Sunday, October 7, 2012

Galveston -- Ghost Queen of the Coast

Denny and I just got back from Galveston, one of the oldest and finest towns in Texas.  It's only 45 minutes from downtown Houston but a million cultural miles away.

Sandy beaches, palm trees and fresh salty air surround historic island architecture.

Early architecture in The Strand's 26 square block Historic Landmark area.

I loved the feel of a slightly-skewed culture, where the unexpected is more normal than not. 

Galveston is known as one of the ghostiest towns in America, which was my excuse for the visit, research for an assignment about ghosts. 

Galveston's past lends itself to uneasy spirits, as the island hosted cannibalistic natives, pirates, civil war battles and casualties, a yellow fever epidemic, mysterious fires, and in 1900 a Cat 5 hurricane that covered the island in saltwater, scouring a third of the town from its foundations and killing more than 6,000 people, including all but three in a sizable orphanage.

I found more, much more, than I could use.  Perhaps the most well-known teller of tales was a tall blonde man in a long dark coat.  Dash Beardsley started his ghost tour of The Strand as night fell.  

In daylight you wouldn't think of The Strand as haunted. People stroll the historic streets enjoying boutiques, restaurants, antique shops and bars.  

But Dash knows dozens of tales.

I also heard residents' stories. A ticket-seller at the Pier 21 movie theater had a visit from his deceased mother naming her murderer, a waiter at Gaido's (fine-dining seafood, don't miss the best crabcakes in Texas) wondered if wraiths near his mid-town place were spirits still wandering after their bodies were burned where they had washed up in the 1900 hurricane. 

At The Grand 1894 Opera House, folks have heard strange noises and footsteps in deserted areas,felt moving cold spots in upper regions and seen people wearing turn-of-the-century dress waiting for the curtain to go up when the opera was not in session.

You know a town is good when folks don't want to leave even after they're dead.
We stayed in the Hotel Galvez, a century-old beach-side beauty known for comfort and hauntings.  Our room was across the hall from the one favored by the hotel's most famous spirit, the Ghost Bride

No noises or scents of gardenia or shadow-people interrupted our sleep.  I'm thinking maybe we should go back and give her another chance, in the name of research of course, nothing to do with the pleasure or the waterfront view from our room...

Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. I would love to visit Galveston! It looks like it has recovered very well since the hurricane.

  2. Love your observation : You know a town is good when folks don't want to leave even after they're dead.

  3. You get the best assignments!!
    Haven't been to Galveston in a long time. Maybe it's time to go back.

  4. What a great post Kathleen! Now my husband and I really need to drive down I-45 and spend some time in Galveston. I can't believe I havne't taken him down there yet.

  5. Hi Kathleen,
    Wuite an interesting posting, especially as Galveston is on our bucket list of Gulf Coast destinations still. Btw, qwe've just come back from a great weekend in Rockport/Fulton. I'll write about that and poublish pictures in my blogs soon.
    Take care, and have a good one,

  6. I've never known anything about Galveston except the song "Galveston oh Galveston..." This post makes me want to travel to Texas (hard to do) to visit it. Will the ghost article be linkable? I want to hear more. x0 N2

  7. Hi Kathleen,
    Denny just sent me over to your site. Great posts about Texas Hill Country! We'd love to share your writing on our site, Dwellable.
    Shoot me an email if you're interested-- jane (at) dwellable (.) com.


My readers are all geniuses. Can't wait to see what you have to say.