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Home > Features > Texas Stories > Devil's Backbone Ghosts

Devil's Backbone Can Send Chills Up Your Spine
By Greg Fieg

They are the dirtiest, tiredest and lostest half dozen Confederate soldiers you'll ever want to meet, or, preferably not meet. Their domain is called "The Devil's Backbone," a remote, narrow, treacherous and curling piece of Texas roadway that is arguably among the most beautiful in the Hill Country by day, but at night, perhaps the spookiest.

The few locals that live in the area say they don't know why they repeatedly see this lost patrol of ghostly Confederate soldiers, wandering in their worn out gray uniforms and with a few weeks of whiskers as they seek sustenance and respite in the dead of night. The ragtail Rebels look real enough as apparitions, but turn away from them for just an instant and they vanish into the night air.

The road is designated as Farm Road 32, a minion of the 1400-foot Lone Man Mountain which holds court to the north. The route traces its way through a cedar forest along a spinelike summit transversing a succession of limestone bluffs and fall-away grades. At its highest point, the drop to the valleys on either side is the better part of a 1,000 feet, and affords travelers 100-mile views at several locations.

But don't take your eyes off the road because it's a long way down, and it may be awhile before you're found if your vehicle leaves the pavement. From many points, all that can be seen are sprawling vistas, with no sign of homes, roads or civilization.

The road connects Route 12 south of Wimberley west for 30 miles to U.S. 281 near Blanco and the general vicinity of the ranch of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson. A picnic area with parking has been created near the western end for those who want to make a day of it. But to make a night of it, well, it's not advised.

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