San Antonio's very haunted downtown

Disembodied whispers and phantom footsteps, doors open and close by themselves, the lights flicker as a ghostly apparition appears... With a rich history that spans over three centuries, it should come as no surprise that San Antonio ranks as one of the most haunted cities in the United States, and the downtown area hosts the highest concentration of spooky spots. I recently made a trip to the city's historic center in order to investigate these mysterious claims.

Hauntings are often associated with tragedy and death, so understandably the Alamo boasts its fair share of ghoulish activity. For example, there is a fanciful legend about six ghostly monks who suddenly appeared when Mexican soldiers were attempting to demolish the mission following the famous battle. According to the tale, the monks raised fiery swords above their heads, warning the terrified soldiers to leave the structure intact, which they readily agreed to do. During the 1890s, when the Alamo served as the city jail, ghost encounters by prisoners were so common that they frequently made the local newspapers. To this day the Alamo is, apparently haunted by a myriad of distinct spirits including a sentry in 1830s garb, a blonde boy who peers out the windows over the gift shop, Davy Crockett, and even the late actor John Wayne.

As I enjoyed a drink at the adjacent Menger Hotel, I learned that manifestations include a 19th Century maid named Sally White who was murdered by her abusive husband. Today Sally’s ghost wanders the hallways. The Menger Bar, which once served as a raucous gathering place for soldiers and adventurers is allegedly haunted by the ghost of President Theodore Roosevelt no less. Other haunted hotels in downtown San Antonio include The Emily Morgan Hotel, Sheraton Gunter Hotel, and St. Anthony Hotel.

Even the massive Alamodome complex, constructed in the 1990s is cursed, according to some employees that I spoke to. Maintenance workers claim that the 5th floor is especially active and that they often hear banging noises and the sounds of a woman sobbing. Visitors have described strange smells, including lilacs and cigar smoke, and on one occasion a floating, female apparition was observed by several eyewitnesses. — Ken Gerhard

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