Given our area's long and rowdy history, it should come as no surprise El Paso is one of the most haunted cities in America.

Homes, schools, apartment complexes, libraries, bars and restaurants, hospitals – the list of buildings where it’s said things go bump in the night is long and varied.

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There’s even a water treatment plant in Central El Paso where the bangs, creaks, and groans aren’t always coming from the equipment.

Canal Plant

Google Street
Google Street

Located in the historic Chihuahuita neighborhood, the Robertson / Umbenhauer Water Treatment Plant -- often referred to by residents as Canal Plant because of its location on Canal Road -- has been treating water from the Rio Grande River for close to 80 years.

For at least half of those years, employees have been sharing accounts of hearing disembodied voices, seeing shadow figures peeking into offices and out of windows, and the feeling of being watched even though no one else is around.

But sometimes the one watching is an employee. Just not a living, breathing one.

The Phantom Employees of Canal Plant

ghosts hand

One such account shared in an El Paso Water website article recounts one employee's frightening run-in with a ghostly colleague.

The story goes that in 2014 Utility Engineer Associate Maria Betancourt was one of a handful of employees taking a work-related course at the plant.

Needing to take a bathroom break, she used one nearest to where the exams were being conducted that is typically used by male employees, but since everyone was pretty much gone for the day it wasn’t a big deal.

“As I came out of the bathroom stall, I went to wash my hands and I turned because I felt a presence,” Betancourt is quoted as saying in the story about the plant’s hauntings. “I screamed when I saw a man standing there, watching me.”

As you’ve probably guessed, the “man” was not one of her current co-workers. According to the article, she said he was dressed in the light blue button-down shirts employees wore back in the day.

As scared as she was that evening, Maria summoned up the courage to use the same bathroom again another time. “You tell yourself you’re just seeing things, but the same thing happened,” she said. “I left the bathroom stall and was washing my hands when I felt the presence again. I turned and he was there, staring at me.”

Other phantom employees known to show up for work even though their last shift was literally a lifetime ago is the one often seen leaning again the handrails at filter three in plant number two, and one who legend has it finished his shift, had a fatal heart attack later that evening at his home but still reported to work the next morning.

Now that’s dedication to your job.

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