Having a ghostly encounter is predominantly a human experience. Therefore it is important to consider those experiences. If you want to investigate haunted places seriously, your best tools of the trade will be your ability to talk and draw information from your witnesses. I rely upon interviewing witnesses more than any other method of investigation. That is, I find it fruitful to talk with eyewitnesses to a haunting rather than bringing in psychics or staying in the location for a lengthy amount of time waiting for something unusual to happen. In the end, the testimony should add up. If one witness claims that mysterious steps have been heard walking about the location, other people should be complaining about similar manifestations. If they come up with different stories about what is going on this should alert you to the possibility that they are either making up stories, misperceiving something explainable as paranormal or only simply imagining that the place is haunted.
This can be quite difficult when you are dealing all of the ghostly accounts that span over 80 years. This is the issue with the Lodge in Cloudcroft. Listing every single one of them is well beyond the span of this book, however, I have listed several of the more significant accounts below that haven’t been recorded in the newspaper articles.
Lisa Thomassie, the general manager of the Lodge, talked about what she knew during a visit in 2010.
“We are at the highest point in Cloudcroft this is at an elevation of 9200 feet and it’s the tower it is where our Friendly Ghost Rebecca likes to be. Downstairs in the basement is where the chambermaids living quarters were and now it’s where our offices are. Some of her other favorite places is the governor suite and all of the governors of New Mexico have stayed there including Pancho Villa and Clark Gable and so she likes that area because all of the notable gentlemen have stayed there in the past.
We had the Red Dog Saloon and that’s another favorite place of hers. She loves to dance and we have a jukebox and live entertainment playing there on the weekends. It was real popular area and of course the New Mexico law is that you have to close a 2:00 am so when it was time to close she still wanted to carry on and so we would have a night manager that would stay here called a night auditor and they do not stop her from still dancing after hours. The jukebox was still playing music, even though it was turned off and Rebecca was supposedly dancing in there and so they unplug it from the wall to make sure that there was no way that she can get the music on. Here we go again. She’s actually turning the Jukebox on. It was a concern because the noise transfers in the hotel and it would upset the guests sleeping on the second level right above where the Red Dog Saloon is located.”
There are several shops located inside of the Lodge. One of the employees there told of her unusual encounters with the ghost.
“Well, I’ve been here about 20 years and I have had numerous experiences with Rebecca in the stores and around in the hotel but one of my favorite ones that happened to me occurred probably a couple years ago. I was standing here at the counter and I had a catalog that I was looking through. Suddenly I have this little basket here that has baby bracelets in it and suddenly it just turned on its side like that, all by itself.
It’s got a pretty big solid base and there’s no reason for this thing to just suddenly tip over and it tipped over and all the little bracelets fell out. I picked them up and put them back in the basket and asked Rebecca to please leave my stuff alone. Rebecca is big on moving things around in the shop and on several occasions have hidden things from us.
Over in mercantile, we have a shelf that has books on it and one day I’ve gotten a big order of books, there was about 24 of them and I didn’t have time to put them all away. So I just stacked them up one on top of another on the shelf and the next morning when I came in about half of them were laying on the floor.
Well, that’s kind of unusual but I didn’t think anything of it and I picked them up and I put them back in. Later that morning, the man that was our night security man came by and he asked me asked if there was anything unusual in here this morning? I thought about and then told him that I found the books lying on the floor.
He said last night late he was walking down the hall and he said that out of the corner of his eye he noticed some movement. We have a full glass door in the Mercantile and he said the books were falling off the shelf just one at a time like somebody was pushing them off. He watched this happen for a minute or so before leaving, not wanting to know what was really going on.”
Lisa Ward, the kitchen manager at the hotel
Lisa has worked at the resort for more than 15 years. When she first started working at the Lodge she was very skeptical about the ghost stories and regarded Rebecca as nothing but a marketing ploy that was created by the hotel. One night she was having a conversation with a fellow trainee.
