Wanderlist – Mysterious Places
When things go bump, or boo, in the night, are you sure you're not in a haunted or strange place? On the Wanderlist, we'll take you on a tour of some of more mysterious and haunted places found in Texas.
Under the Texas Sky: S3:E7: WANDERLIST – MYSTERIOUS PLACES
[SPONSOR] Under the Texas Sky is Brought to you in part by Toyota, a proud supporter of Texas Parks and Wildlife Programs. Toyota, Let’s Go Places.
[NARRATION] Have you ever visited a place that wasn’t quite what you expected?
Did something seem a little strange to you, maybe an unexplained mystery or even something a little scary that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up?
[SFX—DOOR CREAKS OPEN]
On the Wanderlist, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine Editor Louie Bond and I are talking about a few uncommon and curious places in Texas that may raise one, or both of your eyebrows. Want to find out?
Stay with us.
[MUS—HITCHCOCK HYBRID ELECTRONICA]
[NARRATION] (Dracula accent) From Texas Parks and Wildlife, this is Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist. I’m Randall Maxwell and with me is Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine Editor, Louie Bond.
[RANDALL & LOUIE] (Louie Laughs)
[RANDALL] Well hello Louie, how are you doing?
[LOUIE] Hi Randall. I’m doing great. You in the mood for a mystery today?
[RANDALL] Absolutely. I’m very excited to know some of these spooky and scary things that are all over our state. What have you got for us?
[LOUIE] Well you know we started looking at mysterious parks. There’s places like Goliad that are just imbued with with the mystery of Texas history and culture. We kind of moved on from there and thought of all these cool places across Texas that are part of legend. They’re part of lure. They have scary stories. Sometimes they are kind of funny stories. Sometimes they are natural phenomenon. I mean, you know it’s Texas. There’s a little bit of everything going on and it’s October so let’s dive in.
[RANDALL] Well take us out to West Texas. I know the Marfa Lights has long been a mysterious place and people have gone there and said they’ve seen different lights and things. What is Marfa Lights?
[LOUIE] You know, nobody really knows Randall, and that’s the beautiful thing about mysteries. But everybody who heads out there to West Texas wants to see the Marfa Lights. They’re just these mysterious red, white, and blue lights. They show up randomly. They come from a place where it’d really be hard for people to get to and set them off. So they seem to be some sort of natural or unnatural phenomenon. Some people think it’s headlights or campfires in the distance reflecting, but they’ve been documented since the 1800s. I mean, continuously.
[RANDALL] Wow, that’s crazy. I’ve never thought about you know like the 1800s and people documenting those things.
[LOUIE] I’ll tell you, that desert culture’s been going on a long time and there’s some pretty strange stuff that happens there in the night.
[RANDALL & LOUIE]
Recently Randall, we went on a little road trip, our magazine staff, to a new contractor who was out in East Texas, and we went through this town called Winona, and they had a doll hospital there, and I’m telling you we had to stop. It was creepy and it also reminded me of this Yorktown Memorial Hospital. Yorktown’s down around Cuero. So this old hospital was run by the Felician Sisters and it was meant to treat people suffering from from addiction. And it’s now said to be the final resting place for over two-thousand patients. Getting creepy already. So the site’s been abandoned since the 1980s, but the caretaker of the buildings says he’s not alone.
[LOUIE] When the lights are turned off, patients and visitors are shuffling around the rooms. There’s been reports of talking dolls. That’s why I bring up the dolls. This is the creepiest. Talking dolls in the maternity ward, and the sounds of something knocking and tapping on the glass barrier that blocks the front staircase.
[RANDALL] (laughs) Oh my goodness.
[LOUIE] You can actually go take a guided walking tour through the hospital. Yorktown Memorial Hospital, if you dare.
[RANDALL] Now those dolls, do the eyes actually move back and forth?
[LOUIE] I would swear they do. (laughs)
[RANDALL] Well, you know Louie, back up in Central Texas where I grew up there’s in the town of Waco, there’s a place called East Terrace.
[LOUIE] Oh I’d like to hear about that Randall.
[RANDALL] It’s currently owned and managed by the Historic Waco Foundation, and they keep a lot of houses preserved in the area to tell Waco’s history. But this particular location, it was a beautiful Italianate villa style home that John Wesley Mann built for his wife Cemira. And this is back in the mid-1800s. But after the Mann’s passed away, their son Howard took over the residence and he leased rooms to different individuals and one was a Dr. Tremblay. And he ended up converting the house into a psychiatric and chiropractic sanitarium. I did some snoopin’ around and I did find out that current security guard there swears at night he sees a woman dressed in white on the upper terrace, and that is actually where they kept the women in the sanitarium on the second floor.
