Have you ever had anything happen to you that you just couldn’t explain? Seen something that didn’t make sense or had an encounter with something that you were pretty certain wasn’t human?
Local resident Ann Lampkin has had several such experiences. So many in fact, that she’s written a book about her encounters. “Tenants of the Whiffle Light” is a true ghost memoir, documenting her dealings with the paranormal since she and her husband, Richard moved to the valley 30 years ago.
Most of her experiences occurred right here in Pahrump, and likely, many longtime residents will recognize the landmarks and street names she writes about.
Lampkin is no stranger to weird occurrences. She was born in California, and grew up in her grandmother’s haunted house, which she describes as being filled with old sounds, footsteps, and old spirits.
“My family accepted everything as a way of life – the footsteps running up the stairs, doors opening but no one is there, a shadow ghost pacing the balcony at night and a phantom under the fig tree, sounds of breaking glass and shafts of strange white light shining through the bedroom windows,” she said.
Even as a young girl, while other kids were playing sports and participating in the usual activities of kids her age, Ann would spend her time strolling the paths through the cemetery in her Red Bluff, California neighborhood, and according to her, she feared cemeteries but could not stay away from them.
As an adult, Lampkin traveled extensively, living and working in Europe for a time, but eventually returned, wanting to be close to the desert she loves so dearly. She came to Amargosa Valley in 1988 and worked as a ranger in Death Valley, California.
She and Richard were invited to stay at the Amargosa Hotel by Marta Becket, owner of the hotel and world famous (not to mention notoriously haunted) Amargosa Opera House. This is where Lampkin’s first real ghost encounter took place, just three weeks after arriving in town.
Tenants of the Whiffle Light begins the first chapter in a cemetery, at the grave of the man whose ghost Lampkin believes she saw that night.
“I chose the opening cemetery scene as a proper setting for my reflections on my extraordinary experience and my gratitude for the dead young artist I believe is ‘The Ghost.’ For over 30 years I have walked this ground, leaving a bit of something on the grave of this stranger I met that night,” she said.
The Lampkins resided in Room 18 for the bulk of their two-year tenure in Death Valley Junction, with Ann recalling summer nights on the porch, dining and listening to ghost stories told by Marta and Tom Willet, endearingly known as Wilget, and twilight walks along the highway leading toward Pahrump as some of her fondest memories there.
She journaled as a hobby, and even started painting, crediting Marta for the inspiration to try her hand at it, stating that she enjoyed Marta’s art very much.
At the same time, Lampkin also recalls the nights spent in the hotel alone, hiding under the sheets, waiting out the night, and whatever was coming down the long hotel hallway, or lingering outside her room door.
Still, she recalls, “Amargosa was a special place for me. Maybe I was called to that place for something or another. We never know where our souls will go after we pass on, and maybe you continue that line and keep developing.”
The couple moved to Pahrump in 1992, purchasing their home on Surrey Lane.
Sadly, Richard Lampkin, who is featured so much in the narrative of the book, died unexpectedly in November 2021, before the completion of the book project. “Richard, my husband for so long, now belongs to the whiffle light,” she said. She still paints. The home is decorated with Ann’s unique and somewhat haunting paintings on almost every wall.
Ann says she never dreamed she would have a book published. “I use writing as a companion, and have kept diaries since childhood. My book evolved from my journal records during my stay at Death Valley Junction and the years following. Although it begins in Amargosa, it unfolds as my life moved along.”
Despite saying that she never thought of herself as an author, when asked why she decided to write a book, she replied, “Writing is my process, my catharsis and cleansing. I write to consolidate my experiences and leave them for people to enjoy. I want to add one more story which helps to facilitate a belief in the afterlife. When we moved out here I just thought why can’t I write a little book? I’ve had my experiences, and maybe somebody will like it.”
Lampkin says she doesn’t believe that she’s exceptional, or that her experiences are due to any special gift.
Instead, she believes that most people have the ability to see. “I believe that people have it, but the busier you are or the more focused you are on the physical, you’re automatically blocking out other things.”
“I want to thank Heather Ruth, a very talented local graphic designer who took my curious writing, mismatched files and stitched-together chapters and created something wonderful. Her patience was remarkable. We now have a book. I send it out and I hope that it’s wings are strong.”
Tenants of the Whiffle Light is available for purchase in paperback online at Amazon.com for $22.95. However, local residents who are interested in obtaining a copy of the book may contact Heather Ruth at (775) 513-4815 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All copies purchased, whether online or locally, will come autographed by the author.