What carefully curated event combines local folklore, ghost stories, theater, comedy, and the documented history of Alpine, Texas? The award winning Historic Alpine Ghost Tours, held in the Alps of Far West Texas!
Produced by the Historic Alpine Association (AHA) and the Sul Ross State University Fine Arts Department, the semiannual ghost tours are held Spring and Fall. Alpine native and President of AHA, Abbey Branch, came up with the idea of creating ghost tours because she wanted to share the ghost stories that she loved hearing as a child, and from reading the book Tales of the Big Bend, that was given to her by her middle school history teacher. Abbey wanted to do a walking tour but bring the subjects of the stories to “life” somehow. So, the wheels started turning to make the tours a live show.
Abbey’s enthusiasm for bringing her hometown community and visitors together with fun, unique events had already sparked a renaissance in small town entertainment for Alpine. So, in 2021 Abbey approached Marjie Scott, chair of the Sul Ross Fine Arts Department, and together they worked on the ghost tours. They invited the students in the theater program to participate by being actors portraying the ghosts.
“It is not a typical ghost tour, but a moving theatrical performance,” said Abbey. “I wanted to partner with Marjie to get the theater students involved so we could provide opportunities for them, while also taking the tour to the next level. Our intent is to encourage travel and tourism to Alpine, and to promote awareness about significant historical landmarks, but also to raise money for the theater department. All proceeds from the tours are donated to Sul Ross theater scholarships.”
Bret Scott, Associate Professor of Communication at Sul Ross, and married to Marjie, leads the tours. Bret spent a decade at Second City, a famous comedy club in Chicago, and presents the tours with a delightful mix of historical content, humor and inappropriate jokes – although family friendly. Amusement and hilarity ensue as Bret does his best to herd the enthusiastic participants through the streets of Alpine, and to protect them from the less than kindly spirits – participants may have an encounter with the infamous vengeful La Llorona. If so, Bret’s there to help.
The tour kicks off at the famous Reata Restaurant with a spooky cocktail, (un-spooky for the kiddos or those that don’t partake), and each participant is given an electronic candle to guide them along the tour. Bret leads the group to locations including the Brewster County Courthouse, where participants meet the ghost of Harvey Hughes, who was hanged on the lawn of the courthouse in 1923, one of the last legal hangings in Texas. Crystal Holland, who was murdered in 1916 in front of the Historic Holland Hotel by her jealous husband also makes an appearance. Additionally, spirits from local folklore pay a visit at the Hotel Ritchey, along historic Murphy Street, and on a deserted section of track near the Alpine Train Station.
“The tours promote the rich history of Alpine while also enjoying some ghost stories from the Big Bend region,” said Marjie, who writes the scripts and serves as the ghost tour director. “And there may be some actual ghost sightings too.” Participants on the tour are encouraged to take photos where they might capture orbs or another ghostly phenomenon.
Following the tour, guests are invited to enjoy a complimentary spooky nightcap at The Holland Hotel, one of the four famous hotels along Highway 90 that were designed by the famous architect of the Southwest, Henry C. Trost. The Gage Hotel in Marathon, Hotel Paisano in Marfa, and Hotel El Capitan in Van Horn were also designed by Trost.