[LOUIE] wooooh (laughs)
[SFX—WHISPERS UNDER GREGORIAN CHANT]
[RANDALL] Now, even though Historic Waco Foundation doesn’t really endorse or validate any spooky behavior there at the East Terrace, it is quite interesting that the security guard sees this image.
[LOUIE] That sounds scary. (laughing)
[RANDALL] Now I’ve been to Corpus Christi a few times. It’s got the huge bridge and of course its got the U.S.S. Lexington, and I’ve always heard there’s something spooky about that ship.
[LOUIE] You know, it’s super spooky Randall. Not only is the ship known as the Blue Ghost, so it’s sort of set up for it, but the paranormal tendencies don’t stop at the name. It’s a museum now and guests talk about meeting this tour guide named Charlie who gives this great tour and this great description of life from engine room 2, and the problem is, there’s no Charlie.
[RANDALL] oh (laughs)
[LOUIE] The tours are self-guided. Other people report smelling food in the kitchen, seeing lights flash.
[RANDALL] (laughs) So, you’re by yourself in the ship and suddenly Charlie comes to you?
[LOUIE] Yeah, Charlie’s got all the great stories. (laughs)
[RANDALL] You’re not talking about an audio tour, right?
[LOUIE] No, this is real Charlie, or is it? I don’t know.
[RANDALL] Well our listeners will have to find out for themselves.
[LOUIE] That’s right. Let us know, because I’m too scared to go check it.
[NARRATION] Next Louie and I will check in to haunted hotel on the Texas Coast. But first…
16 [SPONSOR] Support from Toyota allows us to bring you stories from Under the Texas Sky. Toyota has been a proud sponsor of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation since 2002, providing generous support to help the department provide outdoor programs for Texans and conserve the wildlife of the Lone Star State.
[NARRATION] This is Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist from Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Randall Maxwell…Wanderlist is a collaboration with Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine. Editor, Louie Bond, and I are talking about mysterious places in Texas. Most of us have been in a few questionable hotels in our life, where we probably thought, as Don Henley and the late Glenn Frey penned “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” And that’s where we pick up our conversation.
[RANDALL & LOUIE]
[LOUIE] Now some of these haunted places are hotels. I think lots of them are hotels actually, all across the state, and one of my favorites is the Hotel Galvez, that grand old beauty down there in Galveston. It’s named after a Spanish military figure. Bernardo de Gálvez. And the hotel’s been through a lot. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900, that big hurricane. It reopened in 1911. It was used as both the World War II Coast Guard facility and a hub for gambling. And then it went through this great renovation in 1995. Now this room that’s specifically haunted there is room 501. It’s cool that they know exactly which one it is.
[LOUIE] It comes from the legend of a young woman named Audra, who took her own life after thinking her fiancé abroad had shipwrecked. Well, just like Romeo and Juliet, shortly after her death, her fiancé who had survived, he returned to the hotel to discover the tragedy, and legend says that her spirit is locked there and she haunts the hotel.
[SFX—CABINET DESTRUCTION / DISHES BREAKING]
[LOUIE] Breaking cabinets, causing the staff’s room key to 501 to malfunction and inciting paranormal bathroom activity.
[LOUIE] Not quite sure what that is. Not quite sure I want to know. (laughs) But what a great Romeo and Juliet of Texas story. I had no idea.
[RANDALL] I never knew that about Hotel Gálvez. That’s amazing.
[LOUIE] Yeah, I never saw past the great shrimp, but now I know there’s a really cool room I’ve got to visit next time. So Galveston not only has the Gálvez Hotel, but the Stewart Mansion, another wildly haunted place. I don’t know what it is about Galveston, but this mansion is filled with tales of pirates, ghostly wild dogs and hidden bodies. What more can you ask for? It was built in 1926 and it was known as Isla Ranch before it was bough in 1933, and it was decked out with pirate murals. You might have heard of the famous pirate Jean LaFitte
[LOUIE] And he lived in Galveston in the 1800s, probably its most famous resident ever, and so after this building was abandoned in 1968, it was a lot of vandalism and natural wear and it was redone, but the history, the mystery, the haunting still remains the same.
[SFX—CRUNCHING NOISE / DOOR CLOSING / GLASS BREAKING]
[LOUIE] The mansion’s caretakers report hearing movement at night, doors closing, objects falling. Once again, just centuries of haunting here in Galveston.
