Top 10 Haunted Colleges in the Southwest

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If you’re at the stage of your life where you’re thinking to the immediate future about where to go to college (I’m not speaking to those of you who just graduated in May or June who should already have your plans laid out), here are ten schools for your consideration listed here due to their haunting factor.

10. Utah State University – Logan, UT
9. Oklahoma State University – Stillwater, OK
8. Johnson & Wales University – Denver, CO
7. Texas A&M University – College Station, TX
6. University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ
5. New Mexico State University – Las Cruces, NM
4. University of Colorado, Denver
3. University of La Verne – La Verne, CA
2. University of Texas at Austin
1. University of Nevada – Reno, NV

This link directs you to short blurbs about how each school is haunted: full story

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Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment

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Author: Benjamin Radford

New Mexico’s twin traditions of the scientific and the supernatural meet for the first time in this long-overdue book by a journalist known for investigating the unexplained. Strange tales of ghosts, monsters, miracles, lost treasure, UFOs, and much more can be found not far from the birthplace of the atomic bomb. Huge radio astronomy dishes search desert skies for alien life, and the world’s first spaceport can be found in this enchanted land; in many ways New Mexico truly is a portal to other worlds.

Mysterious New Mexico is the first book to apply scientific investigation methods to explain some of New Mexico’s most bizarre lore and legends. Using folklore, sociology, history, psychology, and forensic science–as well as good old-fashioned detective work–Radford reveals the truths and myths behind New Mexico’s greatest mysteries.

Review:

Let me start by saying I recommend this book highly no matter what level of interest one may have in paranormal legends and claimed experiences. Ben Radford’s writing style is conversational, taking the reader along for the ride as he researches the mysteries and cultures of this historically rich state.

I enjoyed all the accounts in this book, such as when a miracle staircase and its story are investigated with a critical eye. Analysis of the legends and scandals surrounding the “crystal skulls” is fascinating enough to be the start of another book. Those are just a couple of examples, as even more stories of UFO’s mystery birds, and alleged haunted locations are examined. New Mexico through Radford’s eyes is a land where mysteries are simply a window that, when opened, lead to facts that will hold a reader’s interest until the end.

For the skeptic, this will be a fresh look at analyzing claims of the extraordinary without succumbing to easy sensationalism. For the believer that is open to critical yet respectful examination of popular myths and hauntings, there is much to learn and appreciate. For this reader, my borderline cynicism about researching this area of interest has softened a bit. After reading this book, I now see that there are still true investigators into legends and perceived experiences. It is an excellent example of how research into such topics should be conducted–with an open, analytical mindset that references facts rather than “specialists” in fields that don’t exist. A genuine thumbs up.

Hellhounds on the Devil’s Highway

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“Get your kicks on Route 66”, the old song by Nat King Cole says– but Route 66 wasn’t always Route 66. Before it was designated Route 66, it was called Route 60, and there was a lot of controversy over the U.S. 60 designation. According to the Federal Highway Administration:

[There were several] complaints from Kentucky and other States in the East that “60” should have been assigned to a transcontinental route through their States, the number “60” became the subject of the most protracted and bitter controversy involving the numbering plan. The compromise solution was to assign “60” to a route from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Springfield, Missouri, and “66” to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route. AASHO sent ballots to the States involved seeking approval. By August 7, 1926, enough States had approved the change for AASHO to consider the matter closed.

US 89

Terrain near the old Route 666 looks a lot like this photo of US 89 near Page, Arizona-- some 80 miles west of US 491.

With this change, the former branches of U.S. 60 had to be renumbered, and the sixth branch of the new route became U.S. 666 in August 1926, beginning a long saga of strange happenings along this stretch of road. Through the numbering system of the Federal Highway Administration became known as “The Devil’s Highway”. Since that time, the stretch of highway between Monticello, Utah and Gallup, New Mexico has been rampant with stories of sign theft, hellhounds, phantom hitchhikers, and ghostly cars running people off the road.
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Old Cuchillo Bar and Store

Old Cuchillo Bar

Exterior of the Old Cuchillo Bar & Store Photo credit: Nancy M. Dickinson

Ghost towns in the southwestern United States are a dime a dozen. They also provide a snapshot of westward expansionism during the days of mining boom towns. Many of those towns ceased to thrive because of lack of potable water. For others, the resources being mined dried up and people just left town. Cuchillo, New Mexico was not a mining town. It was a stop-over point for a stage line.

