San Antonio’s haunted tracks

Haunted tracks

The stories have attracted not only local enthusiasts but also paranormal investigators and amateur ghost hunters from around the country. As the myth goes, back in the 1930’s a school bus full of children stalled out on the railroad tracks on the corner of Shane and Villamain Road, and a train going full speed hit the bus killing everyone on board.

Legend has it that if you stop your car 80 feet ahead of the tracks and put it in neutral, the ghost children of the 1938 bus crash will push your car up over the hill and over the tracks, keeping the accident from ever happening again.

It is also said that if you put baby powder on the back of your vehicle you can see the handprints of the ghost children from them pushing your car over the tracks. The street names nearby are supposedly named after the children that lost their lives. Some of the names on the signs include: Shane Rd, Cindy Sue Way, Nancy Carole Way, Richey Otis Way, Bobbie Allen Way and Laura Lee Way.

Being the superstitious person that I am, I had to go and see this sight. I wanted to go with someone who had been there before, a native San Antonian, who knew the whole story.

Jessica Gutierrez, a current student at A&M San Antonio, grew up near the railroad tracks and has been hearing the story of the “haunted tracks” since she was a kid. I asked her if there was any truth to the story. She said, “I still believe because the railroad tracks are located by several historical grounds like Mission Espada and Mission San Jose. There is definitely a spiritual presence in the area.” She stopped her car about 80 feet before the tracks, shifted into neutral, and sure enough we started gaining speed up and over the tracks. I couldn’t believe it. Jessica had to hit the breaks and make a sharp turn, we were driving so fast.

The speculation is that the hill over the tracks is actually downhill and creates an optical illusion that the car is going uphill. I am not sure I am convinced by this theory because when we were going up the hill so fast, I am not sure a little downhill can make a 1.5-ton car speed up that quickly. According to Alamo City Paranormal it is just simple physics: the road drops 12 inches in a distance of 65 feet, levels out for 5 to 7 feet and then rises about 6 inches for the last 8 to 10 feet. The 65 feet of downhill gives the car enough momentum to get up and over the tracks.

Further discrediting the paranormal theory is the fact that there are no records of the train accident ever happening. There are, however, records of a similar story happening on December 1, 1938 in Utah. Local San Antonio newspapers at the time had coverage from the incident, possibly confusing locals that it happened nearby. As for the baby powder, it is most likely the handprints left behind by the car owner. Handprints can stay on the surface for up to a couple weeks the powder is showing the oil left behind that is in our skin. The street signs it turns out are named after the children of the developer, not the children that lost their lives in the accident, according to Katie Phillips from Lone Star Spirits Paranormal Investigations.

Gutierrez says, “the story might be pure fiction, but the idea of spirits moving a vehicle to save a life to me is the reason why people want to believe. I think that’s the reason why I might still believe in it.” The legend is a great tale nonetheless and is a great experience.

If visiting the tracks at night, fans of the paranormal might encounter a very different type of danger; gang members have been robbing people that get out of their cars to check the baby powder. Which proves that, for some, visiting the tracks could indeed be one of the scariest moments of their lives.