Boyd's Sanitarium

A Paranormal Investigation

It started life some time in the 1870s at the hand of Colonel Eugene Van Patten. He came out to Dripping Springs at the invitation of a family member, his uncle John Butterfield. The resort was originally called 'Van Patten's Mountain Camp' and housed such celebrities as Pancho Villa. He married a local Piro Indian woman and lots of Indians worked and lived in the resort. Stagelines brought guests from Mesilla and Las Cruces making it quite the hot spot.

The Organ Mountains provide a rocky backdrop for this resort and in 1896 it had its share of blood as Albert J. Fountain and his twelve year old son, Henry, were presumably murdered on its terrain. His daughter, who was a guest as the resort at the time, was notified of the death and they never found any remains.

In 1917 Van Patten, through whatever means of end, went bankrupt and sold all of the property and buildings on it to Nathan Boyd. He was a doctor and built a homestead away from the resort but on an adjacent piece of land. His practice was in San Francisco but he came to marry the daughter of a wealthy Australian engineer and headed in a new direction. He and his wife came to Las Cruces to build a dam on the Rio Grande but they were stopped by local farmers who would have taken a considerable loss at the dam's construction.

By the time Boyd acquired the land from Van Patten his wife had contracted tuberculosis and in her honor he converted ‘Van Patten's Mountain Camp' into ‘Boyd's Sanitarium'. He added additional structures to the property to accommodate the incoming patients.

At some point the Boyd family sold the property to a doctor Sexton of Las Cruces who continued to operate it as a sanitarium until it fell into disrepair sometime in the late 1940s.

It is said there were horrific if not despicable experimental treatments worked on the victims of tuberculosis. They were said to have been turned loose into the mountains to suffer and die should there be someone more desirable to take the bed. There is a great deal of activity around the property and anyone who sleeps near it reports the most hellish nightmares of torture.

Dripping Springs was a desolate tract of land spotted with meager trails amongst densely packed woods. I hadn't anticipated a hike and was outfitted only in women's tennis shoes that had very little cushion in the sole. Every bump on every rock poked at the bottom of my feet and by the time we made it to the resort my lower back was in pain.

It was an abandoned ghost town suitable for any horror movie, pre-equipped with rickety old buildings, musty air and energy that makes your eyes dart back & forth with every step you take.

We walked up a stone stairway and into one of the main structures. Immediately a sense of oddity passed through me. I felt as though at any minute something was going to spring from one of the shadows in the corners despite the fact we were in full-blown sunlight.

Ash moved freely but I communicated my sense of unease and if possible I felt like I had goosebumps on the inside of my skin. Ash thought it was really strange because the building we were in was not the patient's quarters, it was one of the community buildings.

"No one stayed in here, at least not permanently." He gave me one of his sideways glances.

I knew I felt something though and when I closed my eyes I had the immediate visualization of a girl's face, a teenaged girl. It wasn't something old, it was something new, an intense energy and there was fear associated with it. Ash was a bit annoyed by my vagueness and unrelated sensitivity. I moved towards a well-shadowed corner of the great room. A large spider had made his home in the secluded corner and his web was extensive across the two adjoining walls. Through the finely woven strands I saw a blue barrette. I waved Ash over and he nearly rolled his eyes at my side distraction.

I asked him how old he thought the spider web was and he said he had no idea, some spiders could weave something of that size overnight and for others it would take time and he assured me he was no spider expert... but there wasn't any heavy dust on the web so it couldn't have been very old. I didn't dare stick my hand in the web to retrieve the barrette, as much as I love my Sonji Spider I feel quite differently about sticking my hand into strange webs and in New Mexico the insects are gargantuan in size compared to New York.

Being in the corner filled me from toes to head with an incredibly uneasy feeling, it was heart-wrenching and I had the impression there was a small party of teenagers who spent a few hours in the building and the girl was abused in one way or another. The feelings were more than I could handle and the blue barrette lay there in the web like a somber, forgotten clue of an injustice. Ash stood over my shoulder and said "I don't want to lighten the severity of something like that but these are cabins in the middle of nowhere. Kids have been migrating to this place since it was abandoned and I'm sure you're going to sense more than one atrocious act here." He wanted me to be prepared for the worst and he knew full well I'd experience it.

