The Legend and the Layout
The haunted Ghost
Tracks of San Antonio, Tejas, are located near the outer, southern edge
of the city's boundary, near a small, somewhat isolated neighborhood where the
streets are named after children. One of San Antonio's historic Spanish missions,
Mission Espada, is also nearby. Located near the San Antonio River, the region
was certainly home to American Indians, and the land in this area of town has
an ancient feeling, holding memories and secrets which far predate the railroad
tracks. I first learned of this legend in 1979, while in high school. The ghost
tracks eventually came to be included in many long, rural routed drives which
I made nightly with friends, and then came the time of my "experiments,"
but I shall touch upon that in a moment. The story surrounding these tracks
begins with a bus of school aged children being struck by a train sometime over
sixty to seventy years ago. Everyone on board the bus was killed in the crash.
The "haunting" begins when you stop an automobile and place it in
neutral at a point before the actual crossing; the spirits of the children are
said to push your vehicle up and over the tracks. Furthermore, it is said that
if you sprinkle your rear bumper with talcum powder, baby powder, or flour,
you will be able to see the hand prints of the ghost children once they have
If you are only familiar with this legend from what you have heard via Art Bell's Coast to Coast AM, you should be aware that the listener who originally informed Art of this odd place had at least one major detail incorrect; you should not stop your vehicle on the tracks, but before them, and for safety's sake, keep your engine running. A vehicle will roll just as easily while idling in neutral as it will with the ignition turned off, and as long as the motor is kept running, essential features such as power steering and power brakes remain available. If you have ever tried controlling an unpowered vehicle which depends upon power steering, you know how challenging this can be, not to mention dangerous. The railroad tracks are still in use, and there is no crossing guard or warning lights. If you plan to try this experiment, scout ahead in your vehicle, do not park on the tracks, and keep your engine running.
The geography around this railroad crossing plays an important role in both the legend and the phenomena. In order to experience the previously mentioned results, one must be approaching the tracks from the direction of the neighborhood named after children. You would first notice that the road curves a bit and quickly drops in elevation by about twenty-five feet just before reaching a several hundred foot straight-away leading to the crossing. The narrow roadway is bordered by dense trees and undergrowth, and the railroad tracks are obscured from clear view until you are about twelve feet away; this is why I emphasize that participants scout ahead. Once you are four feet from the rail crossing, the road rises to meet the tracks in a slight, mounded incline, and once it crosses, it steeply drops seven feet and immediately turns 90 degrees to the right , paralleling the tracks on a straight course for a distance afterward. (Power steering will help you avoid crossing the narrow road and crashing into the fence or a tree.)
The proper place to stop is a little past halfway on the straight-away approaching the tracks , just beyond the point where the road appears to level off from a declining angle. As of the time of my last visit, which was quite a few years ago, the correct starting point was at the forward-most line of the R/R crossing symbol that was painted onto the road's surface. Night's darkness is, without a doubt, the most effective setting in which to experience the haunted ghost tracks, especially if you are out with a date you wish to impress, or frighten.*
has shown a strong relationship between fright and arousal in females; I saw
this news story when presented in context of why horror flicks are popular date
The Logic and Logistics
Years ago, a local television
station (KENS-5, I believe) claimed to have contracted a surveyor to officially
establish the roadway's angle. They claimed the street surface was actually
at a declination of 2 degrees as it approaches the railroad track crossing,
despite an illusionary appearance of a level, or even slightly inclined road.
But the surveyor was not identified and never appeared on camera. Furthermore,
it was reported that there was no record found that would substantiate the story
of a school bus crash, but admission was made that records are poor and incomplete
from the time period in question. It is a noteworthy nuance that the investigation
specified the involvement of a school bus of children, as opposed to a bus of
school-aged children. When I first learned of this legend, the children were
not specifically schoolchildren, but a church or youth group.
Based upon my many multiple visits to the site, I am certain that there is a very slight declination to the road. This morsel of science eliminated the need for me to imagine a group of ghosts gladly servicing long lines of vehicles waiting for the opportunity to be pushed over the tracks on Halloween night. It also eliminates the need to rationalize the phenomena as a magnetic anomaly, a weak theory which has arisen periodically as various news crews have covered the location during Halloween programming, or as part of a serial report on a paranormal topic. As for hand prints revealed upon bumpers or trunks, I must point out that latent fingerprints can be lifted from some objects years after they are made; crimes have been solved thusly. The seemingly self evident conclusion must be that any surfaces displaying hand prints were not properly cleaned to begin with, disqualifying the results. If you intend to experiment with powder on your bumper, clean the surface first using a degreasing agent. (Use caution if you exit your vehicle to check for prints; miscreants have been known to hide nearby hoping to rob unsuspecting victims.) A reasonable mind would conclude that there is nothing to support the legend of the ghost children, but there is yet more to this than meets most ears.
