The Haunted Mesa

The Haunted Mesa

by Louis L'Amour

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The Navajo called them the Anasazi: an enigmatic race of southwestern cliff dwellers. For centuries, the sudden disappearance of this proud and noble people has baffled historians. Summoned to a dark desert plateau by a desperate letter form an old friend, renowned investigator Mike Raglan is drawn into a world of mystery, violence, and explosive revaltion. Crossing the border beyond the laws of man and nature, he will learn the astonishing legacy of the Anasazi — but not without a price. Set in the contemporary Southwest, The Haunted Mesa draws on Louis L'Amour's extensive knowledge of Indian lore and mysticism. In this extraordinary book L'Amour tells a tale of epic adventure that takes his readers across the most extraordinary frontier they have ever encountered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780785746294
Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date: 04/28/1988
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Our foremost storyteller of the American West, Louis L’Amour has thrilled a nation by chronicling the adventures of the brave men and woman who settled the frontier. There are more than three hundred million copies of his books in print around the world.

Date of Birth:

March 22, 1908

Date of Death:

June 10, 1988

Place of Birth:

Jamestown, North Dakota



Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

IT WAS NIGHT, and he was alone upon the desert. It had been over an hour since he had seen another car, a Navajo family in a pickup.

He shivered. What was the matter with him? Ever since leaving the highway he had felt a growing uneasiness. Had he not traveled hundreds of lonely roads before this? Or was it that old memory, haunting him still?

Yet why should that be so? It was only a story told by an old man at a lunch counter, and he had heard many such stories and spent a good part of his life proving them to be illusions, fabrications, or misunderstood phenomena. Why had that one story clung to his memory? Was it the old man himself?

He drove slowly, watching for the turnoff he had been warned would be hard to find. The road was a mere trail among low sandhills, with the dark outlines of square-edged mesas looming against the sky.

Of course, Erik Hokart's letter was a part of it. That letter had come from a badly frightened man, and no man he had ever known was more cool, concise, and self-sufficient than Erik Hokart.

There was no sound but that of the car itself, nothing to see but that narrow avenue of light carved by the headlights through a tunnel of darkness.

He leaned forward, peering into the night, trying to see the turnoff in time. On impulse he pulled over and stopped, shutting off the motor and the lights.

He sat very still in the darkness, listening. Listening for what?

With the lights out, the desert was gray tufted with black spots of desert growth. Here and there loomed tall columns, and one rocky mass shaped like a pipe organ.

It was absolutely still. How rarely, he thought, can modern man experience a total silence! Yet the desert had it to offer, as well as the high mountains.

Opening the car door he stepped out into the chill night air, but he did not close the door behind him. The sound would have seemed like an obscenity in this all-pervading stillness. A step away from the car, he stood listening.

What he hoped to hear was the approaching sound of Erik's four-wheel-drive vehicle. No doubt he was still too far away. Somewhere in the canyon ahead, Erik had suggested.

To the westward lay a long mesa, stark and black against the sky. That would be the one Erik had mentioned in his letter. It was also the one he himself remembered. Almost ten miles long and some two thousand feet high, the last three hundred to five hundred feet sheer rock. Had he ever mentioned to Erik his knowledge of that mesa?

As he turned back to the car, something flared at the corner of his eye. Turning quickly, startled, he stared at the flare on the mesa's dark rim.

For a space of what must have been thirty seconds it flared, changed color slightly, then vanished.

He stared at the end of the mesa where the light had appeared. A campfire was unlikely at that height, and in that location.

A crashed plane? He had heard no sound of motors, no explosion, seen nothing except that odd flare.

Puzzled and more than a little disturbed, he got back into his car, and a half mile farther he found the turnoff for which he was watching. He turned down a sandy slope and drove along the bottom of a dry wash. From here on, he had been advised, it would be rough going, even for a four-wheel drive, but he had a shovel in the back of the car and some steel mesh he could unroll ahead if necessary. Many desert roads followed washes but he had never liked them. This was not the season for flash floods and the skies were clear, but flash floods had a way of happening when least expected. Long ago, when only a teenager, he had watched a man lose all he had in just such a flood.

The man had given him a lift, and it was raining hard in the mountains. They had reached a wash and he warned the driver it was not safe. The man had merely smiled tolerantly and started across the wide wash. Unhappily, about two thirds of the way across, they stuck in the sand. Working to free the car they almost missed hearing the roar of the oncoming waters.

