorns the Plaza Hotel's bar, owned the property in the 1940s until his death in 1947. His death put an end to the sad era for the hotel, during which much of the furnishings were sold, and the property was used as a dormitory for university students. Mills was apparently making plans to demolish the building.

Because Mills died at the Elks Lodge in town, no one really knows why Byron T. keeps coming back to the Plaza Hotel. Some say he feels guilty about the way he treated the Plaza, and he's looking for redemption. Over the years, numerous hotel guests have reported eerie visitors in the middle of the night, and Byron T.'s Saloon workers still hear footsteps and smell cigar smoke after hours in the empty bar.

Today, it's part of the Las Vegas Plaza Historic District and has been named on the National Register of Historic Places. The Plaza Hotel offers 36 Victorian-style guest rooms, including four suites that overlook Plaza Park. So if you stay at the Plaza Hotel on the third floor, don't be surprised if you get a late-night visitor. It's just Byron T.

El Fidel Hotel
Originally called the Meadows Hotel, the El Fidel Hotel opened in 1923, billed as a modern inn to attract tourists traveling the country in their newfangled automobiles. It was the first hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico with bathrooms in each guest room.

Today, the El Fidel also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offering both overnight hotel rooms and resident apartments. The El Fidel also features unexplained happenings that some say stem from a tragic shooting in 1923 in the hotel lobby.

Judge David J. Leahy was visiting the El Fidel, just like many of the well-to-do did back then. On one particular night however, Leahy found himself in the company of newspaper editor Carl Magee, who had written scathing stories about allegations surrounding Leahy and corruption. Magee had been convicted on contempt charges over the stories, but the New Mexico governor pardoned him. The judge went after Magee with his cane, and Magee pulled out a gun and shot at the judge. Magee missed the judge, but killed an innocent bystander. Magee was acquitted on manslaughter charges based on a self-defense theory, moved to Oklahoma and struck it rich by inventing the parking meter.

But the El Fidel, which still boasts the original lobby from the 1920s, became the home to ghosts that still haunt the halls and rooms today.

Irene Wolff, whose family owns the property today, has heard plenty of ghost stories from guests and employees. Some have smelled cigar smoke when no one was around, and others have heard a lady laughing. And in Room 107, the wall will often turn cold - ghostly cold.

"I felt it one night," Wolff said. "It scared me. But I went back to the desk, and I was fine."

{pagebreak} adelle ilfeld auditorium, new mexico highlands universityAdele Ilfeld Auditorium (NM Highlands University)
Charles Ilfeld settled in Las Vegas, New Mexico soon after the end of the Civil War, when Las Vegas was a boom town. He prospered in the mercantile business, became a community leader, and is credited for bringing polo to Las Vegas. His bride, Adele, was from the old country, and she hosted many elegant parties, which were atypical in Las Vegas because of the West's violent and rowdy atmosphere.

In the early 1900s after his wife died, Charles Ilfeld helped fund the construction of an auditorium on the NM Highlands University campus. It was completed in 1921 and named the Adele Ilfeld Auditorium. Today, it hosts plays, concerts and other performances. And some say it also hosts ghosts that appear on stage, in the audience, and backstage. Some say it's Adele herself that makes eerie appearances.

adele ilfeld"Sometimes, if the set people were in a hurry, they wouldn't be able to open the door to the tool room," said Donna Martinez, the auditorium's manager. "Then, they'd ask Adele to open the door, and she'd open the door. She always opens it - if you ask her nicely."

Martinez has heard many stories over the years - students have seen a gangster in the balcony, and others have seen a clown beckoning them to the stage. She also knows the story of a college professor who died in the 1950s on stage, "The building is spooky because of the stories, and it's old and creaky," Martinez said.

She personally experienced an unexplainable event about five years ago, during a concert that featured a quartet of musicians. "The lights came down, and then they came back up," she said. "It was a total blackout in the building, which is impossible."

All the lights are on different circuits, she said, and the darkening was gradual - not a sudden blackout like one during a power surge. "I think it was Adele paying tribute to this awesome quartet," Martinez said.

Las Vegas Railroad Depot
The Las Vegas Railroad Depot opened in 1879, when its first passengers and cargo arrived in the frontier town. Over the years,united world college, las vegas, new mexico presidents and outlaws have made stops in Las Vegas, including President Theodore Roosevelt, whose Rough Riders got their start in Las Vegas, and Billy the Kid, who almost was lynched at the train station.

Today, Amtrak makes two stops in Las Vegas, and the depot is another building on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also the site of a ghost named Alley, who can be felt brushing past visitors and making window blinds move.

Present-day depot workers named the ghost Alley because they believe the phantom to be the spirit of a man, who in the early 1900s, would bring food to the railroad depot workers in Las Vegas. At night, you can hear Alley walking the halls of the depot, and doors will open and close on their own.

United World College
Just outside Las Vegas sits one of 10 United World College campuses in the world, and the only one in the United States. The United World College, which offers a two-year baccalaureate program, was designed to bring together young people from different cultures in an effort to promote understanding and tolerance between those cultures.

united world college, las vegas, new mexicoIndustrialist Dr. Armand Hammer started the U.S. campus in 1982 on the site of the Montezuma Castle, which originally was a hotel built in 1882. Today, there are 200 students from 88 different countries, some of whom have claimed to hear a ghost.

Legend has it that an opera singer died at the luxurious Montezuma Hotel in the late 1880s. The castle has been razed twice by fire, rebuilt, renamed and owned by numerous groups and organizations over the years. But at night, the United World College students still can hear the opera diva singing arias somewhere in the castle. She has a strong presence that can be felt often on the second and third floors of the structure.


J. Eric Eckard has been a journalist since 1990, writing about a wide range of topics including crime, politics, education, business and sports, automotive reviews and travel. He lives in Eastern North Carolina, where he regularly writes for the Rocky Mount Telegram, part of the Cox Newspapers chain, as well as countless magazines.


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