“What do you make of this ghost story?” the trainee asked Lisa. Lisa, the cynic, spoke her mind and answered, “Rebecca is nothing more than a story about a red-headed slut! Almost immediately, the filter basket of the coffee pot, which was full of coffee grounds, flew out from the coffee machine. It traveled 15 feet across the room, hitting Lisa in the chest, covering her in the damp coffee grounds. The event caused quite a stir and both employees became believers as a result.
The Lodge also keeps a large ledger for guests to record their own experiences with Rebecca. Within its pages are over a hundred different entries. Some of these are simply wishes from guests who are hoping to see the buildings famous ghost, while others are simply messages from children. Yet there are several which are quite fascinating. Some of the more significant ones have been included below.
In 1993 J.O. of Murchison, Texas described her experience at the Lodge.
” I went to the morning clerk and asked what to do to go up to the tower for pictures. She said she just needed my driver’s license and she would give me the key. We traded quickly and I walked to the top of the second floor to find the door was already opened. I look to my left and there was a pretty young maid polishing the doorknob to the first room on the left. She smiled at me and I smiled back and said hi. I went on about my business climbing up to the tower and found the door opened on the roof. Hmm? That seemed a little dangerous, so I called out but no one answered. I went on to the top, took some great pictures and headed back down return the key.
I got to the check-in counter and told the lady I didn’t need the key. She was somewhat puzzled and asked, ” why not?” I told her the door was already open, I guessed by the young maid that was polishing doorknob on that floor. She slowly back from me and started shaking. I smiled and asked what was the matter. She said,” I and the restaurant people are the only ones working at this hour.” (about 7:30am) I simply replied that there was a maid up there working on the brass. This was when I first heard of Rebecca. The Rebecca I met was not flashy and all dolled up as some of the pictures represent. She was a pretty young woman about 19 or 20. Her hair was pulled up as ladies do they are working. Being red-haired myself, I would have noticed if she had bright red hair. Although she may have had. Auburn colored hair. She was dressed simply in a white blouse, long black skirt, white apron, and probably, lace-up black shoes.”
What is significant about this particular report is that I have reports from two other individuals that are describing “Rebecca” in the exact same fashion. The auburn colored hair, which is tied up, wearing a white blouse, black skirt, and a white apron. Identifying similar elements are very important when you are interviewing witnesses. This is because when people are describing an experience, they are often telling a story. When telling a story, typically a person will use only one or two descriptors. They do not go into lengthy descriptions of the apparition itself. So when the details are similar, you can compare those details from witness to witness to see if the elements match. If they do and you are positive that these details have not been put out publicly, then you have something that is quite intriguing. The odds become astronomical that all three people could describe exactly the same things. The other interesting element is that all three reports directly go against one of the major identification features of the supposed ghost, her red hair. Since the other two accounts, which happened in 1987 and 1989, pre-date the recorded account in the Lodge’s ledger, they are considered a significant find.
“About 11 years ago I was installing a new credit card system at the Lodge. I was training the bartender on the new terminal after hours, in the wee hours of the morning. During the course of the training, I asked about Rebecca and her story. The bartender and I were the only ones there, and the lounge was closed and mostly dark. On the bar, a few feet away or so from where we were standing, were some old-fashioned glasses. After the bartender told me Rebecca story, the glasses came crashing down, all on their own. Those glasses had stood, stacked perfectly for the entire time we’d been there, perhaps 30 minutes. For them to have fallen, without any reason and no physical stimuli was, though harmless, still pretty creepy. That was my first paranormal experience and it opened my mind to the possibility that not all Supernatural seeming occurrences are hogwash.”
“We just wanted to express how very much we enjoyed our Lodge experience! We never saw anything but I think Rebecca likes the bathroom here in room 109. On at least 8 to 10 different occasions, the fan in the bathroom would turn on and off, completely untouched by human hands. It happened to each of us, sometimes when we were in the room completely alone. It’s possible it could be a short of some kind but it mainly happened when there was someone in the bathroom, whether or not anyone else was in the bathroom. Our first night here we heard footsteps in our bathroom in the wee hours of the night. So thank you, Rebecca, for giving us something to talk about once we get back home to Texas!”