A strange coolness touched their faces, and startled, they looked up. A wall of water, no less than eight feet high with great logs riding its crest, was sweeping around a bend of the narrower canyon.

The rush of water struck the canyon wall at the bend, throwing spray fifty feet into the air. For one frozen instant they stared, and then they ran.

The rushing wall of water was a good two hundred yards off, and they were less than thirty yards from the nearest bank. They beat the flood by half a step.

Turning, they looked back at the wash, running bank-full. He remembered the shocked and empty look on the man's face.

He had said, "This will run off in half an hour or less, but you'd better forget your car. There will be nothing left but twisted metal with sand all through the engine block."

"All I had was in that car," the man replied.

That had been a long time ago but he had saved his battered valise, although it contained only two worn pairs of blue jeans, some shirts, socks, and underwear. In those days he had always carried his razor and his comb in his pocket.

The wash down which he now drove showed evidence of more than one such flood. Brush and debris were piled against rocks and trees, some of it quite recent. In this country you worried when there were clouds over the mountains; in the Kunluns bordering Tibet on the north, you worried when the skies were clear, for on such days in that clear, thin air the hot sun melted the snows high in the mountains, and flash floods roared down the canyons when there was not a cloud in the sky.

Leaning forward, he peered at the mesa rim, but all was dark. The track he followed now split into several and he chose the one most followed. He swung wide around a big old cottonwood, a sure sign of ground water, and drove down the narrow alley of light, then to the crest of a low sandy hill. Getting out, he stood beside the car and listened into the night.

Irritably, he reflected that Erik could at least have met him halfway. He was tired and in no mood to prowl through this lonely country in the night.

Erik had suggested they meet on the Canyon road-which was so indefinite as to be totally unlike Erik. He himself had suggested they meet at Jacob's Monument, a monolith of stone they both knew and unlike any formation close by.

"No!" Erik had said. "Not there! Especially not there!"

That was during their last telephone conversation, at least a month ago, when they had first talked of his coming for a visit. Three weeks later had come the letter, hastily scrawled, a desperate plea for help.

He glanced around uneasily, then backed up against the car. It was a lonely, eerie place. . . . No sooner had the thought come than he brushed it aside. Odd, how that old story had stuck in his mind, always lurking in the shadows of his memory, demanding to be recognized yet repeatedly brushed aside.

The trouble was, the story would not be dismissed, and no doubt a good part of his career since then had been influenced by it. Yet when he had first discussed this country with Erik he had not mentioned the story. Erik knew the country only from having flown over it in passing from New York or Chicago to Los Angeles, and he was not the sort of man to listen to such a tale with anything but impatience.

Mike Raglan had been nineteen when he first heard the story, and only two weeks later he had seen No Man's Mesa for the first time.

He had been employed in the old Katherine Mine near the Colorado River when the decision was made to cease operations for a while. Four of them had been sitting on the station at the 300 level discussing what to do next. They were eating their lunches with small appetite, as they would now be out of work and jobs were scarce. He had commented that he did not know where he would go.

"Why not ride along with me?" Jack had suggested. "I've some claims up on the Vallecito and I must do the assessment work. There are mines around Durango and at Silverton and you might find a job." With nothing better in sight, Mike Raglan agreed.

Jack was a machineman and had been running a stoper on the same shift with him for several months. He was a congenial, easygoing man of sixty or more with memories of the great days at Goldfield, Tonopah, Randsburg, and Cripple Creek. He had grown up in the Four Corners area and his grandmother had been a Paiute. He spoke the language well.

They had driven to Flagstaff and then to Tuba City. Farther along somewhere they had turned into an old trail for Navajo Mountain.

There were few places Jack hesitated to go with his old car. Its high center enabled it to straddle rocks that would have disabled a later model. He carried a kit of tools, a spare fanbelt, and odds and ends of nuts, bolts, and baling wire, as well as an axe, shovel, and saw. There were always a couple of five-gallon cans of gasoline, one of water, and a roll of steel mesh used in crossing deep sand. There was literally no place he would not go when traveling or prospecting.

They had been eating supper in a greasy spoon restaurant in Flagstaff when they met the old cowboy. He was an acquaintance of Jack's from years past.

"Know this country," he said to Mike. "When I was your age I cowboyed all over. Rode for the Hashknife an' the French outfit. Then I taken to huntin' for the Lost Adams gold. Found color here an' there, made a livin'. Punched cows around Winslow and down on the Big Sandy. Then I come back to this country an' prospectin' again."

