Ghostly Hotel / Road Trip

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My Ott Hotel Experience

Hello, I joined a group of ghost hunters in which we all get together now and then to explore the ghostly worlds around us. This perticular trip was at the Ott Hotel in Liberty Texas. There were over 20 of us that attended that Saturday12th day of April 2008. The owner sat out on the front porch and provided a photo album explaining the whole ordeal from the start of their project. It is a very interesting story to hear. A lot of work went into the reconstruction of the old hotel. Along the way many stories poped up involving a viriety of ghost. We had a great day experiencing strange feelings and some even had visions and feelings of acutlally being touched by a ghost or two.

Later in the evening we stopped off at Jax Restruant for dinner. Then headed out to Ghost Road in Saratoga Texas. This is an eight mile lonely road full of ghost stories dating back many years. It was a rail road at one time. Lots of photos were taken by all of us. I only have one that seems to have ghostly orbs within it.

Over all we had a great time. The experience of anticipitation is exhilerating. It was after midnight when I headed back home well satisified.

Wiley Hodges

Ghost Town Club

By Logan Hawkes


When Kelly and Susan McCain decided to take an early retirement from the rigors of Parish pastorship in early 2002, it seemed like the historic Ott Hotel in Liberty, just north of Houston, would be a great place to land and set up a family business.


The Ott Hotel, you see, isn't your usual Motel 6 or Holiday Inn. Far from it. Once a bustling drummer hotel -- so called because of the large number of traveling salesmen that traveled coast-to-coast in the 1930s, or "flop house" as such overnight hotels were called by railroad crews -- was originally constructed near the Liberty Depot to handle the large amount of traffic generated from the Texas & New Orleans Railroad.


Originally a 50-room hotel, the Ott has long since lost some of its historic glory. Part of the building had been converted to apartments by the late 80s, and in spite of its original antique furniture and decor, the place needed some "fixing up" and a good, deep cleaning, which, after acquiring the property, the McCains set out to do in short order.


Along with their family of seven children the McCains moved in and worked hard to restore the old hotel. They got acqainted with the residents of the Ott Apartments. They welcomed new guests to the hotel. And then they met the other, more permanent residents of the old historic building; the ones that refuse to check out.


They say it requires a tragic human life and death for a soul to be shackled half in and half out of this world. If that's true, then there's plenty of good reasons for ghosts to take residence in the Ott. For one, there are two sets of lover suicides recorded there. Then there was the suicide-hanging in the dining room. There were a pair of lovers passionately engaged in a shameful affair when a jealous husband burst into their hotel room, ending the affair with a shotgun tragedy that cost the lives of the boyfriend and the husband.


There have also been plenty of deaths by natural causes, like the man who died in sleep after suffering heart failure. In fact, there have been no less than nine deaths in the hotel down through the years, and whether by coincidence or fact, there appears to be a relationship between the dearly departed and the delayed and lingering spirits that give the Ott its reputation as a hot spot of supernatural activity.


No, the McCains didn't know about the ghostly guests before they moved in, and yes, they continue to live within and operate the hotel personally. That's because Susan McCain says the ghosts of the Ott Hotel are, for the most part, benevolent spirits, or at least non-threatening.


"There have been cases of something being thrown off a table or the mantle," like a glass that was shattered on the floor when no one was near says Mrs. McCain. "But for the most part they just want recognition or acknowledgement."


But evidence of the hauntings goes beyond isolated incidents. The most common un-natural phenomena are the large number of floating "orbs" that the Otts and others see on a regular basis. They seem to come in several sizes and various hue and tones. Sightings of these orbs are a very regular event.


So are the angry voices in the middle of the night. Two men and a woman can be heard arguing, but a subsequent investigation, including a room check, reveals all is well - except for the voices that mysteriously disappear if anyone approaches the top of the stairs to the second floor landing. This is reported to be the spot where the agitated husband and his wife's lover argued, and eventually died.


Then each year in November, on the anniversary date of that same fateful quarrel, the same day every year, there is the explosion of a shot gun being fired from the top of those same stairs. Again, an investigation reveals no evidence that anything ever happened.


