Due to the graphic nature of this haunted place, listener discretion is advised this episode includes descriptions and discussions of death, slavery and war. We advise extreme caution for children under 13. Danny yawned as Mrs. Rothfus rambled on in front of the class, she was trying to make the Alamo sound exciting, but it was a true snooze. He was 11. He didn't need to know about the Texas revolution. He'd pay attention to history when he was in high school or whatever, but still going on a field trip beat, sitting around in class.
At least they were outside, although we really didn't get what was so special about this place. He looked over at the front entrance of the Alamo with its wood doors and dirty stone walls. It looked like no one had cleaned it in a million years and it had this weird hump on the roof over the front door. Danny couldn't wait for their tour to be over. His mom had given him pocket money. He was going to buy some churros from one of the carts in the courtyard after a guy gestured to the students to follow him.
Mrs. Rothfus told the class to hold on to their buddy. Danny grabbed his friend Gregory's hand, but not before the two shared an eye roll. They were too old for the buddy system.
Danny nearly choked when he stepped inside. It was cold and smelled like wet dust. Suddenly feeling uneasy, Danny squeezed Gregory's hand tighter. He didn't know why he was acting like such a wimp all of a sudden, but feeling his friend's hand was a comfort. It was really warm, almost heart to heart.
A sharp burning pain shot through Danny's palm like his hand was being faked. He pulled away, but Gregory's grip tightened. Danny turned an alarm, but Gregory wasn't there. A tall man in a double breasted military jacket stood in his place.
Danny remembered seeing the uniform in photos on the walk in. It was an old Mexican soldiers uniform, but this guy didn't look like he was from some kind of Alamo re-enactment.
The man's hollow cheeks had to blacken burns in the shape of handprints on them. The whites of his eyes stared at Danny with pure terror.
He croaked out a warning Don't anchor loss Diablo's.
Welcome to Haunted Places, a Spotify original from podcast. I'm Greg Polson. Every Thursday, I take you to the scariest, eeriest, most haunted real places on Earth. You can find all episodes of Haunted Places and all of the Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts and every Tuesday, make sure to check out urban legends. These special episodes of Haunted Places are available exclusively on Spotify this week. Join me on an exploration of the Alamo, the San Antonio fort that became famous for its part in the Texas revolution and discover why to this day it's haunted.
Coming up, we'll find that even at night. The Texas desert can burn. This episode is brought to you by three 3M, what are the adhesives used in both Post-it notes and airplanes have in common? They're both made with innovations from 3M. In fact, there are lots of 3M products hiding in plain sight that you might not realize, including a ninety five respirators in response to covid-19 3M increased respirator production to make more respirators than ever before, helping those on the front lines continue the fight.
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Today, it is a simple rectangular limestone structure in the middle of bustling San Antonio, Texas. But it has a dark history. At the turn of the 19th century, what we now call Texas was technically part of the Spanish empire, as Mexico was not yet independent. But many of its residents were Americans who had immigrated to work in agriculture. Yet much of this industry was reliant on slavery. And when Mexico abolished slavery in the 1920s, Texans feared they'd lose their workforce.
So for this and other reasons, in 1835, Texans demanded independence from Mexico and their leader, President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. But Mexico had won its own independence from Spain about a decade ago, and its government was not keen to see a part of their new nation jump ship. When the rebellious Texans seized the Alamo from their Mexican army, Santa Ana was determined to get it back. In February of 1836, Santa Ana gathered thousands of Mexican soldiers to storm the building.
The Texans had fewer than 200 men. And the disparity in numbers is part of what propelled the Battle of the Alamo to legendary status. But the reality of the battles destruction is less glamorous. Almost all of the Alamo defenders died, as did well as over 600 Mexican soldiers. In the end, Santa Ana won back the Alamo. But he could smell his impending defeat. The Mexican army would surrender to Texan troops in another battle shortly thereafter. Perhaps that is why, according to one legend, Santa Ana sent a message to his troops that although Mexico still held the Alamo, he wanted it burned to the ground.
