La Junta

The name "La Junta" is of Spanish origin, and is pronounced "La Hunta". It signifies a junction or meeting place, where roads meet and
diverge to the mountain passes or to the wide plains.

In late 1875, La Junta was established as a stop for the Santa Fe Railroad. It was a terminus for a spur of the the Kansas Pacific Railway,
coming in from Kit Carson. La Junta was the main forwarding point for the trade going into New Mexico, Arizona, and the southwestern
United States.


                                                    These Ghost Hunters Are for Real

Bent County Democrat article
By Dan Cunningham
Thu Jan 22, 2009

Ghost hunters Jim Justice, left, Scott Eckhart and Zach Isaacs led a discussion of their quest to prove the presence of ghosts and spirits
during a dinner meeting with the Eagles Aerie in Lamar.

Lamar, CO

There are ghosts in southeastern Colorado and  La Junta ghost hunters know how to look for them.
After checking out haunted places in Otero County, Arkansas Valley Ghost Hunters said Friday a haunted apartment house in Las Animas
is next on their “to do” list.

Organizers of the group also told diners at the Eagles Aerie Home Friday night that they seem to be working their way east.
Indeed, they may now have some work to do in Lamar. A woman in the audience got their rapt attention when she described the haunted
home she and her sisters grew up in.

The woman said when she now enters the vacant home she needs a lighted white candle and holy water to keep whatever is there at bay.

Her vivid first-hand description was one of the highlights of the evening, which featured the ghost hunters giving an over view of their
investigations at several haunted sites in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

Group founder Scott Eckhart of La Junta said he started out as a “ghost buster” but now limits his work to ghost hunting and scientifically
documenting what his researchers find.

During the power point presentation, Eckhart reviewed some experiences from the past year.
Locations are studied with electromagnetic meters, temperature gauges, video recorders and cameras, said Zach Isaacs, case manager
for Arkansas Valley Ghost Hunters.

Isaacs said digital recorders often pick up  voices not heard by the human ear. He said fluctuations in the magnetic field indicate a
presence of something.

Temperatures are monitored because it is theorized that a ghost will draw heat from bodies or objects to try and create a physical form.
When they do, they create a corresponding cold spot.

Manifestations of a ghostly presence are varied. They can include:
— Strange odors, odd noises, footsteps, banging or rapping, the sound of something being dropped. The noises can be subtle or loud.
—     Door, cabinets or drawers inexplicably open or closed.
Lights, a TV or radio turning off or on by themselves.(Reportedly, the La Junta Tribune-Democrat is experiencing a radio that turns on
during the night.

A woman in La Junta reports when her family is watching television the channel will suddenly change to a cartoon.
_ — Unexplained shadows is another phenomenon, although the ghost hunters learned that passing car lights were the cause of strange
shadows at a theater in Rocky Ford.

— Strange behavior by animals, which seem to have a keen sense of the unknown. Cats have been observed watching something cross
the room, but there is nothing visible. Dogs will bark from no reason.

— Psychokinetic phenomena. Seeing a drawer open by itself, or feeling weight on a bed and seeing the impression it makes.

—    The feeling of being touched by something.
Poltergeist phenomena is the rarest and includes being shoved or scratched by something unkn own, or books flying around a room.
— Apparitions are the most rare occurrence, and can include a human shape or a forming mist.

Eckhart said people are easily fooled by some of these strange events. A house generates noise when it settles. A new refrigerator had an
ice maker that caused the pipes in the Eckhart home to make strange sounds when the ice maker turned on.
A faulty hinge can cause a door to open.

While some strange happenings can be real, often they are just a person’s imagination playing a trick on him or her.
To sort the real from the unreal, the group is using equipment to try to disprove what is going on.
Eckhart noted that the legend of werewolves is now believed to be inspired by rabies.

The presentation documented the ghost hunter’s investigations at such locales as Uptown Music  and Video, the Rocky Ford Grand
Theater, the Picketwire Theater and the Fox Theater.

At Uptown Music and Video employees have observed several apparitions that have their own identities. One is the preacher, who seems
to want people out of the store. Another is the cleaning lady who is seen walking through the area. Another is Richard Buck, the deceased
son of a building owner.

Eckhart said traumatic events can trigger a haunting.

At the old bank and Masonic temple in Ordway, a banker shot and killed a patron who was trying to withdraw money during the Great
Depression.  That seems to have left a presence in the building.

