San Antonio's spookiest haunted locations and urban legends

Sure, you've heard of La Llorona and the Donkey Lady, but did you know that the founder of the legendary King Ranch is rumored to haunt San Antonio too? Over its over 300-year history, the Alamo City has had ample time to collect plenty of ghost stories and urban legends.

From the spirit of a murdered chambermaid to '70s-era cryptid sightings, we gathered together some of SA's most infamous spooky tales for your spine-tingling enjoyment.
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The Alamo
It should come as no surprise that the Alamo is said to be very haunted. According to TPR, ghosts that have been seen at the historic site include soldiers as well as a small child that purportedly wanders the grounds.
Shuttterstock / 7505811966
The Alamo
It should come as no surprise that the Alamo is said to be very haunted. According to TPR, ghosts that have been seen at the historic site include soldiers as well as a small child that purportedly wanders the grounds.
Terrell Castle, a.k.a. The Lambermont
Now home to a fancy wedding venue, this historic building was built for the influential Edwin Holland Terrell and fashioned after European castles. The property remained a source of pride until Terrell’s suicide in 1910 after years of suffering with syphilis. Unfortunately, his initial attempt failed, and it took him 10 days to die. Other tragic tales associated with the mansion include a contractor who threw himself from a balcony during construction, and a man who killed his wife and her lover when he caught them in bed together during World War II. Fortunately, the 12,000 square foot building is expansive enough to accommodate plenty of guests, so couples shouldn’t be too worried about ghastly wedding crashers.
Sanford Nowlin
Terrell Castle, a.k.a. The Lambermont
Now home to a fancy wedding venue, this historic building was built for the influential Edwin Holland Terrell and fashioned after European castles. The property remained a source of pride until Terrell’s suicide in 1910 after years of suffering with syphilis. Unfortunately, his initial attempt failed, and it took him 10 days to die. Other tragic tales associated with the mansion include a contractor who threw himself from a balcony during construction, and a man who killed his wife and her lover when he caught them in bed together during World War II. Fortunately, the 12,000 square foot building is expansive enough to accommodate plenty of guests, so couples shouldn’t be too worried about ghastly wedding crashers.
Gunter Hotel Room 636
With a story this grisly, it’s no wonder people claim this room at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel is haunted. The tale goes that a man named Walter Emmerick checked into the hotel under the alias “Albert Knox” in early 1965. Though he checked in alone, he was seen with a woman. A few days later, a maid entered the room to discover the man standing next to a blood-soaked bed. He then gathered the sheets and fled the room. Upon investigation, employees discovered that the entire room was covered in blood. Some say Emmerick butchered the woman in the room, while others allege that there wasn’t enough blood to substantiate that claim. Police later found the man at the St. Anthony Hotel, where he had killed himself. True crime fans and ghost hunters alike can get more details about the crime, and subsequent sightings of spirits, from a 2013 post on the hotel’s blog.
Sanford Nowlin
Gunter Hotel Room 636
With a story this grisly, it’s no wonder people claim this room at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel is haunted. The tale goes that a man named Walter Emmerick checked into the hotel under the alias “Albert Knox” in early 1965. Though he checked in alone, he was seen with a woman. A few days later, a maid entered the room to discover the man standing next to a blood-soaked bed. He then gathered the sheets and fled the room. Upon investigation, employees discovered that the entire room was covered in blood. Some say Emmerick butchered the woman in the room, while others allege that there wasn’t enough blood to substantiate that claim. Police later found the man at the St. Anthony Hotel, where he had killed himself. True crime fans and ghost hunters alike can get more details about the crime, and subsequent sightings of spirits, from a 2013 post on the hotel’s blog.
The Ghost Tracks
You can’t talk about urban legends in San Antonio without covering the Ghost Tracks. This long-dispelled myth is still a local favorite, and has repeatedly been voted Best Urban Legend in the Current’s Best of San Antonio poll. As the story goes, you can park your car at this spot on the train tracks and get “pushed” forward by some spectral helpers. As a bonus, if you put flour on the back of your trunk, you might even see their little handprints. The push purportedly comes from ghosts of children who met an untimely end in the early 1900s when a train rammed into a bus at the location. However, in 2003, archivist Matt DeWaelsche traced the story's origin to a 1938 bus accident in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even worse, the tracks were "exorcised," if you will, by a construction project. When Union Pacific added a second track to the intersection, they leveled out the elevation, removing the downward slant that vehicles would gently roll down when they were supposedly being "pushed" by the ghosts. Turns out it was just a trick of physics the whole time.
