Texas is a mysterious place. Texas is home to ancient people who drew on cave walls. Precambrian reptiles that predated the dinosaurs are still being excavated. Spanish missions with tragic history dot the landscape, and believe it or not, pirates once roamed the shores of the Texas gulf coast. Though there are legends of the chupacabra or various ghosts, most of that is simply hearsay. Why dwell on the supernatural when there are so many fascinating true stories in the Lone Star State? Here are 10 true Texas mysteries to entice your imagination.
The Caddoan Mounds
The ancient Caddo people of east Texas built these mysterious mounds sometime around 800 A.D. It’s not known exactly what the mounds were for, but archaeologists believe they were built up to be used for ceremonial or religious sites.
Karen Silkwood’s death
Karen Silkwood died in a car accident on her way to meet a journalist for the New York Times. She worked making nuclear reactor rods at a plant in Texas, and was about to blow the whistle on plant practices that were endangering workers. Her car was found run off the road into a ditch on Highway 74, and none of the documents she was bringing to the journalist were in the car. To this day people still suspect foul play in Silkwood’s death.
Old Rip, the miracle horny toad
In 1897 the people of Eastland County placed a time capsule in the cornerstone of the new county courthouse. Inside the box was a horny toad. As time passed and the courthouse needed replacing, the county tore it down to make way for a new one in 1928. The story goes that when the time capsule was opened, the horny toad was still alive, covered with dust. Eastland County named him “Old Rip” after the story of Rip Van Winkle, and he became a national headline. To this day no one knows how he survived so long.
Sam Bass’ Treasure
Texas’ most beloved bandit, Sam Bass, was a train robber in the 1870’s. It’s said that he left a stash of loot when he was killed by the Texas Rangers in 1878, but it has never been found.
Frenchy McCormick’s undying love
The woman known as “Frenchy” McCormick lived by herself in the ghost town of Tascosa for almost 30 years. Her motivation? She refused to leave her husband’s graveside. No one really knows Frenchy’s true name, but her macabre love story has grown to legend status. In 1912, after 31 years of marriage, Frenchy’s husband, Mickey McCormick died. Frenchy was unwilling to leave her husband even after the town faltered and she was its sole resident for 27 years.
The Longview woman known as Lori Ruff didn’t seem too mysterious until after her death in 2010, when her husband found a box containing multiple fake IDs. The lockbox had a birth certificate for Becky Sue Turner inside, a girl who died in a fire at the age of 2. It also had a name-change document for Becky Sue Turner to become Lori Erica Kennedy. Finally in 2016 it was discovered that Lori Ruff was born Kimberly McLean who disappeared at the age of 18. It’s still not known exactly why she left her birth family or changed her identity.
The Marfa Lights
Despite many efforts of scientists and the public alike, no one knows the official source of the enigmatic ghost lights that float outside the small west Texas town of Marfa. The lights have been documented since the 1800s, and whether they’re car headlights, campfires or the unmoored spirits of the long dead is still a mystery. They are definitely there though, the town even built a viewing platform for folks to come watch them.
To the untrained eye, the craters in Odessa may simply look like a natural depression in the land. However, they’re believed to be part of a significant astrological event 50,000 years ago. Though the crater has largely filled in with dust and silt over the years, you can still visit the depression and see the actual meteorite that created it.
Jean Lafitte’s Treasure
The story of rogue pirate Jean Lafitte is a fascinating one. Perhaps the most intriguing is the possibility that he ran a treasure ship aground in a lake in Texas in order to hide its contents from pursuing authorities. Lake Miller off a tributary of the Trinity River near Galveston Bay. We may never know the truth of Lafitte and his ill-gotten gains, but his dominance in Galveston in the 1800s is uncontested.