But the McCains say the stories get stranger. There's Bob, the ghost who smokes a cigar and lingers around from time to time leaving behind the smell of his hand rolled stoggie. And, perhaps the most strange of all, there is the "half man" wearing a skull and crossbones T-shirt. There's only the top half of him to see, and the guy, er - ghost, is all blue; the "Blue Man" the Otts have nicknamed him.


Kelly McCain, a retired minister, says the hardest part of this ghostly tale is "you know before you open your mouth that people are going to have a hard time believing the stories you have to tell."


"We don't say a lot to people because, especially as a minister, this is a gray area. At first, it was rather difficult to accept what was going on. But there are many things we don't fully understand. We don't know all the answers," he reports.


The McCains aren't the only ones to see and hear the restless spirits of the old hotel either. Permanent residents living in the apartment section of the building are well aware of the strange noises and apparitions; things that go bump in the night. One resident reports there is often a knock on his door. Answering the door, no one is there.


"That'll be Bob," says the man who has lived in the Ott for over 12 years.


Residents and even hotel guests report strange noises, distant voices, floating orbs and apparitions that subtly float through the room "from the corner of your eye," to the bold - like the Blue Man ghost.


Then there is the story of Hurricane Rita refugees who fled the coastline and took up residence in the Ott Hotel last year until they were allowed to return home. Or so was their intention, according to Kelly Ott.


"It was like our big break. This couple had one of those cell phones that takes photos. They were sitting on their bed in the room and trying to call friends and relatives to let them know they were safe and secure when suddenly a ghost appeared directly in front of them, a woman figure that floated there for a moment. Thinking quickly, the guest snaps a photograph of the ghost before she disappears. He runs downstairs to tell me he's got a picture of a ghost in his room, and I think, 'great', now maybe we'll have photographic proof. Maybe the tabloids will make us millionaires," Kelly laughs.


But after attempting to call up the digital photo on the phone screen, they discover the cell phone no longer works. No photo, no ring tone, no ghost.


"It was late," recalls Kelly, "and we were going to figure it all out the next morning. But sometime during the night, our guest and his wife left," during the storm, he adds.


Recently the McCains received additional support for their tales of the strange things that happen at the Ott Hotel. A paranormal investigation group from Baton Rouge, "Louisiana Ghost Hunters", called and requested permission to bring electronic equipmemt and professional observers to the Ott for a paranormal investigation.


"They said they had a hard time believing what they found. Apparently the old hotel is a hot bed for paranormal activity," reports Susan McCain. "They planned staying two or three nights but after the first night said they had plenty of film, audio recordings and electronic readings to keep them busy for a while. They say the place is very haunted and restless, but we could have told them that."


The McCains say they don't feel at all threatened by the other worldly guests that frequent the historic hotel. They say the hotel has a colorful past beyond the spirits that may still linger there. Down through the years the hotel has seen such famous guests (while still among the living) as Dan Rather, Bob Wills, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Roy Acuff and Texas Governor Price Daniels (who was a partial owner/investor in the Ott property at one time).


The architecture of the hotel, while nothing spectacular, is of period design. The windows and the front porch are the most evident features and were designed, no doubt, to take advantage of the view of the depot, a way guests could keep up with the trains that came and went at least 30-40 times a day.


The rail tracks are still in use. Trains still pass by the Ott Hotel daily.


But it's not the trains or planes or highway traffic that grabs the attention of the McCains and the residents and guests of the Ott Hotel these days, but the eerie, permanent guests that refuse to check out.


Where else could you enjoy Halloween everyday?


If you're planning a "ghostly" stay at the historic Ott Hotel, you should call ahead and make reservations. There are only five guest rooms available, and as more and more curious ghost seekers find out about the Ott's hidden treasures, those rooms will fill up fast. But, say the owners/operators, you can rest assured they will never double book a room with another living soul. What ever else you might encounter is free.