Photo via Google Maps
The Ghost Tracks
You can’t talk about urban legends in San Antonio without covering the Ghost Tracks. This long-dispelled myth is still a local favorite, and has repeatedly been voted Best Urban Legend in the Current’s Best of San Antonio poll. As the story goes, you can park your car at this spot on the train tracks and get “pushed” forward by some spectral helpers. As a bonus, if you put flour on the back of your trunk, you might even see their little handprints. The push purportedly comes from ghosts of children who met an untimely end in the early 1900s when a train rammed into a bus at the location. However, in 2003, archivist Matt DeWaelsche traced the story's origin to a 1938 bus accident in Salt Lake City, Utah. Even worse, the tracks were "exorcised," if you will, by a construction project. When Union Pacific added a second track to the intersection, they leveled out the elevation, removing the downward slant that vehicles would gently roll down when they were supposedly being "pushed" by the ghosts. Turns out it was just a trick of physics the whole time.
Emily Morgan Hotel
The Emily Morgan has earned its rep as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. Built-in 1924, the Gothic-style building served as the city’s Medical Arts Building until 1976, housing 50 hospital beds complete with a psychiatric ward and a morgue. Adding to the creep factor, 600 men lost their lives on the property's grounds during the battle of the Alamo, according to the Express-News. Among the stories of the paranormal at the hotel are witness accounts of a vanishing apparition of a nurse, unexplained noises including eerie echoing footsteps on the ninth floor, and even a guest who allegedly felt the bone-chilling touch of a ghost when waiting in the lobby.
Shutterstock / Kit Leong
Emily Morgan Hotel
The Emily Morgan has earned its rep as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States. Built-in 1924, the Gothic-style building served as the city’s Medical Arts Building until 1976, housing 50 hospital beds complete with a psychiatric ward and a morgue. Adding to the creep factor, 600 men lost their lives on the property's grounds during the battle of the Alamo, according to the Express-News. Among the stories of the paranormal at the hotel are witness accounts of a vanishing apparition of a nurse, unexplained noises including eerie echoing footsteps on the ninth floor, and even a guest who allegedly felt the bone-chilling touch of a ghost when waiting in the lobby.
Donkey Lady Bridge
You can’t live in San Antonio long without hearing a version of the story of the Donkey Lady. The story goes something like this: In the 1950s, a young woman attempted to save her children from a house fire (that some say was lit by her husband) — but failed. The event left her horribly disfigured, with her fingers and toes melted together to create hoof-like nubs and her head warped into an elongated, donkey-like shape. Afterward, she was banished to live in the woods. Ever since, the Donkey Lady has roamed the woods of Bexar County, crying out for her children and generally pissed off. Want to meet her? It’s said if you stand on a stone bridge in the Medina River Greenway and call her name three times, she’ll appear.
Michael Karlis
Donkey Lady Bridge
You can’t live in San Antonio long without hearing a version of the story of the Donkey Lady. The story goes something like this: In the 1950s, a young woman attempted to save her children from a house fire (that some say was lit by her husband) — but failed. The event left her horribly disfigured, with her fingers and toes melted together to create hoof-like nubs and her head warped into an elongated, donkey-like shape. Afterward, she was banished to live in the woods. Ever since, the Donkey Lady has roamed the woods of Bexar County, crying out for her children and generally pissed off. Want to meet her? It’s said if you stand on a stone bridge in the Medina River Greenway and call her name three times, she’ll appear.
Grey Moss Inn
Mary Howell, the original owner of the Grey Moss Inn, died decades ago. But that hasn’t stopped her from hanging around this Hill Country restaurant. Employees have seen a vision of an older woman they say looked like Howell, and reported poltergeist-esque incidents including candle flames that flickered back to life after being blown out. After operating for more than 90 years, the Grey Moss Inn was shuttered in 2020, but it has since reopened under new ownership as a Mexican restaurant. The new owners have also embraced the inn’s local spirit, whom they call “El Fantasma de Grey Moss Inn.”