Eckhart said he first became interested in ghosts at the age of 16 when he was working at a La Junta bank. After observing what he
described as ministers dumping items in a bin, he determined the discarded objects were old Christmas cards. He then suddenly saw a
woman dressed similar to women early in the last century, with her red hair up in a bun.

When the woman suddenly disappeared, he ran upstairs screaming. For several weeks the incident rattled him, especially when people
said the woman he described had been a resident of La Junta.

Eckhart said she was probably attached to the Christmas cards and was unhappy they had been thrown away.
Eckhart  finally addressed  his fears and decided instead to confront them head on and study ghosts.

A few years ago when he formally organized his quest, he was interested in ghost busting, similar to the movie Ghost Busters. But he has
since become a ghost hunter who is primarily interested in scientifically recording and proving their existence.

Jim Justice of La Junta said he joined the group two years ago because he had been doing his own investigations for some time.
“”You can literally talk to a ghost and tell it to move on. And they will say ‘Duh, I know.”

‘Personally, I think this is a matter of choice, whether they stay or go,” Justice said.

He added that the group is summoned to some sites that are  not really haunted. In the past year he estimates about a dozen seem to be

Eckhart said the group has done some research at the Prowers House at Boggsville south of Las Animas. They have picked up female
voices, and a voice with a southern accent.

“There is a lot of stuff going on at Boggsville,” Eckhart said.

The La Junta Post Office and Thymes Square are other locales that have gotten their attention.

If someone genuinely thinks they have a ghost and want proof, he or she can contact Isaacs at 719 – 980 – 1753.

Eckhart said Jennifer Justice will do research on a house first before the investigators go to the scene. The property owner will have to be
prepared to vacate the building for some time, into the early morning hours while the investigation goes on.

Bill Wooten of the Lamar Eagles thanked the group for sharing their knowledge and he said he would like to see them come back in a year
with a report on their work in the coming months.


* Arkansas Valley Ghost Hunters website:

Article from the La Junta Tribune-Democrat:

October 31, 2005


Many places around the country have a history of hauntings and ghostly activities. Nearly everyone seems to know the hometown's places
that go bump in the night, but La Junta at first glance seemed to have none. Which certainly seems a little strange for a city as rich in
history as La Junta.

Looks can be deceiving.

Dig a little deeper and ghost stories and supposed hauntings do turn up here. Perhaps “supposed” is the wrong word because it's easy to
discount the paranormal when things haven't been experienced personally.

Even those who believe there is no such thing as a ghost were interviewed for this story and admitted that something strange has
happened and continues to happen at the locations they're familiar with. Some former non-believers have even had experiences that have
changed their point of view to where they now believe in ghosts.

There are three haunted locations in La Junta that were researched for this story.

Some may be surprised at some of the locations found, and some may be worried about bumping into things that may bump back when
visiting those places, but research at these locations seems to show that the ghosts are more of a curiosity than anything out to frighten or
hurt people.

While the subject of ghosts can be frightening, the alleged ghosts at these locations mostly seem to just enjoy being mischievous and like
to make it known that they're still hanging around town. Although in some cases, they may also be trying to get us to understand something
important to them.

The location that appears to be one of the most well known amongst locals is the
Super 8 Motel off the Colorado 50.

This may seem a strange location to have a ghost, but it has one nonetheless, and her name is Heidi. Heidi was named by the motel's
manager, Arlee Wolford, and since that time Wolford thinks she may have found out that Heidi may actually be the ghosts real name. Heidi
is apparently the spirit of a petite dark haired woman who wears a white nightgown or night shirt.

She's been seen by nearly all the staff at the motel, and many of the guests, and seems to be the most mischievous of the ghosts at any of
the locations around town. Heidi likes to play jokes on the staff and guests at the hotel, and has quite a sense of humor.

One story that Wolford recounts is, there were two older women in town for a reunion and staying at the motel. The motel was a buzz with
activity from guests who were attending the reunion, and the staff was busy attending to their needs. The two women told Wolford that they
were walking to McDonalds for some dinner, and if anyone was looking for them, to let them know they were out for a little while.

While they were gone Wolford got a phone call at the front desk from their room. There was a young lady on the line who said she was
trapped in that room. Wolford thought maybe the women were traveling with a younger relative, or had someone visiting their room.
Wolford asked her to keep trying to get out of the room and that she'd be there momentarily to try and get the door open.

