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The Ghosts of Fort Phantom - Page 2

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Today Fort Phantom Hill is one of the most pristine historic sites in Texas. Besides a dozen or so chimneys sprouting up above the plains, the 22-acre site includes three intact stone buildings including the powder magazine, a guardhouse, and the commissary. The site is open daily during daylight hours and is free of charge to visitors. While no accommodations are provided at the site, informational brochures are available and the major structures are clearly marked. Visiting the site gives modern day visitors a feel for what life must have been like here in the 1850s, as people tried to tame the unforgiving West Texas landscape. The fort is part of the Texas Forts Trail, a 650-mile highway tour of historic Texas.


The fort is 11 miles north of Interstate 20 at Abilene, Texas on FM 600. You can also access the fort on the Texas Forts Trail on FM2833. Informational pamphlets are available on site and major structures are marked.


Ironically, the Fort Phantom Hill Reservoir was built in 1937 two miles south of the old post that suffered so badly from a lack of water. The reservoir supplies water for about 100,000 people in Taylor and Jones counties.


Fort Phantom Hill, Texas

Fort Phantom, Kathy Weiser, November, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints& downloads HERE!




As to the hauntings of the Fort, its name alone suggests that it would only make sense that the place would be alive with spirits from the past.


Several legends exist that the place is haunted by restless Indians of frontier times, who continue to stalk their ancient grounds during the night. Another says the fort is haunted by an innocent man who was wrongly hanged near the fort. After his life ended at the end of a rope, his accusers are all said to have died in mysterious ways.


A former Abilene psychic, who visited the fort, said that he suddenly saw the old officers’ quarters change into its former complete structure, where he found himself in the parlor. There, two men in officer’s uniforms stood before him. One man was said to have been tall and thin, while the other was a red haired short man with piercing eyes.


As the psychic stood their in fright, the men glared at him, seemingly unhappy at his intrusion. When he turned to flee, the apparitions and the restored building faded.


The nearby Lake Fort Phantom Hill is also said to be haunted by a watery spirit who is familiarly called the "Lady of the Lake.”


This phantom woman is said to have been seen numerous times, the first of which almost 150 years ago, long be the lake even existed. Dressed in a light-colored long gown or robe the watery ghost is said have been seen wandering aimlessly around the lakeside. Others who have seen her described the apparition as floating over the lake, sometimes carrying a lantern and surrounded by a bluish glow.


Who is this restless spirit? The answer to this question provides as many legends and the spirit herself. The first legend says she was the wife of a pioneer who built a small cabin in the woods that are now filled with Lake Phantom. In the midst of the dangerous Comancheria, the cabin was often attacked by Indians


To protect themselves, the couple made a pact that no one would enter the cabin without first speaking a secret password. If the code word wasn’t given, they were to shoot anything or anyone that tried to enter. One day when the man had gone out hunting he was ambushed by Indians as he approaching his cabin. Injured, he managed to escape and began clawing at the door to his cabin.  Forgetting about his password or unable to say it, his wife shot him before he cleared the stoop. According to legend, the forlorn woman continues to wander the lake, cursed for eternity for killing her husband.


Fort Phantom Hill, Texas Guardhouse

Fort Phantom Guardhouse, Kathy Weiser, November, 2009. This image available for This image available for photographic prints& downloads HERE!


A second legend says the when a couple were to meet at a church near the lake in the mid 1940s to exchange wedding vows, the groom never arrived. After hours of waiting and sure that he would not have left her standing at the alter, she begged authorities to look for her groom.


The next morning he was found dressed in his finest suit floating in a boat in the middle of the lake. Though the man’s face bore and expression of severe pain, doctors could not determine the cause of death. Some say the spirit was the bride searching for her fiancé’s killer.


A third legend places the spirit at a much later date in the early 1980s. According to this tale, a young woman and her lover agree to mete at the lake for an evening of romance. However, when the young man arrived he was enraged by a rumor he had heard about her and the two began to quarrel. The disagreement grew worse ending in the man drowning her in the lake. In this version, it is the murdered woman who wanders the lake.


Finally, if you were to ask anyone of Hispanic descent, they would most assuredly tell you that the ghostly woman is that of La Llorona, who is often seen about the lakes and rivers of the southwest.


In any event, there have been literally hundreds of sightings throughout the years of the Lady of the Lake, who seemingly doesn’t keep her excursions only at lakeside. She has also said to have been seen at a nearby cemetery as well as along a dirt road called Lover’s Lane. One couple sighting her at Lover’s Lane described her as walking along the road; however, when she grew closer, they could see that the apparition had not eyes.

Other strange phenomena around the lake includes the sounds of screams, moaning, gunshots and rapping upon vehicle windows. Others report smells of decaying flesh, perfume and roses.

Dogs at the lake have been noticed to go into unprovoked snapping and barking at seemingly invisible visitors.


© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated August, 2014.




On the breezy Texas border, on the prairies far away
Where the antelope is grazing and the Spanish ponies play;
Where the tawny cattle wander through the golden incensed hours,
And the sunlight woos a landscape clothed in royal robes of flowers;
Where the Elm and Clear Fork mingle, as they journey to the sea,
And the night-wind sobs sad stories o'er a wild and lonely lea;
Where of old the dusky savage and the shaggy bison trod,
And the reverent plains are sleeping 'midst drowsy dreams of God;
Where the twilight loves to linger, e'er night's sable robes are cast
'Round grim-ruined, spectral chimneys, telling stories of the past,
There upon an airy mesa, close beside a whispering rill
There to-day you'll find the ruins of Old Fort Phantom Hill.

- Larry Chitenden, 1938


Fort Phantom Commissary-Storehouse

Fort Phantom Commissary-Storehouse, Kathy Weiser, November, 2009.

This image available for photographic prints& downloads HERE!



Also See:

Forts of Texas

Texas Forts Trail

Texas Ghost Towns Photo Print Gallery


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