Skip to comments.Ghosts, Haunted Places Part of 'Weird Texas'
Posted on 10/28/2005 8:28:35 PM PDT by hispanarepublicana
Ghosts, Haunted Places Part of "Weird Texas" LAST UPDATE: 10/28/2005 6:28:16 PM This story is available on your cell phone at mobile.woai.com.
This tale begins with a larger-than-life bronze statue of Christ, arms outstretched, resting atop a concrete pedestal above a family plot in the tree-lined gloom of the Oakwood Cemetery.
The statue's hands are palms up during the day. At night, so the tale goes, the statue's palms turn downward. And, the eyes follow any movement in the graveyard, home to the remains of Sam Houston, the father of Texas.
Known to locals as the "Black Jesus" because the bronze quickly weathered to ebony years ago, the sculpture marks the grave of prominent Texas lawyer Benjamin Harrison Powell, who died in 1960.
The yarn is featured in "Weird Texas," a new book of legends, mysteries, oddities, haunted places and ghostly tales of the state.
Over nearly 300 pages, the trio of writers Wesley Treat, of Arlington; Bob Riggs, of Austin; and Heather Shade, of El Paso, cover one end of Texas to the other in pursuit of unexplained phenomena, quirks and oddballs.
"Texas is an eccentric state," said Treat, who supplements his writing as a photographer and occasional actor. "Few people would disagree Texas has its own personality, quite a few eccentric people, a lot of tall tales, a lot of braggers. So stories get around."
Stories like a lost gold mine near El Paso. The crash of an alien airship in 1897 outside Aurora, north of Fort Worth. Ghost lights at Marfa in West Texas and in the Big Thicket of East Texas.
"I don't like to write about things I haven't personally visited," said Treat, 31. "I'll actually go and visit these things, track down people or local experts and talk to them. That's part of the fun, finding out real stories."
The book, an offspring of New Jersey publishers Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, who turned their "Weird NJ" magazine into a "Weird U.S." book, includes a disclaimer that says while the authors attempted to present a historical record of legends and folklore, many of the anecdotes couldn't be independently confirmed or corroborated.
"Some of it's complete myth, urban legends," Treat said. "But some have a ring of truth to it."
Some of the truthful weird sites and phenomenon are easy to verify - like the thousands of Mexican bats that fly out from under the Congress Avenue bridge over Austin's Town Lake during warm nights, or the famed Cadillac Ranch, where 10 classic Cadillacs are buried face down, tail-ends up in a wheat field near Amarillo.
Others, however, require some imagination, which adds to the mystery.
Ghost sightings, for example, are plentiful in Texas, from the Lockhart firehouse, the railroad tracks in San Antonio, White Rock Lake near Dallas to the ghost nun of Loretto's Tower in El Paso and the Ring of Ghosts in Brazoria.
Ghosts apparently haunt Waco's Cameron Park, where supposedly a pair of horse thieves were hanged in trees by vigilantes, and at Arlington's Screaming Bridge tombstones reportedly glow in the Trinity River where a carload of teenagers were killed in a traffic accident in 1961.
The book's section on "creepy crypts and telltale tombs" tells the tale about the glowing grave in Kilgore of Karen Silkwood, a whistleblowing union activist and the subject of the movie "Silkwood" who mysteriously died in a 1974 traffic wreck in Oklahoma, and the concrete grave marker of a woman in a fetal position over a plot in the Old Fairview Cemetery in the Panhandle town of Memphis. What's weird about this one is no one's sure for whom the marker is intended.
Co-author Riggs is particularly familiar with East Texas, where he grew up in Sour Lake in Hardin County and now publishes a health magazine in Austin.
"People who live in the big cities don't have any clue how weird it is out in the woods and swamps of East Texas," said Riggs, 60.
He points to Ghost Road, otherwise known as Bragg Road, legendary in the Big Thicket as home of a playful basketball-sized ball of light.
