Fact or fiction, Artesia, NM has a few ghost stories to tell

Posted by K R on

Ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night.” For as long as they’ve been around, humans have been fascinated with the afterlife. And nowhere is that better illustrated than through the good old-fashioned ghost story. While mankind’s interest in the supernatural predates literature, its influence can be seen in ancient cultures’ rituals regarding death, and ghosts and spirits are prevalent in folklore from every part of the globe. Today, one need only tune to channels like SyFy or Destination America to see interest in the paranormal is stronger than ever, thanks to shows like “Ghost Hunters” and its countless off-shoots, wherein viewers follow along as investigators attempt to document hauntings using a wide array of technology. Programs such as “Haunted Towns” and “Ghosts of Shepherdstown” also speak to the feeling in many cities around the world that alleged instances of paranormal activity are so prevalent the entire community seems haunted. That’s obviously not the case in Artesia, New Mexico. While the City of Champions has its share of old buildings, many others were lost over the years to progress, decay, or lack of preservation, and Artesia is without widely-accepted accounts of a haunting, such as The Lodge at Cloudcroft’s “Rebecca” or the young boy who’s said to wander the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque. But that doesn’t mean Artesians haven’t heard a tale or two. While no instance of paranormal activity has been documented at any of the following locations, they’ve been mentioned over the years in casual conversation between thrill-seeking teens or when All Hallow’s Eve rolls around each year to make the topic more intriguing. And whether these “ghost stories” are based on actual experience or active imagination matters little… as the gang from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” pointed out, “life’s no fun without a good scare.” OLD ARTESIA GENERAL HOSPITAL Up until last year, if the question “Is there any place in Artesia you think MIGHT be haunted?” were asked, there likely would have been a consensus answer: the old Artesia General Hospital building. The looming white structure on South Roselawn Avenue wasn’t at all long-abandoned; built as a Works Progress Administration project in 1939, it officially ceased operations in 1981 upon the opening of the new hospital on North 13th Street. A few years later, it was sold with the provision that it be put to some sort of use for the good of the community. It briefly served as an assisted living facility for the elderly but soon closed its doors. Such a large building sitting empty couldn’t help but take on an ominous air, and by the 1990s, teenagers were daring one another to pull through the slightly submerged lane on the facility’s north side that had serviced the emergency room. Reports of lights moving past the windows and strange noises naturally followed. Some who’d claimed to have found their way inside spoke of “an eerie chapel,” and the hospital did house one; the original was added to the second floor in 1946, and in 1963, a new one was constructed. Other popular boasts, such as locating a secret tunnel that ran from the ER to a morgue, were unfounded, however, and the small structure in back of the hospital to the west did not serve as said morgue. Unfortunately, innocent curiosity had given way to vandalism in recent years, and the hospital was a frequent target. And in the summer of 2016, ground was broken on the Roselawn Manor affordable housing project; those who’d hoped to see the old building one day renovated and preserved watched as the walls came down. Demolition was preceded by one more ghost story, though: The crew of geologists enlisted to examine the site before the building was leveled contacted the Daily Press to ask if any strange happenings had ever been reported at the facility. They’d heard a few things, and they were sure they’d seen something out of the corner of their eye… Read More: Artesia Daily Press

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