[TX] Houston – Haunted Bear Creek Bridge

Haunted Patterson Road in Houston, Texas, is next to Bear Creek Park between Highway 6 and Eldridge Road. [Google Maps: Patterson RoadBear Creek Park]

It follows the route used by Civil War soldiers. The battle took place in the southeastern quadrant of Bear Creek Park.

According to folklore, those soldiers’ ghosts still march along Patterson Road at night. If you stop on the road, they’ll tap on your car.

This area was once a farming community of German immigrants and their descendants. Today, it is part of Addicks Reservoir and Bear Creek Pioneers Park, in Harris County, Houston.

There are two bridges on Patterson Road by Bear Creek Park. One is Langham Creek Bridge, near Eldridge Road. The other is Bear Creek Bridge, closer to Highway 6.

Bear Creek Bridge isn’t supposed to be haunted. I disagree. In daylight, it’s vastly more “eerie feeling” than the other bridge on Patterson Road.

In May 2005, using the “sparkles” camera, two of us — during an informal evening of ghost hunting —  saw visible anomalies at the Bear Creek bridge and none at Langham Creek.

In the digital photo above, taken at Bear Creek Bridge, we captured part of a remarkably vivid orb in the upper left corner of the photo.  It’s not a great ghost photo, but the colors were so startling, it’s worth sharing.  (It can’t be a street light, but it could be a bug. We’ll take more photos in May 2006.)

Then, we paused on that bridge, testing the “tapping Civil War soldiers” legend.

With my car windows open, I heard three rapid, distinct and clear taps on the car, immediately below my outside mirror. They sounded like metal on metal, similar to my car antenna tapping my car roof when I’m driving on a very bumpy road.

It didn’t sound unearthly.

I have no explanation for the tapping, since the car window was fully open and I could see the side of the car easily.  In fact, I looked out of the car right away, to see what caused the noise. I saw nothing unusual at all: No insects, no animals, and nothing brushing against the car.

It was too loud to be the car or the bridge settling. I was in the driver’s seat, so my door was towards the center of the bridge. There was no likelihood of shrubbery, vines, or branches hitting the car.

Generally, paranormal encounters are really different from anything “normal.”

In this case, it took me awhile to accept that something so loud (and apparently mundane) could have been ghostly.  The taps sounded entirely real, normal, and I wanted to know who’d tapped on my car with a baton or something.

It probably took me close to five minutes to realize that there was no normal explanation for what had happened.

I did exactly what I’m telling you not to do: I stopped on a road at night. It was a delightfully spooky experience, but incredibly stupid as well.

Don’t stop on any road where there is traffic. Especially don’t stop on any road after sunset.

Since writing this, I’ve learned that there are an unusual number of car accidents in that area, and not just among ghost enthusiasts. Some people speculate that there’s “bad energy” around Bear Creek Park.

I’m not sure about that, but I can confirm that something taps on cars on Patterson Road.

Don’t try this yourself. Please, just take my word for it.

Or, park up the street. Hike to a point where you can safely observe the bridge. And then, pay attention to cars passing over it, and any anomalies you notice.

[TX] Houston – Haunted Patterson Road

Sign for Langham Creek.
Sign for Langham Creek.

Patterson Road in Houston, Texas is supposed to be haunted. This road borders Bear Creek Park and runs between Highway 6 and Eldridge Road. [Google Maps]

It’s a lovely location.  Arrive in the afternoon and plan a picnic or barbecue in the park. Visit the zoo, read the historical markers, and get a sense of the landscape and its heritage.

Some of Bear Creek Park’s ghost stories are related to Civil War activity. Others are from a displaced community when the floods of 1900 led to landscape changes — and safety measures — to prevent future disasters if a similar flood occurred.

After a heavy rainstorm, this location may flood before other areas do, so — if you’re planning an investigation — check road conditions before you make the drive to the Bear Creek Park area.

Langham Creek by day.
Langham Creek by day.

Much of Bear Creek Park is overgrown with dense foliage. At night, the frogs make sounds that are too loud to ignore.

You’ll hear other noises in the woods, too. They’re probably woodland animals, but they are very odd noises.

One evening in early May 2005, two of us investigated Patterson Road. We visited it in daylight first, and checked it with a compass.

We saw anomalous needle swings in excess of 30 degrees on the right side of the Langham Creek bridge as you’re facing Eldridge Road.

Daytime photos were generally normal, except for one:

Late afternoon at Langham Creek, Houston, TX
Original photo. Note the crispness of the scene, except the upper left corner of the photo.
Close-up of that corner. The mist showed up in my photo and others’.

The sun was quickly setting when I took this photo with a digital camera. There was no light to create that “misty” effect at the upper left corner of the photo. There was no fog, no rain… nothing to account for that mist.

Langham Creek bridge is supposedly the haunted one. According to local legends, the ghosts of Civil War soldiers tap on your car if you park on the bridge with your lights out.

Unfortunately, Patterson Road is busy at night with sporting events at nearby Bear Creek Park. We do NOT recommend parking your car on the roadway with your lights off.

We did pause on the bridge after dark and there were many tapping noises, but nothing that couldn’t be explained by the car settling and the bridge shifting slightly under the weight of the car.

