Investigation Report

Location: La Fonda Hotel, Santa Fe, NM
Date: 03 April 2007
Weather Conditions: Clear
Humidity: 9%
Geomagnetic Storm Activity: Inactive, Quiet
Temperature: 90
Number of Photos taken: 427
Number with possible targets: 3
Average EM Readings: 3 nt
Average M fields Readings: 2 nt
Average E Field Readings: 1 vpm
Cold Spots detected: None
Hot Spots Detected: None
Olfactory Phenomena: None
Visual Phenomena: None
Type of Investigation: Ghost Hunt

All information and photos Copyright 2007 by Cody Polston, Bob Carter and SGHA. All Rights Reserved.

Location Description and History

An old tradition claims that in Spanish times Santa Fe had a single hotel, La Fonda ("The Inn"), at the same location as the present-day La Fonda. However, no documents have been found to confirm that. Local historian Marian Meyer has reported that an American couple, William and Mary Donoho, operated the place from 1833 to 1837. The hotel has also been called "the Exchange Hotel", "The Fonda", "The U.S. Hotel" and the "La Fonda Americana".

After the American conquest in 1846, the La Fonda was still the only real hotel in town. One guest complained that "it was so badly kept and supplied that few people paid it a second visit." Entrance to the lobby was on the corner, and an inside door gave access to the hotel's saloon. There was a long placita, or interior courtyard, and a high-walled corral attached to the north for patrons' horses.

In 1848, the inn was purchased by new owners who changed its name to the U.S. Hotel. The gambling Hall continued to be a major feature, providing entertainment for military officers, visitors and the occasional professional gambler.

On June 14 1862 a soldier named James Bennet visited the La Fonda and wrote in his journal about what he witnessed. Bennet was seated in the La Fonda’s lobby when a cowboy came in and started shooting up the hotel. The cowboy said he was from Texas and was getting even for a friend of his who was killed. The cowboy shot a lawyer in the stomach and another man in the arm before he was captured and thrown into jail. Later that night the cowboy from Texas was lynched and hung in the backyard of the La Fonda.

Also in 1867 the hotel was sold again and became The Exchange Hotel. the hotel would remain under this name for the next sixty years. Sometime during this period several tunnels were constructed underneath the hotel that lead to the Palace of Governors and the courthouse.

The Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot to death in the hotel lobby in 1867. Slough was in a dispute with Captain Rynerson, a member of the Territorial Legislature representing Dona Ana County, when he called Rynerson a liar and a thief. The offended Rynerson then shot Slough, who died of his wounds. Rynerson was tried in a court of law and was later acquitted.

According to local legend, a businessman spent a day and evening at the La Fonda drinking and gambling. By the end of the evening the nameless man had lost all of his money and was heavily in debt.

Desperate over his actions, the unlucky gambler in a crazed state ran into the inner courtyard and committed suicide by jumping into the well.

The current building was built in 1922 on the site of the previous inns. In 1925 it was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka Santa Fe Railroad which leased it to Fred Harvey. For more than 40 years, from 1926 to 1968, La Fonda was one of the famous Harvey Houses, a renowned chain of fine hotels.

Reported Phenomena

Many people believe that Judge Slough continues to walk its hallways. In the 1970s, a guest reportedly called the front desk to complain that someone was walking up and down the hallway in front of his room. When an employee was sent to investigate, he saw a tall man in a long, black coat disappear into a stairwell. However, when he followed him to the stairs, there was no sign of the mysterious man. Perhaps this was yet another sighting of the judge.

Another ghost that is seen in the hotel is that of a man wearing 1800’s clothing running across the Plazuela Restaurant. Both guests and staff alike have reported the sight of a ghostly figure that walks to the center of the room and then seemingly jumps into the floor and disappears.The ghost disappears as he jumps into the ground where the old well used to be. The La Plazuela, is situated directly over the old well. Furthermore, maintenance men have seen this specter in the bowels of the hotel. This is followed by storage areas being found topsy turvey.

Other reported phenomena includes an apparition that haunts the Santa Fe Room, as well as a spirit that walks the hallways near the La Terraza, a restaurant located on the east side of the hotel's third floor floor. One evening, a security guard was making his rounds of the hotel when he entered one of the hotel's banquet rooms called the New Mexico Room. The room appeared to be empty. When he was halfway across the floor he 'felt' someone and sensed that someone was behind him.

Turning around, he saw a man in the middle of the floor moving towards the center of the room. When he confronted the man, the figure disappeared through the floor. Freaked out by the man's sudden disappearance, he ran to the front desk. Just as he arrived the manager came running down the hall in a state of near panic. The manager said that he was downstairs in housekeeping and he 'felt' an icy cold presence move through him. The area the manager was in is directly underneath the New Mexico Room, where the figure disappeared through the floor.

The hotel is also the home to an apparition of a young bride who was murdered on her wedding night by an ex-lover. She mainly haunts the wedding suite (Room 510). A night auditor of 20 years has witnessed the apparition of a bride walking into the hotel lobby, only to vanish as she approached the front desk. The same apparition has also been seen on the elevator, the hallway outside room 510, and the basement.

The hotel's bar is haunted by two different ghosts. The first ghost is that of a "cowboy". He is often seen sitting at the bar around 2:00 to 3:00am. When approached the figure disappears. The second ghost is African-American gentleman that may be one of the former bartenders. this same ghost was seen by a tiler working on the tile in the bell tower. He claims that there is no way the man could have entered the area without being seen as there was only one door and he was blocking it.

Other miscellaneous events include;

Room 274 – (at the front of hotel) Housekeeping was going to clean up room when she witnessed someone lying in the bed with the sheets pulled up over his head. Thinking that he had not checked out yet, she returned to the front desk, double checked and found out the room was supposed to be vacant. She got the houseman to go with her to wake up the man and get him out of the room. The houseman went to the form on the bed, pulled back covers, and there was no one there.

Elevator to bell tower – security guards making rounds would always be met by the elevator, even on empty floors. Even heading down the stairs, he would still be met by the elevator. A guest using elevator to get to his room saw a shadow that did not match his own shadow. This typically happens only with the left elevator.

The fireplace in the Santa Fe room apparently lights itself in the winter if wood is placed in it.

Security guard doing paperwork near fireplace sat down, left area for a moment, came back and area furniture was rearranged.

Auditory phenomena reported near food/liquor storage area, supposedly happens more often to new employees.

The Investigation / Research

The purpose of this visit was to investigate the latest sighting at the hotel and to conduct tests on the K-2 meter with recording electronic voice phenomena.

We met with the hotel's concierge in the lobby to go over the reported sightings and activities occurring in the building. After this interview, we went to the New Mexico Room, a large banquet hall located on the first floor. After sweeping this room for unusual EM fields we moved into the adjoining room to conduct the K-2 tests.

The entire experiment and generalities of the location were recorded on video and can be watched by clicking the links below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Initial Conclusions

The most interesting photo we obtained during this investigation contained an unusual shadow which is missing from the photograph taken seconds afterwards. These were taken during the K-2 research project.

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