Haunted Hub: Ghostly encounters become popular folklore in Lubbock

After almost 150 years since its settlement, Lubbock has become a haunt for those interested in ghost stories.

The city of Lubbock is home to several locations that are known to be “haunted,” according to local lore.

Robert Weiner, pop culture and humanities librarian at Texas Tech University, says he has heard stories of haunted sites in Lubbock throughout his life.

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“There’s the haunted angel in the cemetery, Hell’s Gates, the Chemistry Building on TTU campus, and much more,” Weiner said. “But the main stories I heard growing up were none of those.  One story I heard that has been making its rounds since I was in junior high taking driver’s ed is the story of the prison man’s house.”

According to Weiner, there is a house that rests in a suburban area of Lubbock known locally as “the prison man’s house.” Weiner says that in the 1940s, the “prison man” murdered his wife and was convicted and sent to prison. After serving his time, the “prison man” felt he had not paid enough retribution for the crime he committed.

“So he started building a prison around himself with bars on the windows,” Weiner said. “I’m not sure how it looks now, but it’s a really creepy house in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. The story goes that he died and haunts that house to this very day.”

Weiner says he recalls going through the alley behind the prison house to get a closer look. He remembers the house was in the building process, and he heard stories from those who were brave enough to visit the house.

“I heard of people ringing the doorbell,” Weiner recalled. “He (“prison man”) would come out with a club screaming at them. But I don’t think there’s any truth to that whatsoever. It’s obvious that there was something creepy going on with that house, but maybe he was just an eccentric guy who wanted to build a house that looked like a prison. Maybe there’s truth to the prison house.”

The second story Weiner tells is the story of the Memphis Man. The story centers around a man waiting at a bus stop at 66th Street and Memphis Avenue in Lubbock. He says that on one icy day in the ’70s, a bus went out of control after attempting to come to a stop and struck a man, killing him.

“The story goes that at certain times at night, you can see a shadow standing there,” Weiner explained. “You can see it when you go towards 50th Street. Now, I’ve seen that shadow. But when trying to find it a second time, I couldn’t see it. When you pull up to the corner, you see that a lot of it is just circuit breakers.”

While some dismiss the shadow as the outline of the circuit breakers, Weiner believes that what he and others saw was the shadow of a man standing.

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“Hell’s Gates” is one of the dark locales in Lubbock allegedly haunted by paranormal entities. TOVI OYERVIDEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS

Another somewhat infamous location in Lubbock known for tales of the paranormal is an abandoned bridge on the Santa Fe railroad. It is said that in the early 1900s, bandits would raid trains coming into town, kill the passengers, and toss their bodies off of the bridge. It is also said to be the sight of satanic rituals and worship.

“It’s to my understanding that numerous people have been murdered at Hell’s Gates,” Weiner said. “You need to be really careful if you go there, especially at night. You’re liable to end up hanging out with the spirits, and the spirits of the dead are not very friendly. One story I remember hearing is that you can disappear without a trace.”

The railroad sits above a creek in East Lubbock, close to the Sunrise Canyon Psychiatric Facility. During the Fall, the heavily planted area is home to a community of large spiders that serve as guards to deter visitors from walking up the path.

Down the road from the bridge are more than 60,000 graves in the Lubbock Cemetery, which is known to be one of the largest in Texas. According to the Texas Paranormal Research Society, the cemetery is “very haunted” and is known to host “very angry spirits.”

Toward the west entrance of the cemetery, a statue of an angel towers about 15 feet above a family of graves. The local legend says that the angel weeps for the dead, and people claim to hear the sobbing at night.

“Legend says that if you go to the cemetery at night, you can’t leave without kissing the feet of the angel,” Weiner explained. “ If you leave without kissing the feet of the angel, a ghost will try to stop you from leaving.”

IMG_0427According to Darrell Maloney’s book, “Haunted Lubbock: Haunted Stories from the Hubof the Plains,” there have been reports of visitors hearing the music of Buddy Holly from his head stone at the Lubbock Cemetery. Other reports in the book state that people have heard the music of Buddy Holly coming from his old home room at Lubbock High School, which has also become the setting for ghostly folklore.

The school was built in the early ‘30s and has been registered as a historical landmark. Itis the oldest high school in Lubbock and stretches for more than a quarter of a mile. The building contains many of its original architectural details.

“The thing about this building, and most older buildings, is that sometimes the doors shut on their own,” said Shane Anderson, assistant principal at Lubbock High School. “Sometimes you see stuff that was on your desk end up on the floor. You get hot and cold spots. But do I think that’s ghosts? No.”

With original chandeliers, floors, brick and even original gargoyles, Anderson says that the school is the perfect setting for a ghost story. The main hallway, which stretches over a quarter of a mile, lacks windows, causing it to become pitch black when the lights are turned off.

“There’s over 2,000 people in the building right now,” Anderson said. “If you’re ever in here alone with the lights out, it’s got a little bit of a different feel.”

According to Anderson, the third floor of the school is one that is known by students and staff to give them strange feelings. During a tour of the school on the third floor, a teacher jokingly exclaimed, “There isn’t anything but ghosts past here.”

“As far as I know, nothing has happened up here that would make it haunted,” Anderson said of the school’s third floor. “I couldn’t tell you of a suicide or a teacher dying in the building. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but a lot of the stories are made up. And you hear a lot of stories.”

On the third floor, Anderson opens the door to a large, empty, quiet room. Because heat rises, the third floor has a warmer temperature. However, the room remained cold. As you walk closer to the end of the room, it gets colder. Despite there being no ventilation in the room, there is a gentle, cooling breeze that sweeps through the room.

“I always thought this room was a little creepy,” Anderson said. “It’s always a little colder in here, winter and summer, and I’ve never understood why. People will tell you about this room. But ghosts? I don’t think so.”

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Another location that is known to be haunted is the Chemistry Building on the campus of Texas Tech University. As the story goes, a custodian named Sarah Alice Morgan was cleaning room 304, when a student brutally murdered her by slitting her throat with a scalpel. She was found with her head almost decapitated.

According to Weiner, the ghost of Morgan is known to still haunt the third floor of the Chemistry Building.

“In the cases of many of these stories, there is a kernel of truth,” Weiner said. “Do I really think the Memphis man was waiting to go to work? No. But I’ve always heard these stories. Ghost stories are part of our folklore.”

According to Weiner, ghost stories go back to gothic literature and have, throughout time, become popular as oral folklore.

“The stories of the Lubbock ghosts are part of Lubbock folklore,” Weiner said. “It’s a part of who we are as a community.”

Author: Matt Molinar

Editor-in-Chief

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