The Belen Harvey House Museum has an enthralling mix of the known and the unknown.

Some people might think of the rich history of the area, while others think of the railroad and all the prosperity it brought to the region.

It also conjures up images of ghastly apparitions, strange noises and strange orbs floating through the historic Harvey House.

On the one hand, the museum documents the rich history of the building and the people who lived and worked there, but on the other hand, there are strange phenomena in the museum that people have heard, seen and felt that are hard to explain rationally.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photos
Looking down the haunted hallway upstairs at the Belen Harvey House Museum.

The Harvey House’s storied past began in 1910 when it was built and was a staple of the railroad until 1939, when dining cars were added to passenger trains, making the need for the Harvey Houses obsolete.

It opened again in the 1940s to accommodate the troop trains during World War II. After the war, the building became a reading room and dormitory for railroad workers until 1980.

Throughout the 70 years or so of operation, there were thousands of visitors at the Harvey House and there’s a chance some visitors never left.

For years, people have claimed to have witnessed something strange or spooky at the museum. There was so much attention that paranormal groups decided to investigate the validity of the Harvey House haunting.

The Duke City Paranormal Research Society has been investigating the Harvey House almost every year since 2015. There has been so much activity that the group uses the museum to train new members.

Using various equipment, the DCPRS has documented a variety of ghostly phenomena in the museum. You don’t need to be a paranormal researcher to possibly get the heebie-jeebies; you can simply pay the $5 suggested donation entry fee and go on a tour with one of the knowledgeable volunteers or explore the house by yourself.


Eerie encounters

Ghost stories are interwoven into our culture but take on a creepier context when they come from our hometown or county. The following are some of the eerie encounters people had in the different hotspots of the museum.


Upstairs hallway

The upstairs hallway has a foreboding feel, reminiscent of “The Shining” hallway.

One of the main hotspots of activity is where two hallways intersect. There are several hotspots in the upstairs rooms that line the hallways.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photos
A room upstairs with the uniform the Harvey girls wore in the Harvey House in Belen.

Former mayor of Belen, Ronnie Torres, was a museum technician and a longtime volunteer at the Harvey House. He had his fair share of strange and unexplained things happen to him at the museum.

The first time Torres experienced something odd, he was upstairs decorating by himself for Christmas at about 10 p.m. He heard people laughing down the hall and thought to himself, “Who the heck would have been in here at 10?”

He walked into the hallway and he could hear a man laughing in the distance again. Torres walked to the stairwell and yelled downstairs.

“I’m up here in case anyone’s there,” he said. “Don’t get scared. I’m up here!”

Torres went down to check all the doors and everything was locked. He was all alone.

Many of the rooms upstairs have ghostly activity associated with them but a few are more concentrated than the rest. One such room is the uniform room, which has uniforms worn by soldiers from different eras.

There are two uniforms that people say have spirits associated with them. One is a World War I uniform and the other is a nurses’ World War II uniform.  Green and the DCPRS spent time “talking” to the spirits.

Paranormal researchers talk to the ghosts using the K2 EMF meter, a device that detects spikes in the electromagnetic field. They ask simple yes or no questions and depending on the answers, different lights will go on.

“We had quite a conversation with that young lady,” said Green.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photos
A room upstairs with the uniform the Harvey girls wore in the Harvey House in Belen.

The uniform belonged to the mother of one of the volunteers. At the end of the conversation, Green says she asked the spirit, “Would you like for me to tell Marty that you miss her and love her? And the answer on the beeper was yes.”

During one of their walkthroughs, Sara Sather, the director and lead investigator of DCPRS, and Leslie Fluck, a member of the team who is considered a “sensitive” — what they call people who have psychic abilities —  stopped at the uniform room. They were investigating the nurse’s uniform when they heard a noise. They both thought the noise came from outside the room, so they were trying to figure out where or what it was.

Then Fluck called Sara and said to look at something. Fluck took her shoe off and said her brand-new shoe was split on both sides.


The basement

The Harvey House tour does not include the basement but the News-Bulletin was granted access to explore the eerie hotspot.

