Spring 2010: San Antonio, Texas. We are there for work reasons. It’s the first time I’d ever been to Texas. It was the second time for my friend. We were staying in a fairly generic hotel about a half hour from downtown. There is nothing around but flatland, a highway an a couple of shopping centers. It was hot, well into the 80s. Our work related stuff didn’t take up much of our time, thank God, so that enabled us to get out and explore the city. We had a car - courtesy of the job - and apparently plenty of time on our hands so we wanted to utilize it as much as possible.
We spent a lot of time downtown, checking out San Antonio’s famed River Walk - a beautiful stretch of stores, restaurants, and cafés, all nestled against the San Antonio river, which snakes its way through the city and beyond from what I can tell. It’s a fairly new construction and in a way, it sort of brings to mind Amsterdam, although I’d never been there either. There are tours one could take up the river in a boat, where they can learn a lot about the history of the city. We didn’t take this tour, preferring just to walk it as far as it would allow us. And we walked it far, all the way down to where the stores disappear and you come upon rows of apartments and condos. We probably could have kept going but the heat was getting to be a little too much, and of course we had to walk all the way back to where we parked the car - a good eight blocks away from where we first descended the stairs from the streets above.
Above the River Walk is downtown San Antonio proper, with its many historical sites which naturally fascinated a history buff like me. The Spanish Governor’s mansion and an old church, reported to be one of the first Catholic churches in the new world, built by the Spanish when San Antonio was Mexico. We took it all in, then decided to head back to the hotel to get out of the heat and just have time for ourselves, individually, before heading out again for something to eat. While in my room, I caught up on some personal things, answered some messages, uploaded some photos I had taken while drinking a rancid cup of instant coffee courtesy of Starbucks. It was then I got the email about a place called “The Ghost Tracks.” I followed the link:
It’s an urban legend now. The story is that sometime back in the 1930s or 1940s, a school bus full of children stalled on some railroad tracks. A speeding train plowed into it, killing everyone aboard. According to the legend, any car that comes to a stop on these tracks feel the hands of the dead children “pushing” their car off the tracks. The idea is to put the car into neutral and wait and sooner or later, they will begin to push your car. After reading this, I knew we had to go check it out.
Not far from the San Juan Mission - which we took in before heading out to the railroad tracks - the area is pretty much deserted, far off the beaten track. There is really nothing around but open land, overgrown grass and weeds, and very few homes. It took some doing to actually find the location but once we did, we were thrilled and excited to test out this urban legend.
The first thing we did was to make sure that the railroad wasn’t an active one. There are no gates or signals at this intersection. Just an old, black and white, X shaped railroad crossing sign. We got out of the car and stepped onto the tracks and looked both ways for any indication of an oncoming train. Better to be safe than sorry. Then we got back into the car, drove the car up onto the tracks and killed the engine. Sure enough, the car began to move - right across the tracks to the other side. Could the legend actually be true?
Not so fast. As someone who is let’s say a little “skeptical” about the paranormal, I knew there had to be a good reason why this had happened. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the reason.
On the other side of the tracks there is a slope, which heads downward to the road on the other side. The road rides along a wooded area. As we sat in the car, looking back through the window, we clearly saw the slope leading back up to the tracks. Mystery solved. There weren't any ghosts. It was gravity. We couldn’t stop laughing.
Others who have been to this site swear that its true, some of them taking the now obligatory “powder test.” It has been said that if you sprinkle baby powder on the trunk of your car, you are supposed to see the handprints of all the children that had “pushed” your car off the tracks. Many have done it and swear that it’s true. We didn’t have any baby powder so we didn’t do it. We thought about sprinkling dirt on the trunk instead but being that it wasn’t our car, we thought it was better that we didn’t. Besides, the downward slope on the other side of the tracks was enough for me to chalk it all up to urban legend.
However there was one odd thing that happened. The sudden appearance of mosquitos. They seemed to come out of nowhere, biting the hell out of us, badly enough that we decided to just forget this nonsense and get back to our original plan: find a place to eat.
“Well that was a complete wash,” I said to my friend.
“Just goes to show you that people will believe whatever they want to believe,” he said.
We drove on, trying to kill the mosquitos that had made their way into the car.