Lamy New Mexico
Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House
A misplaced bullet, a parasite beastie,
and an appendicitis blowup caused restless spectral residents.
“I claim the Saloon.”
“I like the improvements!”
”Where the pavement ends, and the west begins.”
The Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House is a much beloved Lamy landmark that has been expanded and improved through the eras to meet the needs of the owners and their patrons.
The National Register of Historic Places gives the best description found on the NRHP nomination form under the name of the original structure, built in the late 1880s through the early 1890s, Pflueger General Merchandise Store and Annex Saloon.
Its architecture can be described as being made up of “provincial interpretations of the commercial Italianate style,” popular in New Mexico during the late 1800s.
While the merchandise building still has its large display windows, little of the original wood detailing is left inside due to the renovations done when it was transformed into a restaurant. The restaurant has four dining rooms, one of them being up in the balcony. Another dining area is located in the addition of the Americana Room.
The Territorial Revival style front porch that was added in the fifties did not harm the original windows.
The inside of the saloon still has a lot of the original decor, with its “original elaboration and interior wood detailing.”
The 1894 saloon features the German-made, 1884 Brunswick cherry wood bar and back board that was brought in via the Santa Fe Railway by John Pflueger. An informal eating area and gaming tables serve to entertain patrons. A staircase from the saloon leading up to the balcony dining area was added when the balcony was constructed.
Other owners added four bathrooms, a manager’s apartment, an office, and a second restaurant and bar to the right of the historical structure that once housed the Lamy Museum. Between the two restaurants and saloons, they can handle up to 350 people for social events of all kinds.
The 1890 building is painted brown, while the newer Americana wing is painted white. It extends the restaurant into more dining rooms and another bar as well.
An outdoor patio in the front over-looks the Lamy Amtrak Depot (originally the Santa Fe Railway). Behind the buildings is space developed for a trailer park.
Current owner, Alan Affeldt, well known for his dedication in restoring historic buildings in New Mexico like the Castenada Hotel, The Plaza Hotel, and La Posada, invested a boatload of money in 2022 to both restore the saloon and make it a viable commercial enterprise, with space for other commercial group activities.
He has completely updated the original 1890 stone and frame rectangular building, reinforcing its structural bones to ensure that this historic restaurant and saloon will stand another one hundred years. The facade has been restored as well.
There is a new large commercial kitchen in the east end of the saloon with “walk-in pantries, freezers and refrigerators, prep areas, work areas, commercial grade sinks, appliances, employee facilities, and wine storage.” It serves both restaurants.
Both buildings share the same great chef, who has earned rave reviews.
“Each dish comes together as a mosaic of a fresh approach to a classic recipe, high quality ingredients, and is perfected using chef techniques to deliver a truly unique dining experience.”
Both restaurants, under the umbrella of the Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, have found their niche in 2023 in providing service mainly for a variety of social events and films, though they have had issues in finding staff to run the Friday to Sunday restaurant and bar for the public during the winter months.
History of Lamy, New Mexico
Before 1880, this part of New Mexico was a sleepy farming and ranching community, until the Santa Fe Railroad came through. They established the town of Lamy, to be the host of the railroad’s junction with its new main line, and a spur line which ran eighteen miles to Santa Fe.
Besides its depot, the Santa Fe Railroad built a small roundhouse that serviced the pusher engines needed to help the big steam engines traverse the steep grades in Glorietta Pass.
A Harvey House was built by the tracks as well, to serve passengers spending the night. Several commercial buildings were also built which also benefited the farmers and ranchers.
A quarry was established one-half mile southwest of Lamy that employed people during the 1880s-1890s. To supply the Harvey Company dining cars, a charcoal works was opened, probably by Charles Haspelmath, that also employed people.
This brought temporary economic growth, spurring Lamy into becoming a commercial center, and boosting in population growth because of the influx of railroad staff, quarry workers and charcoal works’ employees who settled here.
During the building years of the railroad (1880-1890), Lamy had a population of over 2,000 people. After the railroad finished building their lines, Lamy’s population shrunk to 200 people in 1890. By 1940, Lamy had a population of 384.
By 1940, the Santa Fe Railroad closed the Lamy Harvey House as the number of passengers had gone down so much that it wasn’t profitable anymore. In the late 1940s, the transformation from steam to diesel locomotives was completed, which shut the roundhouse, as the pusher engines were no longer needed.
