By Dane Smith
Austin is steeped in history,
from the days of the Republic of Texas, through the
establishment of Austin as the Capitol of the State
of Texas. Downtown Austin is full of old, historic buildings,
many of which are said to be haunted by a multitude
of ghosts. Austin Ghost Tours has meticulously researched
the history behind each legend, and has created walking
tours based on the colorful and sometimes frightening
stories of Austin's past.
Originally created as an offshoot of
Austin Promenade Tours, a historic walking tour with
a less ghoulish focus, Austin Ghost Tours has been giving
people goosebumps for well over a decade. Their popularity
increases every year, as does their offerings. They
have recently begin offering online tours to those who
can't join the walking tours - but the spine-tingling
feeling of walking with the spirits is best experienced
One of Austin's most "incredibly
haunted" spots is the historic Driskill Hotel.
Located on the corner of Sixth and Brazos, it has been
the crown jewel of downtown Austin since it opened on
December 20, 1886. Some say that the spirit of Colonel
Driskill remains in the building he was so proud of,
evidenced by mysterious puffs of cigar smoke. Staff
have reported sensing a child bouncing the ball down
the grand staircase leading from the mezzanine down
to the lobby and giggling - perhaps the ghost of the
four-year-old daughter of a US Senator who was playing
unattended with a ball when she slipped and fell to
her death on the marble floor at the bottom of the stairs.
These and many other ghostly legends are part of the
Driskill's vibrant history.
The Driskill figures greatly into two
of the tours offered - the Ghosts of the Capitol Tour,
which includes the Driskill, as well as the Capitol
itself, and the Governor's Mansion. The Ghosts of the
Warehouse District Tour features some of the oldest
buildings in the city, including the site of series
of gruesome murders in 1885. These two tours are 90
minutes each, and both end at the magnificent Driskill.
One of the most popular tours is the
Sixth Street Pub Crawl. Sixth Street, although a vibrant
and extremely modern entertainment district, is full
of ancient building with their fair share of ghosts,
murder and mayhem. Enjoy Austin's historic taverns while
learning about its haunted past on this unique tour.
The Sixth Street Tour has proven to be all the rage
for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Other tours include one dedicated to
the chilling story of the "Servant Girl Annihilator,"
a brutal serial killer who predated Jack the Ripper,
and terrorized female servants in 1884. Halloween is
a perfect night for ghost stories, and Austin Ghost
Tours celebrates with one of their best tours - a jam-packed
combination tour that includes the best of each. Tickets
go early for this one, so book in advance.
Austin Ghost Tours conducts their spooky
events rain or shine, and since they are walking tours,
participants should dress accordingly, including wearing
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