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The Haunted History Of The Devil's Backbone In Texas Hill Country

Updated August 12, 2019 7.4k views11 items

Texas is known for its wide open spaces, high school football, and, of course, barbecue - but just outside the state capital of Austin sits an area full of creepy legends and ghost stories. The Devil’s Backbone is a series of interconnecting roads taking visitors on a loop from Wimberley to Blanco - its barriers marked by limestone hills. As beautiful as the area is, it’s also notoriously haunted

Stories of the paranormal along the Devil’s Backbone range from the unsettling to the straight-up terrifying. There are haunted taverns, mysterious sounds, and even the ghost of a homicidal maniac that walks along Highway 281. The area is steeped in weirdness but, despite its evident beauty, locals might warn visitors about staying out after dark.

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  • The Area Is Known For Its Bloody History

    Photo: Théodore Rousseau / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The section of Hill Country that surrounds the Devil's Backbone is no stranger to frontier mayhem. The ranches and fields that dot the land were once the site of intense bloodshed. As white settlers moved into the area, they clashed with Apache and Cherokee tribes, leaving a legacy of inhumanity in their wake. 

    One gruesome event took place on what's now referred to as "Baby Head Cemetery," where a girl was allegedly kidnapped by Natives and decapitated, after which her head was placed on a pike to ward off her family. With events like that in its history, it's no wonder the area is rife with hauntings, spectral visitors, and bad vibes. Today the cemetery is a state landmark, but it's not a place to stop for a family picnic.

  • Restless Spirits Of Native Americans Supposedly Wander There

    Anyone who's spent time wandering through an empty Texas field - be it during deer season or as the heat of September fades into October - knows you're never really alone. The desolate areas of the Devil's Backbone may seem serene, but those familiar with the area know it doesn't take long for something spooky to happen.

    John Miers was deer hunting in a tree one day when he heard the familiar sound of someone walking in circles around his hiding spot. When he asked who was beneath him, he received no answer. The footsteps continued to circle without acknowledging Miers; finally he moved to the ground to see what was happening. When he climbed down from the tree, no one was there, and there were no footprints.

    Miers walked away from the tree to see if he could see anyone in the field, and that's when he spotted the ghostly presence of an elderly Native American man standing near the tree where he'd just been. As Miers started walking home, the specter followed from a distance until eventually vanishing.

  • The Ghost Of A Homicidal Maniac Is Rumored To Walk Highway 281

    There's always one ghostly maniac walking along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. On Highway 281, drivers should do their best to avoid the spirit of Mr. Lackey, a man who slayed six members of his immediate family near Blanco, TX, in 1885. Before he could be caught, Lackey tried to follow his relatives into the afterlife by slashing his own throat, only for his life to be saved by a man named Al Bundick. Not long afterward, he was hanged from a tree in Paradise Hollow.

    Those who've driven along 281 late at night say they've come across a large man whose neck is exposed, tender, and covered in blood. He holds a knife in one hand, as if waiting to add to his victim count.

  • Some Believe The Ghosts Of Civil War Soldiers Haunt The Area

    While the majority of the Civil War was fought in Virginia and Tennessee, there were still plenty of smaller clashes in Texas. Confederate soldiers, as well as vigilantes and cowboys, rode through Hill Country on a consistent basis, and many of them lost their lives. The ghosts of these men are rumored to roam the area; some locals claim many of them ride together in an unholy pack.

    Hill Country resident Lynn Gentry believes he lived through a ghostly rustling one night while working as a foreman on a local ranch. Supposedly, he woke up to the sound of horses running through the fields; as he gathered his wits, the sound only grew louder, evolving from just a few horses to a full-on stampede. According to Gentry, outside his window he could see at least 20 men in Confederate uniforms riding their phantom steeds. The clamor of hooves grew to a roar before the night went silent and the ghost riders disappeared.