For generations, a 'rite of passage' for teens has been a trip in the car to the 'ghost tracks' on the city's south side, for the experience of imagining a group of spirit children pushing the car off the tracks to prevent the passengers from sharing their horrible demise.
But News Radio 1200 WOAI reports the ghost tracks are about to meet the ghost busters.
Union Pacific, which owns the main line, says increased use of the tracks due to the Eagle Ford Shale field, Toyota, and other south side development is prompting an upgrade which will eliminate the optical illusion that gave the the tracks their 'ghostly' reputation.
No one is quite sure how this unique San Antonio urban legend got its start, but the legend has grown up that back in the 1930s, a school bus filled with kids was hit by a train at the crossing off Villamain St.
So, whenever a car is parked in neutral on the tracks, the ghosts of those children will emerge from the great beyond and push it to safety.
People even put baby powder on the trunk, and find the hand prints left by the ghostly children as they pushed the car to safety.
Like most urban legends, none of this is true.
1) There never was a mass casualty school bus accident at this grade crossing.
2) The fact that cars left in neutral on the tracks do in fact roll off on their own has nothing to do with ghostly children, but is due to the presence of a downward slope in the street which is imperceptable to the eye.
3) Baby powder will bring out damp impressions on a car which were left by, for example, people closing the trunk.. These markings, in the minds of eager, ghost hunters, can easily be interpreted as the ghostly hands of kids pushing the car off the tracks.
The U.P. says while it has long been concerned about people parking their cars on a still active railroad track, the main purpose of the upgrade is to make the tracks safer for the increasing freight rail traffic.
When the project is completed, the slight slope that allows the car to roll off the tracks will be gone, like a ghost in the night,
Oh, well.. We'll always have the ghosts at the Menger Hotel.