The Devil’s Backbone: The Most Haunted Stretch of Texas Highway

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Tony Maples Photography


Texas Farm Roads 12, 165, 2325, and 32, along with U.S. Highway 281, form a scenic loop that connects Wimberly and Blanco. This loop cuts through a scenic portion of the Texas Hill Country that looks like something straight out of a Wild West movie. The area, called the “Devil’s Backbone,” draws visitors from all over Texas who come to see the sweeping vistas. Supposedly, the area also draws visitors from farther away…perhaps even from the “great beyond.”

A Bloody, Violent History

The Devil’s Backbone: The Most Haunted Stretch of Texas Highway

Photo: Facebook/Bobcat Magazine

The history of the Devil’s Backbone, like many areas of the West, has seen its share of violence for Native Americans and white settlers alike. In more recent years, the twisty stretch of highway has been the scene of numerous fatal car accidents as well. And many ghosts seem to have lingered.

One account of ghostly encounters comes from a foreman at an area ranch. He awoke to the sounds of horses running by his cabin. When he went outside, he saw at least twenty men on horseback riding near the cabin. They appeared to be the ghosts of Confederate soldiers. According to the account, the sound of their horses’ hooves was loud enough to shake his cabin.

Mysteries on Purgatory Road

The Devil’s Backbone: The Most Haunted Stretch of Texas Highway

Photo: Flickr/Adventures of KM&G-Morris

There are also tales of the ghost of a Native American named Drago who has been seen herding cattle along the backbone, according to some ranchers. The ranchers also tell of the widow and child of a miner who was killed, who have been seen wandering the area, supposedly seeking a proper Christian burial for their husband and father.

Along the aptly named Purgatory Road, an apparition is said to materialize on the hoods of cars as they drive along. Ghost hunters frequent this area and have seen shadow people there and recorded EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon).

One of the strangest experiences was that of John Villarreal. One afternoon, John was hiking with two friends in an area known as the “Haunted Valley”. While walking, he saw a vision of a wolf. Suddenly, the wolf jumped at him. However, his friends did not see the wolf. When they got back into their truck, John’s friends noticed that he was very cold. When they got back to the ranch, they were certain that John was possessed. He spoke in a deep voice and talked about Indian massacres. Out of nowhere, a gust of wind came through the ranch’s kitchen and opened the back door. At that point, John seemed to return to his normal self.

Enjoy Some Spirits at the Haunted Tavern

The Devil’s Backbone: The Most Haunted Stretch of Texas Highway

Photo: Flickr/Nicolas Henderson

To this day, nobody can explain why all of this strange phenomenon is occurring at this limestone ridge in the Texas Hill Country. If you’d like to experience some paranormal activity yourself, consider visiting the Devil’s Backbone Tavern, located on the stretch of Ranch Road 32 that is also reported to be haunted. You’re sure to belly up next to a local at the bar who can share their personal stories of strange encounters in the “Devil’s Backbone.”