"People sometimes see a light there and the light exhibits unusual behavior," Riggs said. "What I'm seeing in my work is this light is a genuine scientific anomaly, not just swamp gas, but a genuine unknown. I've been hearing stories about this stuff since I was a kid."
Riggs likes to tell about meeting a game warden who talked about people making repeated reports of seeing strange creatures or unexplained livestock killings in East Texas.
"This is a Parks and Wildlife Department game warden telling me this, but it wasn't hard for him to believe," he said. "I've done a lot of research, had enough things happen, been scared a few times myself."
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You want to hear a real weird ghost story, about 15 years ago I use to rent a basement apt in a house that was right next to a graveyard, and before I rented it, my landlord (the guy who owned the house) told me on several occasions he had some creepy stuff happen to him that he couldn`t explain, ghost stuff etc etc and me being the fool just brushed him off...yeah yeah yeah.. Until a few months later, one night I was watching TV by myself.
As I swear to this day, I was not drunk, I was not on drugs, I was wide awake and I was definately by myself with my back to the wall and I`ll swear on my mother while I was watching TV I felt a hand cover my face...Not the whole hand, but the finger tips, all five of them. No I am not kidding, someones hand that I could not see touched my face for about a second, and as soon as I felt it on my face I immediately knew what it was and practically jumped through the ceiling screaming and ran the hell outside. Needless to say I didn`t stay there long.
weird East Texas PING
AS a teenager I went to Sour Lake (Don't drink the water) to try to see the ghost light. Never saw it.
I'd have peed my pants. The "weirdest" thing I've had happen was that aI was going through a very difficult time in my life during college, and all of a sudden there was a mourning dove outside my window every time I got really upset. My dear grandmother had always said that if we were to come back as some other living being, she'd want to come back as a mourning dove. And there she was.
Anyway, I had this experience of rising through darkness, and speeding upward through space toward this light. It was a brilliant white light that got brighter and brighter as I approached it.
And then all of a sudden I physically felt hands on me, stopping me, and pushing me back down...and the next thing I knew I was sitting back on the couch.
I told my friend about it and he said the same thing happened to him.
We both did it a few times and were convinced that it was real beings, like Angels that pushed us back into this world, and we decided not to try it anymore.
I still remember those weird ghost stories of cemetaries full of voters who brought LBJ his victories.
bookmarking for later! Thanks for the Halloween-y post!
Those weren't just stories.
My father was OLD East Texas - from the 1920's, back near the Big Thicket. He told me that he himself had heard "the Voice in the Swamp" - the unknown voice that would call the name of travelers while they walked alone in the Thicket. He heard it call his name when he roamed the bottoms of the Naches river as a boy, a ghostly sweet voice, but he never answered back. He told me that no one should ever answer the voice back; if one did, one would be led astray and into the Thicket forever...
The big trees hide many secrets.
Does he know anything about Athens?
What did Will say...
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me!
"Hamlet" (1.4.43-9), Hamlet to the Ghost
Wow that is wild..I tell you, I don`t know what it is, but to people who don`t believe in ghosts, spirits etc etc, they shouldn`t completely brush it off as nonsense because it is not ALL nothing, there is no way in hell it was a hallucination what I experienced. It felt as real to me as anything..Just imagine someone walking right up to you and putting their hand on your face, that`s how it felt. Plus besides feeling it, I just had this overwhelming sensation that someone was there which I think made me freak out even more than the hand thing. I just knew immediately what was going on.
I don`t know if it`s spirits or another reason ..Maybe it`s dual universes interacting and the people in one universe appear as ghosts in ours and vice versa, but there is NOT nothing to this. Another thing I read a lot about is people just knowing when someone close to them has died or is hurt. I think I remember reading about this last happening to Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees, he just knew his brother was in trouble and sure enough, his brother died. But of course you get those who want hard evidence. The only thing I can provide is a lie detector test which I would take in two seconds flat, but thats about it. It`s pretty tough to get evidence on something that lasts a second and happens very infrequently, but I know what happened to me was as real as it can get.
