With Halloween upon us you might be interested in taking to the roads and visiting some of the many places in the Lone Star State famous for their ghost sightings. If you are, we're here to helpfully point out the five you absolutely should not miss.
Yorktown Located just 2 ½ hours southwest of Houston is Yorktown. It's a quiet small place whose claims to fame include having one of the oldest oak trees in the state and being the birthplace of Harlon Block, one of the soldiers seen in the famous picture of the flag raising on Iwo Jima. It also contains one hell of a haunted abandoned hospital.
The Yorktown Memorial Hospital was built in 1950 and run by the Felician Sisters of the Roman Catholic Church until the late 1980s. Several violent and dangerous spirits are said to inhabit the building. On the second floor is rumored to be the ghost of a nun that chokes people, usually targeting men, especially if they have tattoos. Another specter is that of a knife-murderer in the basement who suddenly went berserk and stabbed a female counselor and a fellow patient. Aaron Goodwin of Ghost Adventures captured an EVP (Electronic voice phenomena, sounds and voices that appear on recordings but were not audible when the recordings were made) that said, "Get to the hallway. The killer is coming." when he visited the site.
The hospital is not open to the public, being private property, but guided tours and even haunted sleepovers are available if you contact the owners of the hospital ahead of time.
Jefferson Also well within a day's driving distance is the legendary Grove house, possibly the most haunted house in Texas. The house is more than 150 years old, and draws ghost hunters from all over the United States. Some of the stories are truly terrifying.
One owner fell asleep reading her Bible only to be awakened by a swirling, black, demonic mass of air in her bedroom. During the period when it was a restaurant a waitress was attacked by a spectral black dog that knocked her down and promptly vanished. Wet footprints mysteriously appear and disappear on dry days, and the ghost of a woman in white is often seen wandering the grounds.
Tours of the house usually take place on the weekends, and run $6 a person. Make sure you call ahead for a reservation. Port Isabel Some folks will tell you to visit Camp Lula Sams (Sometimes called Camp Lulu) in nearby Brownsville, where the ghostly screams of raped and murdered campers still shriek on the night winds after a counselor went mad and killed them. Don't. It's not a true story, and all you'll get out of the journey is a nice time in a nature preserve, or possibly shot at if you trespass on the wrong property.
Instead, keep going down to Port Isabel, which has some fantastic haunted sites. The Port Isabel Lighthouse (The only lighthouse in Texas open to the public) is said to house a ghostly angel who whispers warning to people as they climb the steps. Looking out into the bay some people have seen ghost ships. Down in the square more than one person has struck up a conversation with a "local" only to have the stranger vanish into thin air. There's also nearby Fort Polk, at one point the largest field hospital in America. Port Isabel saw a large amount of death in two separate wars, and sightings of spectral soldiers are common.
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Galveston Galveston is full of ghosts, but the best place to get a good dose of them is at the amazing Ashton Villa mansion. Built in the 1860s by James Brown, the 6,000 square foot home is one of the few historical buildings to have survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Even so, the Brown family watched as the water rose up to the tenth step of the grand staircase and flowed through the house like a river. Later it served as a Confederate hospital.
Sounds attributed to the ghost of Jame's daughter Bettie are a frequent occurrence. Sometimes visitors on tour will hear her playing the piano. Beds will unmake themselves and chests will randomly lock and unlock. Some people claim to have witnessed ghost soldiers marching through the house. A caretaker once reported waking up in the night and witnessing a conversation from the past about marriage from two ghosts, and furniture will sometimes move. It's also just a really cool house to tour, but keep your eyes peeled.
White Rock Lake Located on the east side of Dallas is a beautiful, artificial lake created when the White Rock Creek was dammed in 1911. It's a popular place for nature hikes, sailboat races, and teenage necking, but it also houses the Texas White Lady story.
The White Lady ghost tale is fairly typical across America. Drivers see a young woman in need of help and stop to pick her up. The woman gives the driver an address, but once the driver arrives there the woman has vanished. Sometimes she leaves behind an article of borrowed clothing, or other evidence like a damp spot from her wet dress as in the White Rock Lake story. Often the destination turns out to be a cemetery, or the home of an old man or woman who tells the driver their daughter has died long ago and the driver's description matches the girl perfectly.
What makes the White Rock ghost a little special, though, is the level of specificity that is attributed to it and the historical data we have that lends it more probability than is typical. The story appears as far back as 1943 in a Texas Folklore Society collection, but in 1953 Frank X. Tolbert's published a book called Neiman-Marcus, Texas: The Story of the Proud Dallas Store that also had a detailed account.
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In it, a man named Guy Malloy, a Neiman-Marcus window dresser, was driving with his wife when he spotted a woman in a wet dress from Neiman-Marcus. The couple stopped and offered her help, which she accepted. After giving her address she promptly vanished leaving behind only a puddle. Driving to the address, a man told the Malloys that his daughter had fallen off a pier and drowned two years ago.
Guy Malloy existed and was a Neiman-Marcus window dresser, as evidenced by phone directories at the time. His daughter, Barbara Rookstool, would say that her father had indeed reported the tale, although it had grown in the telling over the years from merely seeing the woman rise from the waters of the lake into the more traditional White Lady story that is so common.
It's also worth noting that a woman named Mrs. Frank Doyle did commit suicide in the lake shortly before the sightings began. Her sister found a suicide note on July 5, 1935, and called the police. A Detective Bryan raced down East Lawther Road (Where the ghost is still most commonly seen) trying to make it in time to save her. He did not, and succeeded only in finding her body floating in the water.
None of this proves a ghost haunts the lake shore, of course, but if you happen to be driving along White Rock Lake at night, who knows what you might see looking back at you.