A Dusty Trail of Legends and Haunts
By Dana Goolsby
MARSHALL- Red dirt roads sprawl beneath the pine tree canvas of East Texas offering a slower pace, and are perfect for a scenic drive. But not every dirt road in the Pineywoods leads to mystery and folklore like one in particular just outside of Marshall, Texas. Stagecoach Road in Harrison County has been in use since the early 1800’s, and has been the source of many, many tales, racing heart beats, and chill bumps that will raise the hair on the back of your neck for decades among East Texans.
Prior to the Civil War (1861-1865), the stage road was the main transportation artery between Marshall and Shreveport, and provided a link to New Orleans for distant markets. Traveling the dirt road was uncomfortable in dry conditions and nearly impossible during the rainy seasons.
Regular stage service was established by 1850, with three weekly arrivals and departures from Marshall. The arrival of stage coaches was a big event in Marshall. Coach drivers would sound their bugle, and the townspeople would rush out to meet incoming coaches.
Stagecoach Road was used during the Civil War, despite the shortage of drivers and horses, but declined after the war due to the completion of the Southern Pacific rail line. But even before Texans were putting this stretch of road to use legends tell of Caddo Indians who used to travel the road.
Locals and thrill seekers alike have dubbed the road haunted and mysterious. Local lore swirls about this stretch of road in the pines, producing tales that have been passed down for generations. While some lay claim to paranormal experiences others say they have encountered numerous Texas cryptids wandering along the road. Urban legend suggests, vampires and zombies do their dirty work along this dusty path during the wee hours of the night when unsuspecting drivers stop along the road. While many of the encounters range from the paranormal to mythical creatures, the only certainty regarding this dusty trail is its deeply rooted history in the region and the fact that there is never any shortage of mystery where Stagecoach Road is concerned. Fear and even death are believed to be waiting for those who brave this hidden path deep in the Pineywoods.
Reports of a clattering spectral stagecoach drawn by four black horses have been buzzing for decades. Some rebuke the reports of the rogue stagecoach however, and insist the horse drawn entity is an old wagon funeral hearse. Locals refer to the oddity as the “death coach.”
Others have reported seeing strange lights when traveling the road at night. Many believe the unidentified lights are lanterns hanging from a funeral coach as it rushes down the road in the dead of night seeking souls to take back to Hell. The story goes, those who see the funeral coach are doomed to die, while those who hear it should drop to their knees in prayer because the coach is there to drag you away to Hell.
Other bizarre encounters have been reported on the old, graffiti laced bridge over Stagecoach Road. Locals say that if you park on the road and kill your engine if you wait patiently for 10 or more minutes you will see handprints on your car.
The legendary East Texas Bigfoot has also been spotted along Stagecoach Road. Blood-sucking chupacabras and even the Goatman have been reported lurking in the shadows by drivers as well. Other creatures that have been reported on Stagecoach Road include vampires, who many believe were buried near the road over a century ago.
The oldest and perhaps most widespread tale regarding Stagecoach Road in Marshall is that of La Llorna. La Llorona, “the Weeping Woman,” wanders along canals and rivers crying for her missing children. The story of la Llorna is found in many cultures and regions, making her possibly the most widely known ghost in Texas.
Legend says her children were missing, but that La Llorna actually killed her children in a crazed rage after being rejected by her beau. When La Llorna learned that her beau intended to marry another (some speculate that the other woman was Diamond Bessie herself), she led her children down to the bayou and drown them. After drowning her children, La Llorna realized what she had done and then drowned herself.
According to local tales, the next morning a man from Marshall reported he had found La Llorna dead along the shores of Caddo Lake, and the townsfolk gave her a proper burial in a family cemetery near Stagecoach Road.
Locals say la Llorna wanders Stagecoach Road dressed in black, crying out to her children. Some link the mysterious lights spotted along Stagecoach Road to La Llorna, suggesting she is using a lantern as she searches for her young ones’ bodies. La Llorna’s face is sometimes that of a horse, but more often than not horribly blank. Her long fingernails are said to gleam like polished tin in the moonlight.
The “Woman In White” has also been spotted down Stagecoach Road. Many believe her death was the result of a horrible stagecoach accident that occurred on a rainy night. Some locals will tell you the “Woman in White” was a nurse of the Confederacy during the Civil War who was killed while traveling Stagecoach Road, and that she makes an appearance just before disaster strikes the area.
The “Ax Man” is also said to travel this dirt road. Many residents of the area talk of the Ax Man’s ghost who is said to chop off the heads of those traveling alone at night.
Other local lore regarding the road suggests that the bodies of countless unknowns have been buried just off the beaten path. In the dead of night, unclaimed bodies were transported to the area surrounding Stagecoach Road for burial. This was so the spirits would not haunt the living in town.
Have you been down Stagecoach Road and encountered something unexplainable? If so, MYETX wants to hear from you! Email our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out how to contribute your story to our collection of haunted tales from the Pineywoods.
**WARNING- MYETX warns thrill seekers and the curious- NEVER trespass, NEVER disturb someone’s property, and ALWAYS respect the locals. MYETX enjoys a good haunted tale, but has no way of verifying claims that have been exaggerated, manufactured, or are downright preposterous.**