I have a job that is not very physically demanding (skirts, pantyhose and heels every day); but, during my career, there have been maybe 3 times when I've been so beaten-up and bruised mentally and emotionally that I've driven home from work almost FEELING bruises and bumps physically and half-way expecting to see bruises when I look in the mirror.
Each of those 3 or 4 times throughout my almost 20-yr long career, my mother will call me 1 or 2 days later and say, "Is everything alright? I dreamed that you came to me with bruises on your face."
Every single time, I am simultaneously chilled of spine and warmed of heart.
About 2 years ago I passed out cold and was hospitalized with atrial fibrillation. So there I was lying in a hospital bed at 6 a.m. scared s--tless, looking at my erratic heartbeat on the moniter and this big white seagull with a smear of garbage on it's beak comes and sits right outside my window 3' away and just stares at me.
So the first thing that goes through my mind is, "How the hell did I get this crappy spirit guide? What's he going to do, lead me to the great landfill in the sky?"
As it turns out he was a regular visitor that went around at meal times begging for food.
East Texas ghost/wierd stuff ping!
Could've been worse. Could've been a buzzard. I have this fear that I'm going to get to heaven and there's going to be a lengthy application process where I don't have all the information I need (balance on the mortage principle listed seperately from the balance on the mortgage interest, phone number of first employer, etc.)
If that happens, you're in the other place ;)
Kind of like that far side cartoon with the two old guys sitting on the park bench feeding the birds. There are a bunch of pigeons busy pecking at the ground and a little further back are two or three vultures just staring at the old men.
Well, my Father passed several years ago and rests in Christ; but my mother sees him often. I'll tell her to ask him the next time she sees him...
Actually, he lived much farther to the south of Athens - down in what we call "deep" East Texas, in what was once known as "The Great Western Wood".
Near Athens, there are tales of ghostly Spanish missionaries who follow the vestiges of the old trails which crisscross the area.
Not far away, one should find the last remains of Trammel's Trace, to the east. There you may encounter the memories of smugglers running guns and goods north and south along the old trail, long forgotten by all but those who still haunt it;
and to the south, go to Hwy 21, to the town of Douglass. There - into the darkened cover of over-arching trees, around the bend and down a nameless road just off the highway - you will see a grassy field open up and drop down into the shadows towards a natural landing on the Angelina River.
I have seen it in the moonlight, in the cold of winter, a wayside for the ghosts of those who stopped before me. Two centuries before, it was a lonely inn, an isolated stop along the way for Spanish travelers when Highway 21 was "The King's Highway".
I could not see quite see them, but I did not have to see them to know they were there. I spent only a moment, before moving quickly on down the road...
I believe your hand on the face story. Up until I was about 20, I didn't believe in ghosts or spirits, but then I spent a summer in what turned out to be a haunted apartment building in Cedar City, Utah. Most unpleasant summer of my life. Every time I went to sleep in either of the bedrooms I would wake up gasping for breath with a feeling of intense pressure on my chest. After a while, every time I even stepped into one of the bedrooms, I felt like someone who was very, VERY angry was following me around and telling me to get out. I finally ended up spending the rest of the summer sleeping in the living room, which seemed to be free of "influences." (Oh, and I was *intensely* relieved when my downstairs neighbor reported the same occurences, since I thought until then that I was just nuts!)
While I haven't experienced any of the things other people have mentioned, I've seen the Marfa lights at least 1/2 a dozen times. Just weird lights off in the distance that appear and disappear.
