10 Most Haunted Places in the Texas Hill Country

Texas Hill Country is the home of many people who love wide-open spaces, rolling hills, and the dry climate. It’s a gorgeous place to visit or to put down roots.

It’s also very haunted.

The following  three sites are from an article, 10 Most Haunted Places in the Texas Hill Country. (The full top-10 list is linked at the foot of this article.)

That article got my attention because it’s a very good list. Some of those same haunted sites appeared in my early book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas.

I was at the Driskill Hotel (in Austin) is among the top three on the list. I was at that hotel when they were working on the “suicide” room, to reopen it. Its atmosphere was definitely eerie, and the hotel was reluctant to tell me why the room had been sealed up for so many years… with good reason.

The Driskill has many more ghosts than what’s in this article – I talk about them in my book – and that hotel remains one of my favorite haunts to visit when I’m visiting Texas’ spectacular hill country.

If you’ve encountered ghosts in that part of Texas, I hope you’ll share your stories in comments at this article.

3. Dead Man’s Hole, Burnet Co.

Dead Man's Hole
Flickr/ Steve Jurvetson

Discovered in 1821 by a roving entomologist, Dead Man’s Hole is a gaping Texas hell-mouth that drops some 15-stories into the ground. During the Civil War, Union sympathizers, including Judge John R. Scott, were killed by proud Confederates and dumped down the Dead Man’s Hole. Multiple bodies were retrieved during the 1860’s, but the deaths did not stop during the Civil War. Most recently, one ghost hunter reportedly heard the voice of a young girl pleading, “No Daddy, I just want to go to Dairy Queen.” It is believed that Dead Man’s Hole has claimed as many as 35 bodies.

2. Driskill Hotel – Travis Co.

Driskill Hotel Flickr/ Ian Aberle
Flickr/ Ian Aberle

The Driskill Hotel opened its doors in 1886.  It has been the site of paranormal activity ever since the passing of its wealthy owner, Jesse Lincoln Driskill. His spirit is believed to haunt the hotel. Legends also have it that in Room 525, two honeymoon brides committed suicide in the bathtub–exactly 20 years apart to the day. Once blocked off to the public, the room was reopened in the 1990’s. Since then, inexplicable leaks and faulty lighting have continued to disrupt guests in this room. Multiple guests have also spotted the spirit of Samantha Houston, the child daughter of a Texas Senator. Samantha died tragically at the Driskill in 1887. She was chasing a ball down the stairs when she fell down the grand staircase and broke her neck. Her giggles can be heard throughout the hotel to this day.

1. The Devil’s Backbone, Comal & Hays Cos.

Devil Backbone
Flickr/ Pascal Coleman

The Devil’s Backbone is a limestone ridge that stands tall from Wimberly to Blanco. Ranchers have been known to hear galloping horses running along the ridge. Several people have claimed to see the ghosts of Confederate soldiers, a wounded Native American, and even the White Lady running back and forth across country roads. Once, a four year old boy visiting the area was found speaking often to an “imaginary friend”. When asked about the friend, the boy said she was a little girl with a hole in her head. When his parents asked why she had a hole in her head, he said, “Her daddy put the hole in her head to save her.” The parents were later told by local historians that families of settlers from the region often committed suicide, and even killed their families, rather than being captured by Native American raiders.



[NH] Spalding Inn, Ley Lines (Whitefield, NH)

Update: The Spalding Inn has new owners, and — as far as I know — they’re not highlighting its haunted past.

In April 2013, I visited the Spalding Inn for a ghost hunting event hosted by Jason Hawes. It had been about two years since I’d last investigated the hotel.

Things had changed… really changed.

nh-spalding-side1My April 2013 experiences:

The upper floor of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house seemed just as strange, but more had focused energy.  That is, many of us (including me) didn’t encounter the usual off-the-wall weird energy there.

It was as if whatever’s there had a purpose for being there.

However, some investigators experienced profound encounters and confirmations.  Those seemed to be very quirky experiences.

The “hottest” areas were in and near rooms 15 and 17.

Also, the spirits (ghosts, energy, whatever) at the main level (ground floor) of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house were a lot more responsive to the various electronic devices in use.