As General Gonzales walked down the cold, dark desert road with 10 other soldiers, he tried not to seem too eager. Behind them was a wooden cart filled with explosives. There'd be quite the bonfire tonight with the Alamo as their kindling in line behind Gonzalo. His second in command, Lieutenant Garza, murmured a silent prayer. Gonzalo turned Garza's musket was slung over his shoulder and his free hands clutched rosary beads as he walked. When Garcia saw Gonzales looking, Garza whispered that they should turn back.
There was still time. Gonzalo sighed. It was not the first time Garza had given this plea. Gonzalo turned to him and said that they didn't need to be scared like they'd been in battle. Buildings, didn't shoot back or scream when they die without men to defend it. The Alamo was just a pile of stone, but Garcia claimed he wasn't worried for his life. It was his soul that was in danger. He said the building they were meant to burn was a holy place.
He continued to clutch his rosary beads. Gonzalo rolled his eyes. He had also been brought up in a house of God. His mother had prayed over him nearly every day and his abuela before her. But when he turned 18, he'd become a soldier and found his job was easier. If you didn't have to wonder what God might think, he hadn't thought once about God at the Battle of the Alamo as he pulled his musket trigger over and over.
So when Santa Ana managed to send a message from captivity burn the Alamo, Gonzalo was happy to do it. The Texans believe everything belonged to them. People land, even Santa Ana himself. Gonzalo would burn the Alamo, showing them that there were some things they couldn't have. Gonzalo felt something great country countries boot a thick scent of rancid decay hit his nostrils, he waved his torch downwards. He walked on a decaying human hand. They were here.
Gonzalo held his torch up the two storey rectangular stone chapel loomed against the night sky. Gonzalo could make out scorch marks from cannon fire on its stone facade and the bodies he couldn't ignore, the bodies rapidly decaying. There were dozens, some hanging out of the chapel's windows. Some were sprawled out under half burned carts. Others were stacked by a smaller structure to the missions left. Garza appeared beside him and pleaded once again for Gonzalo to abandon the mission.
This was a holy place. If they burned it, there would be consequences. A wave of anger swelled in Gonzalo's belly. It was just a building. Gonzalo snapped a building they'd been told by their leader to burn, and they would do so. Gonzalo turned to his men and barked orders. He nodded to Gaza and told them to take his position. On the south side of the building. Gaza gave a reluctant nod.
The men took their places, while others unloaded the fire starters from the cart. Gonzalo stood by the northern wall, watching his men positioned themselves with their torches. They throw the torches in the windows of the fort, go to the cart for more and throw those in. Too soon, the Alamo would turn to Ash.
But suddenly Gonzalo heard a scream.
A soldier raced out from the south side of the Alamo, entirely engulfed in flames. He sprinted around in panic, hitting himself to put out the fire.
The other soldiers watched to shock, to help until finally the soldier collapsed in a screaming heap on the ground. Gonzalo took a shot step toward the twitching man and realized with a jolt it was Gaza.
Gaza looked up at Gonzalo, his eyes wide open. Despite the fire that consumed him, he choked out a last warning. We should not be here. He went limp. Gonzalo's Deardon Chuck.
He turned one another, scream, ripped through the air, but something was holding his wrist, something hot, too hot, Gonzalo thought it was Garza's hand until he realized it was sticking out of the Alamo's limestone wall like someone was reaching through the stone wall itself and the hand was completely on fire. No, it wasn't on fire.
It was fire. Gonzales screamed and pulled away, but the hand came with it.
A fire arm emerged and then a torso and then a burning face.
It was almost human, but with overwhelmingly white eyes that looked deep into Gonzalo's. The flesh on his arm bubbled and smoked El Diablo, Gonzales whispered.
The demon lunged forward, burning Gonzalo's soul into the ground.
Legend has it that after Santa Ana gave the order to destroy the Alamo, a Mexican general sent his men to burn it down. But when they tried to follow through, they were confronted by six diablo's or devils rising from the walls. Angered by his men story and refusal to burn the place the general went to go see for himself.