On the Texas A&M campus we're supposed to have several haunted buildings, most notably the Animal Industries building. Decades ago it was were all the meat on campus was processed. One night a man working alone in the basement sliced open his leg and bleed to death before being able to get out of the building and find help. Many people swear they've seen his ghost in the basement and in front of the freight elevator which he where he died. I had a class in there in 1999 and never saw anything unusual.
about 12 years ago my 14 month old daughter died in her sleep of SIDS. Needless to say I was grieving pretty hard, but I WASN'T crazy.
well for a while after she died, I'd hear things...like..I'd be lying away at night with the lights on reading a book and hubby snoring away next to me and hear very definite foot steps walk around the bed, stop by my head and turn and walk around to hubby's head and do it again and again. One morning(2 a.m.) hubby heard "someone" jumping in our daughters crib(which was in the next room.) for about 15 minutes(he timed it on the clock radio). Lots of little things like that happened for quite some time. I totally believe!
Hi, hispanarepublicana. Interesting thread......
When I was 13, I was in the middle of a bridge overlooking a dam upstream of a series of mill races. As I looked over the rail, I felt someone shove me from behind. I whirled around expecting to see either my brother (who was fishing down at one end of the bridge) or one of my friends from school. There was no one there.
At the old Chemistry Building at TTU, a woman with the janitorial crew encountered a student who was trying to steal an advance copy of the exam. I think he'd come in through an underground tunnel. He decapitated her and left her body sitting up behind a desk or at a lab counter. It's said she haunts the building and the tunnels as well, particularly around finals and midterms.
mysterious underground wall? tell, tell!
Also, there are reports of a deceased Chem prof who loiters in one of the study rooms and occasionally tutors students (they usually discover, later, that their tutor was "not of this world").
There are other spots on campus (Dairy Barn, Museum, Quack Shack, etc.) and in the Lubbock area that are reported to be haunted.
I didn't know about the Dairy Barn and Quack Shack being haunted!!! What's the stories on those?
HR, there is a three volume set of Texas ghost stories that cover three geographical regions of the state.
When I return home from my office, I'll post the bibliographic info here for you and everyone else.
"I was a little disappointed they left out the mysterious, ancient, underground wall which surrounds Rockwall ,Texas."
Wow. This is the first time that I have heard this. What is the story behind it?
I should tell the story of what happened to some neighbours of mine when they lived in Big Spring: glowing feet walking on the staircase...
Thanks for the post. I work in the McCulloch County Courthouse. The Courthouse is reported to have the spirit of General McCulloch and his paramour. I had worked there about a year when I mentioned that I was always smelling cigars even tho the courthouse is a non-smoking building. The smoke didn't offend me because my daddy was a cigar smoker and the smell was rather peaceful. The judge told me about the spirit and his affinity for cigars. He asked if I ever smelled gardenias...I hadn't but the Generals's parmour is supposed to smell of gardenias. As one who did not believe in spirits...I now question???
Big Spring? I've heard about when the professional girls were in town that the EL was turned off on the big neon sign on the roof of the Hotel Settles, thus announcing to everyone "in the know" that, ummm, entertainment was available.
Well, these neighbours had lived in Big Spring for a few years before moving to the neighbourhood where I met them.
Once house that they had was a few miles outside of Big Spring. They had had odd things happen when they were there (like a screen door unlatch itself and open and close wildly).
One night, they had a guest visitng the house (a friend of one of their sons). This guy was downstairs in the living room on the night of his visit and everyone else was asleep. This guy was watching some TV before he planned to go to sleep. Well, he heard footfalls upstair and thought that one of my neighbours or their kids were stirring upstais and thought nothing of it.
Then he heard slow footfalls on the stairs. The chair in whiach he was sitting was close to the stairs. Out of the cornr of his eye he saw a pair of feet that were glowing green. No legs or body - just feet and they walked down the satirs and began to move toward this kid. At that point, he bolted out of the chair and ran screeming from the house. My neighbours said that the kid refused to ever vist the house at night after that.
Wasn't Quanah Parker born near Big Spring?
Thanks! It was been a looooong time since I last visited Rockwall. Now, I have to make plans for a visit.
More research hasn't been done on this? Is Rockwall near Waco? (we're 24 secs away from beating the Bears)!