[RANDALL] Things moving in the night. I was editing recently in the evening hours and had my headphones on. And usually that muffles a lot of things, but I certainly heard something on the outside of my house. I had to get the big spotlight and go out and look, (laughs)
[SFX—OLD TIN SHEET IN WIND]
[RANDALL] It turned out to be just a piece of tin that I had laid out there that I was working on. (laughs)
[LOUIE] It’s always a piece of tin. (laughs) Or a piece of wire banging against the house, or a tree limb scraping the roof. Oh, until it isn’t.
[RANDALL] Right. (laughs) Well, I know some have to be cemeteries. You know, I’ve actually photographed some cemeteries at night with light painting, you know, it’s always a strange feeling to walk near a cemetery and some people feel peace and calm. Others? Not so much.
[LOUIE] You know it’s funny. My husband carves tombstones. So we spend a lot of time in cemeteries and I find them to be some of the most beautiful natural areas in Texas. Between the sculpture and the plantings, just the peacefulness. But you’re right. There’s some spooky places, in particularly if you’re there at night. I’d prefer to go during the day. One in particular is the Martha Chapel Cemetery, and that’s near Huntsville. It’s also at the end of Bowden Road which is known as Demons Road, so here we go, we’re on our way. The cemetery on Demons Road and it’s called one of the most haunted public cemeteries in Texas. Who rates these, I don’t know, but they’re braver than I am.
[SFX—RUSH OF AIR / CHURCH BELLS]
[LOUIE] The church in the area were named after Martha Palmer in 1854. She was the wife of the church trustee who died and is buried there. But ever since she was buried there, mysterious occurrences have been reported there, both on the road to the cemetery and in the graveyard itself. Including people being followed home by spirits. This one really creeps me out, hands protruding from gravesites.
[LOUIE] Handprints left on vehicles, threatening creatures and apparitions of children. I mean, it’s kind of like Pet Sematary, plus Children of the Corn all rolled into one. I’m not going to Demons Road to this cemetery Randall, ever.
[RANDALL] No. I think if I saw the street sign, I would just turn around.
[LOUIE] (laughs) That’s right, I know how this movie ends. (laughter)
[SFX—SCARY MUSIC WITH WITCHES LAUGH]
[LOUIE] So you know Randall we talk about culture a lot in Texas because we have all these great cultures and of course the Hispanic culture is always one of my favorites. And so, we’ve been doing scary stories in the magazine for decades now about chupacabras and legends and all kinds of things. One of my favorite Mexican-American legends in Texas is La Llorona. And she is a woman who has probably scared generations of people. There are different places where she’s been seen, but one I think is the most common is called Woman Hollering Creek, which is a great name. It’s between San Antonio and Seguin. And there’s actually a horror movie about La Llorona last year, and the legend, like many of them, kind of changes around. But there’s a woman named Maria and she marries and man and she has a couple of children. And when her husband leaves her is anguished and she drowns her children and then herself. And in the afterlife she’s just calling out for her children and she’s crying, La Llorona, she’s crying.
[SFX—SOUNDS OF WATER / DISTANCE SCEAM]
[LOUIE] And if you stand too close to the water, she’ll pull you in with her.
[SFX—SPLASH OF WATER]
[LOUIE] So, it scares all the little children to death, and it’s been used for generation, but it’s sort of the legend that starts all of the scary stuff in Texas for me. And really sparked this whole Wanderlist where people can actually go experience these things, read these legends, go to these places, get your good little scare on and go home and tell your kids and grandkids these stories too.
[RANDALL] What a Wanderlist. What a Whaaaan-der-list.
[LOUIE] (laughs) You know, we’ve barely scratched the surface too. If you just Google haunted Texas places, there are zillions of them that you can go check out.
[RANDALL] Awesome. I hope our listeners do. And thanks so much for joining me.
[LOUIE] Thank you, Randall.
[NARRATION—05] (Dracula accent) We’re done wandering for this podcast…but Louie Bond and I—or our executive producer, Cecilia Nasti—will be back with more fascinating things to see and places to explore in the Lone Star State.
Before heading to any state park, historic site or natural area, call ahead.
Also, keep an eye on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Instagram account, which is @TexasParksWildlife. We’ll use it to notify you of some of the Wanderlist subjects we plan to cover in the weeks ahead and give you a chance to ask questions, some of which we’ll answer on the podcast.
Under the Texas Sky is a production of Texas Parks and Wildlife. We produce our Wanderlist series in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine in the Media Production Studios in Austin, Texas. Yours truly did our sound design. Whitney Bishop does our social media. And we get distribution and web help from Susan Griswold and Benjamin Kailing.
Stream or download Under the Texas Sky and Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist wherever you get your podcasts. And please leave a review while you’re there and let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to hear.
Until next time…keep on wandering ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, Under the Texas Sky. I’m Randall Maxwell.