He claimed to have witnessed the same fiery horrors that his men saw, forcing him to call off the burn blower credits the Diablos with saving the Alamo from Santa Ana Zanker after the DIABLO'S drove the soldiers out. It's easy to believe that the spirits stayed and are still wandering the Alamo. And even if Los Diablos were the first spirits encountered in the building, they certainly weren't the last. Coming up, don't wake looks Diablos.
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In fact, there are lots of 3M products hiding in plain sight that you might not realize, including a ninety five respirators. In response to covid-19, 3M has increased respirator production to make more respirators than ever before, helping those on the front lines continue the fight. Learn more at 3M dotcom slash covid. Now back to the story. While Mexico may have won the battle, the Alamo was thought of as a turning point for the Texans in the war.
Exaggerated tales about the 13 day siege and brave sacrifice led to the formation of the famous phrase Remember the Alamo, which the Texan army subsequently used as a battle cry? After defeating the Mexican army at San Jacinto in 1836, Texas gained independence. The Alamo became a symbol of bravery and independence for Texans, even through the state's joining of the United States in 1845. However, the building itself was used for many different purposes throughout the hundreds army barracks, a supply depot, a retail store and at one point it was even a jail.
But just because it was no longer a fort didn't mean there still weren't soldiers protecting it. Only this time they weren't fighting for a country. They were fighting for something else.
Clint suppressed a smile as the jail door slid shut, the idiotic marshal glared at him through the bars and had the nerve to suggest that this time Clint was going to be locked up for good.
He was wrong.
When the marshal was out of sight, Clint scouted his dim, empty cell, a small waste bucket, a cot with some stained dirty linens, a flickering lantern sitting on the floor just outside the bars. It smelled like sweat and blood, just like every jail he'd ever been in. Just like every jail he'd ever escaped. Clint wasn't a particularly good thief. As he got caught quite frequently. He'd tried to lay low after his last arrest. But today, when he'd seen that good ladies reticule hanging haphazardly off her belt, he felt his hand reach out without even knowing it was going to steal it.
And then suddenly he was running and running and then he was falling and falling as the marshal came out of nowhere to grab his legs from behind. So he wasn't great at staying out of jail, but he was excellent at escaping from it. Sometimes it was about charming the guard into forgetting to lock his door or pretending to be sick and slipping away when he was taken to the doctor. But he'd already use both those tactics on this marshal. This time he was going to really have to work for his escape.
He was thrilled. He reached down and unstrapped a chisel from his inner thigh after the last time he'd been locked up, he started carrying it around at all times, clinch the bedside as softly as he could, then began going at the exposed wall. He jabbed his chisel into stone, watching the rock flake off, but it only left a little divot. Clint winced. This was going to go slowly all night, if not all day and the next day.
And that was without counting the necessary stops. When a guard or marshal came to check on him, he needed another idea, but not his eyes have lingered on the lantern outside his cell bars.
A comrade of his had once gotten released from a cell after a guard knocked over a lantern in the hallway. The guards weren't able to put out the fire right away, so they'd let all the prisoners out to save them. Clint's friend had run right out the front door. Clint wasn't sure this was the best idea, but the chisel wasn't working out so well either.
Sometimes you just had to take the chance.
Clint yanked the linen off the cart and rolled it into a ball. He reached his kindling through the bars, trying to dip it beneath the lantern's glass. If he could only catch the flame, he'd be able to top his friend's story and light his whole car on fire. And then the marshal would have to let him out. If he didn't, it would be manslaughter, if not murder.
But just before the linen hit the flame, Clinton, a door opened in the distance. There was someone coming. Klemp through the sheet, back on the bed and laid down on it. His eyes trained to the hall outside his cell. The footsteps grew closer and closer, but no one appeared. Clint slowly peered out of the cell bars.
