BLOG: Ghost-Hunting With My Kids (It’s Cheaper Than Camp)

When I was young, I loved to sneak into old, abandoned buildings and creep around. I called it “Scooby-Dooing” and to be honest, I kept at it into my 30’s so I wasn’t that YOUNG anymore. I was addicted to it in my teens and 20’s though and had particular places I visited on a regular basis. My favorite was the Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta (pictured above) because it was almost entirely abandoned. I could also easily gain access to the closed section by paying off security guards (the going rate was $5 and a beer). I don’t know what I was looking for in those old places but the desire to peek inside of them never went away.

You can just imagine how happy I was when I realized my daughters suffer from the same affliction. Well, my oldest daughter, Emma does. Lucy appears to be our “Shaggy” at the moment but she’s game enough to tag along.

I was reminded of this when we found an old jailhouse in Granbury, Texas this weekend. It’s now a museum so we paid a small fee to explore its dank, dusty cells and hear stories about the prisoners who lived there. I could tell my husband was bored beyond belief but as soon as we left Emma said, “That was AWESOME!”

That’s when I realized I don’t need to spend another dime on summer activities for the kids when we have a whole state FILLED with morbid history to explore!

My first stop was GOOGLE, where I searched “Creepiest Places in North Texas.” Most of the stories I found involved buildings that we can’t get into (The Lizard Lounge, The Majestic) or were too far away. I did, however, find two places we could check out and one was right down the street.

According to a site I found on Google, there are Devil Worshippers living near Flagpole Hill on a horseshoe-shaped street. The “devil-worshipper” story is great because it doesn’t require you to get out of the car. It’s also never that scary and is usually started by aging hippies who have weird yard-art. I used GPS to find every “U” shaped road around Flagpole Hill though and found nothing but new construction and barking dogs. I can only hope that at some point there was a creepy house with gargoyles nearby, but the girls just groaned and asked where we were heading next.

The other nearby ghost story I found was in Oak Cliff, where a little girl haunts an entire street. She was supposedly hit by a train as it crossed Coombs Creek Drive (we couldn’t find ANY proof of this on Google) and can be seen on the street and near the tracks even today.

No address was provided so I looked up Coombs Creek Drive on GPS and found where it intersected railroad tracks. This is where we ended up.

Pretty creepy, right? Emma has a Ghost Finder app on her phone (yes, it’s cheesy but fun and free) so she wanted to get out and see if she could “detect” anything. Lucy however, was NOT leaving the car. I rolled down the windows and locked her in while Emma and I inspected the bridge. We noticed a small trail that led up to the tracks and headed that way but THAT’S when my car alarm went off. Lucy’s nerves had gotten the better of her so she’d tried to open the door. You can’t do that in my car when it’s locked without the alarm going off (an unfortunate fact we learned while parked next to a Christmas parade). We ran back to the car and found Lucy scream-laughing in the backseat. It was clear what had happened but the alarm startled us so badly that we took off in a damn-near panic.

It was the perfect ending to our “Scooby-Dooing” for the day because there’s nothing like a pseudo-scare to top off a faux-adventure. So now, where do we head next? Do we stay close to home and hit the Millermore Mansion or gas up the car and roadtrip? I’ve heard fantastic things about the Baker Motel in Mineral Wells and it looks just like the Biltmore in Atlanta! Hmmm, I wonder if we can get inside…and if security guards can still be bribed with $5 and a beer.


  1. Julie,
    I have had the recent pleasure of going into the depths of the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel. I was there for work reasons but I had several unexplained and interesting experiences around the boiler room and the electrical generator room in the sub basement. I was a little surprised and caught off guard. I did spend about 30-40 minutes in the basement. I was curious if you experienced anything and if you knew of any specific history. I am trying to debunk my experiences and I am trying to tell myself my imagination was playing cruel tricks on me. Thanks.

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