Nature March 18, 2017
The Story Behind This Haunted New Mexico Canyon Will Give You Chills
Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu has become synonymous with its most famous resident: Georgia O’Keefe. But did you ever stop to question the name of this property? Or that fact that its logo is an animal skull? Seems kind of creepy when you think about it.
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Although O’Keeffe designed the logo, the reason she picked a skull was because one used to perch on top of a fence post, indicating the approach to the property.
Turn back the clock to a time before O’Keeffe arrived, before Arthur Pack bought the property, before Roy Pfaffle gained the deed to the ranch by winning a poker game. And keep on flicking through the pages of history until you reach the 1800s and the Archeluta brothers.
According to legend, the duo used this land for their cattle. They constructed homes and settled down here. One of the brothers had a wife, and eventually a daughter, while the other was a bachelor.
The brothers were hardly upstanding citizens. In fact, they were cattle rustlers.
In one version of events, the brothers spread rumors that evil spirits plagued Box Canyon, to deter any visitors and conceal their crimes. This caused the ranch to be nicknamed "Ranch of the Witches," which later became Ghost Ranch.
The canyon may or may not have started out haunted, but it certainly saw enough bloodshed to justify the presence of restless spirits.
The Archeluta brothers weren’t content with basic cattle rustling. When travelers passed through their land, they had a tendency to vanish.
However, their belongings survived and added to the brothers’ wealth. Essentially, the two were early serial killers, preying on the vulnerable and counting on the lawlessness of the Wild West to cover their crimes.
So, it’s hard to tell if the mysterious wailing and sightings of howling beasts in the canyon were tied to the spirits of murdered travelers, or simply a ploy to keep away nosy neighbors.
One day the married brother found a buyer for a stolen herd and received his payment in gold that he buried. When he informed the bachelor brother, the two got into a violent fight that ended in the murder of the married brother.
The remaining Archeluta brother failed to discover the location of the gold and he figured his brother’s family must know. However, the wife and daughter escaped his clutches.
A local posse cornered him and hung him from a cottonwood tree.
With such a violent past, it’s a little surprising that Ghost Ranch has transformed into a place for retreat and reflection. Then again, the allure of these astounding landscapes cannot be denied.
You can actually hike the Box Canyon Trail – it’s four miles round trip and involves stream crossings. Paying a $5.00 conservation fee at the Ghost Ranch welcome center grants you access to this trail and several others, including the stunning
Chimney Rock Trail. Here is more information about hiking at Ghost Ranch.
Had you heard of the Archeluta brothers before?
What ghost story or New Mexico legend keeps you up at night?
It’s easy to tag a visit to Abiquiu on to our
terrifying Northern New Mexico road trip for an unforgettable drive, packed with chills and thrills. Address: 280 Private Drive 1708, Abiquiu, NM 87510, USA