5 of the most haunted places in Texas

October 30, 2020

In the spirit of Halloween, we're exploring 5 of the most haunted places in Texas!

The Driskill hotel, one of the most haunted places in Texas

It's that time of year again. The setting autumn sun stretches twisted shadows across the ground as a cold wind blows through the darkening landscape. Clouds hide the haunting glow of a silvery moon as it rises and below, All Hallows' Eve sets upon the Lone Star State. In other words...it's Halloween in Texas! 

For many, Halloween is a night of delightfully spooky fun full of tricks, treats, and maybe even a few scary stories. Of course, every community has their own local tales of fantastical phantasms, ghastly ghosts, and haunted houses, and Texas is no exception! So, dim the lights and gather 'round as we tell the tales behind some of the most haunted places in Texas!

1. Bragg Road and the Light of Saratoga

The first stop on our journey is a famous stretch of road in east Texas that runs between the ghost town of Bragg and Saratoga. Cut through the Big Thicket forest, this path was originally cut by The Gulf, Colorado, and Sante Fe Railway in order to survey the land for a railway. Eventually, the railroad was pulled up and the county placed the road that remains there to this day.

Those who venture the road at night claim to see an eerie light flickering through the trees, bobbing up and down as though it were walking the length of the railroad track that is no longer there.

Of course, some say that this light is nothing more than swamp gas, or perhaps the headlights of cars shining through from a nearby road. However, legend says that this is the lantern of a headless railroad worker, eternally searching for what he lost all those years ago. 

2. AI Engineering building - College Station

As the years go by, it isn't uncommon for old buildings to find new life in the modern era; old, historical halls are often renovated and repurposed for new tenants. But sometimes, something from the past remains. 

Such is the case with the AI Engineering building at Texas A&M in College Station. In a past life, it was the Animal Industries building, complete with a meat locker and laboratory in the basement. 

In 1959, Roy Simms was performing a routine bit of butchery, but neglected to wear the proper protective butcher's apron. In an unfortunate accident, the sharp knife slipped as he cut towards himself, severely wounding him. Legend has it that he was alone in the basement that night, and no one could hear as he called for help. Still, he crawled towards the elevator to find help, but by the time they found him, it was too late. 

Since then, engineering students that roam the halls have reported hearing bone-chilling shouts and cries coming from that very same elevator. Stranger still, some say that the elevator occasionally runs up and down the shaft - with no one inside. 

3. Hotel Galvez - Galveston

Opened in 1911, this stately hotel was named after Bernardo Vicente De Gálvez y Madrid. In part, it was built after the devastating hurricane in 1900 in the hopes that it would give the town a much needed tourism boost. Over the years, it has accumulated a lengthy list of famous guests, such as Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt. But among its lavish amenities and storied history, the sprawling estate is home to a darker tale that begins in the notorious room 501. 

As the story goes, a young woman named Audra stayed in that room while her fiancé sailed in the Port of Galveston. She would climb to a turret to watch for his ship to return to port, hoping to spot his ship in the water. One day, there was a powerful storm, and his ship didn't come back. Day after day she waited, until finally she realized he wasn't coming home. Heartbroken, she took her own life. To this day, guests flock to Hotel Galvez to see if they can witness this tragic spirit, still roaming the halls, waiting for her mariner to return. 

Tragic though that tale is, it is far from the only tragedy Galveston endured. The hurricane of 1900 was one of the worst on record, and many perished amidst the furry. It is said that there are a number of ghosts wandering the grounds at Hotel Galvez. Guests and employees often report sightings of phantasmal children, sometimes bouncing balls or playing the piano, but almost always laughing. 

4. The Driskill Hotel - Austin

In the heart of the Texas capital lies the 130-year-old Driskill Hotel. Built by successful cattleman Col. Jesse Driskill, this luxurious hotel opened its doors for the first time in 1886, but promptly closed them the following year as Driskill fell on hard times. 

Since then it has changed hands a few times, but remains one of the most prominent hotels in Austin. It has played host to many famous people and events throughout the years, including some very ghostly guests with a history of hauntings

In fact, stories say that Col. Driskill himself haunts the grounds, wandering the halls of a hotel that only became successful after he passed away. Some say you can tell when Driskill is paying a visit by the signature smell of cigar smoke wafting through the room. 

Over the course of its long history, it has taken on a number of other such tenants, including a young senator's daughter who perished on the hotel's grand staircase, and a pair of forlorn brides who both met their fates in the same room on the same night - twenty years apart. 

Many Driskill guests report all manner of strange phenomenon during their stay, like unexplained noises, distant voices, and occasionally full-on apparitions. Of course, guests have mixed feelings; some truly believe in the hauntings, while others dismiss them. However, if you ask the staff, they'll tell you they often hear a woman crying on the fourth floor - even when it is empty.

5. Marfa Lights - Marfa

Out in West Texas resides the town of Marfa, not far from Big Bend National Park. While it is known as a tourist destination for art enthusiasts, it is equally famous for the paranormal phenomenon known as the "Marfa lights." 

People come from all over, gathering along Highway 90 outside of Marfa, waiting for dusk to fall and the lights to come out. Witnesses report strange balls of light that inexplicably appear in the distance, hover and dance for a moment before disappearing as suddenly as they came. 

Unlike many tales of otherworldly apparitions, the Marfa Lights, often called Chinati Lights, have been witnessed and documented by tourists, locals, and scientists alike. They are very real, but the question remains: What are they?

On two separate occasions, researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas and Texas State University in San Marcos have set their sights on the Marfa Lights, determined to uncover the truth. Using the latest spectroscopy equipment, the students in both studies determined that the lights were most certainly caused by traffic headlights from automobiles traveling along U.S. Highway 67. 

However, the first record of these luminous orbs can be traced back to 1883 when a cowboy by the name of Robert Reed Ellison claimed to see strange flickering lights as he drove cattle one evening. He found that other people in the area had seen them too, and assumed that they were just campfires. But when they rode out to investigate, there were no signs of ashes or fires to be found. 

Despite the studies in recent years, many people believe attribute the Marfa Lights to a more supernatural source. Some say they are of an otherworldly origin, pointing to UFOs as the likely explanation. Yet others believe that they are lost souls, wandering the desert on their way to the afterlife. 

Are these places really haunted?

So, is there any truth to these local legends from the Lone Star State? Who can say? While some may see spirits, others hear a settling foundation or simply blame it on the wind. But regardless of whether or not you believe in the ghosts that are said to walk these haunted places in Texas, it's fun to imagine the possibilities and share stories that make us shiver - especially on Halloween. 

Have a safe, happy Halloween!

Bragg road, one of the most haunted places in Texas

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by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Strategist at Germania Insurance.

What do you want to read more about? For suggestions, questions, or content-related inquiries, contact us at content@germaniainsurance.com!

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