However, Bear Creek bridge is a different story…



[MD] Burkittsville – Real ‘Blair Witch’ Ghosts – Pt. 2

This continues the stories
about the real ghosts and spirits
that haunt the site of The Blair Witch Project.
Be sure to read The real ‘Blair Witch’ ghosts – part one.)

Hauntings are almost guaranteed at any site that’s witnessed battles, suffering… and graves where the dead were not allowed to rest.

Burkittsville and vicinity have all of these from Civil War times.

By 1862, wounded and dying Civil War soldiers in this area were placed in as many as 17 makeshift hospitals. Some of those “hospitals” were actually Burkittsville homes and businesses,  including the town’s tannery.

The soldiers’ ghostly voices are still heard throughout the town, but the tannery is particularly significant.

The tannery was torn down, but the site is still haunted. Anyone who parks his car there overnight may find the vehicle marked with footprints from soldiers’ boots, where the car was kicked or even trampled by the ghosts of marching men.

But there are other ghosts in the area, too.

Stories–loudly proclaimed as “fiction” by some Burkittsville historians–explain why the area may be haunted.

In one account, the retreating Confederate Army paid a man named Wise to bury approximately 50 bodies. Mr. Wise accepted the money, but then tossed the bodies in an abandoned well.

Shortly thereafter, he began seeing the ghost of Sergeant Jim Tabbs of Virginia, who complained to Mr. Wise about being uncomfortable. Mr. Wise returned to the mass grave and discovered that the body on top was that of Sergeant Tabbs, and the corpse was face down. Mr. Wise turned the body so it was facing upwards.

He thought that would be the last of it.

He was very wrong.

Perhaps the spirits of these men revealed the truth to the local officials. Whatever the cause, the authorities confronted Mr. Wise. They forced him to dig up–and properly bury–the fifty bodies that had been left in his care.

Stories say the ghosts never bothered him again, but did they truly rest in peace?

Many other fallen Southern soldiers were left behind as a necessity of war. The good people of Burkittsville recognized that something must be done for the dead, so they buried them in shallow graves. The local residents expected that, once the fighting stopped, the troops would return to bury the men properly.

When the fighting stopped, no one returned for these comrades’ bodies. Finally most — and perhaps all — of the bodies temporarily buried in the older section of Burkittsville’s Union Cemetery, were exhumed in 1868 and re-interred in Washington Confederate Cemetery.

Was this sufficient to put their souls at rest? According to Troy Taylor in his book, Spirits of the Civil War, there have been odd and ghostly occurrences in the vicinity of those shallow graves. Many nights since then, eerie lights from long-extinguished campfires appear in the nearby open fields, and dot the mountainside.

However, the mountainside is also the source of a ghostly energy that visitors to Burkittsville can experience even now. Its history is one of the great stories of the Civil War.

At sunrise on Sunday, September 14, 1862, both the Union and Confederate soldiers expected to surprise each other with an attack. It was later known as the Battle for Crampton’s Gap, but the location is now called “Spook Hill.”

On that fateful morning, the Union soldiers carried only rifles into battle. They were able to travel faster than their Confederate counterparts, who were still pushing cannons uphill when the fighting began. The Union Army’s First Division, Sixth Corps, were overwhelmingly successful in battle.

Many Confederate soldiers died struggling with the heavy cannons. Their lingering spirits are the “spooks” of Spook Hill.

The site of this battle can be found at the edge of Burkittsville, near the Civil War Correspondents’ Memorial Arch, in Gathland Park. If you stop your car at Spook Hill and set it in neutral, you will feel the car being pushed by the spectral hands of the Confederate troops.

They are still struggling to push their cannons to the top of the hill, and achieve victory in the battle which they lost over 130 years ago.

In public, Burkittsville residents claim that this is merely an optical illusion. However, a local resident, Stephen, quietly assures me that the road has been tested using construction levels and transits. Cars do indeed roll uphill, though not as readily as they did before the road was recently repaved.

trees-haunted-pennymathewsOthers insist that the hill is magnetic, and that force is what pulls the cars towards the top. No one has successfully tested that theory yet.

If Spook Hill contains massive amounts of a magnetic ore, this would explain why Heather’s compass did not work properly in the movie, The Blair Witch Project.

Nevertheless, with ghostly campfires, bodies in dry wells and shallow graves, footprints at the former tannery/hospital, and the events at Spook Hill, the tale of what happened to three college students in The Blair Witch Project seems almost pale by comparison to real life.

For more information about haunted Burkittsville and vicinity, ask your local library for these books and videos:

Websites about Burkittsville, and Civil War ghosts:

    • Burkittsville, Maryland’s website
    • Cathe’s Ghost Encounters of the Civil War Kind
    • Author Troy Taylor’s website, Ghosts of the Prairie
    • Ghostly photos, including some from Gettysburg, appear at the Ghost Web site (IGHS)

This two-part article originally appeared at Suite 101, in November 1999.

Photo credits:
Foggy sunrise, by Steven Soenens
Stone Angel, by Brenda Mihalko
Campfire, by Niels Timmer
Skull, by Benjamin Earwicker of Garrison Photography
Trees, by Penny Mathews