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Ghosts, shootouts and parties. Experience a night at the Niles Hotel | A Bartell's Backroads Pit Stop

Stay the night in Alturas, where the west still lives. A Bartell's Backroads Pit Stop adventure.

ALTURAS, Calif. — Modoc County is cattle country and Alturas is where local ranchers do all of their business. The auction yard, the courthouse and saloon are all a part of the city, and if you need a place to stay, the Niles Hotel on South Main Street is the place to do it.

Jay Eugene Niles completed the building in 1912 after the previous owner ran out of money. For decades the hotel was the social center of Alturas. It was a place where cattleman, railroad workers and travelers of all kinds did business and found entertainment.

The Niles Hotel has had many owners over the years as the historic building fell into disarray. Jim and Elizabeth Cavasso bought the place in 2011 and brought it back to life -- they even opened up Modoc County’s first Starbucks.

“Yep. It’s still the only one,” said Cavasso. “The Niles Hotel is the landmark of Modoc County.”

Each of the hotel rooms are uniquely decorated. African, Mediterranean and Parisian are just a few of the themes. Cavasso likes to show off the room called "Bird and the Bees." It got that name during renovations when they found a giant honeybee hive in the walls.

“They were all the way from the downstairs to the top of the wall,” said Cavasso.

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Downstairs in the saloon and ballroom things can get a little rowdy. Decades old bullet holes in the ceiling are evidence of the good times, but Cavasso says things got really wild a few years ago when a few cowboys caused a ruckus. 

“They came to the dance and rode three of the horses right into this room,” said Cavasso while standing near the entrance to the saloon.

Like many old buildings, the Niles Hotel is rumored to be haunted, although some of the ghost stories are a little questionable because there’s often alcohol involved. Cavasso likes to tell the story of one guest’s ghostly encounter. 

“He said there was a presence of a woman outside his door, so he slammed it and locked it but she came right through and pushed him on the bed,” said Cavasso with a smirk on his face. If want to know the rest of the racy details, you will just have to visit the Niles Hotel and ask Cavasso to finish it yourself.

MORE FROM THE BACKROADS: Travel with John for highlights from all 58 California counties.

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