During that 2013 visit, Jason Hawes’ wife, Kris, shared many stories.  They were fascinating, because she was describing encounters that complemented mine.

I’d visited the hotel late in 2008. That was after the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, but before the hotel was officially opened.

At the time, I preferred to keep a low profile. Another guest at the hotel was eager to claim the spotlight, and I was happy to let him do so. In general, I’m fairly shy, especially in a predominantly male setting.

Also, unless asked for details, I usually keep many of my observations to myself. I like to think about them for a few days. That gives me time to evaluate my experiences, away from the turbulence of the hauntings.

So, I didn’t talk much about what I’d seen and felt at the hotel. It included an apparition in the coach house, an astonishing collection of dead flies in another room in that building, and a voice — heard aloud — that mimicked me.

Then there was the figure dragging itself along the floor in the main building, the haunted mirror on the first floor, and — back in the coach house — the completely unplugged old-school phone with the “call waiting” light blinking.

So, yes, what I’d witnessed in 2008 was very weird. I just didn’t say much about it at the time.

Five years later — in 2013 — when Kris confirmed many of my experiences, without knowing about them ahead of time, I was delighted.

As of 2013, it seemed like the ghosts were learning from visitors. The ghosts’ responses were more specific, more consistent, and involve more senses so the Spalding Inn had become a more useful research location.

In 2013, in the main building, the dining room felt like more of a “safe haven” from intrusive ghosts. We could get away from them. But, the perimeter was odd. It was like walking through spiritual jello, if that makes sense.

The extended corridor (where the sleeping rooms are) was far more active than it had been.

Previously, I’d categorized most of the activity there as fae and perhaps Native American.

Now, several ghosts seem to have increased their presence there.

(I’m not sure what words to use for that, because I’m not sure if those ghosts were there all along, but fairly silent… or if they’d migrated to that part of the hotel, where they had a bigger audience.)

At the time, Kris confided that Jason and Grant were thinking of selling the hotel. I told her that was a good idea.

(I did not tell her that the energy at the hotel seemed angry. It was a somewhat nasty, drain-everything-from-you kind of energy. Not just a spiritual attack, but I had no doubt the malicious energy wanted to destroy the hotel’s business, crush morale, and generally tear things up. I was happy not to be spending the night there.)

I’m glad they sold the hotel. I wish the new owners very good luck with it.

My Northern NH Ley Line Map

NH ley lines mapFor the 2013 event, I’d created a special information sheet that featured ley lines at and near the Spalding Inn, and northern New Hampshire in general.

The illustration is at right. If you draw these lines on a larger map, you can see where they extend into other states. All locations along the lines are worth exploring.

The ghost figures indicate locations where ghosts have been reported. The star-in-circle marks indicate other paranormal reports (UFOs, etc.) and anomalies.

If you’re researching in NH, check sites on either line.

Choose the northern one if you’re interested in ghosts. Choose the southern one if you’re eager to find Bigfoot (yes, there are reports along that line) or see UFOs.

[MA] Salem – GhoStock 7 Reports – 2009

ghostock7-smIn 2009, I was one of the featured speakers at GhoStock, hosted by Patrick Burns.

Here’s my preliminary report:

What a great event!  All of the panels, workshops and lectures were fascinating.

I especially enjoyed the talks by two demonologists: the late Father Andrew Calder, and John Zaffis (from the “Haunted Collector” TV series), since they delve into realms that I generally avoid.

I presented information about my research into paranormal patterns, including my discovery of the Salem “Judges’ Line.”

U.K. psychic/entertainer Gavin Cromwell and I talked about fact and fiction in ghost hunting. We offered opinions on how legends and preconceived ideas affects our results — and our reputations — as paranormal investigators. Then, we took questions from the audience.

Since Gavin is involved in entertainment and I’m from the research side of paranormal studies, we were able to share different (but sometimes complementary) views on ghosts and haunted places.


saleminn2-illusOn Friday night, Gavin and I led a team of investigators as we explored the magnificent Salem Inn.  Not only is it a great place to stay, it has some colorful ghost stories… and it’s very active.

It’s also on the “Judges’ Line” that I’m researching.

(Note: We checked with the staff and the Inn’s ghosts do not disturb the guests.  So, if you want a good night’s sleep, you can stay at the Salem Inn with confidence. We feel that, since we were eager to contact the ghosts, they responded to us as researchers.)

