Ghost Children of San Antonio
The legend of the Ghost Children of San Antonio dates back to the first half of the 20th century, with the majority of accounts placing its origins within a period extending from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. The story is based on a supposed freak accident involving a school bus full of children. As the story goes, the school bus stalled over a set of train tracks and was subsequently hit by an oncoming freight train, killing everyone on board the bus. (Weiser) Not soon after this grisly event, it was said that, should anyone park their car on the very same train tracks and place the gears in neutral, the car will roll uphill (seemingly defying gravity) off of the train tracks to a safe distance away. According to legend, the ghosts of the dead children from the bus accident push one’s car to safety (seemingly uphill) so they may avoid a similar fate. (Mikkelson)
This story was recounted to me by a 20 year old female student at my University. She is a Communications major, coming from an upper middle class family in the rural suburbs of New Jersey. I interviewed her in her apartment sometime in the late afternoon in an informal setting. Although she is skeptical about things such as urban legends and ghost tales, she explained to me that this story always unsettled her in an inexplicable way.
Yeah, there’s one [story] that’s pretty scary that comes to mind. My one friend [name omitted] – I think you met her once – well she moved to Jersey from Texas about 3 years ago and told me about this place kids would go when they were drunk or just looking for something to do. I asked her if she’d ever been there, but she told me she’d only heard it from a friend of a friend kind of deal. Well, anyway kids would drive out to these old railroad tracks in like a secluded area outside San Antonio. Apparently, a long time ago – I think it was the 1950’s – a school bus full of a dozen kids had stalled on those tracks when it had an engine failure and been hit by a freight train – they all died. Anyway, if you park your car on these tracks and put it in neutral, you’ll notice your car begin to move like…uphill. The ghosts of the children push your car off the tracks so you won’t die like they did. A lot of kids have tried it, and, just to prove it, have sprinkled baby powder on the rear bumper. Well according to my friend they always seem to find tiny handprints in the powder…you know, from the ghosts. Well I don’t believe in this kind of stuff, but she swears it’s true and some of my other friends that grew up in New York said they heard the same exact thing.
The tale has several common variations, most of which involve differences in how the ghost children’s handprints are discovered on the rear bumper. For example, some versions of the tale explain that the car’s rear bumper is already dusty from driving on a dirt road; other versions explain that it is early in the morning, and the accumulated dew on the...