As I prepare for the upcoming ghost tours of Denton (which begin on Friday, March 22nd --- which is tomorrow!), I realize what a debt I owe to the woman below.
Her name is Emily Fowler, and she created the beginnings of a genealogical/historical section in the Denton Public Library system that is fantastic! Seriously, if you are tracing your family tree, or delving into the history of Texas, our libraries are the place to go. It's where I do most of my digging to unearth ghostly tales and the history surrounding the places they occur (although I also owe a huge debt to our Courthouse-Museum-on-the-Square). At the Emily Fowler Public Library, there is a section of ephemera in the vertical files that is astounding. Helpful librarians will gladly lead you to anything you want to find.
Emily Fowler worked tirelessly during her lifetime to support Denton's public libraries from 1943 until 1969, when she retired. Although she died in 1971, it is said that she still resides at the library that bears her name! She is still supporting the library!
Personally, I have never "met" Emily Fowler's ghost, but there are plenty who have. Librarians who work there, and people who knew Mrs. Fowler, have claimed to have experienced strange occurrences which they attribute to her. Several groups of Paranormal Investigators have visited the library overnight and recorded evidence of a haunting at the Emily Fowler library. It seems that Emily found a job she never wants to leave!
I'll happily tell you the stories of Emily Fowler on one of the ghost tours. And, I will tell you many more tales of Denton's ghosts. In fact, over the last few months I have collected more new ghostly tales than I can possibly tell in a 90 minute tour! I may have to create a second tour. Come out and join me on a Friday or Saturday night. I'd love to tell you about my town and the librarian who never checked out!
As I've been busily researching new tales to tell on the Ghosts of Denton tour, my eyes are bleary from comparing old photographs to try to determine what businesses once occupied the blocks! Today, I'm looking at the West side of the square. The first picture was taken in 1880 (you can find them on the Portal to Texas History). I think you can click on it to make it larger, but I won't know until I've published the post.
Visible businesses in this photo from the left to the right: C. M. Greenlee (which was a dry goods store), Drug Store, H. J. Howell: Jeweler, Health Office, Houston Stiff Saloon, The Chronicle's offices, W. H. Cleveland Groceries, Carpets, J. B. Schmitz Furniture, Opera House, Carter and Benners Grocers, Land Office; A. D. Beaty, Tin Shop, C. F. Sanders and Company's Saddles and Harness.
Can you see any changes that happened in just six years? This second picture was taken at the funeral of Judge W.J. Austin, on Sept 8, 1888.
I'm comparing those pictures to the map of Denton (taken for fire and insurance purposes) from 1885. Yes, I'm developing a permanent squint!
Now, I just have to take these pictures with me down to the square and do some comparison. Are there ghostly tales on that west side? Well, yes there are! Come let me tell them to you. The fun begins this Friday night, March 22nd at 8:00. Tickets are available on-line (via PayPal) or at Jupiter House Coffee on the east side of the square. I hope to see you there!
I wish you could have seen my husband and I dancing around in the dark trying to take pictures of this building. I wanted the photograph to look spooky, but we had to position the car headlights just right. We must have tried six times. Though I have a wonderful story to share with you on the tour of just how haunted this building is, the scariest thing that night was our attempt at photography.
This was once the Le Blair Hotel, and I gave you a bit of its history on my regular blog, This Eclectic Life. I can't wait to get to tell the whole story to an audience for real.
Although I am going to tell the tale on the tour, I'm not sure I will walk people to it ... it's a couple of blocks from the square on pretty bumpy sidewalks with low lighting. Getting to see it in the dark would add to the chills, but I don't want anyone to trip or get run over, because we don't need any more ghosts on the square!
Next week it begins! On Friday, March 22nd, be at Jupiter House on the Square a bit before 8:00. I'll be rarin' to go.
Release the Kraken!
If you grew up in the Denton area, you might know the Old Alton Bridge above as “Goat Man’s Bridge.” It seems to be one of the most familiar ghost stories to folks in these parts. Perhaps you shivered in fear at slumber parties or around a campfire at night, listening to gruesome tales. Maybe, as a teenager, you ventured out to the bridge with your friends at midnight, turned off the car headlights, honked, and waited, trembling, for the Goat Man to rush out of the darkness.
If you aren’t familiar with the bridge, it is a one-lane, 145 foot long iron truss bridge that was built in 1884 to connect the city of Denton with the community of Copper Canyon. The location is just south of what had been the community of Alton (formerly a county seat of Denton County) which had already faded into nothing by the time the bridge was built. That bridge was closed to traffic in about 2001 and replaced by a concrete and steel bridge. These days the bridge, which was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, is only used by hikers and horseback-riders — and thrill seekers who come out at night hoping to scare themselves silly at the sight of a ghost.
Since I conduct a ghost tour of Denton each weekend I just had to know more about this story. I did not go to the Old Alton Bridge at night. It’s not that I’m afraid of whatever haint is supposed to be there (and people tell many different stories of what might be haunting the place) … it’s that I would be afraid of the humans who might be hanging out in the area. Humans can be a lot scarier than ghosts! Although it is only five miles south of the city, and is near Guyer High School, the area seems remote and would be a bit eerie at night. In the daytime, however, the scariest thing about it was that there were swarms of biting flies! Trust me; I wouldn't lie to you. At night, mosquitoes will carry you away ... unless something else gets you first!
That said, don’t let me stop you from exploring the Goat Man’s Bridge. There are tales of hauntings out there, which I will be happy to share with you if you come on one of the weekend tours. Then, you can drive out to the bridge, but take a flashlight if you go at night and wear bug repellent! Where is it? Take I-35E S/US-77 S to exit 463 and merge onto the I-35 Frontage Rd. At Lillian Miller Parkway turn right and travel 0.8 miles (at that point, the road becomes FM Rd 2181/Teasley Lane), continue 3.2 miles and turn right at Old Alton Rd. You will see the bridge on the left. Be sure to tell me if you see the Goat Man!