The hallway was empty. How strange, he thought he waited a moment, but all was quiet to quiet, the silence suddenly felt oppressive. He waited a moment longer but heard nothing else. So he turned back to the bed and grabbed the sheet again. Now, more than ever, he wanted to get out of there. He held the cloth to the flame and the linen caught. He had a torch.
But then Clint heard a low, desperate voice plead. Put it out. Clint's heart leapt. No one was in his cell. And yet it had seemed like the voice spoke almost into his ear. A sharp burning sensation bit into his fingers. It was the burning linen reminding him he had a fire to start. It was now or never with a grin. Beat Trump the fireball onto the cocked. But the flames grew faster than he thought they would within seconds, they climbed up the walls he thought he could escape from so easily, he yelled for the marshal and backed away from the fire.
But when he was pressed up against the bars of his cell, the marshal still hadn't appeared. Panicked seeped in. He was trapped. He screamed for the marshal at the top of his lungs. The marshal would come. Clint just had to be louder. A deep moan came from behind to. Clint turned in a figure sitting on the cot surrounded by the fire, Clint gasped.
The figure wasn't burning, but it wasn't totally unscathed. He wore a double breasted military jacket and held a long musket in his arms, and each of his cheeks had a burn mark on them in the shape of a handprint. Through the flames, Clint could tell he looked very, very sad. He softly told Clint that they came for those who tried to burn the Alamo. Then he apologized for not warning Clint sooner. He'd try to do better next time when it wasn't already too late.
Clint screamed into the hall for the guards, wondering how they couldn't smell the fire. Then he noticed that the smoke wasn't seeping into the hallway. It stopped right at his cell. This man was somehow trapping him. Clint was a master at escaping, but the thought was dawning on him that he might not escape this.
He suddenly felt scalding heat sear into his arms, his shoulders, his chest. Four sets of burning hands were wrapped around his body, extending out from the small bars. Clint screamed for the guards. He understood now that the guards couldn't hear him, but he cried out until his lungs were charred.
According to legend, during the Alamo's time as jail, prisoners and guards claimed to hear loud moans at night and many reported feeling sad to the point of tears, over the years, these paranormal instances increased and guards allegedly began to refuse working the night shift. The jail was eventually moved to a different building of the city.
The Alamo changed hands a few more times before the state of Texas took ownership. At first, the state proposed to build a monument for the Alamo defenders. The plans failed, but in the 1930s, the grounds surrounding the chapel building were purchased. The new facilities, like a meeting house and an auditorium or built the Alamo, became a museum, and in 1960, it was designated as a national historic landmark. Historic landmarks are meant to preserve the past so that we don't forget it.
But the Alamo already had its dead to do that.
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Now back to the story. Millions of people flocked to the Alamo each year to hear the romanticized history behind this piece of Texas pride, but a lot of people also come for the ghosts. Reports of dancing spirits on the outer walls and in the Elmos gift shop are plentiful. Tourists might be eager to see some of these famous ghosts due to their reputation for benevolence. There's a cowboy from the late eighteen hundreds, a ghostly woman who sits on a bench outside, and a little blond boy who was separated from his parents during the Battle of the Alamo.
But if you ask those who work at the Alamo after hours, not all its long term residents are friendly.
Rachel Melton, the narrow alley shaking her can of spray paint vigorously before letting out a spritz of paint, a shock of neon blue tore across the blank gray surface of the wall in front of her.
She moved her can up and down, up and down until she could stand back to admire her work. She'd drawn a neon blue devil, her tag. She smiled with pleasure. Down the dark alleyway, her friend Mike worked on his own tag. He'd been trying to perfect a yellow Texas longhorn, but had been having the hardest time getting the horns just right. Rachel thought they always looked like bunny ears. He saw her looking and grinned. He asked her if she was ready to go and she nodded.
She whipped out her iPhone to take a picture of her blue devil. Then they threw their empty paint cans to the ground and ran down the alley. The alley wall was just a nightly warmup. They had bigger plans for this evening. They were going to graffiti the Alamo. It wasn't Rachel's first time spraying her tag on a famous landmark, she had graffitied the Riverwalk, the Tower of the Americas and two of the other historic missions. But not the Alamo.