M.McN.G, Texas (second entry)
“Well, this is our fourth night here, three different rooms later and it seems maybe Rebecca is feeling a little more comfortable around us as each night proves to be more eventful than the last! We are in room 229 tonight and around 11 p.m. the lamp and the alarm clock turned off in the bedroom as my mom painted her nails by that light. She, I, my three-year-old son and my 17-year-old niece all tried everything we could think of to get them to come back on with no luck. We thought maybe the light bulb burned out but both light bulbs in the lamp quit working at the exact same time. At about 12:10 am, as my mom was getting into bed, the lamp and alarm clock came back on. Untouched! It seems that Rebecca or one of her friends was enjoying playing with the electrical outlets to see how much they could spook us. Coincidence, maybe. But we all agree that too many little things have happened during our stay to be mere coincidence.”
“Room 104: (Down the hall from The Governor’s Suite, 101).Another male guest, while sleeping in bed, was awakened because he was too hot. As he rolled over lay on his left side, he felt a gentle, amiable, but cold hand on his shoulder, and heard a woman’s voice singing “Won’t You Be My True Love?” in his ear. When he could finally get up the nerve to turn around and see what was there, he felt a cool “whooshing movement,” but no one was there.”
Many employees and guests have reported seeing the apparition of a beautiful, red-haired woman, with brilliant blue eyes, moving around the halls. Late one evening as a guest was dozing off; he heard a scraping sound in the hallway. Angry about being woken up, he cracked his door open to see who was making all of the noise. He saw a woman with long red hair, in a 30’s style, floor-length nightgown, who was busy rearranging the flowers that were sitting in a vase, on top of an antique chest, that was in the hallway. For some reason, he assumed that it was an employee of the Lodge and went back to bed. The following morning he complained about the incident only to learn that no employees were working in the hallways that late in the evening.
There is also a rather interesting article that was written by Dr. Jeff Moore and published in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune on October 31st, 2017. It reads;
” We had reservations that night at the historic Cloudcroft Lodge. I was driving a Chevette back then (not Corvette). We were not really prepared for the cold conditions. As my car climbed up the mountain, night fell. We entered the snowstorm. Despite pushing down on the accelerator all the way, my car went ever more slowly until it stopped as the engine died. I was scared to death but tried to look brave for Carolyn. I had no idea how close we were to Cloudcroft and thought we might have to walk.
An old truck stopped, and a dark figure came to my window. Snow blew in as I rolled the window down to reveal a young woman with red hair barely concealed by her hat. She said her name was Becky Potter and offered to help. I thought we were going to get in her truck; but placing her hand on the hood of my car, she thought it would start after a little rest. We had almost made it to the Lodge. If it wasn’t dark and stormy I would have seen the abandoned train trestle to my right. My car started. She asked me to follow her into Cloudcroft. I thanked her as we reached the final turn to the Lodge. She worked at the Lodge but did not live there. We followed a snow plow to the top of the road and checked into the Lodge.
The sun was out the next morning, and the world was beautiful blanketed in white. We had a delightful gabled room on the third floor without phone or TV but with a claw foot bath tub and a noisy radiator. We climbed to the top of the tower and saw the carved initials of Clark Gable and Judy Garland. We peeked into the Red Dog Saloon in the basement.
We had a late breakfast at Rebecca’s Restaurant. My chair faced the famous picture windows overlooking White Sands down on the desert floor. Sitting opposite me was Carolyn facing the entrance of the restaurant.
The color left my wife’s pretty face as she was reading a brief history of the Lodge printed on the Menu. She pointed over my shoulder with her mouth agape. Turning around, I saw the larger than life portrait of a stunning redheaded woman in a flowing dress. It was Rebecca Potter, the namesake of the restaurant and the very image of the good Samaritan that had rescued us the night before. She had been a chamber maid at the Lodge in the 1930′s. Caught flirting with a man in the Red Dog Saloon, her jealous boyfriend had murdered her in the woods just outside of the Lodge. She is the famous ghost of the Lodge!”
So is this yet another witness account or just another ghost story printed for Halloween?