The Most Haunted Ho­tel in NM

Catron Courier - - Front Page - by Sam Palah­nuk

Henri Lam­bert was born in 1838 in Nantes, France. At the young age of 12, he in­dulged his pas­sion for gourmet food when he found work as an ap­pren­tice chef in the sea­port town of La Harve. While he worked, he also stud­ied and trained to be­come a chef. Lam­bert’s fate changed about when, at 23, he joined the French Navy where he was picked to sail on the first sub­ma­rine ever pro­duced by France. Af­ter sail­ing un­der the sea across the At­lantic ocean, he re­al­ized life as a sub­mariner wasn’t for him, so he left the ship and joined the Union army as a cook-in-the­field for US Gen­eral Grant and did such a good job he was pro­moted to be the White House chef for Pres­i­dent Abraham Lin­coln.

Af­ter the war, Lam­bert and his beau­ti­ful wife Mary moved west to try their hand at gold min­ing, and set­tled in El­iz­a­beth­town, New Mex­ico. When he found lit­tle gold, Henri opened a restau­rant and sa­loon. At this time, much of the sur­round­ing area was owned by Lu­cien B. Maxwell and was a part of the huge Maxwell Land Grant. Maxwell en­ticed Lam­bert to come to Ci­mar­ron, where­upon Henri be­came Henry and built the Lam­bert Inn, which would later be re­named the St. James.

The ho­tel was a re­mark­able gem of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and el­e­gance in the wild town of Ci­mar­ron. The 42 room ho­tel was fur­nished with fine art, sparkling chan­de­liers, beau­ti­ful fur­ni­ture and small mar­ble sinks in each room. Thanks to Lam­bert’s culi­nary skills, the food was with­out equal.

In its day, the St. James was vis­ited by the fa­mous and the no­to­ri­ous. Wy­att Earp, his brother Morgan, and their wives stayed at the Inn on their way to Tomb­stone, Ari­zona. Jesse James stayed in Room 14. Other no­table guests in­clude An­nie Oak­ley, Bat Master­son, train rob­ber Black Jack Tom Ketchum, Gen­eral Sheri­dan, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Clay Al­li­son, Pat Gar­ret, and artist Fredrick Rem­ing­ton. Au­thor Zane Grey be­gan writ­ing his novel Fight­ing Car­a­vans while stay­ing in Room 22. Lew Wal­lace, for­mer Gover­nor of New Mex­ico, wrote part of his novel

Ben Hur dur­ing his vis­its. When Henry’s sons, Fred and Gene, re­placed the roof of the Lam­bert Inn in 1901, they found more than 400 bul­let holes in the ceil­ing above the bar. A dou­ble layer of heavy wood had pre­vented any­one from sleep­ing up­stairs from be­ing killed. To­day, the ceil­ing of the din­ing room still holds

22 bul­let holes.

Af­ter the rail­road came through and ef­fec­tively killed the Santa Fe trail and as the gold dwin­dled, the ho­tel passed from owner to owner. Fol­low­ing ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions in early 2009, where the for­mal din­ing room and bar were merged into one large area and the out­side deck and lawn be­came a walled-in court­yard and pa­tio com­plete with a foun­tain, the ho­tel was re-opened, re­stored to its for­mer glory.

One thing that hasn’t changed at the St. James Ho­tel is that it re­mains host to sev­eral rest­less spir­its. Both the own­ers and guests will tell you that it is haunted and many un­ex­plained events oc­cur there reg­u­larly.

The sec­ond floor of the ho­tel is the most haunted, with sto­ries of cold spots and the smell of cigar smoke lin­ger­ing in the halls, de­spite smok­ing not be­ing al­lowed in the ho­tel. A prior man­ager said, “You never see them, but you do feel and hear them.”

An­other re­port from a for­mer owner, states that she walked into the din­ing room and saw a pleas­ant-look­ing cow­boy stand­ing be­hind her in the mir­ror on the front of the bar. One guest even claimed to have played poker with a cast of Old West char­ac­ters in the mid­dle of the night.

Room 18 at the ho­tel is kept locked be­cause it houses the ghost of an ill-tem­pered Thomas James Wright, who was killed at his door just af­ter win­ning the rights to the ho­tel in a poker game. Hav­ing been shot from be­hind, Wright con­tin­ued on into the room and slowly bled to death. It’s said that Wright is still seek­ing re­venge for be­ing killed in his own ho­tel, and is less than kind to guests and staff that he sees as tres­passers.

Vis­it­ing the St. James is a re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ence. Rates are rea­son­able. There is a modern wing, but the rooms and the sa­loon al­low you to travel back in time. De­spite the fact that Henry Lam­bert has long since passed on, the food is de­li­cious. Antiques dec­o­rate the ho­tel, and the rooms and halls of­fer a liv­ing mu­seum that tells the story of the many col­or­ful char­ac­ters, and the his­tory of Ci­mar­ron and the Lam­bert fam­ily.

And don’t for­get, there’s the old orig­i­nal jail, court house, livery sta­ble, mu­seum mill to see in Ci­mar­ron. On Au­gust 22 to 25, the St. James will also host a gath­er­ing of Cow­boy Mu­sic and Po­etry. For more in­for­ma­tion visit exst­james.com or cimar­ronnm.com.

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