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Dead Man's Run

Updated on March 30, 2012

Growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone and knew everything about everyone, I heard hundreds of ghost stories about haunted places around Sulphur Springs. For instance, out Highway 154, just south of town, there is an old Methodist church called Shook’s Chapel. As you are facing the church, to the right side is an old cemetary, and in the center of the cemetary, there are three crosses planted upright to mark the graves of three little girls who were murdered by their father in the 1800s. If you go out to Shook’s Chapel Cemetary at night and sit in your car and stare at the crosses, eventually you will see the ghosts of the three little girls rise from the graves and vanish, supposedly seeking revenge on their father for ending their lives. My senior year of high school, three friends and I went down to Shook’s Chapel Cemetary and tried to see the ghosts. We saw the crosses, but no matter how hard we stared or how long we sat out there, we never saw the ghosts.

Two major buildings in Sulphur Springs are also haunted. One is the Courthouse. The Hopkins County Courthouse is one of the oldest, most beautiful buildings in Texas. Rumor has it that a man who had been convicted of a crime back when Sulphur Springs was Bright Star (this would have been in the "old days" when saloons were popular and horses were the main means of transportation) was left in a sort of holding cell/waiting room to be taken to the jail. Alone, he stripped off his belt and hanged himself in that room, and now his ghost haunts the halls of the Courthouse. Late at night, according to people who have been in there at that hour (which I haven’t), you can hear him wandering the halls and moaning because of his bad decision to commit suicide. He cannot be at peace, and he allows no one else in that fated Courthouse to be at peace, either. I have no authority to enter the building after closing hours, so that’s one I haven’t explored.

Yet another building that is haunted is our library. Nowadays, there is a new library with all the plushness and technology of today’s world. During my years in Sulphur Springs, however, the library was housed in a VERY old building right off the main square, right down the street from the haunted Mission Theater (which has now been condemned and torn down, and also a place that I frequented but never experienced a ghost, except for the time I saw Ghostbusters there). I don’t know the story behind the ghost in the library, but I have heard the creaking noises and felt the rush of wind that people say are the workings of the spirit that roamed the shelves and lived in the back room that kept the Texas-famous Music Box Museum. Occasionally the music boxes would play by themselves when no one was in there (I have no idea how anyone knew this if no one was in there), and occasionally books would appear on the tables instead of on the shelves where they were supposed to be. Whether or not the stories were true, the library was a creepy place, and it was also one of my favorite places to go in my hometown.

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Probably the most famous ghost story of Sulphur Springs has actually made it to the list of haunted places that you find on the internet. The place is called Dead Man’s Run, and everyone I know from Sulphur Springs has been out there at some point to see the ghost train. On any given night, you can go down Highway 11 towards Commerce, and about two miles down on the right is a little oil-topped road. I don’t know how far down that road (I’m terrible with distances and directions) you have to go, but when you get to the train tracks, you can stop your car and get out and sit on the tracks, and you’ll see a pair of lights approaching you. It’s not a train, but a ghost train. My science teacher from high school said it was static electricity on the tracks due to some sort of metal in the air or something like that, but I personally have seen it, and it looks like a train to me. Of course, it never reaches you on the tracks, you never hear or feel or smell anything else, and it stays far away, so it could be balls of electricity. It’s still fun to take people out there to see the ghost train, almost like taking them snipe hunting.

Dead Man’s Run becomes something else one night a year. On November 12 at 3am, it becomes a re-enactment of a scene of murder and mayhem. According to the blurb on the internet, "word has it that around 1890 a man was working on the railroad tracks that were being laid through town. About 2 miles off of 19 on Hwy. 11 to the right on a little black top road is a desolate patch of railroad tracks. Now this man who was working on it was having a bad time with his wife. So one night he took her out there for a "romantic interlude" and instead he beat her badly and tied her to the tracks. Well, thinking she was unconscious he sat down beside her to rest and without him knowing, she tied his boot laces to the track. He felt so guilty that he sat there on the tracks and never moved until he saw the train barreling down on him. When it was almost there he got up to move and couldn't. He looked down to see his wife grinning up at him and his laces tied in multiple knots. He tried to untie his laces, but to no prevail, and was killed with his wife on the tracks. Now if you go to those tracks on November 12 at about 2 to 3 am you can get out of your car and sit on the tracks and you will witness the entire scene. You can hear the man screaming and the woman laughing."

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