Not yet. Her pulse quickened at the port with its blank limestone canvas. It was a flurry of neon blue devils waiting to happen. Even if her tag got painted over, she knew that it would always lie below that layer of paint forever. Part of the building, the Alamo, was her Everest, and after she tagged it, this whole city would be hers.
Rachel led them through San Antonio streets. There was still traffic and people around, despite it being almost midnight. But she knew the Alamo would be deserted except for a few dumb cards. She and Mike had been watching the night shift for days and knew all the gaps in the guard schedules. The two crept up to the short stone wall that lined the plaza and strolled past the front entrance. Rachel gazed at the almost blank facade, lit up by led spotlights that made it look all the more alluring.
The two snuck alongside the plaza and watched as a guard left through the front, unbuttoning his white uniform shirt as he went. He nodded to another, a portly guard arriving for duty. Rachel and Mike watched the portly one disappear into the Alamo. They had 10 minutes before he loaded up on coffee and started patrolling. The two tightened their hoodies. They nodded to one another and raised their spray cans. Then they ran. Rachel knelt beside the left side of the elbow with Mike a few paces to her right.
She was about to let the cantrip when she noticed a guard standing a few feet away staring at them. Rachel Fros Mike asked why she wasn't spraying. Rachel nodded her head to the card and then he gasped. Rachel wasn't sure what to do. There was something weird about this guy. He didn't look like the portly guard they'd just seen arrive. He didn't look like a guard at all. He wore dark military looking jacket and had some intense scars on his cheeks that she couldn't quite see in the dark.
Her eyes caught the long object at his side. Oh, God. She thought it was a gun, like a really big one. She scrambled to her feet. She was about to run with a man, reached out a hand and grabbed her. He warned them not to harm the Alamo.
He told her that they would fight back. Rachel paused. He whispered that he had not believed it either at first. And then he raised his gun.
That was all Rachel needed. She ran faintly, realizing that Mike wasn't with her. But that wasn't him. She wasn't about to get thrown in jail or fined or worse shot. She ran through the cactus garden and skirted the side of Alamo Hall. She ducked to hide behind one of its wood columns, but stopped short as she came around to its front side.
The door was open. Rachel slipped inside and softly closed the door.
The room was entirely empty. Foldable tables and chairs lay stacked in the corner like it was some kind of event space. But Rachel was staring at it in all the guard long forgotten because this room had four long white blank walls. She'd had dreams of decorating the Alamo but never thought she'd get to be inside one of the structures. Screw Everest. This was even better.
The blue mist left her Kante and sprits the white wall of Alema Hall.
But as soon as the paint hit the wall, the windows began to rattle like a big gust of wind had swept through the room. The door did too. Rachel looked around, tensed and ready to dive in case it was an earthquake.
But the rattling stopped and she slowly pressed her hand against the nearest window. It felt firm. She wasn't sure why it would have been rattling if it wasn't even close.
Rachel went back to work, spraying expertly until the neon blue devil shown brightly on the wall.
She stood back and took out her phone to snap a picture. She stopped to admire the photo, but soon realized it looked weirdly different. Her sprayed on Devil, normally a little rounded shape had elongated. It was still blue, but the edges had blurred slightly like little flames covered its arms. Maybe there was something wrong with her camera. Rachel looked up at the wall and the devil tag turned its head to look at her.
Rachel yelped and dropped her phone, the flames she had drawn on her painting quivered and grew, spreading until the entire wall was encased in blue flames. The devil that stared at her was neon blue, just like her graffiti. But where she had sprayed a cartoonish drawing, there was a living, breathing man of fire. Rachel tried to tell herself it was just a hallucination. It had to be, but the heat in the room told her otherwise. It had become unbearably hot.