With all the guests from the reunion, Wolford got sidetracked a few times before she was able to break away. In the intervening period, the
young lady called back several times, finally saying “You have got to come and open this door now!” Wolford gathered up some tools and
made her way down to the room which was in sight of the front desk and began her attempt to open the door. Surprisingly, the tools weren't
necessary as the master key opened the door right up. Wolford introduced herself before entering the room, but only found an empty
room. Wolford searched the room just to be sure, and then left. During her short walk to the room, she had not seen anyone enter or leave
the room.

When the women booked into that room returned, Wolford asked them if they had a younger relative traveling with them or a friend visiting
their room. The women said, No, they were traveling alone. No one else was in their room. Wolford said “Oh, I guess I was thinking about
the room next door or something,” so as not to upset the guests. But Wolford points out that the motel had just gotten a new phone system
and it was impossible to mistake which room the call came from.

This isn't the only trick that Heidi likes to play using phones, sometimes as the housekeeping staff is going down a hallway, the phone will
ring once in every room consecutively, down the hall. When the phone is picked up, no one is there. The staff also insists that all the doors
on that particular side of the building will open and close, one after another.

Initially, Wolford said to herself, “How can it be a ghost, I don't believe in ghosts?” While she still doesn't believe in ghosts, she believes in
Heidi and the strange goings on at the motel; and so do many of her guests, who strangely seem reluctant to leave the rooms they've had
experiences in. Wolford said “It's really strange, they'll call and complain about something (that might be caused by Heidi), I'll offer to move
them to another room, and they refuse to leave the room they're in.”

The most notable case like this was a couple visiting the area who had placed a candy bar out in their room, for breakfast. During the
night, the candy bar disappeared, but the wrapper was left. The couple called Wolford at the front desk, and insinuated that someone on
the staff had gotten into their room and stolen their candy bar. Wolford pointed out to the couple that the room has deadbolts and security
locks and there was no way to get in, even with a key. The strange thing was, while the wrapper was still there, it was unopened but the
candy bar was gone. The couple went so far as to accuse the staff of replacing the candy bar with an empty (unopened) wrapper.

Wolford offered the couple another room, and they repeatedly refused to go to any other room, other than that one. According to Wolford,
in every case, they have refused to be moved to another room, even in cases where guests have seen Heidi.

As pointed out above, Wolford still doesn't believe in ghosts, but she says that the staff and herself have come to accept Heidi and her
activities, and they enjoy having her around.

The next locations will be covered briefly in the interests of space and time, the first is, believe it or not, the
Woodruff Memorial Library.
Several staff members, have seen apparitions amongst the book stacks.

It's thought that one spirit may be the ghost of a former employee, who checks to make sure that things are running smoothly. Others
they're not as sure of, and the library also has the standard spooky things happening, such as books moving on the shelves (being
pushed back deep into the shelves), shadows, noises, laughter, etc.

Experiences at the library only seem to happen when there are only one or two people around and not during business hours.

The final location seems to be a fitting one, considering the building. The location is
Uptown Video in downtown La Junta. This location
has four ghosts which have been seen by Scott Eckhart's employees. According to Eckhart, there are four ghosts who make their
otherworldly residence at the former church building; and have been seen throughout the building.

These spirits have also received nicknames from those who've seen them. “Buster Brown,” appears to be the spirit of a boy dressed in turn
of the century clothing. The “Preacher” seems to be the spirit of a former preacher who lived at the church, and wants to maintain his
privacy. The “Teenager”, a young man, who no one really knows what ties him to the building. And the “Church Cleaning Lady”.

“Buster Brown” seems to be the mischievous one at this location, doing things that a little boy might do, running up and down the stairs,
moving things, etc. The “Preacher” just seems to want everyone to leave his beloved building, he seems to be the only one intent on
frightening others. The “Teenager” has been seen standing and watching employees work in the basement. The “Church Cleaning Lady”,
seems to be obsessed with cleaning the church, and doesn't interact at all, with anyone.

While interviewing Eckhart, it's possible that the “Preacher” paid a visit, as there were several loud noises heard in the unoccupied
basement where the interview took place. This location has also had their alarm system apparently tripped by the ghosts in the past. As at
the motel, all the employees are used to the spirits, although not entirely comfortable with all of them. Eckhardt says that he used to be a
non believer, but now says “Yeah, I believe in ghosts.”


                                                                                                                Photo by Mike Harris

This picture taken at a supposed haunted house in La Junta, an abandoned home, doesn't show anything particularly spooky. There was
definitely a strange feeling about the place, unfortunately, there wasn't a living soul around to interview about any strange occurences.

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