Spookiest Land in Texas

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 In Bownds Ranches, Land

With it being October, we wanted to follow up last month’s post about fall festivities happening across the state with something a little bit more Halloween-themed: the spookiest areas of land in Texas.

Sure, you’ve probably seen dozens of “most haunted places” lists featuring hotels, churches, and other buildings all across the state (think, the Menger Hotel in San Antonio, The Plaza Theatre in El Paso, the AI Engineering Building in College Station, the Driskill Hotel in Austin, La Carafe Bar in Houston and scores more), we tend to think a little bit more rurally here at Bownds Ranches. As such, we’re going to be looking at the most haunted/fabled land, ranches, and in the Lone Star State.

Without further ado, let’s kick off the list off Texas’ Spookiest Rural Areas with a creek that many think inspired an entire thread of Mexican-American folklore…

1) Woman Hollering Creek

The question here is: does the name beget the myth or the myth beget the name? Woman Hollering Creek, based outside of San Antonio, is a small creek that shares its lore and reputation with the legend La Llorona, the weeping woman who cries for her children that she drowned in the local creek. Considering that the area has Mexican-Spanish ties dating back nearly 400 years, it’s not a stretch to believe that Woman Hollering Creek could have been THE creek that spawned the legend.

Many locals have reported hearing the cries of La Llorona along the creek’s shallow waters, and some even report seeing her ghostly apparition roaming the wooded banks. Regardless of which came first (the legend or the name), Woman Hollering Creek is definitely a solidly spooky spot here in Texas.

2) Marfa Lights

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or somewhere other than Texas) for most of your life, you’ve probably heard of the Marfa Lights at least a time or two. Reports going back to the early 1880s indicate that people have been seeing mysterious floating lights out near Route 67 on the way out of town.

Some have speculated that the lights are merely atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires, while others blame the phenomenon on UFOs, Will-o-the-Wisps, ghosts of cowhands long passed, or any other number of other paranormal activities. The bottom line, it’s 100% a spooky destination that any Texan should visit at least once.

3) Bragg Road (aka The Light of Saratoga)

At night, the thick darkness of the Big Thicket can be creepy and spooky on its own. However, one particular stretch of road seems to ratchet the eeriness up to a totally different degree. Just a few miles outside of Kountze lies Bragg Road, a seemingly innocuous two-lane dirt road through a dense, swampy area. The route was originally part of the Santa Fe Railroad line in the early 1900s, but when resources in the area ran out, the railroad abandoned the stretch (and the station they’d built, resulting in the ghost town of Bragg Station) and the county turned it into a roadway. For over a century, passersby have reported seeing a strange, hovering light shining out of the darkness along this stretch of road, with no tangible explanation as to why.

Legend has it, an unfortunate train conductor was decapitated in a wreck before the railway was removed, and his ghost now roams the area with his lantern, searching eternally for his severed head. Others claim it’s simply an atmospheric reaction to swamp gases, or reflections of headlights from the relatively nearby highway. However, the lights are almost always seen when facing north, and the highway is south of Bragg Road.

Whatever the explanation, this stretch of road is dense and foreboding enough on its own, but with the added phenomenon of the ghost lights, it’s downright chilling.

4) La Bahia (Goliad)

Okay, so technically, this isn’t quite as rural as many of the other entries on this list, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Presidio La Bahia, the restored Spanish fort/mission that would eventually go on to become the center of Goliad. While you’re probably familiar with the Goliad Massacre (and if you’re not, the short story is that nearly 450 prisoners of war were executed at this site by General Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution), you may not know that there have been multiple other battles and skirmishes fought at this location throughout history. It was twice seized during the war for Mexican Independence, and was actually the scene of two separate incidents during the Texas Revolution.

Add in those wartime battles (and the history of violence, abuse and death against natives that often accompanies the history of Spanish missions in general), and this structure may have seen more deaths than any other in the state of Texas. It’s no surprise, then, that stories of hauntings go back decades. Museum workers and guests have reported hearing footfalls when no one else is present, being started be pained screams of massacred soldiers, watching doors and windows open and close on their own, and even spotting the ghost of Colonel Fannin walking the courtyard.