In Room 17, we encountered measurable activity with the K-II meter as well as the Ovilus.

This was my first chance to use the Ovilus. I was very impressed when it said my full name, plus the full name of another researcher.

Later, it said the full name of someone who —  according to my later research — had lived in the house in the 19th century.  (That early Ovilus was not programmed with names, just random words.)

Note: We were confused — and amused — by how frequently the Ovilus seemed to shout, “Dick!”

Following just a few outbursts, this became embarrassing. After the investigation, we learned that the Salem Inn’s owners are Diane and Dick (Richard) Pabich.

While the Ovilus’ performance somewhat overshadowed the use of the K-II meter, both tools work well together to comfirm results.

When we were joined by members of Mass. Paranormal, we saw that the K-II meter readings spiked each time, just a split-second before the Ovilus “talked” to us.

(Yes, they checked the K-II with the Ovilus next to it, to debunk any interactions.  The EMF surges were not from the Ovilus’ activity.)

It was a great investigation during a fun event weekend.

[NH] Wentworth by the Sea – Ghosts Revisited

On the northeast side of Portsmouth, at New Castle, a grand Victorian hotel overlooks sailboats, fishing boats and yachts.

For generations, the Wentworth Hotel, also called Wentworth-by-the-Sea, was a summer destination for wealthy families.

Built in 1874, this hotel was synonymous with ‘opulence’ through the 1960s. However, times changed and — by the late 1970s — the next generation showed less interest in their parents’ vacation choices.

As a guest during the waning days of the Wentworth’s popularity, I encountered some of the hotel’s ghosts.

At that point, the fourth floor was dusty and abandoned. It had once housed servants who’d arrived with families staying at the hotel.

By the late 1960s, the fourth floor was strictly off-limits to small children… which was exactly why I went there. I’d sneak off when my parents were busy with golf lessons, formal afternoon tea, or swimming laps at one of the hotel’s pools.

My first trip to the fourth floor wasn’t an idle visit. I’d seen a woman in a long dark dress, and a white apron and cap, dash up a narrow staircase from the third to the fourth floor. After waiting until she was near the top of the dusty stairs, I followed her.

At the top of the stairs, she’d vanished. I thought she’d slipped into one of the tiny servants’ rooms on that floor, but I couldn’t find her anywhere. I roamed from one room to the next, noting torn floral wallpaper, rickety wooden chairs and sagging cots.

Eventually, I realized that the only footprints in the dusty hallway were mine.

That was the first of many encounters with the ghosts on the fourth floor and the turrets of the Wentworth Hotel.

In February 2008, I returned to the Wentworth. I was taking pictures and double-checking my stories for Weird Encounters, the sequel to the book, Weird Hauntings. (As I did in Weird Hauntings, I’ve described some of my favorite first-person tales of real ghosts.)

Because I’d spent so many childhood summers at the Wentworth, I had no trouble finding my way back to the fourth floor. Since the Wentworth became a Marriott Hotel in 2003, they’re not dusty little rooms any more; the fourth floor is as opulent as the rest of the resort.

In February 2008, entering the front door of the Wentworth hotel was like returning home. It took me a minute to get my bearings since the entry had been remodeled, but I soon remembered the floor plan and found my way to the elevators.

On the fourth floor, I could feel that familiar, homely ‘ghost feeling’, especially at the staircase landings near the hallway ends. Twice, I saw figures appear and vanish, but perhaps that’s because I expected them. One was a man dressed in black tie formal attire… or he may have been a butler or valet.

The other figure seemed female, but I didn’t see more than a filmy outline that disappeared in a split second.

In addition, it may have been coincidence that the door to one of the most haunted rooms was unlocked and unoccupied during my visit. To me, that suite of rooms feels happily haunted, perhaps by a man of the sea. He’s a loner, and not likely to bother anyone who won’t welcome his presence. I had the idea that he was pleased that I remembered him, and left the door open.

I didn’t see anything, but I smelled the faint aroma of good pipe tobacco.

My visit was brief, but I’ll be back at the Wentworth when the weather is warmer. On this short tour, I was able to confirm that the ghosts are still there. There’s something very comforting about that.

