Get outta town: Meet Clayton – the most haunted town in New Mexico

by Amanda Push

New Mexico is full of creepy legends and lore but one small town, it seems, has managed to top all the other stories.

Clayton, New Mexico, located just 200 miles northeast of Albuquerque, was deemed the most haunted town in the state by the New Mexico Tourism Department in 2018. Apparently, there’s a lot that goes into this decision but we’re curious as to what the criteria is. Is it based on who has the most haunted houses? The most children that get sucked through the TV? Or is it based on the ratio of houses built on graveyards versus the ones that aren’t?

But, we digress. According to KRQE News, Clayton wins the haunted category and that’s that. There are three haunted spots in Clayton: the Herzstein Memorial Museum, Hotel Eklund, and the Union County Courthouse.

At the Herzstein Memorial Museum, an older sassy woman haunts the halls. In 2015, professional ghost hunters captured footage of the museum’s ghost. In the video clip, an eerie, white, womanly shape is seen hanging out next to a bed.

If you stay in Room 307 at The Hotel Eklund you’ll get more than your share of paranormal activity. The room is said to be haunted by the spirit of a maid named Irene. Those who stay say they hear creaking floorboards and, even worse, see faces in the wallpaper.

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The Union County Courthouse was reconstructed in 1909 after a tornado took it down. One hundred years later, the courthouse is believed to host the spirits of many who have passed on including that of Tom “Blackjack” Ketchum (who we’ll talk about next). Because he died in front of the original courthouse, Blackjack is believed to have stuck around. The jailhouse where Blackjack was held is reported to be ice cold. Courthouse employees have reported sightings of Blackjack – some have reported seeing full silhouettes and orbs surrounding and even following them.

This town of 3,000 residents is known for the execution of Blackjack, a cowboy turned train robber. Blackjack was arrested after attempting to rob a train and he was the only person executed in Union County, New Mexico.

“Our great, great, great grandfather was the sheriff back in the day that actually captured Blackjack Ketchum, as well as hanging him,” Matthew Medina told KRQE News. “One of the last hangings that actually happened in the state of New Mexico from a notorious train robber.”

Because no one in town had experience when it came to hangings, (which involves a lot more science than you’d think) the rope was too long and Blackjack was decapitated when the hangman pulled the lever. This might explain why his spirit might be angrily haunting the town. His last words? “Good-bye. Please dig my grave very deep. All right; hurry up.”

Amanda Push

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