Mark Zavala/ The Paisano
With Halloween coming, a slew of haunted house attractions have sprung up all over downtown San Antonio.
The classic haunted house Nightmare on Grayson no longer holds the reins (at least not under the same name), and companies like 13th Floor and Psycho Asylum are attracting haunted house enthusiasts from all over the city. But what about the real haunted houses in San Antonio?
San Antonio is home to many supposedly haunted areas. Rumors of apparitions of an individual who died while constructing the Alamodome and warriors that died defending the Alamo wandering around their respective deathbeds are just a few examples of the many haunted areas throughout the city.
Here are five of the most notable haunted places in the Alamo City: The Menger Hotel, the Ghost Tracks, Our Lady of the Lake University, the Donkey Lady Bridge and the Huebner-Onion Homestead.
A well-known rumored haunted area is the Menger Hotel, where multiple ghost sightings have been made by employees and hotel guests. Among the reported spirits, Sallie White, a 1870s chambermaid who was shot by her husband, has been seen in a uniform with an apron and a bandana wrapped around her hair with her arms stretched out, full of fresh towels.
Captain Richard King, founder of the famed King Ranch, is also said to haunt the hotel. King died at the Menger in the room now known as the King Suite. The elevator in the original building is said to regularly stop on the third floor where the King Suite is located and where King is rumored to have been seen wandering the halls.
Another popular haunting is the Ghost Tracks on the south side of town. The story goes that a bus of full of children was crossing the railroad tracks on the corner of Villamain and Shane near Mission San Jose, when it stalled and was hit by a train in the 1940s, killing everyone on board. The streets around the Ghost Tracks supposedly are named after the victims.
Today, the children are rumored to stop vehicles over the tracks to safety, so other motorists avoid the same fate. People visit the tracks every year with flour sprinkled on the back of their cars to capture the handprints of the ghost children.
Our Lady of the Lake University is said to be haunted by the spirit of a boy named Jack. Jack is said to haunt Pacelli Hall, one of the campus’ dorms. No one has seen Jack, but when things go missing and odd noises are heard it is attributed to Jack. The items are returned and the noises stop when he is asked, supposedly. Spirits of nuns have also been seen roaming the campus.
One of the most popular haunting stories in San Antonio is that of the Donkey Lady Bridge. A woman who raised donkeys was ambushed by the father of a child who was bitten by one of her donkeys and other men on a bridge. She was pushed into the river below and drowned. Some say that if you stop on that bridge on Zarzamora Road at night, you may hear the heehaw of a donkey or feel the back of your vehicle dip, as if a donkey jumped on it. Other endings to stories claim that her face was mauled so badly that she now has a face similar to a donkey’s, but only a few individuals have claimed to have seen her.
The Huebner-Onion Homestead, the historic limestone house fenced off on Bandera Rd, has a fascinatingly haunting story, too. In the 1800s, Joseph Huebner accidentally drank kerosene instead of whiskey. When neighbors found him collapsed, they couldn’t decide if he was dead or just drunk. They took a vote and decided he was dead and buried him.
Years later, when Judge John F. Onion and his wife, Harriet, purchased the house in 1930, there were tales of noises coming from the house that supposedly drove horses carrying travelers by the house into a frenzy. Onion and his wife experienced numerous paranormal instances. Onion died in the house and is said to haunt the house along with Huebner. Other versions of the story say that Onion murdered his family and then committed suicide in the house.
Other, lesser known rumored haunted areas in San Antonio include the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, the San Antonio Express-News office and theGDC Marketing & Ideation building. Some individuals that have been to the GDC Marketing and Ideation building claim to have seen ghosts wandering through the halls.
Tatiana Torres, senior communication major and intern at GDC, said, “I haven’t really ever seen any apparitions or anything. The computers do like to go crazy sometimes, though, in a very unusual sort of way.”
Of course, these are just rumors. As is the way with most ghostly rumors, these claims have been discounted by many, but with so many claiming to have experienced the same thing it is fun to speculate what is real.