Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Most Haunted Town in Texas, part 1

I just spent the night in Jefferson, Texas, which bills itself as THE MOST HAUNTED TOWN IN TEXAS. I took both of the ghost walk tours hosted by Jodi Breckenridge, and let me tell you there were times my hair stood up on end.

"If the town has a violent history, and the town itself has changed very little, you can bet it's going to be haunted." Jodi was right. If just half of the stories she conveyed actually happened, it would be enough to make the most jaded skeptic into a believer.

A bit of history here about Jefferson: Its population blossomed to over 30,000 soon after the Civil War. Steamboats wound their way up the Caddo Lake, and the town bustled with saloons, inns, and bordellos. But because the town put its money on the steamboats and not the railroads, the population began to dwindle until now it has around two thousand citizens.

The ghost walk is in two parts. Part one begins at 8 p.m. at the museum and lasts until 9:45-ish. The second half meets at the Jefferson General Store right after the first one ends, and lasts until midnight. Jodi leads you on a brisk walk through downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods which boast a multitude of historical placques.

A self-confessed chicken, Jodi doesn't hesitate to vacate a site if "signs" of activity persist while she's leading the tour. On this particular Friday night, we were graced with the presence of two paranormal investigators (complete with EMF detectors and tape recorders) and two psychics.

Texas Law says that if you own a building or home that's suspected of being haunted, you must reveal that information to any prospective buyers if you try to sell it. But if you own a hotel or B&B, you are not required to tell the tenants or overnight guests.

Which brings us to two of the most famous hotels in Jefferson - The Jefferson Hotel, and the Excelsior Hotel.

If you want to spend the night in one of the haunted rooms at the Jefferson, hotel management will be happy to accomodate you. Ask for Room 19 if you really want a sleepless night. Or Room 14. Or Room 5. On a scale of 1 to 10, Jodi ranks "The Most Haunted Hotel in Texas" at a high 8.

However, she ranked the Excelsior directly across the street at a 20. Not only will the hotel staff there deny it's haunted, but they will not let you know if the room you're given has a history of apparitions, etc. Take your chances there, and chances are you won't have a peaceful sleep.

(to be continued)


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Linda Mooney said...

previous comment removed because it was spam - LM