8 haunted places and urban legends on the South Side of San Antonio

San Antonio has been called not only one of the most haunted cities in the US but also the world

A file image of train tracks. (Image by Jiří Rotrekl from Pixabay)

Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and Live From the Southside, a new local- and Latina-owned magazine that works to improve & expand community relationships through promoting events, stories and businesses.

For many years, San Antonio has been called not only one of the most haunted cities in America but the world as well. Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the “8 Most Haunted Cities in America”; the New York Post listed it among “The 10 Most Haunted Cities in America”; the Travel Channel named it among the “Top Haunted Cities in America”; and National Geographic listed it in the “10 of the World’s Most Haunted Cities.”

Let’s dig a little deeper into the haunts in the South Side!

Chinese Graveyard: The Chinese Graveyard is now called the Lona China Cemetery, located between 10359 and 10445 S. Zarzamora St. Located near the campus of Texas A&M University at San Antonio, the cemetery is currently on private property. Over 120 years ago, the property was a private cemetery for the Guzman family. Legend has it that a member of the prestigious Guzman family was having a forbidden affair with a Chinese woman. One night, lightning struck the man and his horses, killing them instantly. Both were buried in the cemetery. The man’s Chinese lover went to his gravesite and committed suicide and was buried next to her lover. Today, the woman’s ghost can be seen at night in various forms, and the spirit of a man can be seen riding his horse. Legend also has it that if you park your car near the front of the cemetery at night, turn your car off, and flash your lights five times, you’ll hear voices.

Donkey Lady Bridge: The Donkey Lady Bridge is located on Applewhite Road, crossing Medina River, close to the Toyota Manufacturing Plant. The Donkey Lady legend has a few different stories, depending on who you ask. However, one of the more popular versions is that her husband set a fire, badly disfiguring her and killing her children. The Donkey Lady seems to be easily recognized by her fingers and toes, which are fused, resembling hooves. She is always seen on the Donkey Lady Bridge. Legend has it that if you honk your horn and yell out her name, she will viciously attack your vehicle.

Mission Espada: Mission Espada, part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, is located at 10040 Espada Road. Founded by the Spanish in 1690 and after moving locations a few times, the mission settled in its current location in 1731. The mission flourished up until 1826, when they were raided by the Comanche, destroying their cornfields and killing their livestock. Also that year, a fire in the mission kitchen burned the majority of the mission, with only the chapel surviving. While no one lives at the mission today, spirits have been seen by Mission Espada visitors and volunteers, including some Spanish soldiers on horseback, an inhibited former Spanish conqueror, and a converted native American who has been seen praying at the altar.

Hot Wells Hotel & Spa Ruins: The Hot Wells Hotel & Spa Ruins is located in the 5500 block of S. Presa St. In the latter part of the 1800s and the early part of the 1900s, the Hot Wells Hotel & Spa was a popular tourist destination. However, after two fires, one in 1894 and one in 1925, all that was left of the original hotel was a pile of ruins, while the bathhouse and a three-story building were all that remained of the entire property. On April 30, 2019, the site was reopened as Hot Wells of Bexar County. Some people say that the site is haunted, even today. For instance, Justin Parr, a caretaker of the site, said he’s seen a woman standing in the window of a room that is boarded shut.

Ghost Tracks: The Railroad Tracks (AKA Ghost Tracks) can be found at the intersection of Shane and Villamain Roads. This is probably San Antonio’s most famous urban legend. According to the legend, in the 1940s, a school bus filled with children stalled on the railroad tracks and was struck by a train, killing everyone aboard the school bus. Many people said that after that tragic accident, any vehicles that became stalled on the railroad tracks were pushed to safety by the ghosts of the children. However, Snopes debunked this legend. While an accident did happen, it did not occur in San Antonio. In December of 1938, in Salt Lake City, Utah, 26 children were killed when their school bus stalled on a set of railroad tracks and hit by a freight train.

The Rose Window: The Rose Window can be seen at the Mission San Jose Catholic Church (on the south wall of the sacristy), located at 701 East Pyron Ave. “Sculpted in 1775, the Rose Window is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America,” the church’s website states. Legend has it that Pedro Huizar, a Mexican sculptor, was hired to create the window, measuring 10 feet high and 6 feet wide, during the latter part of the 18th century. He named it the Rose Window after his beloved Rosa. However, on her way to join him in Texas from Spain, Rosa was lost at sea. Pedro Huizar completed The Rose Window as a declaration of enduring love.

Old Stinson Field Graveyard: The Old Stinson Field Graveyard is now called the San Jose Burial Park and is located at 8235 Mission Road. There seem to be two ghostly outcasts that call the Old Stinson Field Graveyard home. The first is a 7-foot-tall Chinese woman who lived in the area during the 1930s. Constantly ridiculed for her height, the depressed woman committed suicide. The second ghostly outcast that haunts the cemetery is that of an unknown bearded woman.

San Antonio State Hospital: The San Antonio State Hospital, formerly known as the Southwestern Insane Asylum, is located at 6711 S. New Braunfels Ave. The facility originally opened on April 6, 1892, as the Southwestern Insane Asylum. Many people say that spirits still haunt the grounds today. Also, the souls of former patients who lived and died at the hospital can be seen in the windows of the second floor, according to legend.

Have you encountered any of these haunts while on the South Side? Let us know!

This article initially appeared on Live from the Southside.

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