Haunting the haunts

In search of the ghosts of Crownpoint


NAVAJO TIMES | DONOVAN QUINTERO The old town hall in Crownpoint beckons as the sun starts to go down during a recent ghost-hunting expedition.

The old town hall in Crownpoint beckons as the sun starts to go down during a recent ghost-hunting expedition.

Everyone knows the whole reservation is haunted, but being as it’s almost Halloween, we went in search of the most haunted spot. The things we do for you readers.

Historian and journalist Leonard Perry insists his hometown of Crownpoint should have that notoriety. The whole community straddles an ancient road between the Anasazi ruins of Kin Yaa’aa and Muddy Water, and there’s a ghost town of old BIA buildings right in the middle of it. This rocky grey plain has sustained thousands of years of human occupancy.

“For us,” said Perry, “every day is Halloween.”

Since Perry gives historical tours of his chapter, we asked if he could give us a ghost tour. No problem, he said.

“When you study human history and human activity,” he noted, “the paranormal is just part of that. You can’t separate it.”

As the sky goes salmon, Perry starts us out with some ground rules for ghost hunting: Use your peripheral vision to catch shadowy figures; spirits will often disappear if you look right at them. If you happen to encounter a spirit, don’t engage with it; our worlds overlap, but are not meant to intersect. If anyone starts feeling uneasy at any point, we all skedaddle.

The most haunted building in Crownpoint was the old BIA school, even driving off tough security guards who late at night heard the giggles and footsteps of long-gone children. That structure has recently been razed, but the old kindergarten classroom, which doubled as a sort of town hall, is still there, so we head for that.

“People have seen and heard all kinds of things in here,” warns Perry as we slip into the decaying 1917 Craftsman. It’s eerie enough without ghosts; long slats from the wooden ceiling have come loose and reach to the floor, giving trespassers the illusion of being inside a giant fish skeleton. The kitchen appliances are still there, and Perry paints a vivid picture of the building as it was, with rows of tiny wooden desks facing the enormous fireplace. The ghosts are not willing to entertain us tonight, but Perry and our photographer start to get a strange chill; it’s time to leave.

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Categories: Culture
Tags: Crownpoint

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.