Walking down the narrow stairs into the belly of the Harvey House is rather unsettling. The poorly lit, stone basement looks like something out of a horror movie.

At the bottom of the stairwell, you come across a series of rooms filled with holiday decorations and a few old mannequins randomly scattered, adding to the eerie atmosphere.

The most ominous hotspot in the entire Harvey House is the boiler room in the basement. It is the heart of the museum with an intermingling of old-world technology and modern electronics.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photos
Looking down the basement hallway into the darkness in the Belen Harvey House Museum.

During one investigation, the DCPRS was getting ready to go down to the basement and Sara said to the group, “We’re gonna go downstairs for a little bit here.”

When they listened to the audio later, Ed Sather, technical supervisor and co-lead investigator of DCPRS, said you can hear two women in the background say, “We’re gonna go downstairs and the other one giggles.”

Back in the day, the Harvey girls were not allowed to go into the basement, so they seemed excited to go down there.

The first paranormal group that investigated the museum had some recording equipment in one of the dead-end hallways of the basement.

Green said when they listened to the audio recording, they heard a woman’s voice saying, “I’m drowning.”

There is nowhere to drown in the basement but according to Green and the people at DCPRS, spirits can attach themselves to objects.

“Anytime you go to an antique store and pick up something. Don’t bring it into the house until you bless or cleanse it,” says Ed. “Spirits can attach to something if they have some unfinished business.”

One way in which spirits are believed to manifest themselves is through orbs. Sometimes in videos or photographs, orbs can be mistaken for dust or lens flares, but they move in random directions.

Nobody really knows what they are but the investigators with DCPRS think it’s how the entity moves between places. People have seen orbs become a human-shaped apparition.

The orbs show up in different colors and some think the color might tell you if the entity is good or bad but typically, they are milky white.

Green claims she usually sees orbs when it is dark. She says one chased her from room to room.

Submitted photo
The Duke City Paranormal Research Society captured several orbs in pictures at the Belen Harvey House Museum.

The DCPRS has videos and images of orbs seemingly coming out of a solid brick wall, floating around then disappearing back into the wall again. One video has a group of three or four orbs floating around together.

“So my theory being the jokester that I am, life after death is not so bad,” Ed joked. “Look, they’re having a party.”


The dining room/kitchen

When entering the museum, the first area is the old main dining area and the gift shop.

As the News-Bulletin reporter walked around the room, a loud knocking sound came from the gift shop area.

Not sure what it was at first, Green calmly responded to the ghost and said, “Yes? We’re going to be out of your way in just a bit.”

Green said the only time someone was hurt by a ghost was when another paranormal group from Albuquerque told her about noises they heard in a warehouse.

Jesse Jones | News-Bulletin photos
Some old medicine bottles in the storage area in the basement in the Belen Harvey House Museum.

“One guy stood right here and slapped his flat hand against the door frame and said, ‘That’s what it sounds like,’” said Green. “At the same moment, he said, ‘Oh (expletive)!’ He touched his head, and there was a big scratch across his forehead.”

Another time, Ed told the members of DCPRS to clean up the equipment in the kitchen.

The recorders picked up a voice responding to the conversation. On the recording, Ed said you can hear a man’s voice say, “Pick up the spoon.” The spirit knew they were cleaning up and was telling them what to do.


Final curtain

If you are not easily frightened and want to try and see if you can photograph spirits, Green says.

“Go to an old cemetery in the dark and just stay in a place and just take pictures,” she said. “You’d be amazed but you will find out.”

If you want to photograph ghosts, take two pictures in the same place. If something is there, you can see if it moves or disappears.

Submitted video

The Duke City Paranormal Research Society captured several orbs in this video at the Belen Harvey House Museum.

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Jesse Jones lives in Albuquerque with his wife and son. Jesse graduated from of the University of New Mexico twice. This spring, he graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism and, in 2006, he received a bachelor’s degree in university studies with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a current fellow of the New Mexico Local News Fund.