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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
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
Latest stories from i100
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

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London