He peered at Mike. "You're young. Years ahead of you. You prospectin'?"

"I'm rustling a job. Jack an' me worked together down Arizona way."

"Remind me of m'self when I was your age. Full o' dreams o' what I'd do if I struck it rich. Well, I never got rich but I did make a good livin'. Found me a good woman, too. Still got her. Got enough to last our years." He sized Mike up. "You got nerve, boy? You easy skeered?"

"About the same as most."

"He's got sand," Jack interrupted. "Seen him in action. He's a scrapper and a damn good one." Jack got up. "I'm turnin' in, Mike. We'll pull out at daybreak."

"I'll finish my coffee," Mike said.

The old man filled the cups, then leaned back in the booth and looked at Mike. "Boy, I'm eighty-eight m' last birthday. I can ride as good as ever but I can't climb. Don't want to, anyways. Like I said, we got enough put by, me an' my woman. We lost a boy. Never had no others.

"Never told my story to anybody. Never felt no call to, an' didn't want to be called a liar. Folks always figured I'd struck me a pocket, an' I surely did." He chuckled. "Only it weren't raw gold but ree-fined gold. Pure! I found some all right an' there's aplenty where it came from if'n you aren't skeered of ha'nts and the like.

"Eighty-eight, that's what I am, an' my woman's almost as old. No way you figure it do I have much time left. I never told my own boy. I was skeered for him. Never told nobody until now an' I'm fair itchin' to get it off my chest before I go.

"But I'm warnin' you, boy-git you some gold an' git out. Don't try to stay, an' once out, for God's sake don't try to go back!

"They never knowed what I found. They hunted me, but believe me, nobody's goin' to trail this here coon across no desert. Nobody!

"They never knowed who it was got through an' I fought shy of that country ever since. I tell you, boy, there's things about this world nobody knows. That there desert now, them mountains around Navajo an' east of there?

"That's wild country, boy! Wild! There's places yonder you see one time an' they never look the same again. There's canyons no man has seen the end of, nor ever will, either, unless they get through to the Other Side."

"The other side?"

"That's what I said, boy. The Other Side. Folks are forever sayin' there's two sides to everythin'.

"Well, why should there be only two sides? Why not three sides or even four? I don't know nothin'. I don't even claim to know, only I stumbled onto somethin' mighty strange out yonder. I figured on it some an' I spent some months just a-watchin' an' layin' low. I ain't claimin' I know how it works, but I know when! I don't know what causes it, or how such things can be, but it worked one time for me. Trouble is, they knew! Somehow, they knew. Only by the time they got there I was gone, an' I stayed gone!"

He took a swallow of coffee, wiped the back of his hand across his mustache, and said, "I'm goin' to give you a map. It's on canvas an' I made it my ownself. Only part of it was copied from a gold plate on a wall. That part I know nothin' about. I copied it, figurin' it was the key to somethin', I don't know what."

"You found pure gold? Was it high-grade? Jewelry rock?"

"It was ree-fined gold, boy. Discs, like. Size of a saucer. An' there was cups, dishes, an' the like o' that, besides."

Mike Raglan remembered the evening. He liked the story but he was a skeptic. The West was filled with stories of buried treasure and lost mines, treasures whose value increased as prices inflated. Years ago the treasures had been worth thirty or sixty thousand dollars, but all figures had become astronomical, so the value of hidden treasures had inflated as well. Thirty million was a popular figure nowadays.

If even half the stories were true, a large part of the population must have been engaged in burying treasure and losing mines. Outlaws were popularly supposed to have buried their loot when most of them couldn't spend it fast enough. Most of them spent their loot on wine, women, and song, although there's not much record that they wasted much time singing.

"I've got a map. . . ."

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The Haunted Mesa 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put the book down! Excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Full of mystery and factual history. It will evoke a full time interest in the lives of the Anasazi Indians. Not your usual western.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
L'Amour's use of questions may irritate come people, but I know from personal experience at being lost in the woods - you find yourself asking the same questions over and over out of fear. In his usual style, L'Amour uses actual places and old legends to create the usual thought provoking "What if?...." I read it once years ago and I still remembered the mind-opening suggestions that encourage one to "get out of the box... and think!"
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Haunted Mesa, by Louis L¿Amour, was a very exciting and fascinating book. It takes you on an epic journey to unimaginable places. It is all set in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona and it is kind of a mystery story that the man character, Mike Ragan, tries to find his friend, Erik Hokart, and also finds out what happened to the Anasazi people long ago. I for one was very interested throughout the whole book. I never wanted to put it down. It is suspenseful while never really giving away what happens next. The book is about Erik going missing. But before this he writes his friend Mike and says some weird things are going on and he needs his help. So he goes to help but finds Eric nowhere to be found. He goes to the mesa where Erik is building his house and looks around for clues. Then all these strange occurrences happen to him and he finds out where he has gone or was taken to and his amazing journey begins. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mystery novels and or non-fiction. To some it may seem too unbelievable but that is not true. Yes, it has its times but most of the time you have to stop and put it down because you start to think you are actually there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
my dad gotme started reading louis l'amour, and since he's been my fav author! my first was sacketts land. this book was adventureous, thrilling, slick, dramatic, and suspensfel. recomended at the highest level... MUST READ!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You should totally read this book!!! Its amazing!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It did seem to drag on a bit in the begining, and he didn't actually go to the other side until the last part of the story, but overall it was an interesting read and worth my time. This is the first Louis L'Amour book I've read and I can safely say I won't shy away from this author's other works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining western. As always, Louis L'Amour weaves great mystery while educating the reader about an important part of our heritage. I've read every one of his novels several times. Anyone who coined the term, 'never killed a man that didn't need killin' is an absolute master of western lore. I highly recommend this read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book. It was well written and definately a page turner. However there was one thing that was most disturbing. It was indeed very repetative. I can tell you this....if he reached for the butt of that gun one more time for comfort and reassurance I was going to scream.
Guest More than 1 year ago
L'Amor did his research with any of his projects. This was no exception. The plot was intriguing and on several occasions my heart was pounding. However, the repetition would bring me back to 'this side'. With out the nearly verbatim reprise every third page, the book would be 100 pages shorter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was exceptional. There is no other like it. But the real fun is actually staying on the mesa itself. I have done so and believe me there feels like there really is something at every corner. This book deserves to be read to any extent and the adventure only gets greater.
bedda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Explaining what happened to the Anasazi is an interesting concept and adding the fantastical elements made it more interesting still. Unfortunately the book itself wasn¿t very interesting. It started out mysterious and kind of spooky but then it settled into a rut. Mike Raglan goes to save a friend from some unknown danger and he has to think about it a lot. He repeats the few facts that he has over and over, along with all his fears and reservations and all the unanswerable questions he has. Everything is repeated so many times and in almost the exact same words until I felt I was stuck in a loop. I think L¿Amour wanted to make a point that Mike was just an ordinary man who got scared like the rest of us but did what had to be done anyway. So I understand why L¿Amour would have Mike voice his fears and insecurities. Introspection is fine but it just went on too long. There was no new information or new insights and it started to get monotonous. It did pick up in the last 100 pages or so when all of that thinking finally led Mike to a decision and then some actual action. The concept was good and the characters were fine but I think if 100 pages of Mike¿s repetitive thoughts were cut out it would have been a better book.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Louis L'Amour is famous for his Westerns. However, he wrote quite a few books that were definatly NOT westerns. This is one that is not a western. It sounds like one and even takes place in the SW US. This is the one forray of his that I read that bordered on the supernatural. I think it would be more closly fit into Sci-Fi either way it is a step outside of his more common writing. Basically there seems to a hole in the fabric of space/time that opens and closes in relation to certain astrological events. This hole opens up into another world simililar in make up to ours and has a very different people. They seem to know about us but we are clueless about them. I put this on a short list for excellent Louis L'Amour fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The name of this book attracted me I read a lot of mysteries. As others have said, this book is very repetitive. The main character eventually becomes a stick figure. The two romances are implausible. The book becomes boringly long. I made myself read to the end, and it didn't improve. As another reviewer commented, the speaking tube in the Forbidden reminded me of The Wizard of Oz. Far cry from his To the far blue mountains or The warrior's path.
plainsman576 More than 1 year ago
thought provoking...maybe or maybe not? L'amour new many interesting facts of the lod times and the history of what he wrote about....every time I see a shimmer over the landscape, I think of the possibilities
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His absolute worst!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Book is too long, it would have been a 4 if shorter
fancyfree More than 1 year ago
As with all L'Amour books, is well written & keeps my interest to the end. Not the first time I've read it, but still like reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book very reptitive, thinking this was a different kind of book from the arthur, it would de interesting. But was not.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While reading this book I felt it was a blend of th Wizard of Oz and The TIme Machine. At,times it became almost funny.
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