Not surprisingly, Lamy’s population dropped again, to 180 people in 1950. By 1987, it had slipped to 80. However, the population was at 207 in 2023.
History of Pflueger General Merchantile Store and Annex Saloon
The mercantile store was built in 1881 by J.L. MacBeth. Two years later, Charles Haselmath became the new owner. In 1889, he sold the business to his daughter Louise and her husband William Sayles. Just a year later, William was killed in a hold-up. In 1894, Louise married John Pflueger, who expanded the business by adding onto the mercantile store a saloon featuring an upscale bar from Germany.
According to the Pflueger family, it survived the devastating fire of 1898. Both the mercantile store and the saloon were made the headquarters for the village’s leading businessmen. The village’s post office was inside the store, as well as the office of the Pfluegers’ Charcoal Works.
In 1909, John and Louise sold their businesses to Thomas Hanna, so they could move to Santa Fe, to take over running the mercantile store of Louise’s father.
Thomas Hanna became the largest local employer, with fifteen people working in the charcoal pits and with five in the store and saloon. He expanded his economic opportunities by building a feed store west of the mercantile building, that blended well with the saloon decor.
From the mid-1930s until 1953, Leo Pick managed the businesses. In 1940, the feed store burned to the ground.
In 1953, new owner Frank Teal turned the mercantile store into a restaurant, adding the balcony and the Territorial Revival front porch as well, trying to emphasize the history of the building. He renamed his new business the Pink Garter Saloon and Restaurant.
In 1969, it was bought by Robert Anderson, a supporter of historic preservation, who added it to his chain of restaurants, all under the name of The Legal Tender, that he placed in historic buildings, under the same name.
In 1987, the owners of the Lamy Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House was the Castle Creek Corp., who listed it on the National Register of Historic Places in the same year.
Since then, all the owners and the community as well have continued to be focused on preserving these historical Lamy buildings, while adding other ways to keep the businesses going.
One of the owners bought the museum building next door to the historical restaurant and bar, and turned it into a newer Legal Tender Restaurant, offering even more opportunities to provide space for event planning, and social events for the community at large.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Spirits of people who lose their lives at the hands of another by accident, sometimes are not willing to leave the place where they died, claiming it as their own because they want more time in this world.
Brumder Mansion, WI (The spirit of a doctor who was very upset because he was killed by another driver in a 1938 car accident, refused to leave his room and the third floor, and was not happy about sharing his space. After an intervention with two mediums, he was banished from one of the three third floor guest rooms, and had to tolerate the living. After his feelings about his sudden death were shared with people for a few years, he finally found peace and was able to leave).
Jerome Grand Hotel, AZ (In 1936, the hospital’s fireman engineer, Claude M. Harvey, was found dead in the basement, when the elevator pinned him to the ground, crushing his head. His spirit haunted the hotel, very unhappy).
Sacramento, CA (When some railroad worker threw the wrong switch, sending the train onto a ferry wharf, the train’s engineer, William Brown, saved hundreds of lives by uncoupling a passenger car but he died himself. His spirit was seen following his own burial procession, and he hangs around his grave, very restless indeed).
Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, NM (A stray bullet killed a man who was at the gambling tables in the saloon. He is still mad about his death, and can’t move on just yet).
People who die from sudden illness on the way to doing something they were looking forward to, sometimes are too disappointed to cross over, still wanting to do what they had planned.
La Castañeda, NM (A male traveler died in the bar from a heart attack while waiting for his train. His spirit is still sitting at the bar, drinking, still wanting to take his train).
Hunt/Phelan House, TN (A trusted 19th century servant who died is still trying to finish an important, assigned task).
Liberty Hall, KY (Aunt Margaret Varick bravely took a long, arduous journey by stagecoach to Liberty Hall, to comfort her bereaved niece who suffered the death of her child. Varick arrived but died from heart problems, aggravated by her journey. Her spirit was determined to still help the living, which she has done for years).
Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, NM (A female train passenger had a sudden, painful attack of appendicitis, and died in a back room of the saloon. A young girl who loved to visit the Mercantile Store, suddenly died from a tape worm during the 1920s).
People who suffer violent murders such that their bodies are destroyed or never found, often are restless, and sometimes feisty about what happened to them).