Michael Karlis
Grey Moss Inn
Mary Howell, the original owner of the Grey Moss Inn, died decades ago. But that hasn’t stopped her from hanging around this Hill Country restaurant. Employees have seen a vision of an older woman they say looked like Howell, and reported poltergeist-esque incidents including candle flames that flickered back to life after being blown out. After operating for more than 90 years, the Grey Moss Inn was shuttered in 2020, but it has since reopened under new ownership as a Mexican restaurant. The new owners have also embraced the inn’s local spirit, whom they call “El Fantasma de Grey Moss Inn.”
The Menger Hotel
The Gunter isn’t the only downtown hotel with ghostly occupants — there are sightings aplenty at the Menger, too. People say they see the spirit of Sallie White, a chambermaid who was shot by her husband in the 1870s because he thought she was being unfaithful. She’s been sighted wearing a uniform, holding fresh towels in her hands. There’s also the ghost of Capt. Richard King, founder of the famous King Ranch. He died at the Menger and has been seen wearing a bolo tie and black hat in the aptly named King Suite.
Sanford Nowlin
The Menger Hotel
The Gunter isn’t the only downtown hotel with ghostly occupants — there are sightings aplenty at the Menger, too. People say they see the spirit of Sallie White, a chambermaid who was shot by her husband in the 1870s because he thought she was being unfaithful. She’s been sighted wearing a uniform, holding fresh towels in her hands. There’s also the ghost of Capt. Richard King, founder of the famous King Ranch. He died at the Menger and has been seen wearing a bolo tie and black hat in the aptly named King Suite.
San Antonio State Hospital
There’s a reason that psychiatric hospitals are often associated with hauntings — historically, they were hotbeds of neglect and abuse. The San Antonio State Hospital, formerly known as the Southwestern Insane Asylum, is no exception, as its history is filled with corruption, scandal and death. Established in 1892 with the capacity to house a few hundred individuals, by the early 1900s the facility was able to accommodate 2,000 or so patients. However, over the following several decades it was almost always above capacity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people say that anguished spirits still haunt the hospital today.
UTSA Libraries Digital Collections / San Antonio Light Photograph Collection
San Antonio State Hospital
There’s a reason that psychiatric hospitals are often associated with hauntings — historically, they were hotbeds of neglect and abuse. The San Antonio State Hospital, formerly known as the Southwestern Insane Asylum, is no exception, as its history is filled with corruption, scandal and death. Established in 1892 with the capacity to house a few hundred individuals, by the early 1900s the facility was able to accommodate 2,000 or so patients. However, over the following several decades it was almost always above capacity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people say that anguished spirits still haunt the hospital today.
Victoria's Black Swan Inn
Tucked off of Austin Highway, Victoria’s Black Swan Inn is considered one of the most haunted places in the country, and is a destination for ghosthunters and thrillseekers alike. While people claim that ghosts from as far back as a Native American encampment, as well as from The Battle of Salado Creek — in which the Mexican Army and Texans clashed in 1842 — are present at the location, more recent ghosts also apparently haunt the property. A couple, Joline Woods and Park Street (yes, that was his real name), previously lived here. Joline died of cancer and Park later killed himself, and both of their ghosts have reportedly been sighted at the Inn. If you don’t believe in ghosts but like creepy fun, the Inn often hosts supernatural and spooky-themed events.
Photo via Instagram / ernie_v88
Victoria's Black Swan Inn
Tucked off of Austin Highway, Victoria’s Black Swan Inn is considered one of the most haunted places in the country, and is a destination for ghosthunters and thrillseekers alike. While people claim that ghosts from as far back as a Native American encampment, as well as from The Battle of Salado Creek — in which the Mexican Army and Texans clashed in 1842 — are present at the location, more recent ghosts also apparently haunt the property. A couple, Joline Woods and Park Street (yes, that was his real name), previously lived here. Joline died of cancer and Park later killed himself, and both of their ghosts have reportedly been sighted at the Inn. If you don’t believe in ghosts but like creepy fun, the Inn often hosts supernatural and spooky-themed events.
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