Haunted and Historic
Las Cruces is a city steeped in history, with a rich cultural heritage that has shaped the area for centuries. From the ancient Native American cultures to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and the town's development in the 19th century, Las Cruces has a fascinating story to tell. In addition to its history, Las Cruces is known for its many legends and ghost stories. Here are some of the most haunted and historic places in Las Cruces.
The Legend of La Llorona
Ghostly apparition, tall, thin woman with long black hair wearing a white gown.
The folklore of La Llorona tells the story of the spirit of a woman doomed to wander this earth searching for her children who drowned in the river. Retellings of the story may differ in detail. One popular version centers around Maria, a beautiful woman, who marries a handsome suitor. Together they have children and as time passes her husband becomes restless. Some stories speak of his infidelity while others talk of his longing for his wild bachelor life. Ultimately, she becomes resentful of his growing indifference and his warm and loving attentions toward their children. In a fit of revenge and anger, she then drowns her children in the river— although some retellings attribute their deaths to a tragic accident. Either way, the grief over her children’s deaths overwhelms Maria and she drowns herself. Maria cannot enter the afterlife without her children and her spirit becomes trapped between this world and the next. To this day, she wanders the riverbanks and waterways at night searching for them, crying out "¿¡Mis niños¡?"
Another popular version claims the beautiful Maria becomes pregnant by a Spaniard above her class. He refuses to marry her and she drowns the child as an act of revenge before drowning herself. In this retelling, she also is refused entry into the afterlife and wanders the riverbank crying out for the child she drown.
The legend is meant to caution children from lingering too close to open bodies of water and wandering alone at night. If they do, La Llorona might find them, thinking they are her child, and steal them away forever.
1. The Amador Hotel
180 W. Amador Ave., Las Cruces, NM
The Amador Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Las Cruces, was built in 1866 and served as a popular stopover for travelers along the Camino Real. Over the years, the hotel has had many different owners and uses, including a brothel during the wild west days. Many people report spooky sightings of shadowy figures, flashlights turning on and off, and other paranormal activities. Many believe these eerie encounters are the work of a ghost named Annie, who frequents the hotel's second floor.
2. Doña Ana County Courthouse & Jail
251 W. Amador Ave., Las Cruces, NM
The Old Doña Ana County Courthouse, located in downtown Las Cruces, was built in 1937 and served as the county courthouse until the 1980s. The building is now home to Southwest Expeditions, which offer ghost tours and other activities, but many people believe that the spirits of former inmates still haunt the building.
Legend has it that in the 1950s, a waitress named Mary Waters was found near the Amador Hotel and brought to the jail, assumed to be drunk. Once in a cell, she screamed – and was found dead with a “horrified look” on her face just moments later. Though the coroner’s report cites a ruptured kidney as Mary’s cause of death (and was later modified to include alcohol poisoning), some say her spirit remains in jail. Visitors have reported strange noises, slamming of cell doors, feeling of not being alone and unexplained cold spots in the courthouse.
2355 Calle De Guadalupe, Mesilla, NM
The Double Eagle Restaurant is a well-known landmark in Mesilla, just a few miles outside of Las Cruces. The building was constructed in 1849 as a family home.
Today, the Double Eagle Restaurant is known for its upscale dining experience and its extensive wine collection, but many visitors come for its haunted reputation. Legend has it that the building is haunted by ghosts, including the spirit of a former resident and one of the teenage house servants who were killed due to their forbidden love.
As the story goes, the first owners of the house were the Maes family, who ran a freight line importing and exporting goods. Much of the business was put on the shoulders of the eldest son, a teen named Armando. Armando fell in love with one of the teenage servants of the house, a beautiful girl named Inez. The other servants – and even the townspeople – tried to help the couple keep their love a secret from Armando’s mother, but she eventually caught on and banished Inez from the house. One day, upon returning home early from a trip away, the mother happened upon Armando and Inez back together and in a fit of rage, attaching Inez with her sewing shears. During the struggle, she killed Inez and accidentally stabbed Armando as well, who died a few days later.
The legendary murder is said to have taken place in what’s now the Carlotta Room of the Double Eagle.
Visitors have reported flickering lights, phantom voices, and cold spots.