Ghost stories have been circulating about Fort Phantom Hill since its earliest existence in 1851.
In 1938 (87 years after the fort was established), a lake was built south of the fort and was named “Lake Fort Phantom Hill.” Before that time, many had claimed sightings of supernatural beings, so the ghostly spirits are said to have already existed in the lake area long before the lake was built. It is said that restless spirits throughout the last 160+ years continue to wander the entire Fort Phantom area seeking justice for their unfortunate deaths.
Team Searches for Ghosts in 2008
(Excerpt from Abilene Reporter-News, October 31, 2008)
It was 10 p.m., and the darkness of the night lay across the crumbling ruins of Fort Phantom Hill like a thick blanket as Sarah Zell and Stephanie Ramos from Central Texas Ghost Search readied themselves for a night of ghost hunting.
The air was just cold enough to remind them that autumn was here, and as they worked, an owl hooted from somewhere.
Approximately 11 miles north of Abilene on FM 600, the fort was built in the 1850s to protect settlers moving westward from hostile tribes of American Indians. Officially, the isolated military post was named the “Post on the Clear Fork of the Brazos,” but one night after a nervous sentry shot at what he thought was the ghost of an American Indian, most began to call it “Fort Phantom Hill.”
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The Lady Ghost of Fort Phantom
One of the most popular urban legends is that of “The Lady in the Lake” which began in the mid 1940’s. A young woman named Mona Bell’s boyfriend had just returned from the war, and she was to meet him at Lake Fort Phantom, a popular meeting place for many love-starved young people in the 1940’s. Mona would know where to find her young soldier because he promised to flash the headlights on his car three times. The meeting went as planned, but as she went to embrace him, he flew into a rage: one of his best friends had told him (jokingly) that he kept his girl company while he was away at war. As the story goes, he wrapped his hands around her neck, strangled her, and threw her into the lake. Some of the witnesses of the day claimed that Mona was not dead when her body hit the water at the dam. They heard her scream, and the screams faded into gurgles where she finally drowned.
Watch this YouTube mini-movie about The Lady in the Lake.
Today it is said that “The Lady Of The Lake” likes to make your headlights flicker off and on while you’re driving, and she also surrounds your car with a dense fog that is only on your car. Those that have seen her say it’s a very hair-raising experience.
Special thanks to Rudy Fernandez of KEAN radio for sharing the information on this urban legend. KEAN radio’s website has a list of 5 urban legends in the Abilene, Texas area.
41-year-old photo mystery solved on Halloween 2000.
In an article that appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News on October 31, 2000, a long-held mystery was solved. The mystery was that of a young couple who appeared in a photograph taken one afternoon by the Pritchett family.
In 1959, the Pritchetts were taking pictures at the stone ruins of Fort Phantom Hill. When the photographs were developed, they were surprised to see two figures in the background of the photo – a young couple who appeared to be a man and a small woman or child.
The Pritchetts had no recollection of seeing the couple the day they were shooting the pictures around the fort. And, believing the legends of the fort being haunted, the Pritchetts embraced the idea that their family pictures had been visited by ghosts.
The article unveils the mystery some 40 years after it was taken. Click the article image to enlarge it and read the full story.
- Legends of America – The Ghosts of Fort Phantom Hill
- Haunted Places in Texas