We left the building and he wanted me to tell him what I felt about what was left of the patient's quarters. There really wasn't anything left of it and Ash having already investigated the Sanitarium knew what he experienced.

I wasn't halfway up across the location when I felt a quick rush of steamy, hot air brush my arm. I stopped and waited to see if it would return. As I continued I was brushed three times and by the time we reached the top of the staircase I felt stifled by the warm air. I was so overcome I bent over and tried to get a few mouthfuls of mountain air. I told Ash I couldn't believe how hot it was and he said it was warmer below, not above but there were pockets of sweltering air that seemed to burn up your oxygen. I felt slightly disoriented by the smothering and when I started to straighten my back to stand up again I froze solid as a grayish-blue face of a man peered out from behind a tree. My eyes grew as they locked onto his and I shuddered at the open sores on his face. His hand, that was wrapped tightly around the bark showed signs of cuts and he was missing the top of his pinky and index finger. The wounds bled puss from infection and my look of sheer disgust made Ash turn his head in the same direction. It was only a matter of seconds but by the time the face was gone I was mortified.

Ash looked at me and then back to the trees and back to me and asked what was going on. I told him exactly what I saw and having experienced similar apparitions himself he documented in our notebook how old the man was, my description, the location and what time it was. I was incredibly shocked at the eye contact, but Ash said it was not unusual and others who've had similar experiences said they made direct, eye contact.

We were so engrossed in our discussion we did not realize there was a living man headed in our direction. He shouted "Say!" to us and continued to approach. Ash shouted down to him "Can we help you?" to which the man yelled back "I was going to ask you the same thing". Ash sighed and motioned for me to follow him towards the man and we explained that we were paranormal investigators and we were just doing some research on the location. (Side note: You never know when you tell someone that whether they'll be understanding or usher you out even faster.) He was a pretty laid back kind of guy and explained he kind of took it upon himself to look after the place when he could and he's always chasing kids out of it. He said kids thought of the place as a location to get into trouble and he didn't think with just the two of us we were up to no good but he wanted to check us out for himself.

As long as we had him in a relaxed mood Ash asked him if he has experienced anything since there is no substitute for familiarity when you are dealing with a paranormal place. He pursued his lips, crossed his arms, leaned back on his back leg and said "Yeah, I might have had a few strange incidents. The last one being in the resort." He pointed at the building and shifted his weight onto his other hip. "I was coming in the building around dusk to get my jug of water I'd stashed in there earlier in the day. When I walk in there is a full grown Mexican man all dudded out sitting in a red velvet chair. I asked the man his business and he didn't answer. So I started to walk towards him and I swear if that man didn't vanish into thin air. Hell I was so worried by it I ran clear for my truck and left my water there. I've never seen pistols like this man had on his belt. Real shined up and with some kind of fancy artwork on the handles." Ash was scribbling as fast as he possibly could to write down everything the man was telling us.

Ash pointed back to where we had been and asked him if he spent any time up there. The man said he didn't like being there because he always had the feeling someone was watching him. He said in the dense wooded areas you can hear the sounds like people running and once he saw a younger man come running out of the woods with no bottoms, just an old shirt dirty and with dried blood. When the younger man saw him he ran back into the woods and the man tried to chase him to see what was going on but he was completely gone and the sound of running feet has vanished. He was clearly becoming uncomfortable reliving the memories and he said he was satisfied we weren't up there to cause any trouble and excused himself with a warning to us to clear out of there by dark.

The remainder of the time we spent there was uneventful compared to what happened when first arriving but there is no doubt the entire location has a buzzing energy associated with it that can put all of your nerves on end and your hair stand straight up. Some parts of the area are certainly more peaceful than others but as for the main areas and buildings it is a seething bed of paranormal activity.

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