Ghosts at the St. James Hotel

by Events Coordinator, St. James Hotel

Is the Express St. James Hotel one of America's most haunted?  We're not sure if we are the most haunted but we do know a lot of strange things happen to guests and employees! 

Many paranormal investigations have been conducted at the hotel.  These investigations help us understand the unseen world that seems to flow around everyone who enters this building.  Formerly the Santa Fe Trail, now Highway 21, runs in front of the hotel.  Used by travelers during the heyday of the westward movement, it is also a "moving psychic stream" used by the spirits to travel from place to place.  An active place of business, people have always come and gone from the St. James and the ghosts are no exception.  Among them were some who stayed and still others whose attachment to the hotel ran deeper.  There seems to be seven ghosts whose antics usually identify them to hotel staff.   

Mary Lambert was the second wife of the original owner Henri Lambert.  She died in 1926 but we believe she may have returned to the hotel because of her son Johnnie who was killed in an accident.  You know Mary is near when you smell roses.  If you hear knocking on the window and it is open then Mary is letting you know she wants it closed.

Johnnie Lambert was the young son of Henri and Mary Lambert.  Born in 1889 he lived until 1892, killed in an accident inside the hotel.  With Mary watching, he plays with two young girls who also passed away in the hotel.

Two young girls, about 8 and 10 years old, play in the hallway upstairs near the Governor's room.   It is believed they were traveling on the Santa Fe Trail when they became ill.  The family stopped at the St. James in hopes they would recover but both died.  

T.J. or Thomas James Wright, our cowboy ghost is usually associated with Room #18.  According to the old hotel guest register he checked in for the last time on March 31, 1882.  His decision to join a high dollar poker game cost him his life.  Feeling good because of his winnings, he left the gambling room upstairs and was shot.  Staggering down the hall to room #18 he died.  This room was padlocked in the 1980's because a former owner was pushed down.  T.J. has been portrayed as being angry but some believe the angry ghost is not T.J.  Remember the "come and go (good & bad) spirits" from the Santa Fe Trail?  T.J. seems to have a sense of humor.  He pops up in mirrors and has been videotaped peeking around a corner.  Guests fleeing from their room at midnight told the security guard, "A cowboy ghost was rocking, watching and grinning at us!"    

Melissa is a spirit whose presence was recently identified.  Men kept reporting their hair being pulled, necks getting tickled and feeling someone sit and/or lay down on their beds at night.  After several incidents that seemed to connect a paranormal investigator recorded a voice which kept repeating she was Melissa.  She may be one of the "ladies of the evening" who frequented the hotel during the late 1800's.  They entered the upstairs hallway from a side door after the owner's wife, Mary, went to bed but left the building before she walked the halls in the morning.

"The Imp" has been playing with hotel employees for years.  Few have seen him but a former owner described him as a small man with a pockmarked face and a shock of hair.  Pranks are his specialty including locking front desk clerks out of their office, pulling silverware out of napkins then piling it in the middle of tables, turning ovens up, pulling hair, blinking lights and so much more.  

The Express St. James Hotel is an unusual but unique place where the history of New Mexico blends with the world of the paranormal.  Our resident ghosts share the hotel with transient spirits from the Santa Fe Trail.  Unfortunately some of these extra visitors may not be as "nice".