Ghosts of the wild frontier

Does Davy Crockett still remember the Alamo? If ghostly activity in his final, Texan resting place is anything to go by, the answer is yes.

"San Antonio is an awesome place to look for ghosts," enthuses Martin Leal, who conducts nightly ghost tours of the third-largest city in Texas. "There's a lot of interest from ghost hunters. I can go out on a Saturday night and meet all these other people out looking for ghosts. I haven't found another place like this in the United States."

"San Antonio is an awesome place to look for ghosts," enthuses Martin Leal, who conducts nightly ghost tours of the third-largest city in Texas. "There's a lot of interest from ghost hunters. I can go out on a Saturday night and meet all these other people out looking for ghosts. I haven't found another place like this in the United States."

Part of the reason for this is no doubt due to the fact that nearly 2,000 men died at the Alamo, when the Mexican army took the San Antonio fortress from a small band of Texan freedom fighters in the siege of 1836. The bodies of the Alamo's defenders, which included those of Wild West legends Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, were unceremoniously burned. However the remains of the fortress can still be seen in the middle of San Antonio's downtown area, flanked by two historic hotels, the Menger and the Emily Morgan.

Today, these three buildings form a convenient focus for visitors seeking evidence of spectral activity in what is said to be one of the most haunted cities in America.

At the Menger, both guests and staff regularly report seeing ghosts throughout the older section of the hotel, and the bar, lobby and guest rooms have all, apparently, seen their share of inexplicable events.

The ghost that is most often glimpsed at the Menger is that of Sallie White. She was a chambermaid who worked at the hotel over a hundred years ago. In 1876, her common-law husband believed that she was being unfaithful to him and responded by shooting her dead.

With no one else to look after her, the Menger's owners paid for her to be buried. Ever since, there have been regular sightings of a ghostly chambermaid carrying an armful of towels down the hotel's fourth-floor corridor. Apparently she is always dressed the same and, when challenged, simply walks on by.

The hotel's assistant manager, Ernesto Malacara, has spoken to several guests who claim to have encountered Sallie. He says: "It is our belief that this woman's spirit was so moved by the hotel's gesture in burying her remains that she keeps coming back. All kinds of people have seen her, but they tend to give the same description; a woman wearing an old, dark-coloured uniform - something that has not been worn here for many, many years."

There are similar stories at the Emily Morgan. The hotel is named after the mulatto prostitute who is said to have delayed Mexico's General Santa Anna at the crucial Battle of San Jacinto, six weeks after the Alamo siege. The building once housed both a hospital and a morgue, a history commemorated by the pain-racked gargoyles that still guard its walls. The hotel is so convinced of its ghostly guests that it offers generous discounts to those hardy souls prepared to book rooms on the top floors, where the hospital's sick and dying patients were once housed.

Those who join Leal's tour are shown these and other spooky locations, and are regaled with the tales that accompany them. The tour ends with an opportunity to examine the tools of the ghost hunter's trade, including temperature guns. These fire a beam of light that measures the temperature of any area you point it at. The theory is that ghosts draw heat from the atmosphere around them, creating localised "cold spots" and thereby betraying their presence.

Cold spots such as these have been reported at Brentano's bookstore in the town's Rivercenter Mall - which stands on the site where corpses from the Alamo siege were burnt. Intriguingly, these are most commonly detected in the "romance" section. But browsers at Brentano's can rest assured that there's no need for bravery where San Antonio's ghosts are concerned, as they are all said to share a charitable attitude towards the living.

Indeed it is even said that the schoolchildren killed in a train wreck at the city's "ghost tracks" will even push your car off the railway line if you should find yourself stranded there. The Menger's ghosts, too, exhibit a courteous attitude and expect the hotel's staff to treat them with similar respect. "These are all benevolent ghosts," says Malacara, "and we ask our people to react to them in a kind way."

If you really want to boost your chances of busting a ghost, however, you should make your way to the Alamo. Spectres are apparently sighted so frequently that they must sometimes outnumber tourists.

* Until 14 December, Trailfinders (www.trailfinders.com; 020-7937 5400) has flights on American Airlines from Gatwick via Dallas or Heathrow via Chicago to San Antonio for £304 return. Martin Leal's ghost tours (00 1 210 227 3286) run daily and cost $10 (£7). For further information, contact Texas Tourism on 020-7978 5233

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice