adventure, ghosts, Texas, travel

A Weekend at the (Haunted?) Hotel Turkey

It was dark and windy when we arrived at Hotel Turkey in Turkey, Texas, population 421. We parked in a dirt lot across the street, which was empty other than a large black dog trotting home for the night.

The hotel originally opened in 1927 and has stayed in business continuously since then. George W. Bush stayed there when he was Governor, along with many well-known country and western musicians, whose autographed pictures hang inside the hotel restaurant. Turkey is the home of Bob Wills and hosts the Bob Wills days every April, bringing musicians from all over.

My wife and I lived 30 miles south of Turkey in Matador from 2004-2007. At the time, I read that the hotel was haunted, so we made a day trip. The owner took us upstairs and showed us the Cowboy Room, which was a corner room that had windows looking down both streets. She said that most of their activity happened there. Even when the hotel was empty, the Cowboy Room sounded occupied, and the bed often showed the impression of someone who had taken a rest.

When we arrived this past weekend for the first time in fourteen years, the lovely and outgoing Carley met us at the desk. Carley and her husband Dave, a musician, have lived in Turkey for three months. After we checked in, I asked if there were any recent ghosts. She said that she didn’t believe in ghosts, but the first time they stayed there, she was sure her husband got out of the bed and walked across the creaky squeaky hard-wood floor to the bathroom. When she asked him why he couldn’t be still, he answered from right beside her, “What are you talking about?”

ABC 7 News in Amarillo, Texas partnered with a Paranormal Investigation team to check the hotel out last year. According to their report, they recorded several ghostly voices. They also got several first-hand accounts of strange happenings—doors opening on their own, lights coming on and off, dogs barking at an empty corner of the room, handprints. The professional ghost hunter leading the investigation said he would bet his professional career and reputation on there being true paranormal activity, though nothing evil, at the hotel.

My wife and I stayed upstairs, which is where the ghosts live, er, reside. Every step we made up the old wooden staircase, across the upstairs lobby with the hardwood floor, and into our room made a creak or a crunch. From looking at the furniture, rugs, and other items in the downstairs and upstairs lobby and our room, it would be easy to imagine that the hotel hasn’t changed since it first opened. It was like staying in a museum—a clean and comfortable museum.

Carley invited us out back to the covered patio with a small stage, party lights, and scattered tables and chairs, where we had a beer with her and her husband and a man who, it turned out, I knew when I lived in Matador. The hotel hosts live music every Friday and Saturday, and they have terrific Texas meals cooked and served outside. People from all over the area come for the music and food, even if they aren’t staying at the hotel, and I don’t blame them. There was nothing like it when I lived in the area. We enjoyed our evening out back with our new buddies.

We slept peacefully both nights without noticing any ghosts, but any time I woke up, I purposely avoided looking in the mirror or even around the room. If I had to go to the restroom, I got there and back in bed as quickly as possible.

One thing I noticed raised my heart rate. Amanda and I were sitting on the front porch one night, enjoying the wind and having a glass of wine. I went upstairs to refill our glasses, and every room door, including ours, was wide open. When we went down a half hour earlier, every door was shut, and I believed we were the only ones there.

When I examined our door, I realized I hadn’t turned the deadbolt far enough for it to latch. The doors were old, heavy wood, so it made sense that ours came open. But that didn’t explain all the others opened with their lights on. When I mentioned it to a guy coming up the stairs, he laughed and said that Carley opened all the doors of the vacant rooms for the firefighters who would come in later after battling a grass fire.

In the morning, we headed down to the restaurant to get our complimentary coffee and breakfast. The restaurant, like everything but the back patio, is also a step into the past. We got the guest special—eggs, sausage, toast, and hash browns, along with wild plum jelly, and it was perfect. The hotel is a favorite of the local farmers, and there were several drinking coffee and swapping stories.

A friend of mine recently stayed at the Hotel Turkey and said it was “No five-star hotel,” but she loved it and recommended it. I agree; it has an atmosphere and charm that no five-star hotel could have, and the hospitality shown by the staff is not that of someone working for a tip, but that of an old friend who is sincerely happy to have you in their home.

Are there ghosts? I’m not sure. But with the great atmosphere, food, music, and people, I plan to go back—just to investigate, of course.

If you are ever in the area or plan to hike at Caprock Canyons State Park, I highly recommend Hotel Turkey. Your trip won’t be complete without a stay there.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.


2 thoughts on “A Weekend at the (Haunted?) Hotel Turkey

  1. That sounds great, John – if I’m ever in the area, I’ll be sure to pay a visit!

    Posted by Mari Biella | May 17, 2018, 9:20 am
    • Yes, you should. And if you are ever in the area, let me know! There are a lot of cool places to visit in Texas.

      Posted by John | May 17, 2018, 9:39 am

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