Kahler Grand Hotel, MN (Helen Vorhees was brutally murdered by mafia thugs who incinerated her remains because she threatened to expose their horse selling business racket in the 1930s. Her spirit stays at her favorite hotel).
Mission San Miguel, CA (In 1848, a family bought Mission San Miguel and turned it into an inn, using gold as payment (uh oh). Robbers who had stayed the night before as guests, came back to steal the gold, and massacred eleven potential witnesses. Their remains were buried in a mass, unmarked grave. Their spirits still reside in the church and its grounds).
Deerfield Old Burial Grounds, MA (During the French and Indian War, the village of Deerfield was attacked, resulting in manny deaths of the villagers. A pregnant nanny was forced to see her two little charges brutally murdered, while she suffered a torturous death herself. On the anniversary of her death, she can be heard sobbing in the burial grounds).
Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House, NM (During the 2000s, a local young woman disappeared, probably kidnapped and killed. Her body was never found. Her spirit found her way to this building, where she expresses her anger and frustration).
Four spirits, at one time or another, have resided in this historic saloon and restaurant. All of them were not ready to cross over for a variety of reasons. Some of them felt comfortable enough to express their feelings, and do things that made them feel better about their untimely deaths.
Spirit of the Gambler Ramon
One source (dailymail.co.uk) described him as the “frontier bystander” who was in a poker game when someone at the table was caught cheating, and the bullet meant for the cheater hit him instead.
He wears a black hat and black 19th Century frontier clothes.
He enjoys watching the gaming activities to make himself feel better.
He likes to watch people drink at the bar.
My Saloon at Night!
He has claimed the saloon and casino areas as his personal space when the building is closed.
To encourage the staff not to dawdle in getting people to leave and clean up during closing, he has made personal appearances in the saloon in front of the closing staff.
He is annoyed at paranormal investigators who intrude during investigations.
Paranormal investigator Joni Alm caught an EVP of a male voice saying “Go Away.”
Lady in White
She likes to float around the saloon and dining rooms in a white dress.
She appreciates classical music when it is played, and will come to listen.
She is making the best of it as a spirit, and likes to be around people.
Spirit of a Female Murder Victim
She is active in the kitchen area.
She screams, as she relives her death.
She may be trying to share what happened to her.
When she can’t get anyone to interact with her, she takes her frustration out on the hanging pots and pans.
When this 11/02/2012 article (www.scdailypress.com/) was published online, this spirit of the murder victim hadn’t made any personal appearances as she was newly deceased.
By 2023, I bet she does appear, trying to tell about her terrifying end.
The Spirit of the Young Girl
She is about seven or eight years old.
She has made appearances in the main dining rooms, which used to be where the Mercantile Store once was, a place she loved to visit.
She is curious and likes to follow people around.
When she wants attention, she likes to pull the aprons of kitchen staff and poke them on their sides.
She may like to swing on the dining room’s chandeliers.
They swing wildly by themselves with no drafts, wind or vibrations to cause it.
Signs of Unseen Presences
People hear disembodied voices having conversations.
Staff and customers sometimes feel that they have spectral company, watching them with interest.
Owners, staff members and sometimes their customers have all experienced the full paranormal sports package for a very long time.
Paranormal investigating groups who visited in the past haven’t left disappointed from their time spent here. Parapsychologist Joni Alm has led many investigations in this location, capturing a lot of hard evidence.
Current owners don’t want to scare potential buyers, so investigations are no longer allowed, but hard evidence has already been caught, and the personal experiences of the staff have been made known.
Most Probably so!
Despite many blessings performed in the historic saloon and restaurant over the years, it is still a popular place for spirits of people to visit who have frequented the businesses that existed here, as well as the ones mentioned in this story, though their activity has supposedly mellowed, except probably for the murder victim.
Her activity may be the reason they are having trouble getting workers.
She may be ready for counseling with a medium so she can have enough peace to let go and pass over.
151 Old Lamy Trail
Lamy, NM 87540
Legal Tender Saloon and Eating House is located on a large 1.84 acre, zoned commercial lot in the heart of the village of Lamy. It sits up on a slight hill, across the street from the Lamy Amtrak Depot, which operates as a tourist railroad between Lamy and Santa Fe.
All of our paranormal stories are written by Julie Carr.