Her hoodie was soaked through with sweat, and the heat only seemed to grow as the devil slowly emerged from the wall. Fear froze her until the devil screamed that this place was not hers. Tammar the voice jolted Rachel from her stupor. She stumbled toward the exit. The flames burned her back, and then she felt a breath, stopping pain as a hand grabbed her shoulder, trying to pull her back inside the furnace.
Rachel tripped over her feet, flying out of the doors and collapsing on the sandy flagstone.
Outside, she coughed. Her shoulder throbbed in agony. She scrambled to her feet, ready to run, but an angry voice yelled at her. She looked up to see the security guard running over and embarrassed Mike in tow. He demanded to know what she was doing there. Terrified, Rachel looked back at Alema Hall's open doors.
There was no fire light, no smoke. She gingerly touched her hoodie where the hand had grabbed her. The cloth had melted. A smoking burn mark in the shape of a hand sat underneath. She whispered to the guard that she shouldn't have been here at all. Some stories about the malevolent presence and Alamo come from Chief Ranger Phillips, who once worked at the Alamo, and Jeff Ballinger's book Ghosts of War Restless Spirits of Soldiers, Spies and Saboteurs. Phillips described a ghost in Alamo Hall that would bang on walls and rattle doors.
When Phillip would go to make sure the doors were secure, he'd always find that they were. When he would leave, they would shake again. One ranger reportedly emerged from the hall with a big burn mark on his shirt, suggesting that the spirit might have been demonic. While some ghosts appear to be deceased Texans, another common sighting is the Mexican soldier with a canteen on his belt and a leather ammunition pouch. Many of the other rangers have seen the soldier.
The Battle of the Alamo has become a rallying cry for Texans and a revered part of American history. It has been seen as a moment that Texans stood as underdogs and held their own against incredible odds. But as with most of history, the deeper we dig into the story, the Alamo, the less rosy the story becomes. The Texans might have been fighting for their freedom. But we must remember that at least part of that freedom involved the enslavement of others, and that American history often paints the Texans as heroic martyrs and therefore villainize as the opposition.
American history hasn't been kind to the Mexicans who fought against the Texans, but they too were fighting for control of what was, at the time, their land. Historian Raul Ramos of the University of Houston notes that many of the Texans were white Americans who had immigrated to Mexico. Therefore, their seizure of Texas and the Alamo was another example of American expansion. They fought so hard for the Alamo because they believed they were entitled to it. But indigenous tribes in the area have also struggled to be considered in the conversation about the Alamo's ownership.
Through the years, excavators have found human remains in the area, causing them to believe that the Alamo's land was once a cemetery containing the graves of native peoples ancestors. This is in addition to the Spanish settlers and monks who had been buried on the property in the seventeen hundreds. Maybe this burial ground has Carlos Diablo's come from. They are the souls that were put to rest, then awoken from their slumber by the quarrels of the living. Maybe it's them we should be listening to.
No matter how many battles are fought over the Alamo or how many claim it's theirs. Maybe it's all been for naught. No one can own it or it was lost Diablo's all along. Thanks again for tuning into haunted places. We'll be back on Thursday with a new episode. And don't forget to come back on Tuesday for our Urban Legends series available only on Spotify. You can find more episodes of Haunted Places and all of the Spotify originals from podcast for free on Spotify.
I'll see you next time. Haunted Places is a Spotify original from podcast executive producers include Max and Ron Cutler, Sound Design by Kenny Hobbs with production assistance by Ron Shapiro, Carly Madden and Isabella Away. This episode of Haunted Places was written by Kate Murdoch with writing assistants by Greg Castro, fact checking by Claire Cronin and research by Mikki Taylor. I'm Greg Palast. Hi, listeners, it's Vanessa again. Before you go, don't forget to check out the Spotify original from podcast Serial Killers each week.
Join me and my co-host Gregg for a deep dive into the minds and madness of history's most notorious murderers. You can binge hundreds of episodes, four years worth and catch new episodes every Monday and Thursday. Listen to serial killers free on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.