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Haunted Hill Country: "The Devil's Backbone" books are spooky, entertaining

Eakin Press
Bert M. Wall's "The Devil's Backbone" was first published in 1996.
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The Devil’s Backbone: Ghost Stories from the Texas Hill Country by Bert M. Wall (Eakin Press) 1996

Ghostly Chills: The Devil’s Backbone 2 by Bert M. Wall (Eakin Press) 2001

Recently, on a trip to south Texas, I stayed in the city of San Marcos, located between Austin and San Antonio. It was just west of there, along Highway 32, particularly between Wimberley and Blanco, where ghostly legends have hung on into our very rational and modern times, according to Texas native and writer Bert Wall.

This area of the scenic Texas Hill Country, where Wall himself lives, is known for its spring-fed creeks, rugged hills, deep canyons and beautiful vistas. It’s an area known ominously as The Devil’s Backbone. The area is beautiful and well-visited by folks from this side of the Red River.

And as Wall notes in the 22 stories collected in his first book – The Devil’s Backbone – and 21 stories in the equally engaging follow-up, Ghostly Chills, it was in the 18th century when Spanish explorers and adventurers came through this area, which was largely populated by the people of the Comanche and Lipan Apache Indian tribes.

We should note that Wall’s collected tales caught the attention of Unsolved Mysteries back  in the 1990’s and resulted in some of the stories being incorporated into that popular program.

And so the first story, about the mysterious “Spanish Monk,” sets the tone, as the spectral friar appears – and disappears before the eyes of a stunned rancher there in the Devil’s Backbone, so named, allegedly, because the monk, known as Espinoza, was none too kind and had acquired the name “Diablo,” from those who crossed his path.

Strange tales of hearing ghostly “children’s voices” to seeing mystery riders to the “Lady in White.” There is a captivating story about someone who “sees” a mineshaft that really isn’t there – but may have been there at one time, perplexing the witness – and the reader.

And for Wall’s second book – Ghostly Chills: The Devil’s Backbone 2 – we get even more strange stories, including the story of Wayne, who ends up in The Devil’s Backbone on the eerie “Road to Nowhere” and senses he is being watched, while simultaneously feeling “out of time” in this odd place.

The tales, spun by Wall and others, grab your attention. A psychic offers incredibly accurate information about a relative’s long-dead ancestor, who is still haunting the area where the storyteller now lives.

In another story, an apparition is seen by waitresses at the Hillside Café. An old man just sitting at a table – who quickly vanishes.

While the many stories in these two slim volumes are relatively short, they are certainly chilling, regardless if they are actual eyewitness stories or simply oft-repeated cowboy “campfire yarns” told to spook folks before putting out their bedroll under a starry Texas sky.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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