Cuchillo (Pronounced Coo-Chee-Yo), New Mexico is located approximately 16 miles northwest of the town of Truth or Consequences, and it is named after a Warm Springs Apache chief, Cuchillo Negro (meaning Black Knife), who wandered the area prior to any development. Around 1850, the first buildings were built and the town was established. As nearby mining operations opened the stage line needed a stop-over point. In 1886, the Armstrong Brothers of Chloride, New Mexico made Cuchillo a stop-over point for their stage line. The little town expanded– the bar becoming a popular destination for cowboys, miners and other folk just passing through.

The dust may have settled on the roads into town, but Cuchillo still has whispers of an active past…
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Madrid, New Mexico

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Madrid, New Mexico is a non-ghost town about 27 miles southwest of the state capital, Santa Fe.  I call it a non-ghost town, because although the town tried hard to die, there were people who loved it enough to make sure it regained its health.  It’s now a quaint little town of roughly 400 full time residents, many of which are artists of one kind or another.

Mining has been a staple industry in the area for over 1,500 years, when the local Native Americans mined for turquoise and lead. Once the Spaniards came into the area, they discovered deposits of silver, which they greedily exhausted. Later, in the 1800’s gold was also found in the area and the population began to swell.  Soon the gold petered out, but large supplies of coal had also been discovered, so the town continued to grow.

It was the coal industry that really caused the little town of Madrid to blossom. The mining company that owned the vast majority of the town took care of its people, in contrast to most of the other mining companies of the day. By the 1920’s, the Albuquerque and Cerrillos Coal Company had their own electric plant, from which they supplied all their workers’ homes with free electricity.  The A&C provided schools, a hospital and even paved streets, a rarity in that area in those days. During prohibition, the company assisted their workers by providing places for them to brew their own liquor.

Eventually, coal lost its popularity as a heating source and the mining company slowly dwindled away to nothing. The town was a mere shadow of itself by the mid-1950’s. The former superintendent of the mining company ended up owning basically the entire town. For almost two decades, the poor little village struggled on. Finally, in the 1970’s, the superintendent’s son, Joseph Huber, started leasing the old buildings to artists, wood and metal workers and a whimsical artists colony started to emerge among the hills.

While today Madrid is a popular spot along the Turquoise Trail, where tourists stop to shop among its artistic boutiques and studios, there is a portion of a long-gone population that has stayed behind to mingle. Besides the local churches and private homes that are known to be haunted, the very roads that you drive and walk along have their own ghosts in Madrid. The specter of a cowboy and his Latin lady have been spotted many times drifting down the main street, arm and arm.  One can only speculate about the reason they still roam…perhaps a love affair cut short by a jealous suitor or a protective father?

Another ghostly hot spot (or should I say “cold spot”?) is the Mine Shaft Tavern. Though this historic watering hole suffered a devastating fire and was subsequently rebuilt, the old wooden bar is the original and is known for being the longest in New Mexico. Some of its original customers are still there to throw back a cold one every now and again. Glasses have been seen to go flying across the bar and smashing to the floor for no earthly reason. Doors open and close without visible cause. Ghostly apparitions have been witnessed reflected in the mirrors in the old building, and voices and sounds of merriment are heard even when the tavern is empty.

Even without its ghosts, Madrid sounds like a wonderfully historic spot to visit any time of the year. Summer is the high tourist season, but locals from the Santa Fe area especially love to visit the town during December when every building in the town is decorated with Christmas lights….a tradition dating back from the boon days of the mining town, when the A&C Mining Company used to provide its workers with free electricity. (If someone else was paying my electricity, I would be happy to thrown more lights on my house as well!)

If you’re ever in the Sandia Mountains, meandering along the Turquoise Trail Scenic Byway, stop for the afternoon or spend the night in this tiny little mountain haven, with its history and its ghosts and then stop back here and tell us of your stay! And I’d love some pictures of the Christmas lights too!

Colfax Ghost Town

Remains of the schoolhouse/church

When one talks of ghost towns, they usually aren’t referring to a town that’s haunted, but rather an abandoned town somewhere in the West. A town whose glory and population peaked with the gold and silver rushes of the late 19th century, though there were many whose rise and fall had little to do with these precious metals. Colfax, New Mexico happens to be a town which actually fits both descriptions.
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The Gettysburg of the West

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Nestled in the Southern Rocky Mountains, in the north-central part of New Mexico lies a battlefield that is known as the Gettysburg of the West. While the bulk of the Civil War occurred east of the Mississippi River, there were a few skirmishes scattered throughout the rest of the country, but the largest took place at Glorieta Pass along the Santa Fe Trail, just east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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