Trying to save the historic Folsom Hotel

The room at the Folsom Hotel where train thief Tom “Black Jack” Ketchum was held after his arrest in 1899. He was then convicted and hanged in Clayton. (Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

FOLSOM, NM – As a young boy growing up here, Matt Doherty said he may have barged into the vacant Folsom Hotel and thrown rocks at it, but now he lives there and is dedicated to caring for it. .

Doherty bought the vintage 1888 building in 2015. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it except the building is basically my main intention,” said Doherty, who is studying engineering at the school. He is also a board member for the Folsom Museum just down the road.

He would like to renovate the building, but said construction costs have skyrocketed.

Doherty, 38, has an apartment on the ground floor of the two-story stone building, but the five bedrooms upstairs appear to look like 100 or more years ago.

Mounted to a stone fireplace on the ground floor overlooking the lobby is an American antelope trophy and a stuffed golden eagle. Doherty reports an old bullet hole in one of the hotel’s wooden columns.

Matt Doherty’s family has owned a ranch around the village of Folsom for generations. Doherty bought the historic Folsom Hotel and is trying to preserve the history of the area. (Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)

The building was a general merchandise store from 1888 to 1911, when it became the hotel, according to Betty Griffin, in her 1988 booklet, “The Folsom Hotel Story”.

The late Griffin and his partner, the late sculptor Richard Jagoda, restored the hotel in the 1980s and helped get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

The hotel is the epitome of Folsom history. The ghosts of Folsom’s past may well still be here. Doherty said he was scared one night when a Spanish lady appeared out of nowhere, only to disappear immediately.

Doherty is well versed in the history of his property and recently recounted some of the colorful episodes the hotel has seen. Outlaw Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum unwittingly left his mark on the hotel.

“Ketchum, when they robbed the train, when they shot him, they took him straight to the hotel, so his first night of incarceration was upstairs,” Doherty said.

“Black Jack” was the leader of the most reckless, daring and murderous group of desperados this country has ever known, which operated in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona – the “Hole -in-the-Wall ‘Gang,’ Griffin wrote in his booklet. On August 16, 1899, Ketchum attempted to fly the Colorado and Southern train southbound as it slowed down for a horseshoe curve, as it had done twice before, but this time it was operating solo. .

A driver hit “Black Jack” with a shotgun, but he was captured the next day and spent his first night in custody at the Folsom Hotel. His arm was amputated in Trinidad, Colorado, and he was sentenced in Santa Fe and hanged in Clayton on April 26, 1901.

Doherty told another story involving the hotel’s Bucket of Blood bar. “A kid was playing poker and he ended up stealing the cigar box full of cash that was on the table, so they shot him and killed him, and the sheriff got shot and is dead in front of the bar, ”Doherty said.

Griffin gives more details about the incident in the late 1800s in his booklet. “The saloon keeper behind the rock Folsom Hotel left his play money and cards in a cigar box in a separate game room adjacent to the bar,” she wrote. “Seeing the man come out the back door with his piggy bank, the player took his shotgun from under the bar, ran to the back door and shot the thief just as he was walking through the fence…. The player walked over, retrieved his piggy bank, and went about his business without checking the thief.

Black cowboy and former slave George McJunkin, whose discovery of Folsom points revolutionized archaeological theory, died in the hotel on January 21, 1922, when it had become a hotbed for aging cowboys.

The executor of the artist Jagoda’s estate called Doherty to see if he wanted to buy the hotel “and I went to buy it on the spot,” Doherty said.

The hotel is in need of some work and Doherty is unsure if it could possibly become a hotel again, or perhaps a base for hikes.

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