Honkytonk spirits

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By April M. Brown and Victoria LeDuc

The rumors persist that the old Line Camp building in Pojoaque is haunted. The building has been standing for nearly 100 years and has been host to a variety of businesses. It has served mainly as a tavern, with many locals having fond memories of their visits there.


Recently, an older gentleman who has been associated with the Line Camp for years shared some of the stories and experiences related to the historical building. Some stories are chilling and some are related to local folklore. However, one thing is certain — the tumultuous history of the place has left a mark on this old wooden building.

The Tavern Cat
There once was an old drunkard who practically lived at the tavern. He was a permanent fixture at the bar. After many years of patronage, the old man acquired an illness that kept him away from his beloved tavern. He was bedridden and eventually passed away.

The day after his passing, a scraggly old cat arrived at the Line Camp and decided to make it his permanent home. He could not be chased away or caught, so the patrons started to feed him and he was allowed to sleep in the bar. It has been said that the old drunkard missed his old haunt so much, he returned in the guise of a cat to live out the rest of his days.

The stabbing
One very busy evening at the tavern, everyone was having fun until a very unfriendly gentleman asked a woman to dance. This woman belonged to another, but she didn’t see any harm in flirting. She took the man’s hand and hauled him out onto the dance floor. Her boyfriend thought differently of the matter.

Half way through the dance, he grabbed his girl and challenged the man to a fight, with his whole crew in tow.
The man accepted the challenge as his friends also gathered around. A fight ensued, knives were drawn and men were beaten and stabbed.

Several people were injured, including the girl’s boyfriend, but the man that started it by “harmlessly” flirting with the girl died from multiple stab wounds inside the bar. It seems he paid for the dance with his life.

Locals swear his spirit still haunts the bar to this day. Maybe he’s looking for the justice he feels he deserves or the life that was stolen from him too soon.

The exorcism
Stories date back to the 1920s, when an exorcism was conducted to evict the evil demons and other negative spirits from the building.

On nice warm days, the bartender would open all of the doors and windows in the tavern to let the breeze flow through the rooms. The patrons were happy. Good drink, good conversation and sunshine blazed through the windows.

One calm afternoon, the tavern’s patrons were startled when all of the doors and shutters simultaneously slammed shut.

The bartender figured the commotion must have been the result of the winds picking up. When he reopened the shutters, he was surprised to see the air was calm and there was a bright blue sky. He shrugged his shoulders and walked back behind the bar. Just as he got back to work, they all slammed shut again.

His hands shook as he wandered back to the shutters to open them again. He pulled and pulled but they wouldn’t budge.

The door was also jammed. Everyone in the tavern was trapped. The air grew thinner. The place became oppressive and dark.

Unsure of what to do next, the bartender pulled some of the men aside for a discussion. Time ticked by while the terrified customers waited in the spooky shadows of the building.  

After trying for some time, the door opened easily, as if it was never stuck. Once everyone was freed, the bartender immediately sent the male patrons to the church down the hill. He wanted to be sure nothing else like this ever happened again.

A short time later, a Catholic priest arrived clutching a black bag to his chest. After inspecting both the outside and inside of the tavern, he pronounced that the building was possessed and he needed to perform an exorcism right away.

The priest was noticeably trembling as he opened his black bag. He carefully unwrapped a small bottle of holy water and some salts from their cloths.

He then began his prayers — starting with barely a whisper, growing gradually stronger and louder. All the while, he shook the holy water into the still air and spread the salt along the walls and borders of the building.

The boards creaked and crackled. The floors sighed. His prayers became even louder as he commanded the evil spirits to leave. The building rocked and shuddered.

The patrons, too frightened to move, quietly watched and waited as a dark cloud shimmered then swirled into the room through the floorboards and walls, scattering dust through the air.

It pulsed as if it were breathing, then burst into a fog and escaped through the edges of the doorframe. The shutters and door slammed open. The priest smiled and nodded. He calmly packed up his bottle of holy water and salt.

It was said that when he left, the air smelled clean and the room was suddenly brighter.

The Devil in disguise
The Line Camp was once a place where the gentlemen would go to drink, dance and have fun with the ladies. One evening, a honkytonk band was playing some good ol’ foot-stomping music, when an elegantly dressed gentleman confidently traipsed through the door and stepped onto the dance floor.

He proceeded to whisk all of the ladies around the dance floor, leaving not one female in the place without his attention. The ladies were having a fabulous time, each vying for his touch.

The men became green with jealousy. They had enough of the women swooning over this finely clad man and decided it was time to do something about him.

Gathering into a crowd, they all headed toward him. As they moved closer, one of the men looked down and noticed the mysterious gentleman had cloven hooves. He immediately yelled and pointed them out to the rest of the men.

The gentleman stopped swinging the women around and stood frozen for a moment. He glanced at his feet, realizing he had been discovered. He ran for the window to make his escape and jumped out into the night, leaving burn marks on the window sill as a reminder of his visit there that night.

In addition to these tales, there have been some strange occurrences at the old Line Camp building. Both employees and patrons who have visited the building have reported doors closing with no explanation; the bathroom light turning itself on or off; motion detectors sounding at random times, when there’s not a soul to be seen or a breeze to be had; and normally-quiet speakers humming at odd hours of the day. Some locals even say there are spirits in limbo still lingering there, waiting to be found and released.

Visitors can go to the old Line Camp, which is now Don Quixote’s Distillery. Those wishing to stop by for a taste of the distilled spirits may experience another type of spirit, instead. They might even share the bar with a few invisible patrons who want to revive the wild parties and happenings the tavern was originally known for.