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Check Out the Dive Bars and Ghosts Up on the Devil’s Backbone


Looking for the real deal this Halloween?

devils backbone tavern

Devil’s Backbone Tavern. Is that the devil’s face on a fireplace rock!?

Head on up to the reputedly haunted Devil’s Backbone, a five-mile limestone ridge that runs from Wimberley to Blanco. It’s very close to Canyon Lake and Fischer and home to several of the best dive bars in Central Texas.

The nationally famous Devil’s Backbone Tavern, 4041 FM 32, established in 1932, is a great place to start looking for chills ‘n thrills, savor the honky-tonk Texas bar experience, then wait expectantly for the clock on the wall to spin backward or the devil’s face to emerge from a rock on the fireplace.

There’s also a black cat named Psycho.

“If doors and windows open and close by themselves, just ignore it,” advises a sign. “It’s just our ghost trying to get attention. He thinks it’s funny.”

The Devil’s Backbone Tavern, built on the site of an ancient Indian campground, is widely believed to be haunted, according to devilsbackbonetavern.com. An entire Civil War battle is said to have occurred on the Devil’s Backbone limestone ridge. “Oh, there are ghosts, I guaran-goddamn-tee you,” said Robert Kelly, a tavern regular who said he sometimes sees shadowy figures on a steep nearby ridge called the Devil’s Backbone, for which the tavern is named.

Former owner Rick Ferguson, who in August sold the bar to musician Robyn Ludwick, sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison, and her husband, John, several years ago, said: “There are some (stories) where people see confederate riders that ride on horses at night. Then there are Indian ghosts and various other ghosts they see in the area. There are also stories about a lady in white walking off on the side of the road and then suddenly disappearing.”

On its website, the tavern also claims that old cowboys passed away sitting upright at the bar. A shoot out years ago left bullet holes in the wall and lodged in the neck of a mounted deer. Ashes of loyal patrons have been scattered between the floorboards like sawdust on a dance floor.

Don’t overlook nearby Riley’s on the Backbone Resurrected, 3971 FM 32.

Pick your ghost

Ghost stories have abounded in the region for decades. There are reports of a ghost girl with a bullet hole in her head, who explains her father shot her instead of allowing the family to be captured alive by marauding Indians.

Other reports include sounds of thundering horse hooves, the spirit of a wolf who possesses humans, ghosts of Confederate soldiers, a Spanish monk, long-dead cowboys, and a woman who walks the road holding a baby and crying out for her husband.

Scenic views

Devil’s Backbone was created by an earthquake over 30 million years ago, which separated the area into two different regions, Edward’s Plateau to the west and lower coastal plains to the east.

Some say it boasts the most-scenic views in the Texas Hill Country.


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