I’m the first to admit that I’m a big wimp when it comes to scary things.
When I was 13, I was staying at my grandparents’ house on a quiet lake in the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania, and one night the kids I befriended there decided to watch the original The Evil Dead movie. The film’s plot focuses on college students vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods, where they get possessed by demons.
After the movie ended, I had to ride my bike home down the darkened dirt road that surrounded the lake, and I was sure that evil demons were waiting for me behind every tree I passed. I guarantee I’ve never ridden a bicycle faster than that night.
While the wooded mountains of Pennsylvania can be quite scary, Texas has its fair share of frightening places as well. Whether you’re looking for a couple hours of fear, a day trip filled with dread or even a whole weekend of chills, there are plenty of spooky places in DFW and beyond.
To get a good list, we talked to local expert Tui Snider, author of Paranormal Texas. Here are her picks for some of the best places to ghoul.
Beyond Fort Worth
1. The Baker Hotel, Mineral Wells
“Often, when researching haunted locations, it takes some digging to find people who are in the know about its haunted hot spots. Not so in Mineral Wells. Ask any local if the Baker Hotel is haunted and you will get an earful of spooky tales in return,” she says.
“The most talked-about ghosts of the Baker Hotel include the gorgeous red-haired mistress of the hotel manager who leapt to her death, and a little boy who was cut in two in a horrific elevator accident. People even report phantom odors at the Baker Hotel, including the smell of chocolate.
“While the Baker Hotel is no longer open to the public, there’s a house a couple of blocks away you can rent for paranormal investigations. Haunted Hill House is a historic home that Phil Kirchhoff bought with the plan to renovate and retire. Due to the high level of paranormal activity, however, Kirchhoff abandoned that idea and turned it into a paranormal research center instead. Today, he won’t even spend the night there alone.”
2. Denton town square
“I must say the Ghosts of Denton tour is a wonderful way to learn North Texas history and also get a chill up your spine,” Snider says. “Denton’s town square features a grand courthouse built from native Texas limestone. Some people theorize that limestone is able to magnify paranormal activity. Several businesses surrounding the courthouse report paranormal activity, including Recycled Books, where books sometimes fly off the shelves as if tossed by unseen hands.
“Meanwhile, at the Abbey Underground, a ghostly prankster spills drinks and rearranges small objects. The staff is in no hurry to get rid of ‘Seamus,’ as they call the spirit, because the rowdier he gets, the better their tips are!”
Tours are $15, $8 for children, and private tours are available.
More information: www.ghostsofdenton.com
3. Granbury town square
“Nearly every building in Granbury’s town square has a ghost story attached to it, and unlike some places, shopkeepers are quite open to discussing their paranormal experiences,” Snider says. “Many are convinced that the ghost of John Wilkes Booth haunts the town square. Also, like Denton, Granbury offers an excellent haunted history tour on weekends.”
The Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour is $10, $7 for children.
More information: www.granburytours.com
4. Veal Station Cemetery, Springtown
“There’s a longstanding rumor that a headstone in Springtown’s Veal Station Cemetery gives off a mysterious glow at night,” Snider says. “I have several friends who have witnessed this spooky sight.”
More information: www.clarkcemeteryhistory.org/veal-station.html
5. Thurber Cemetery, Thurber
“Like most graveyards, Thurber Cemetery has separate sections for different religious affiliations. Several North Texas paranormal groups have witnessed strange apparitions, shadow figures and orbs while investigating there,” Snider says.
“What makes Thurber Cemetery so unique is that in its heyday, the town of Thurber was populated by workers from more than 20 different nationalities. Ghost hunters have actually recorded electronic voice phenomenon (EVPs) in foreign languages there. If you know another language, consider speaking it when you visit Thurber Cemetery; your words just might trigger a conversation with a spirit.”
More information: www.thurbertexas.com/sites/cemetery.html
Places near …
If you’d rather not stray too far to get your fright on, then check out the Stockyards Ghost Tour. The tour operates out of the Cowtown Winery, where tour guides take guests on a 90-minute walking tour into the detailed past and haunted present of the heart of Cowtown, including stopping by some of the most famous and infamous landmarks.
“The Cadillac Hotel has had several paranormal things that have happened, and Miss Molly’s has one ghost in particular — his name is Jake. It’s not uncommon to see him walking up the steps, then look back and no one’s there,” says tour owner David Besgrove.
“The Stockyards Hotel has some history with Bonnie and Clyde, as well as some hauntings. Our winery has had many strange activities over the years, including smashed bottles and even capturing a dark figure on our security cameras when no one is in the winery. Tour attendees have recorded strange faces in windows as well as shadows on buildings.”
Tours start at $20 per adult, with discounts given for seniors, students, children and groups.
More information: http://stockyardsghosttour.com
If you’re looking to hop a plane for a ghost-hunting weekend, there’s no better place than New Orleans.
“Ask people who’ve done tours in other cities or tour operators in those cities and they’ll all agree that New Orleans is the best,” says Bond Ruggles, manager of Witches Brew Tours.
The reason? Ruggles said it’s got a lot to do with the water and the city’s rich history. “We’re built on top of water and water conducts energy, especially paranormal activity.”
Witches Brew offer several tours, all of which are walking tours of the French Quarter (so take comfortable shoes, water bottles and an umbrella for the rain or even more so for the sun). Beyond hearing tales of witches, voodoo and vampires, and visiting some seriously spooky places, including St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which is home to Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s tomb, each tour guide is well-versed in the history and architecture of the area.
Tours start at $25 per adult, with discounts for seniors, students, military, children and groups.
More information: http://witchesbrewtours.com