If you’re an enthusiast of Texas history or spooky happenings, a visit to La Bahia might be in order for you!

5) Terlingua Ghost Town

While not quite as violently spooky as our previous entry, leaving the Terlingua Ghost Town off the list just felt… wrong. After all, it was just named the second creepiest ghost town in the US by Best Life Magazine. Even without the bloodshed that La Bahia has witnessed, Terlingua offers an eerie, surreal experience. Once a booming mining city, the entire town was quickly left abandoned when the mining company pulled out of the area. Now, you can wander the abandoned buildings, old miners quarters, and even the cemetery in the city. While reports of ghosts or spirits aren’t typically associated with the area, several visitors in the area have claimed to have experienced black outs, blurred vision, and even hallucinations while in Terlingua.

Lodging is readily available nearby and there are some terrific options available (including one that made our previous blog post about cabins and glamping spots in Texas) so you’ll have no trouble finding a good spot to rest your head while you take in the eeriness of this iconic ghost town.

6) Outlaw Station

Texans love a good bit of outlaw lore, and this particular spot has it in spades. The structure was once a major speakeasy in the area, and helped earn the town of Glen Rose the moniker of “the Whiskey Woods Capital of Texas.” It was abandoned in the mid-1900s, and now all that remains are the exterior walls of the famed whiskey-running establishment.

However, scores of locals have reported hearing disembodied sounds emanating from within the speakeasy walls. Witnesses report hearing many strange, but identifiable noises, including the sound of engines, meters and glass bottles breaking on a now phantom floor. It’s almost as if the moonshining operation is still being carried on by spectral entities, all these decades later.

7) Crawford Smith Ranch (Big Bend National Park)

Once a bustling West Texas ranch, the Crawford Smith Ranch was completely abandoned in 1942. Very limit remains today of the operation, and its land is currently inside Big Bend National Park. While the park itself has a history of spooky occurrences (it’s so desolate, rugged, remote and uninhabitable that the Spanish explorers who came across it called it El Despoblado, or “The Uninhabited”), but for this point we’ll be looking at the former ranch area specifically.

Visitors have long reported hearing eerie sounds while in the area at night, as if the grounds of the old ranch were still inhabited by spooky apparitions working the land to this day. On top of that, many strange sights have been witnessed in this area, including one report from a park ranger and group of campers that is truly chilling. Legend has it, a park ranger was conversing with some campers while patrolling the area one night, and the entire group witnessed a small dark figure lurking in the shadows. They went to investigate, and were able to catch a glimpse of a dark, scraggly tail disappearing around the corner before scurrying off in the dark.

Later that night, the campers reported seeing the creature watching them from the shadows around the edge of their camp-site. They described it as a dog-like creature with no hair, long fangs, and beady eyes that seemed to glow as they reflected the campsite lights. The group remains convinced that they had an encounter with the famous chupacabra.

Chupacabras, eerie sounds, and dark, desolate isolation from the rest of civilization? Yep, camping in the Crawford Smith Ranch area sounds like the perfect way to ratchet up the creepy-factor this fall!

8) Baby Head Cemetery

Okay, now this one is just downright creepy. Outside of Llano on Highway 16 lies a historical marker at an old cemetery. The Baby Head Cemetery is the last remnant of the community of Baby Head, which gets its disturbing name from a chilling story.

Legend has it, natives attacked a pioneer community in the early 1850s. As a gruesome way to warn off future settlers, the natives murdered one of the pioneer babies, severed its head, and placed it on a pike atop the mountain. Settlers went out on several expeditions to recover the remains, but were never successful. The community, cemetery, mountain and creek in the area were all eventually known as Baby Head, and the town turned into a ghost town years later.

Definitely a creepy and spooky historical spot to visit if you’re looking to run a chill up your spine this fall!

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