By Andrea Mau
Web Content Contributor
Many students and locals may know the Thompson Island Bridge for its beautiful scenery that is ideal for picnics, swimming, and hiking. Nearly every day you can see happy families grilling at the park benches, teenagers jumping from the concrete bridge into crystal blue waters and the elderly walking their dogs.
However, what is not well known about this popular San Marcos location is its dark history.
Back in 1850, William A. Thompson brought his family and slaves from Lousiana to Texas. They established plantations in the areas of Hays and Caldwell County on the backs of slaves, and eventually a mill on the San Marcos River.
The construction led to three landmasses in the river’s channel creating islands, hence the name Thomspon Islands. The family stayed in the area for generations and their mill provided a large part of San Marcos’ power for other operations.
If the fact that most of San Marcos was built upon slaves’ hard labor and suffering doesn’t disturb you enough, then perhaps the knowledge that the area is considered haunted might. Numerous sightings have been recorded and have turned Thompson Island Bridge into a bit of a local legend.
The most infamous phantom known to lurk by the bridge is a confederate soldier. Supposedly, the soldier patrols the bank of the river seeking to come home from war to his brother and family. Locals say he is more likely to appear when America is at war.
Another lesser-known ghost is the Nightmare Man. Supposedly, one day a businessman came to San Marcos to build a restaurant on the islands. After crossing the Thompson Bridge, he began to feel numerous cold spots around the area.
Aware of the Confederate soldier that was said to haunt the spot, the businessman brushed it off and resumed his on-foot evaluation of the islands. Afterward, he quickly grew even more concerned as he felt as though he was being watched and heard odd noises from the bushes.
Becoming evermore creeped out, the man decided to leave the river. While walking back across the bridge, the man turned back around to see what appeared to be a stark shadow of a man standing right where he had just left.
The businessman was able to assure himself that it was just a trick of his mind setoff by paranoia and was able to get to bed that night at his hotel. Yet during his sleep, the man dreamed he was at the river yet again, the menacing Nightmare Man appeared, and hell flame licked up the banks and engulfed the islands.
As it stands, no restaurant was ever built on Thompson Island Bridge.
The Thompson Island Bridge is a great location to go to in general, but come the spookiest season of the year it is a must-see. The area is perfect for late-night scary stories with its dark leafy passages and looming concrete structures.
Next time you are out on a picnic with your friends enjoying the warm sun and icy pools, take a closer look at the shadows surrounding you. You never know what occurred in this supposed paradise.
Featured Image by Andrea Mau