 

Ghost Road, Saratoga Texas

Our Ghost Town group had a fun trip to this location where ghost happenings were all around us. We got there just before dark and some of us stayed till after midnight.

The Ghost Road of Hardin County is situated in the heart of the Big Thicket region of deep East Texas. It begins at a bend on Farm-to-Market Road 787 that is 1.7 miles north of the intersection of FM 787-770, near Saratoga, Texas. Trees growing on both sides offer a natural canopy as drivers travel down the long dirt road.

Its original name is the Bragg Road, named after the town that was in that area at one time. The name Ghost Road was attached in this century after a number of tales that center around a ghostly light that is said to be seen on certain occasions at night.

The section of area was just part of the Big Thicket, thick with native and underbrush.

In 1902, Santa Fe Railroad hacked a survey line from Bragg to Saratoga, bought right-of-way and opened the Big Thicket forest with a railroad, and the Saratoga train began its daily trips to Beaumont, carrying people, cattle, oil and logs. When the area's oil booms and virgin pine gave out, road crews pulled up the rails in 1934, the right-of-way was purchased by the county and the tram road became a county road.

Tales of a ghostly light gathered steam in the 1940's, '50s and '60s as more people traveled to the road.

Explanations on the Ghost Light (or Bragg Light as it was called originally by locals) are varied and descriptive. Some people believe the light is the reflection of car lights while scientists believe it is a gaseous substance. Of course the best explanations are left to the imagination.

One story about the light is that it is a mystical phenomenon that frequents areas where treasure is buried and that Spanish conquistadors are looking for the golden treasure.

Another story is that the light is a little bit of fire never extinguished after another famous historical spot in the county, the Kaiser Burnout, or it could be the ghost of a man shot during the Burnout.

Still another story is about a railroad man who was decapitated in a train wreck when the railroad was still in place. The light is the body of the man looking for his head which was never found. The light could also be the night hunter who got lost in the Big Thicket decades ago. The hunter still wanders, searching for a way out of the Thicket.

A story that really gives you chills, is the one about the husband looking for his bride. The story goes the couple was honeymooning at the Bragg Hotel, which used to be at the end of the road, and by mysterious circumstances the bride was murdered. The light is the groom who continues to search for his bride's killer.

Whatever the light is, its presence, or the thought of its presence, has been powerful enough to generate enough interest to make sure the Ghost Road remains as it is, an important part of Hardin County history.

The road has an illusion of a forest - a closed canopy green tunnel of pines, oaks, sweet gums, hollies and other hardwoods, with an understory of wax myrtle, arrowwood viburnum, titi and buttonbush.

The "bar" ditches of the old tram support interesting aquatic vegetation, such as insectivorous bladderworts and floatinghears, In sunlit openings another insectivorous plant appears, the sundew and along the roadsides a seasonal variety of wildflowers appear, including the fall ladies' tresses orchid.

The Big Thicket Association commissioned a survey of the vegetation on the road, which was conducted in November of 1995. Cores from several pines indicate an approximate age of 70 years diversity of plant life, with plants indicative of prairie, baygall, palmetto flat, and wetland savannah communities. This first survey listed 43 tree and shrubs, nine woody vines, 33 flowering plants and six ferns, with more to be surveyed during other seasons.

The importance of this road led many in the area to make sure no harm will be done to destroy the delicate balance of nature.

The Ghost Road Scenic Drive County Park was officially designated by Hardin County Commissioners Court on July 28, 1997. A development committee is working with commissioners to plan for "eco-tourism."

The committee proposed to maintain the natural character of the road while ensuring that it is accessible for residents and for visitors. Future plans will be to eventually provide safe passage for larger vehicles, provide trail notes and picnic areas.

To reach the Ghost Road, take U.S. 69 at Kountze to FM 326, from there take the turn onto FM 770 which will take you directly to Saratoga. Go through Saratoga and at a right on FM 787 turn, the Ghost Road is not far off the beaten path.

For more information on the Ghost Road or the Big Thicket, contact the Big Thicket Association at P.O Box 198, Saratoga, Texas 77585.