Santa Fe Mythbusters

by Sharyl Stockstill, an AOL Travel ContributorPosted Oct 11th 2010 08:52 PM

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Santa Fe Mythbusters

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Santa Fe is one of the oldest cities in the United States. With the oldest government building (Palace of the Governors), and a 400-year-old church, many of the myths and legends that surround Santa Fe can trace their roots to the Spanish settlers and their religious beliefs. Take a closer look at some of the city's most famous urban legends in this article about Santa Fe mythbusters.


A Heavenly Miracle Occurred in Santa Fe


TRUE. The Sisters of Loretto had a problem. There was no way to access the choir loft when work on their new chapel was completed in the late 1800s. The loft was 22 feet above the floor and the sisters did not want a normal ladder to be placed there, nor did they wish to sacrifice any seating by building a more traditional set of stairs. Legend says that after much prayer, a man arrived with a donkey, some wood, and a toolbox. Work began on an elegant circular staircase whose design still perplexes experts today. The staircase has two 360 degree turns with no visible means of support. It was built with wooden pegs, but no nails. Also, the wood that was used to build the staircase is a mystery in itself, as no one can determine just what type of wood it is. The strangest thing of all happened when the staircase was complete. The man vanished without his money or even allowing the sisters to thank him. Though the sisters ran newspaper ads and tried to find him, they never did solve the mystery of who built the stairs. The staircase has been the subject of many articles and TV documentaries and represents one of the most famous Santa Fe urban myths.

Loretto Chapel; 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501; 505-982-0092; Summer: Mon-Sat 9AM-6PM, Sun 10:30AM-5PM, Winter: Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 10:30AM-5PM


It is Easy to Get Your License


FALSE. At one time, it was easy to get your driver's license in New Mexico. It was pretty much pass the driving test and you were done. However, it is not that way anymore. Today, proving your ID and your physical address to the Department of Motor Vehicles is essential before you can be issued a license. You must present two forms of ID as well as proof from two different sources as to your residence within the State of New Mexico.


Chimay- Soil Has Miracle Healing Powers


TRUE. In the tiny community of Chimay, in about 1811, urban legend states that a penitent was performing his rituals when he saw a light shining from a spot in the earth. When he dug down, he found a large crucifix adorned with a dark Christ. Three times, a procession was made to take the crucifix to the nearest church, eight miles away. Each morning, the crucifix would be missing from its new location, only to reappear once again where it had been found. The penitents built a church on the location and the soil is said to have miraculous healing powers. Pilgrimages are often made to the church and each person takes a bit of soil from where the crucifix was found. This forms a small hole in the floor of the church. Each morning, however, the hole disappears and the soil has returned to its previous level. This phenomenon has resulted in the development of this truly perplexing urban legend. It is of course entirely possible that the priests, playing on this Santa Fe urban myth, are responsible for refilling the missing soil each day. However, people still make pilgrimages to the site for the purported healing powers of Chimay- soil.


Santa Fe is Full of Crime and Lawlessness


FALSE. Santa Fe has a history rich in culture and upheaval, and interesting characters have definitely been a part of that history. Some of the most notorious characters of the Western novels and movies visited Santa Fe at one time or another. William H. Bonney, a.k.a. Billy the Kid, Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum and Kit Carson have all sampled the delights of Santa Fe in the past. Today, however, it's obvious that this city is far from being a crime-ridden area: it teems with artists, political figures, movie stars and tourists day and night.


Santa Fe is Haunted


TRUE. Yes, Santa Fe mythbusters can't deny that this is the home to a number of spectral entities. If you believe in ghosts, you will truly enjoy Santa Fe. Take a peek at the Public Employee Retirement Association building that was built on a cemetery and is often the center for haunting stories. Or check out the cries of La Llorona, "the Weeping Woman" who haunts the banks of the Rio Grande looking for her lost children. You can also find the gracious hostess who never left her home though she died in 1857. There are thrills and chills of all types when discussing the possibilities of ghosts and scary urban legends in Santa Fe. Ghost walks in Santa Fe are held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings by Historic Walks of Santa Fe. Reserve your spot by calling 505-986-8388, and find out the truth behind these Santa Fe mythbusters and some of the city's other scary urban legends.

Ghostwalkers Tour; depart from the Hilton Santa Fe at 5:30PM and the La Fonda Hotel at 6PM; 505-986-8388; tours offered Tue, Fri and Sat; $14 per person

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