Special Guest Blog Post by BJ Ragone, Co-host The Unrefined Podcast
October has finally arrived, which means that for many of us, it is our favorite time of the year. I am, of course, talking about spooky season. It’s the time of year when all the ghouls and goblins come out to play. We become obsessed with all things pumpkin and, of course, want to explore all those amazing places where things may or may not go bump in the night. Lucky for us, San Antonio is full of amazing history and has a variety of haunted places that you can visit to help quench that Halloween thirst.
There are several amazing places that you can visit in San Antonio, and some of these places might not even cost you a thing. That’s right, you can enjoy the sights and history and maybe even have a spooky experience of your own without having to shell out a ton of money in the process.
Let’s start with some of the historic hotels that sit in downtown San Antonio. We at Unrefined have been fortunate enough to investigate all three properties that sit outside of the Alamo and have had some paranormal experiences in each. The three properties are The Menger, The Emily Morgan, and The Crockett Hotel.
Disclaimer: Before going into any of these historic locations to look for ghosts, make sure to ask permission beforehand
The Historic Menger Hotel is probably home to some of the most notorious ghost stories and legends in all of San Antonio. It is the home of two very notable spirits – Sallie White and Captain Richard King. These are just two of the over 30 ghostly residents that still stay at the Menger. You can still explore this haunted property even if you’re not brave enough to stay the night at The Menger.
The lobby is free for you to roam, and if you look at the glass cases, you’ll even see several historical artifacts from the property there. You aren’t limited to the lobby; the hallways are free to roam, but please be respectful to the guests and staff. You may even see Sallie White, whose ghost is known to roam the hallways. If you are lucky enough to enjoy breakfast or lunch in the Colonial Room, you may hear a whisper in your ear but don’t be afraid. It’s just the spirit of a little girl named Sarah who unfortunately lost her life outside of the building.
Behind the Menger is the Crockett Hotel. During our investigation of this historic hotel, we learned that part of the hotel was built on top of a key battleground site. The urban legend is that it is the place where Davey Crockett made his last stand and ultimately lost his life.
While we didn’t encounter his spirit during our stay, we did have a little activity on the third floor of the hotel. We also may have had a mischievous spirit messing with us in the elevator on our way to our room. If you make your way to the Crockett, stop by the lobby and ask for Eduardo. He has a wealth of knowledge about the property, tells some amazing ghost stories about the Crockett, and even has some stories about his time at The Menger.
The third property is The Emily Morgan Hotel. Ride the elevator right on up to the haunted 14th floor, where we stayed during our investigation of this property. The Emily Morgan was built right on what were the long barracks of The Alamo and has had a number of reported paranormal encounters. Before it was a hotel, it was a hospital.
The 14th floor was where they performed surgery. People have reported the smell of antiseptic on that floor. Some of them were even said to have seen ghostly images of hospital staff pushing surgical carts down the halls. We didn’t see any ghostly orderlies, but there are rumors of a nurse who still patrols the hallways. While we were there, we smelled the faint odor of antiseptic from time to time.
You can stay the night at any of these historic and haunted properties; however, if you aren’t up for that, each one is open to the public.
There are two locations outside the Downtown area where you could run in with a spirit or two. Comanche Lookout Park and Hot Wells. These locations are both parks that are open to the public and free to explore at any time.
Folks who venture into the beautiful trails of Comanche Lookout Park will be dazzled by the views at the top of the trail and awed by the castle-like tower on the property. If you listen closely while exploring this location, you may hear the drumbeats and singing of the Native Americans who once used this location to keep watch over their lands.
Hot Wells is a place where people once came to in droves for the healing water of their springs. Unfortunately, the original building, while still partially there, isn’t able to be accessed anymore. This spot was once a place where celebrities would come to seek a bit of downtime; now, it is a place to observe the possible spirit of a chambermaid who can sometimes be seen in the top window on the backside of the building.
HAVE A SPIRIT WITH A SPIRIT!
Who doesn’t like to go out for a drink? It’s not only something we living folks enjoy, as there are several bars you can visit in the downtown area to have a tasty beverage and maybe even a ghostly conversation.
The Menger Bar – This location may not be where the original bar was located, but all the wood you see in there is. This is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his team of rough riders, and his ghost is sometimes still seen there trying to get brave young men to fight the good fight.
The Crockett Tavern – Flickering lights and moving beer glasses are just a couple of the things you may encounter at this spot. During our stay, we asked one of the bartenders if they’d ever encountered any other worldly things here, and they said “yes” without a doubt in their eyes. So, if you’re in the mood for good food, live music, and possibly the spirit of an Alamo defender, this is going to be your spot.
Devils River Distillery – Head on Down East Houston Street to have some of the best whiskey and bourbon we’ve ever tasted. While you are there, ask them about the history of the building or if they’ve seen anything in the historic building. In fact, ask if Adrian, the manager, is around.
Buckhorn Saloon – Stay on East Houston Street, and you’ll make your way to the Buckhorn Saloon. This location is full of stuffed wild animals. The rumor is that the saloon owner would accept these trophies in exchange for food and drinks. However, some of these animals may still be around. People have reported hearing animal noises inside the bar when no one is there.
Of course, you can also spend the night wandering around Alamo Plaza, hoping to see a ghostly battle or some soldiers. The most important thing to remember about exploring haunted places is always to show respect for property and spirits. Most importantly, have fun and remember that these spirits were once alive, just like you and me. They’re just dying to have a little conversation.
Unrefined is a podcast all about exploring the unexplained. Hosts BJ and Metra dive into the history of locations to learn the meaning behind the hauntings. New episodes are out every Wednesdays wherever you get your podcasts.