It is an urban legend as old as San Antonio itself, and the lure of the 'ghost tracks' continues to attract people to a south side neighborhood looking for evidence of the paranormal and 1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez, armed with an open mind and the requisite baby powder, discovered over the weekend.
And no time does the remote neighborhood near Mission Espada attract more of the curious than right around Halloween.
"What makes it a great story is that this makes it possible for me to be part of the story," said Don Buck Creacy, a professional storyteller from Kentucky who traveled all the way to San Antonio over the weekend to check out the legend for himself. "I can say, I was there, and it happened to me."
The ability of visitors to experience the haunting, and not just see where it happened or maybe see something creepy has been luring people to the 'Ghost Tracks' for generations.
The story goes like this. Back in the '1930s or 1940s,' nobody is ever certain about the date, a school bus full of children stalled out on the railroad tracks at the corner of Shane and Villamain, which is south of Loop 410 near Southton Road.
The legend claims that a railroad train smashed into the school bus, killing the children and the teacher.
So people who come to the railroad tracks find their car rolling, seemingly uphill, as the ghosts of the children push vehicles which stop on the tracks clear of any passing trains, so the occupants of the car won't share their unhappy fate. As an additional creepiness in the mystery, people who place baby powder or some other substance on the back of the car say they have seen children's hand prints in the powder, as evidence that ghostly children were pushing the car.
"First of all this is human interest, because there is children involved," Creacy said. "The children in the story don't want anybody else to get hurt. So it involves a deep passion to help someone."
Adding to the mystery is the fact that the neighborhood around Mission Espada contains several streets which appear to be named after children, like Cindy Sue, Laura Lee, and Nancy Carole.
In reality, spoiler alert, the story of cars being moved, seemingly uphill, off the tracks are one of several of what are called 'Gravity Hill,' tales. In the Shane and Villamain case, as in the case of similar tales around the country, there is a slight incline away from the tracks, which was part of the construction of the tracks in the early 20th Century. Even though the car appears to be moving along a level plane, or even moving uphill, it is actually rolling downhill, pushed not by the ghostly hands of tragically killed children, but by gravity.
In addition, there is absolutely no record of a horrendous bus crash of that nature happening in 1938, which is the most year most commonly given for the accident, or at any time in the last 100 years. And the names on the streets are those of the grandchildren of the developer, not the children killed in a school bus wreck.
Creacy says regardless of this, people will continue to check out the ghost tracks.
"People like stories period, but the reason why they like ghost stories, period, is that everybody likes a good scare."
And it does feel like your car is rolling uphill, and you can imagine the ghosts of those little kids, giving up a shove to make sure you don't share their unhappy fate.