The following article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as scholarly research or as a final authority on the topic.
It’s Freaky Friday, the day where the freaks and ghosts visit Full-Tilt Backwoods Boogie. Last week we talked true crime, so this week our topic is paranormal.
We’ve all been in old houses and encountered a cold spot or thought we saw something out of the corner of our eye. Some of us have visited old battlefields and got the feeling we were being watched. Today, we’ll visit a more than 400 acre Texas park that is associated with so many ghost stories, it might be impossible to visit without encountering the supernatural.
Cameron Park of Waco, Texas is located in the heart of Waco, next to downtown. Covering more than 400 acres, it is one of the largest municipal parks in Texas.
The first 125 acres were donated in 1910 by the William Cameron family. Over the years, the Cameron family donated other parcels of land, which expanded the park to its current size.
This first one is kind of silly, but it’s the most well-known story associated with Cameron Park. The story takes place on a limestone rock formation called Lover’s Leap which overlooks the Bosque River.
The story should be familiar to anyone who has read Romeo and Juliet. Two young Native Americans from enemy tribes fell in love. They found themselves cornered by vengeful tribesmen on the limstone cliffs. Rather than live without each other, they embraced and jumped to their deaths. Here’s a short video that tells a more detailed version of the story:
Legend has it the lovers can be glimpsed on the cliff when the Bosque river is above its banks. Another legend, also dependent on the river’s waters being high, says that the lovers’ whispers can be heard during those times.
Decca Lamar West wrote a story about the doomed lovers in 1912 titled “Legend of Lover’s Leap.”
The Motorcycle Pits
This more modern legend originated around the 1970s-1980s. The motorcycle tar pits trailed downhill from Lover’s Leap. They were a popular area for jumping motorcycles in the 1970s.
The origin of ghost story is that a young man was killed riding his motorcycle at the pits. His mother came every day to the motorcycle pits to mourn her son’s death. Even after her own death, she continues to visit. People report hearing racing engines and a woman crying. They also report seeing orbs moving through the trees near where the location of the pits.
Here’s a short video about the legend:
One of Cameron park’s biggest attractions, Jacob’s Ladder, is man-made. It is an extremely steep set of steps climbing nearly one hundred feet to the top of a bluff. Supposedly, it was built over 100 years ago by a family who lived at the top of the bluff as a way to access the river below. Despite its age, Jacob’s Ladder is still usable due to periodic renovations.
The ghostly activity dates back to the 1980s, but cannot be connected to a particular event. It is said that if a couple climbs the ladder after dark, they will sometimes feel invisible hands pulling at their clothes. The woman is usually the first to feel the hands.
Watch a short video about this ghost story:
The Witch’s Castle
This story is the reason I did this post. The Witch’s Castle is the most mysterious of all Cameron Park’s haunts. It seems nobody can agree on the exact location of this place.
Like any good urban legend, there are several versions of the haunting’s origin floating around. The key elements of the story are a witch, human sacrifice, and vigilante justice. Details vary. A tamer version of the story claims the “castle” ruins belonged to a woman who could no longer pay her taxes and had the property taken from her.
The paranormal activity consists of moaning and crying voices, banging, and a horrendous stench. People report finding weird stuff around the area such as ripped and bloody clothes and wrapped parcels with flies buzzing around them. Some reports include a ghostly dog with glowing red eyes who chases intruders away. Claims of “Satanic” activity at the site abound.
A group of Waco Tribune-Herald reporters claim to have found the Witch’s Castle back in 2004. They located a crumbling brick wall and a wide foundation. Whatever they saw and heard scared them away.
Neighbors of the place said the house had been destroyed by fire and had been the subject of ghost stories for decades.
The Witch’s Castle is featured in Weird Texas. Contributing author Heather Shade documents finding a place with winding staircases and moats–which supported the version of the story she had been told.
Judging by the pictures–and by her own admission–the place she found was Proctor Springs. Proctor Springs was inside the first acreage of land donated for the park back in 1910. Proctor Springs and the Witch’s castle, according to locals, are not the same place.
Some reports claim the Witch’s Castle has been demolished. Others claim it is no longer accessible, and any trespassers will get in heap big trouble.
Whether it exists or not, the Witch’s Castle continues to fascinate. People believe it’s out there and continue to search for it.
These aren’t the only hauntings associated with Cameron Park in Waco, Texas. They’re just the ones that interested me the most. I now want to take a mini-vacation to Waco and explore Cameron Park…if I can get my long-suffering husband on board.