Monday, December 29, 2014

Texas Capitol (Downtown Austin)

"Few if any places in a particular state are cauldrons of so many conflicting passions, beliefs, and motivations as their capitol buildings and there is not one that has not over the years acquired a reputation for being haunted. It should thus hardly be surprising that the capitol of a state that has historically been so marked by violence, corruption, and zealous ideologies as Texas should have a wealth of ghostly lore and strange phenomena associated with it. 

'The capitol is haunted day and night,' Fiona Broome, a psychic, ghost hunter, and author of The Ghosts of Austin, Texas said in a 2008 interview. 'If you've got a nice, misty day there, people see ghosts walking up the path to the capitol building all the time.'" 

Those are the first two paragraphs of my chapter on the Texas Capitol for the Austin section of Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country! Below left, the statue of David Crockett in the south foyer of the capitol building with the rotunda in the background; below center, the floor of the rotunda, a whispering chamber where the spirits of workers killed during construction are sometimes seen; below right, the domed ceiling of the rotunda more than 300 feet above. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Varhola Appearance on December 13 'Paranormal View'

If you missed my appearance in the December 13 episode of the Paranormal View, you can now check it out in archiveon the Para-X radio network! Thanks to co-hosts Henry Foister, Kat Klockow, and Geoffrey Gould for running such a terrific and enjoyable show (and posting a useful synopsis of it). Among other things, we discussed my Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country, next title in the America's Haunted Road Trip series of travel guides, and places I visited and investigated while working on it. 

Comments are welcome! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Driskill (Downtown Austin)

"There is a lot to recommend the Driskill hotel and any number of things that might make it appealing to visitors. It is the oldest operating hotel in the state capital of Texas, is steeped in history, has any number of colorful stories associated with it, and is beautiful and luxurious. As one might expect from its inclusion here, of course, it is also widely reputed to be haunted, and the hotel does nothing to discourage this belief. 

When my wife and I visited the hotel and had brunch in its 1886 Cafe and Bakery one Sunday in November 2014, in fact, and I asked our waiter if the property was haunted, he immediately responded that he believed it was. He then also went and got us a couple of handouts provided by the hotel, one that listed some of the hauntings associated with it and another that described its mundane history.

Those are the first two paragraphs of my chapter on the Driskill hotel for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill CountryOne person who went on the record about their supernatural experiences at the Driskill was Johnette Napolitano, lead singer for the alternative rock band Concrete Blonde, who commemorated her encounter in the 1992 song "Ghost of a Texas Ladies' Man." 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Richard Moya Park (Southeast Austin)

"To those uninterested in or oblivious to the paranormal, Richard Moya Park, a wooded tract of land along the banks of Onion Creek, is best known for its bridge, which consists of three black-iron spans that were once located in downtown Austin. Initially constructed at a cost of $45,000, it served as a toll bridge for just two-and-and-half years, until June 18, 1886, when it was closed and then removed to make way for a wider span. The history of the bridge is briefly described on a Texas Historic Landmark marker erected at its south end in 1980 ... 

... What the marker does not say is that the bridge itself is believed by many to be haunted and has been the subject of numerous ghostly tales over the past century, most of which allude to an ill-fated romance that ended in violent death. Many visitors to this Blackland Prairie site, especially those who have actually walked across the bridge, have also reported seeing apparitions of various sorts. For what it is worth, the site in Austin where the bridge used to be located has no accounts of paranormal phenomena whatsoever associated with it as far as I am able to ascertain (it is, however, noted for being home to about 250,000 bats and for having one of the most impressive twilight emergences in the country.)" 

Those are the first two paragraphs of my chapter on Richard Moya Park for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country! Between them appears the text from the historical marker at the site, as shown below left; below right, a view of rain-swollen Onion Creek; below center, one of the ponds formed by recent flooding at the site; bottom left, a friendly lizard that is not the worst thing I have ever encountered in a public restroom; bottom right, the back entrance to Richard Moya Park from Moore's Bridge Road and a possible means for investigating the bridge at night despite the park being closed during hours of darkness. 



Monday, December 8, 2014

The Mansion (Boerne/Kendall County)

"Sometime around 1870, a French architect named Frank LaMotte constructed the impressive limestone building on Main Street in the town of Boerne that has since been known in the local area simply as the Mansion. This tradition is reflected in the name of the restaurant, La Mansion, that is located in it today. And just as its name has been carried down through the years, so too have the stories of spiritual activity in the house and a persistent reputation for being haunted, even as it has been passed to different owners and used for a variety of purposes.
... La Mansion certainly bears visiting by anyone interested in the paranormal, whether they would like to conduct a formal investigation or just have a meal in a place where spirits are firmly believed by many to be present. As I have found in any number of places I have visited and written about over the years, whether the stories about them are true actually has very little to do with whether or not they are really haunted." 

Those are the first and last paragraphs of my chapter on the historic building in Boerne known as the Mansion! Today it houses a notably good Mexican restaurant but is no less haunted than it ever was. Above right, La Mansion as it appears from Main Street; above left, entrance to the building's cellar, where Fred, one of the three ghosts that haunts the place, is said to reside; below left, the stairway connecting the main dining room with the upper level, where the other two ghosts associated with the home, David and Augusta, are often encountered. 


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ye Kendall Inn (Boerne/Kendall County)

"One of the most impressive and welcoming of the many haunted establishments that can be found throughout Hill Country is, without a doubt, Ye Kendall Inn, the sprawling hotel, restaurant, and event complex that dominates the main square in the town of Boerne. 

Ye Kendall Inn is well known in the local area for being haunted and I was well aware of its reputation before visiting it for the first time. I was therefore both amused and took it as an auspicious sign when I walked into the hotel bar that the barmaid and a patron were discussing the odds that some items that had ended up on the floor in the kitchen had been flung there by a ghost. My wife and I were also struck by the irony that some of the patrons in the bar at that point were having a few drinks ahead of a wake that was about to start there for a local man who had recently died. Perhaps his spirit will join those that have long been noted in this historic hostelry that has its roots in the mid-19th century and the early days of settlement in the rugged hills northwest of San Antonio." 

That is an excerpt from the chapter on Ye Kendall Inn that I wrote for Ghosthunting San Antonio, Austin, and Texas Hill Country! Above, a view toward the front of the inn, with a Texas state historic marker in the foreground; below left, a glimpse at some of the more than a dozen historic cabins and cottages that are available to guests at the inn; below right, a rare picture of me in the field, to include my bag of investigative equipment.