[UK] Stratford-upon-Avon – The Falcon’s Haunted Bedroom

The Falcon Hotel (Stratford-upon-Avon) is haunted. It’s one of England’s most charming hotels, with 20 rooms in its haunted 16th-century wing, and 64 rooms in the more modern wing.

In June 2007, several Hollow Hill investigators spent the night in the haunted wing of the Falcon. It was comfortable and quiet, even though our rooms overlooked the street.

Though we had a good night’s sleep, we encountered a variety of low-level paranormal phenomena. Odd noises, unexplained chills, creaking floorboards with no one there… it was routine for a cozy, haunted hotel. And, it was fun!

However, we’d heard that one room at the hotel is especially haunted. It’s a corner room in the 16th century wing.

It was one of the silliest hauntings I’ve seen in awhile… but, the UK is like that. It has the widest possible range of ghostly phenomena. (I absolutely love investigating in the UK, and especially in England.)

We were lucky to have brief access to the hotel’s most haunted room.

Our adventure began when I was in the lobby and overheard a guest talking about how chilly his room had been. He said he couldn’t find the air conditioning controls.

The hotel moved him to another room, and his previous (chilly) room had been prepared for new guests.


One of the hotel clerks quietly explained to us why the guest couldn’t find the a/c controls: There was no air conditioning in that room.

We rushed to see if the door to that room was still vacant, and if the door had been left open.

It was.

Our team had just a few minutes to explore the room. It seemed elegant and very comfortable.

Haunted bed, Falcon hotel, SuAOur EMF readings and pendulum work — as well as our ‘gut feelings’ — indicated that the bed was the focal point of the hauntings.

The bed seemed to have a ‘hot spot’ over the center of it.

It’s unlikely that the bed itself is haunted. But, if that’s an antique bed frame, the bed (not the mattress) might have its own ghost.

(If anything tragic happens in a bed, such as a death, hotels generally replace the bed immediately. Some even close the room for a week or so, as a precaution. The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas went to extremes with one room they sealed up for years.)

Also, in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Falcon Hotel, an earlier bed in the room might be where something — or several events over the past 400+ years — left an imprint.

Just as ghosts don’t always realize that time has passed, they may not realize that the current bed is different from the one that they slept in, centuries ago.

We each took photos of the bed. I took several with my film camera and at least a dozen with my digital camera.

That’s when this story turned silly.

Only one of my digital photos of the bed shows the bed. All the rest show random corners of the room… the kinds of photos I rarely take.

(And, when I do, they’re just “extra” photos, in case an orb is hovering in a corner. Corners are never the main subjects of my photos. That’s especially true when, in cases like this, I have just brief access to a haunted site. Every moment is important. I take pictures of the objects most likely to be haunted.)

The following are two of the preposterous pictures I saw later, when I studied my photographs.

Falcon Hotel, another corner of the haunted room

Falcon hotel - one corner of the room

I know took five or six photos of a team member using a pendulum. Also, in at least one photo, I focused on my own hand (holding an EMF meter) and I was sure it was in the frame.

But… it seems that my cameras recorded almost everything but the bed.

Yes, I know that this sounds odd, but the other investigators will tell you the same: I took many photos of the bed.

When I looked at the images, later, only one photo shows the bed. The rest are photos that I didn’t take.

It’s not a malicious haunting. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend the night in that room, and I’m fairly sure that I’d get a good night’s sleep.

However, I’d be sure to have enough blankets on the bed, in case the room seemed as chilly as described by the previous guest.

That guest’s innocent comments about the air conditioning convinced me that the room is haunted.

In fact, in early June 2007, the Falcon Hotel didn’t have air conditioning. The guest was describing a large ‘cold spot’ around the bed.

(Of course, if it’s a sultry night, that’s probably the room you’ll want to be in.  Ask the concierge for information about the hotel’s most haunted room.)

This is a good example of how ghost hunters sometimes find haunted locations: We listen (overhear) others’ conversations about odd and unusual things. If it’s something that could be ghostly — like a “cold spot” — we follow-up, if we can.

To learn more about the Falcon Hotel in downtown Stratford-upon-Avon, England, or to reserve a room, visit their website: The Falcon Hotel. (Site will open in a new window.)