Old Town Albuquerque map further debunks the ghost story of Scarlett

Rumors and folklore claim that the Covered Wagon shop, formerly known as the Manual Springer house, was once used as a speakeasy and brothel during prohibition. Additionally, the building is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a prostitute named Scarlett. According to the legend, Scarlett and another unnamed prostitute got into an argument over a wealthy client on the stairs of the building. The argument turned violent and ended with Scarlett being stabbed in the stomach. She died on the stairs from blood loss before medical assistance could arrive. Because the building was a speakeasy, the local law enforcement was paid off and murder was believed to be covered up. This is why she supposedly haunts the building. My investigation provided alternative explanations for the paranormal activity that suggests it was nothing more than a ghost story. However, confirmation of some of the facts has assisted in validating my findings.

A hand-drawn map found in the Emma Moya Collection at the University of New Mexico further debunks the ghost story by showing the exact location of the speak-easy in Old Town. It was actually located south of Central street in an area which, at that time, was in the bosque (river forest). It was surrounded by a high fence as described as being “very noisy”.


Manual Springer house, analysis of ghost stories

The ghost of Scarlett is supposedly seen on the balcony and the rear alley behind the building. It is interesting to note that the alley behind the Covered wagon Shop was once Morris Street.
The most spectacular sighting occurred in June of 1998. Late one evening a group of about 30 people were in the plaza when they noticed a woman walking on the balcony of the old Springer House. She was completely nude except for a garter that was on her right thigh. Since there were children in the plaza as well, several of the men yelled up at her to put something on. However she was oblivious, as if she didn’t hear them. Then as they all watched, she turned and walked through the wall on second floor. It would seem that they were not yelling a living person but the ghost of a long dead prostitute.

The catalyst of the ghost story is the hand written police report of Scarlett Torres’ death. Near the top of the report, “106 James” was sloppily written, possibly indicating an address. Since South Plaza Street was once James Street, this seemed to correspond to the location of the Old Springer house. However, in 2005, the actual investigation report was found in the historical achieves. The number “106” was the responding officer’s badge number and “James” was the last name of that officer. The murder itself occurred at the centennial hotel that once stood on Rio Grande Street. The full report also states that Scarlett was a social worker and not a prostitute. Since the murder did not occur at the Old Springer house, there is no catalyst for her “ghost” to be there.

Review of Sighting #1:

Sighting #1 was debunked a week later by questioning employees of the Covered Wagon shop about “paranormal” occurrences. During the questioning, one of the employees admitted that she was having a cigarette break after taking out the trash when she noticed a large group of people staring at her from the end of the alleyway. She put out the cigarette and returned inside the shop. She was wearing a short purple ensemble, (although it was not a 1920’s flapper) and that the incident occurred about a week earlier.

Review of Sighting #2:

Sighting #2 was debunked two days after it occurred. Since the call came to a cell phone, it was logged in the cell’s incoming call log. SGHA Investigators called the number, pretending to be a representive of the press. Since the “bruise” would constitute physical proof of their story, he asked if he could fly out and have the bruise looked at and verified by a medical professional. Joel admitted that their “ghostly encounter” was faked.
The bruise was done with make-up (eye-shadow) and that they did it because they were upset that the tour had been cancelled that night. He also stated that he thought is would be funny to “get even” by fooling the ghost tour guides by making them think that they missed a sighting of one of the ghosts. After this, Polston ended the Scarlett ghost story with the line, “it is an awful lot to go through to pull off a hoax, so decide for yourselves”. This line was either forgotten or not used by other guides doing the Old Town Ghost tour.
Additionally, the doors do indeed open inward. It is physically impossible for the doors to open outwards without causing significant damage to the door jam. Additionally, the doors themselves would most likely be pulled off of their hinges if the doors were forced outwards.

Review of Sighting #3:

Sighting was explained by examining the police records from 1998. A homeless woman (name withheld for legal purposes) was arrested for indecent exposure on Saturday the 6th at 11:34pm, near Rio Grande Blvd and Central. She was only wearing panty hose and admitted to have climbed up on the balcony of the Covered Wagon by scaling the wall and up to the roof on the west side of the building. The woman was also thought to have a mental illness and had not been taking her medication. This places her in near the location and the proper time to explain the balcony sighting.

Manual Springer house, Ghost stories

Sighting 1: (09 July 05) From Ghost Tour Guide

The company had just purchased a new DVD player for the tour and was using it for the first time on Saturday. When we were behind the covered wagon I started up the DVD player and it started messing up. There was a garble of voices, one that sounded female coming from the DVD player and the picture was going haywire. I was not thinking ghost at the time, I was pissed because I just bought it and now it is not working. Anyway while I was tinkering with it, the doors pulled back, as if someone was behind there trying to pull them open. One tug and that’s it. I really didn’t pay much attention to it, once again because of the DVD player. So I turned the DVD player off, finished the bit without it and off we went to the Bottger mansion. The DVD worked fine there.

On the way back we were turning on Old town road going back to the Hatchet lady area. As I turned I saw a woman down at the far end of the alley, wearing a short dress thing. It appeared to me that she was smoking a cigarette. I was still talking about the old courthouse and I blew it off. I thought that it was probably a waitress from Antiquities taking a smoke break. Suddenly someone in the tour (I had a group of 27) shouted, “Hey there is a woman back there with a purple dress on!” and couple of folks with 35mm cameras started taking pictures.

Okay, I didn’t notice the color. I looked again, just as she moved back off towards the right, and yes, the dress was purple. Still might be a waitress, but two younger guys on the tour asked if they could go and have a look real quick. I said it was cool and that it was probably a waitress but off they went anyway.

A few minutes later they came back. They said the “doors” were still locked. They also knocked on the back door to the restaurant and no one answered. The cars in the alley were gone as well. So I changed the tour route and we went straight, in front of La Placita instead of behind it. The covered wagon was empty and locked up.

After the tour was over I fired up the DVD player and the Springer house bit worked fine. Thinking about it, I had always visualized Scarlett’s dress as a long ankle length thing, not as a short, tight fitting, mid thigh ensemble.

Sighting #2 (08.07.2004) From Ghost Tour Guide

Last night, July 6th around 9:50pm, I received a call on the NM Ghost Tour line from two very excited and freaked out individuals concerning something “possibly paranormal” that had just occurred in Old Town . The problem was that they were too excited and talking too fast to really understand what exactly they were carrying on about. They were tourists from California and were desperately trying to get me to come to Old Town. I informed them that I was in Socorro and upon eventually discovering that they were traveling to Las Cruces via I-25 the next day, we decided to meet up at the Socorro Denny’s for coffee. Fortunately we were able to get that set up as our conversation was cut short by static as their cell was cutting out.
The next day I met them and we talked for about an hour and a half, putting the pieces together, before heading back over to my place for a while. So here is what happened.

Joel and Rodger (both in their mid-twenties) had originally planned on taking the ghost tour, but due to complications, the tour was cancelled for that night. Rather than heading back to the hotel, they decided to do some skateboarding around Old Town. They were parked in front of the Old Manuel Springer house, the prohibition era brothel, so the car was close by. After retrieving their skateboards from the truck of their car, they were approached by a woman asking for money. They gave her “a few bucks” and she wandered off. Rodger remembers that she was quite well dressed for a homeless person and made a
comment to his buddy that she was probably a “whore looking for drug money”.

They were cruising around Old Town for about 30 minutes or so when Rodger’s shoestring became tangled in one of the skateboard wheels. They stopped underneath the portal at La Placita so he could untangle it and retie his shoe. This was when Joel noticed a “very attractive” woman wearing a “form fitting and low cut” purple dress across the street in the alleyway just south of them.
She smiled and waved at them before turning and heading back up the alley. (Yes, they are referring to old Morris Street). Naturally, being twenty something year old males, they chose to pursue and find out who this young lady was. So after Rodger got his shoe untangled and tied, they crossed the street and entered the alley. (Both guys estimate that there was about a twenty to thirty second delay due to the shoestring thing).
When they entered the alley, the young woman was on the far end. She looked back over her shoulder and motioned for them to follow her, which of course, they did. She then moved off to the right side of the alley and out of sight. They moved up the alley and turned right at the only place that they could, the passage to the back door of Antiquity’s restaurant. There was no one there. They were about to knock on the door when a woman’s voice called out from behind them.
“Hey! Over here!”
So they turned around and walked towards the direction of the voice. Still not seeing anyone in the area, Joel called out, “Where are you?”
“Back here, it replied, Come on inside.”
The woman’s voice came from behind the two large wooden doors at the back of the Manual Springer House and there was an extremely strong floral scent in the air near the doors. Rodger attempted to push open the doors, but it seemed like they were bolted shut from the other side.
“We can’t get in, the doors are locked, “he said to the woman on the other side.
There was a scrapping or cracking noise on the other side of the doors, followed by a “mechanical” sound. Rodger moved to push the doors open when suddenly they violently swung outwards, hitting him in the shoulder and knocking him to the ground. Joel, standing back away from the doors, felt a cold rush of air as the doors burst open, slamming into the wall siding with a loud pop. There was no one behind the doors the area was vacant of any living person.
The doors swiftly closed again and immediately burst open with the same force as before. This time one of the doors hit Rodgers left leg as he was scampering to get away. However, when he looked through the open doors, he saw a rotted corpse in that same purple dress, with blood gushing out of her side. The doors were covered in blood, as was he. Needless to say, he went into extreme freak out mode. The doors repeated this opening and closing bit one final time as Joel ran from the area, followed by a limping, very freaked out Rodger. They didn’t stop running until they were back in the plaza.
For the next several minutes or so, Joel was helping Rodger calm down. He was not actually covered in blood, but he was injured. Joel wanted to go back and check the alley out again, but Rodger would have no part in it. That is when Joel remembered the ghost tour brochure in his back pocket and called me.

Sighting #3 (07. 1998) various sources, heard Second hand

According to several witnesses, a nude redheaded woman was seen walking around on the balcony above the Covered Wagon shop (Old Springer House)  during the annual fiesta in Old Town Albuquerque. Many of the spectators claimed that she was either high or “out of it” due to the fact that she seemed to ignore their comments. The local police were called, but the woman walked into a doorway just before they arrived. A subsequent search of the area revealed that no one was there.

Manual Springer House, basic ghost story

The Manuel Springer House is a historical two-story brick Queen Anne-style building that now houses the Covered Wagon and several other shops in the Old Town Plaza of Albuquerque. the historical house is now mostly covered by the Covered Wagon Shop front.

Rumors and folklore claim that the building was once used as a speakeasy and brothel during prohibition. Additionally, the building is believed to be haunted by the ghost of a prostitute named Scarlett. According to the legend, Scarlett and another unnamed prostitute got into an argument over a wealthy client on the stairs of the building. The argument turned violent and ended with Scarlett being stabbed in the stomach. She died on the stairs from blood loss before medical assistance could arrive. Because the building was a speakeasy, the local law enforcement was paid off and murder was believed to be covered up. This is why she supposedly haunts the building.