The Legal Tender Saloon, Lamy, NM


The building in 2006 when we investigated it.

Pflueger General Merchandise Store and Annex Saloon was opened in 1818 and was the actual saloon where Billy The Kid was brought, in shackles, en-route to Santa Fe.
The former saloon and eatery had occupied a two-story Victorian building along the town’s main drag and was renamed The Pink Garter Saloon in 1950. Eventually, the building changed its name again to the Legal Tender in 1969.
In the Legal Tender, the electricity has been hooked up, boards removed from the windows, and a security system has been installed. The Legal Tender is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its roots extend back to 1881, when it was first opened as a mercantile company and general merchandise store. It has since gone through about ten owners. Before it closed eight years ago, it had been remodeled into a restaurant.
It’s a grand old place with a lot of history and a lot of memories. Inside, an old cherry wood bar from Germany still dominates the saloon. According to museum records, the bar was brought in by John and Louise Pflueger in the early 1900s when the building was the John Pflueger General Merchandise Store. The walls and the interior of the building are still in good shape. The red carpet and curtains still look new. Old-fashioned items such as mirrors from the 1800s, pictures, and furniture collected from various owners will be put into some of its rooms.


Ghost Stories and Paranormal Claims

This old saloon and vaudeville hall is haunted by several ghosts. A lady in white, dressed in an elegant white gown, is seen floating up the steps to the balcony in the Parlor Room.

The ghost of a little girl in a long dress sits alone on the stairs. A man in black, killed by a stray bullet in the rowdy gambling hall, has been seen helping himself to a drink at the bar. The building was constructed in 1881 and was called the Annex Saloon. In the 1950’s it was known as the Pink Garter. It became the Legal Tender in 1969.

Originally the ballroom had a second story balcony that now no longer exists. The apparition of a lady in white is seen frequently in the area where the stairs leading to the balcony used to be.


Research and Additional Information

SANTA FE, N.M. (Associated Press) — It was shortly after closing time one cool, dark night earlier this month at the Legal Tender. Cindy Lu and Phillip Heard were sitting with their spouses at a table at the Lamy restaurant when they heard the voice of a woman screaming. The sound was coming from the kitchen, but no one was there. And the back door was locked. “I don’t believe in ghosts,” said Heard, one of the volunteer workers at the restaurant/bar. “There has to be an explanation for what that was. When I deal with something like this, I want to know the facts.’ Employees Dachin Frances and Avery Young were not there to hear the cry of the terrorized woman. But, Young noted, “Even when you are alone in a room here, you never feel alone.’ And Frances said one recent night, she was headed out the back door of the darkened kitchen with some co-workers, about to lock the door, when some pots and pans began rattling inside. They slammed the door, locked it and left.
Others won’t stay in the joint after closing time, and at least one of Lu’s employees is afraid that whatever walks within the darkened halls of the old saloon might follow her home at night.

Staffers and patrons have heard unexplained voices and the sound of something heavy being dragged across the floor of the main dining room. The chandelier hanging above that room has started swinging to and fro without any sign of wind.
To many who work at or frequent the Legal Tender, it makes sense that some of its long-dead denizens are still present.

The community, named after Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, has a population of about 220 people, according to the 2010 census. It’s a quiet village, particularly after the sun sets. A business first opened on the site of the Legal Tender in 1881 — about the same time the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built the spur line from Lamy to Santa Fe. The operation began as a combination mercantile store and saloon. Lemp’s Extra Pale Ale was apparently a favorite of patrons of the time, according to an old photo hanging in the restaurant.

Somewhere along the way, the old saloon became known as the Pink Garter. Glenn Campbell played there in his early days. In the late 1960s, it was renamed the Legal Tender under the ownership of R.O. Anderson. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Over the years, a number of historic figures have passed through the Lamy area, including Teddy Roosevelt and Billy the Kid — the latter was reportedly on a train that stopped in Lamy on the way to doing some jail time in Santa Fe.

More obscure figures also found their way through the village, and they may still be around — the frontier bystander reportedly shot by a stray bullet during a poker game gone wrong and the female train passenger who supposedly died of appendicitis while convalescing in one of the saloon’s back rooms, for instance. Their spirits — known as the Man in Black and the Lady in White — have long been rumored to roam the Legal Tender. The ghost of a girl child is also connected to the site, although no one has ever quite figured out her back story. But Lu recently met a woman in her 90s who lived in Lamy in the 1920s and recalls a female playmate from that period who died of tapeworm at age 7 or 8. The two girls would often visit the store that stood on the site of the Legal Tender. Lu also tells anecdotes of kitchen workers feeling the invisible poke of a finger in their sides and a presence tightening their apron strings. Lu’s Learning Mind nonprofit organization has joined with the Lamy Railroad and History Museum to revitalize the Legal Tender. She and other volunteer workers reopened the restaurant last spring. It serves food Thursday through Sunday, plus most holidays. Staffers often sit around for a half-hour or so after closing to swap work — and ghost — stories.




Lamy saloon long rumored to be haunted,

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