Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Looking at ghost stories

I'm not one to believe in ghost stories. I've been in my fair share of structures that were supposedly haunted and I've never experienced anything that would convince me a ghostly presence was at work. But many people do believe in ghosts, and they love old places where displaced spirits are said to roam.

San Antonio is full of such places -- as I imagine any old city would be -- and there are plenty of locations for interested people to visit. The October 2008 issue of Fiesta magazine (a tourist-oriented publication put out by the Express-News) takes a look at some of the more popular legends and asks the opinions of two "paranormal experts" as to whether such ghost stories are true, false, or plausible.

I was expecting all of the stories to get a "true" or "plausible" rating, but one of them was deemed false by both of the experts, and -- surprisingly -- it's the one that's probably the most well known outside of the Alamo City. It's the legend of the ghost tracks.

Here's the excerpt from the Fiesta article by Miranda Koerner:

The traditional tale is a school bus was driving along its afternoon route after school in the 1930s. As the bus drove uphill, it stalled directly on railroad tracks in San Antonio's South Side. Suddenly, a train came rushing down the tracks and hit the bus, killing more than 10 of its passengers.

According to the legend, the dead children now haunt the tracks, protecting those who come there from suffering their fate.


Are the ghost tracks really haunted by the children killed on the school bus?

[Michelle] Hernandez [of the San Antonio Paranormal Network] says: False. She says the accident occurred in another state and a local paper at the time ran it for 14 days. People created rumors from the headlines and the story spread.

JR [Plebas of Alamo City Ghost Tours] says: False. It never happened. The story was created to keep kids from playing on the tracks because the trains are a safety hazard. He warns the tracks are live and cars can be hit by an oncoming train. Also, JR says, women have been attacked by strangers hiding around the tracks. If you go to test the tale, be careful!

Hm. There you go. Two people with vested interests in ghost stories call this one bogus. So, I guess it's time for people to stop dusting their cars to look for handprints, stop parking on the tracks, and stop looking for ghostly children in the darkness on the South Side. Besides, there are so many other old, creaky places to look for ghosts in. Like the Menger Hotel.

Happy haunting!


AlanDP said...

Yes, those tracks have no crossing barricade. Just some tracks going through a lonely spot. I've never seen anyone lurking around there, though. I drive through there once a month on a meter route.

I briefly worked as a security guard in that big building at the intersection of S.E. Military and IH-37. Some old-timers call it the Pickwell Building. Most of the other guards who worked there claimed to believe it is haunted. It is a spooky place to be when it's empty, but all public places that one normally experiences when they are full of activity get spooky when everyone leaves. One time when I was there early in the morning, and the only other person there was another guard, I left our front desk and walked down the hallway to get a drink from the water fountain. As I was drinking, the elevator across the hall behind me suddenly opened and closed as if it were being used. When I got back to the desk I told the other guard about it, and he said, "Oh, that's just Casper checking on you."

Kels said...

The Majestic Theatre is supposedly VERY haunted. There is a man that goes to my church who was the head of the stage set up dept. and worked for the Majestic for years. One year when I was in HS and our youth group had a lock in, we actually got the opportunity to have our own private "ghost tour" after closing. He told us stories that he had experienced there one being about a ballet troupe that came through the Majestic way back when it was in it's early years. Apparently there was a malfunction of the overhead lights and such and they fell on them during a rehearsal on the stage killing most of them. He claims one night while he was there with the cleaning crew, the curtains (which were drawn shut) opened, the lights turned up, and all of them saw apparitions of ballet dancers performing on stage. CREEPY! There's also apparently a ghost of a woman who had season tickets in one of the box seats on the second level towards the stage... they have seen her sitting in her box after hours.

The scariest part of the tour is that because of the wonderful acoustics in that theater, someone can whisper down near the stage and you will hear it all the way up in nose bleed... which kept us pretty jumpy as others in our group would go down near the stage and whisper things like, "get out!" and such... ;-)

I have gone to the "haunted ghost tracks" before, too... and I think I was more afraid of someone carjacking us than anything else... ;) Also I think a lot of the urban legends stick around because the majority of the streets in the area leading to the tracks are names (and you could probably argue that they're in memorium of the children killed there)... they're names like Betty Sue, Katy Rose, etc. (those aren't right, but similar)

I love being scared, and I've always wanted to take a tour of the Menger which is supposedly haunted. I'll post a more chilling story on my site later about my best friend's sister's trip to the Myrtles Plantation in Louisiana. They had a really scary encounter there

KeithAlanK said...

I took a bubble-level out to the ghost tracks--the ground isn't as flat as it looks.
We ALL have handprints on our cars from closing trunklids/tailgates.
Add powder and they'll show up.

But I have lived in a haunted apartment--many witnesses--I would get hit in the face while asleep and wake up immediately with my hands under the covers and blood starting to flow.
Things would get tossed around in the next room quite often, and once something moved while we were looking right at it.
When the paint on the walls faded I found patched bullet holes.

Albatross said...

Good stories. Does anyone else have more?

Anonymous said...

Went to the Blueman group at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio and saw a ghost of a older women to the right of the stage second floor I think. I kept feeling her name was Magdelene. Im a medium.