What really makes the haunted ghost tracks really interesting involves seemingly random, anomalous occurrences which defy the physics of a rational mind. Such irregular events eventually drove me to investigate the haunted crossing beyond my initial experiments of testing the road's pitch using a ball, marble, and cord & level. Although I became convinced that the road was not truly level, but declining, I continued to periodically visit the crossing as means of entertaining guests, or myself, during a night time drive. Whenever I chose to play the "stop and roll" game, I fully expected to roll forward, slowly at first, but gradually gaining momentum enough to easily coast up and over the tracks. If I was demonstrating for a guest, it became customary for me to gently slow the rolling in order to dramatize the experience. I share this detail regarding the coasting speed in order to emphasize the significance of what comes next.
The Lasting Impressions
I once spent a great deal of time driving at night, almost exclusively in rural areas, away from light pollution.. It was how I managed to keep my sanity during years without privacy, and it was a great way to watch the sky. It also allowed me talk philosophy with many a friend, and to talk skip on citizen's band radio. I developed fondness for particular areas and roads, and would create variant routes to incorporate these places into a cruise. The ghost tracks became a regular marker point on many a journey, and it was a just another seemingly ordinary night when I encountered the unexpected.
I was driving with a friend, talking while listening to a cassette of something eclectic, I am certain. As we approached the tracks, I stopped my car and put the transmission in neutral, as I had done many dozens of times before. As was a custom of mood, I turned off the headlights , and we sat in darkness, ready for the ritual roll. On a whim, I stopped my engine and shut off the stereo, adding silence to the equation. (First hand experience urges me to stress that you should keep your engine running.) In the distance I could suddenly hear crickets and coyotes. I released the brake. Right on cue, the ghosty-kids began to push; the "children" had actually become a running joke between us.
We were rolling, slowly at first, but then with an increasing momentum. There was no moon, and the darkness effect was particularly deep amongst the shadows cast by a couple of distant lights and the stars through roadside trees and very, very tall weeds. A peacock suddenly wailed in the distance, adding a strange ripple of energy to the night as I mentally scanned the area. Maximum coasting speed was shortly achieved, our velocity being more than sufficient to take us rolling over the notably smooth, raised-road railroad crossing before us; I did not apply any braking. Strangely, the car began to slow down unexplainably, as if there were suddenly a powerful headwind, or drag. The car's momentum dissolved into nothing, and we found ourselves at a total stop, dead center on the tracks. It was truly startling moment. There was no reasonable explanation for the occurrence, only the odd thought that the ghosty-kids wanted some company.
After a moment of reflection between my friend and myself, I started the car and pulled off of the tracks, only to turn around and repeat what suddenly became "the experiment." The phenomena did not reoccur that night, but It did happen again on at least two other separate occasions, and these odd experiences prompted me to begin focusing closely upon more subtle perceptions (mental scans) of the area. I discovered 2 separate vortices of energy off of the roadway a short distance, which I classified as "gates." One was regularly active, while the other was usually closed. Although I did not have the luxury of electromagnetic detection devices, life experiences had taught me to "tune in" energy perceptions with proven accuracy.
I eventually conducted an investigatory experiment of my own styling, with unorthodox "assistance" from an acquaintance named David Ray. I etched a circle on the ground surrounding the active gate, and placed my stereo recorder within that circle, along with a few other etchings and an energy catalyst. My car was parked about 250 feet away, and David Ray (without consulting me) began reading aloud from an archaic book, hoping to "stir things up" a bit. This gradually culminated in a genuinely frightening psychic/spiritual experience in which I perceived a huge magnification of energy from the active gate. Although unperceived by David Ray, he began vomiting, followed by dry retching. Once I ran back to the car, I projected an energy shield around us both, and his symptoms subsided. Although I was, at that point, ready to abandon my cassette recorder and flee, David Ray convinced me that we had to retrieve it first. I will always remember that autumn encounter, courtesy of adrenaline memory etching and a cassette tape-recording of a bizarre heartbeat (E.V.P.).
Although the preceding account
was the only large-scale experiment I ever conducted in the area, my journeys
to the tracks became focused upon the ambient and transitory energies of the
region rather than for the experience of the car's coasting, and I do have a
few other stories related to those energies and other associates.
To complete this partial record of knowledge concerning the haunted crossing, I must add that a friend has also experienced a separate, unexplained halting upon the R/R tracks during the course of his journeys there. Although I have never developed a suitable explanation of the sudden stop phenomena, I long ago reached the conclusion that there are no ghostly children at the haunted crossing. There is something there, however, and whenever it has been active, it has not been particularly nice.
Spoiler: The nearby streets are actually named after the kids of a land developer named McCreless, but the popular notion is to attribute the names to the dead children.