The Donkey Lady Bridge: San Antonio’s Terrifying Folk Tale

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Tony Maples Photography


Texas has plenty of ghost stories to keep us up at night, but one of the oldest and most popular is that of the Donkey Lady Bridge. The Bridge itself is just a short drive from San Antonio, easy to reach and to find, and may host one of the most terrifying apparitions that Texas has to offer.

The true origins of the Donkey Lady Bridge Legend are unknown. The tale has been around long enough that there are multiple versions of it. Supposedly, it all started when a farming family living outside San Antonio met a horrific end. The farmer set fire to his home, murdered his children, and left his wife horribly disfigured. Her fingers were melted down to stumps, creating hoof-like appendages, and the skin on her face was charred and gave her face an elongated, donkey-like appearance. Grieving the loss of her children and the betrayal of her husband, she haunts Elm Creek and torments those who try to cross.

The Donkey Lady Bridge: San Antonio's Terrifying Folk Tale

Facebook/ David J. Alvarez

Of course, there are other variations. While Weird Texas favors the story’s time of origin as being sometime in the 1950s, others seem to think it’s been around since the 1800s. According to one variation of the story, it wasn’t the farmer who caused the fire, but a stranger who came across the family in his travels. In this version, the family keeps a donkey, and the stranger begins to beat it mercilessly until they chase him away. Later that night, he returns and sets their home on fire, killing the farmer and the children. The mother forces her way out of the house, screaming in agony, her body already disfigured to resemble a donkey. She chases the cruel arsonists away and falls into the river, but her body is never found.

The Donkey Lady Bridge: San Antonio's Terrifying Folk Tale

Facebook/ Paul Kepner

The Donkey Lady is a popular tale in the San Antonio area. People of all ages head out to the bridge to see if they can catch a glimpse of her. Some people experience nothing but jitters and the feeling of being watched, but others claim to have seen something out there. Some folks claim to have witnessed a creature with a donkey’s face screaming at them from the window and later found hoof-like indentations on their car. Many people hear rushing hoof-claps when they visit. The best way to get her attention is by honking your horn.

Whether or not the Donkey Lady is real, she’s a lingering presence in the folklore of central Texas. There’s even a beer named after her. I visited the Donkey Lady Bridge once. It isn’t possible to drive on it anymore, as there’s a gate across to discourage visitors, but seeing it from the roadside was enough. I didn’t stay long. It felt like I was being watched…