LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Many scary stories start while people are gathered around a campfire at night.
Tonight, we tell you a story about the legend of Dripping Springs.
Our story starts with a journey through the Organ Mountains up to Dripping Springs.
David Legare is an;archaeologist and historian who has dug up plenty of human remains, and he says he respects the dead.
“It’s a beautiful place. It’s an astounding place.” said Legare. “We’ve been telling ghost stories for as long as we’ve had fire.”
Dripping Springs is; 1.5 miles of serene beauty with hidden gems along the trail.
But over the mountain, our story takes a dark turn.
“It represents a lot of death, it really does,” Legare.”
More than 35,000 people a year visit Dripping Springs and Boyd’s Sanatorium.
What;now looks like an abandoned cabin filled with rusted nails and broken boards is the original foundation of a man’s love for his wife and the cure he could never find.
In the mid-1800’s, Dripping Springs was a resort owned by Col. Eugene Van Patten, a Confederate Army soldier.
In 1910, after going bankrupt, Patten sold the resort to Dr. Nathan Boyd, who built a sanatorium near Dripping Springs for his wife, who was dying of tuberculosis.
He added other buildings for incoming patients and called the place Boyd’s Sanatorium.
“There’s this guy trying to help his wife, (and) we see it as horror stories," Legare said.
In the early 20th century, people referred to tuberculousis as the white plague, since patients with the illness became pale.
The lung disease infected many people, giving them night sweats, terrorizing fevers and continuous bloody coughs.
At the turn of the century, the disease was so devastating, it claimed the lives of one in every seven people alive at the time.
“If they’re troubled spirits, well, tuberculousis is probably a pretty good source for a troubled spirit,” Legare said.
There are legends that horrific experiments were done on tuberculosis patients.
It’s been said many of those patients were turned loose and left to wonder the mountains as a form of treatment.
“We look back on that and think, ‘Oh how horrible, the awful things they were doing to those patients,' but it’s what they knew,” Legare said.
Most of those patients were never seen again.
Other storytellers say the patients were cast away to make room for other patients in the sanatorium.
“There was probably a lot of pretty horrible deaths up there,” Legare said.
Doctors in the early 1900s believed the cure for tuberculosis could be found in the mountains.
After Nathan Boyd’s wife died, many other patients spent their final days bedridden in the sanatorium.
“Just personally seeing this, I think it’s super creepy,” hiker Cassidy Luna said.
In the 1920s, the building was sold to Dr. T.C. Sexton a medical doctor from Las Cruces, who also used this building as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.
“It’s pretty sad they came to the mountains and died like this,” hiker Gabriela Sandoval said.
It’s been said hikers who camp here have dreams of horrible experiments involving tuberculosis patients.
“People camping in the area, (are) saying that they have horrible dreams about the experiments that were going on up there, with the tuberculosis patients,” Legare said.
“Definitely there’s some shady stuff down here,” hiker Ashton Garcia said.
But Legare has his own theory.
“They were people just like us and they struggled just like we do and they had joy and pain and sorrow, that they had to go through that,” Legare said.
As thousands of hikers follow the trail up toward Dripping Springs, there’s one thing that’s certain;
People will always have their own stories about their time at Boyd’s Sanatorium.