Friday, March 29, 2013

Devil’s Backbone (Blanco County, Comal County, Hays County)

"One of the first places I explored after moving to Texas Hill Country was the Devil's Backbone, a haunted highway that runs along a ridge line that used to serve as a cattle trail and now corresponds to Highway 32. Parts of this road seem mysterious and haunted under the best of conditions, and it is little wonder that it should have ghostly lore associated with it. 

Lone hunters and hikers exploring the trails that wind along the slopes of the Devil's Backbone have reported seeing the apparitions of Indians following closely behind them. Some local residents also claim to have seen ghostly cattle ranchers driving their herds through the hills or the ghosts of Spanish monks. Yet others have told of spotting phantasmal troops of Confederate cavalrymen and hearing the sounds of pounding hooves outside their homes but afterward finding no evidence that any horses were actually present." 

That is an excerpt from my chapter on the Devil's Backbone Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country. This road is about 23 miles long and, while most of it runs along the northern edge of Comal County, its western end is anchored in Blanco County and its eastern end in Hays County. I have driven along it many times and investigated it in whole or in part on a number of occasions. Most of the pictures that follow are from a mobile nighttime investigation of the road that I conducted on the evening of March 28 leading into the morning of Good Friday, March 29, 2013, while the ones of the Devil's Backbone Tavern are from a visit on September 8, 2014. 

Left: This is the western end of the Devil's Backbone, where it intersects with Highway 281 -- and where I was welcomed on journey by an orb that turned up in my very first photo! Right: Numerous memorials along with Devil's Backbone are devoted to those who have perished on the winding country highway. This one is at Green's Hollow, about six miles from the western end of the road and one of four convenient places for investigators to stop.

The historic hamlet of Fischer is located about halfway along the Devil's Backbone -- and, incidentally, some six miles from my house -- and is another of the convenient places to stop along the road. Its main features are a post office and an old general store that is now run by the Fischer family as an antique shop.

Several memorials, some dating back to at least 1991, are established at a picnic area about four miles from the eastern end of the Devil's Backbone. This is the third convenient spot for investigators to conduct operations along the highway. Presumably the people whose deaths are remembered at this location did not all actually die in the rest area and are instead memorialized here because of the ease of visiting the spot and maintaining shrines at it. 

The Devil's Backbone Tavern, located near the eastern end of the road that is its namesake and one of the four convenient stops along it, is itself haunted and has a wealth of paranormal stories and incidents associated with it. Incidents people have reported include the jukebox coming on and playing songs people were talking about, pictures flying off of walls and striking people, and disembodied footsteps. It is also the subject of the irreverent "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern" by musician and comedian Todd Snider, who during a performance explained how he came to write it:  

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