The Haunted Railroad Crossing

The story behind this legendary haunted spot may not be true, but there are still many unexplained events surrounding this eerie intersection. See our exclusive photos of the railroad crossing ghost.

Just south of San Antonio, Texas, in an unremarkable neighborhood not far from the San Juan Mission is an intersection of roadway and railroad track that has become somewhat famous in the catalog of American ghost lore. The intersection, so the story goes, was the site of a tragic accident in which several school-aged children were killed - but their ghosts linger at the spot. And the curious from all over the country come to this section of railroad track to witness firsthand the paranormal phenomena they've heard takes place there.

The story - at least 20 years old - is the stuff of urban legend and its details vary from telling to telling, but this is essentially it:

Back in the 1930s or 1940s, a school bus full of children was making its way down the road and toward the intersection when it stalled on the railroad tracks. A speeding train smashed into the bus, killing 10 of the children and the bus driver. Since that dreadful accident many years ago, any car stopped near the railroad tracks will be pushed by unseen hands across the tracks to safety. It is the spirits of the children, they say, who push the cars across the tracks to prevent a tragedy and fate like their own.

Even today, cars line up at the haunted intersection to see if the legend is true. The driver stops the cars some 20 to 30 yards from the tracks and puts the car in neutral gear. Some even turn off their engines. And sure enough, even though it appears that the road is on an upward grade, the car begins to roll. It rolls slowly first, then steadily gaining speed - seemingly of its own accord and against gravity - up and over the tracks. This has been tested time and time again, and cars really do roll up and over the tracks - every time.

But that's not all. The second half of this legend is that if a light powder - like talcum or baby powder - is sprinkled over the car's trunk and rear bumper, tiny fingerprints and handprints will appear - the prints of the ghost children pushing the car. Many who have tried it swear that indeed they can see the evidence of small children's handprints in the powder.

First-Hand Experience

Fact or fantasy? A true unexplained phenomenon or an urban legend fueled by eager participants with heightened imaginations?

One person who tested the legend with favorable results was Brenda Pacheco, the fan club president of Wayanay Inka, a musical group from Peru. "I put my car in neutral, took my foot off the pedals and the car moved!" she writes at mysa.com (for my San Antonio - a website jointly sponsored by KENS 5 television station and the San Antonio Express-News). "It moved quickly toward the tracks, up over the bump and down the other side, well out of harm's way!"

Pacheco also succeeded with the powder test, having dusted the back of her black station wagon with talcum. "I was so excited, I got out to check the back of my car and there were the tiny handprints! Plain and clear, and so, so tiny! The prints were so perfect, you could see the lines of the palms, and the swirls of the fingerprints!"

She was so thrilled with the results that Pacheco repeated the experiment, with even more startling results: "Up and over the hill again," she says. "I got out, and there were several little handprints, not only on the back of the car, but down the sides toward the back doors! And there was one big handprint on the side! (The sides had also been wiped down.) Could this be a handprint from the bus driver? That's what we think.

Janis Raley, writing at mysa.com, explains how several photographs she took at the tracks with a digital camera contained anomalous elements:

"We started getting the fairly common phenomena called orbs or spheres. Although no one can really explain what this is, we have gotten the same thing repeatedly at burial sites and other areas of high energy. After a half hour of shooting, we starting getting vapor or mists, those unshaped forms more associated with the popular Hollywood, conception of ghosts. The energy seemed to be most noticeable directly behind one of the X-shaped railroad crossing signs, on the north side. For a short time the orbs seemed to be hanging back in the heavy brush behind the sign. After a few minutes of constant camera flashes, they moved toward the center of the tracks. As the energy forms moved, we tried to follow, focusing our attention on the cars and trucks as they crossed over the tracks. Some slowly, some quickly. We ended up with photographs of the orbs behind and in the back of a pick-up as it rolled over the tracks."

Little Girl Ghost?

Just recently I received the photograph shown here, taken at the haunted tracks by the daughter of Andy and Debi Chesney.

Debi's note reads:

"My daughter and some friends went to San Antonio, Texas this last weekend and went to the railroad tracks where they say that a busload of children were killed a long time ago. They took several pictures. They emailed them to me after they got home to show me, and a ghost appeared in this one. They had no idea that it was in the picture until the next day when I printed out the picture and showed them. It was really freaky. It appears to be a little girl carrying a teddy bear."

Here are some enlargements and enhancements of the image. What do you think?


ORIGINAL PHOTO (COURTESY ANDY & DEBI CHESNEY)


BRIGHTNESS ADJUSTED. NOTE THE TRANSPARENCY
OF THE FIGURE.


THE FIGURE SEEMS TO HAVE
SOME SUBSTANCE, SEEMINGLY
REFLECTING THE LIGHT FROM ABOVE.


WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
A LITTLE GIRL WITH A DOG SITTING
BEFORE HER?


IS THIS A GHOST?

Whether the legend of the haunted railroad crossing is true or not, is there an explanation for the strange phenomena reported by the many visitors to the spot? Could it be that the expectations of all these people produce a kind of energy that results in the paranormal activity?