TEXARKANA — Spooky tales and fantastic stories of Texarkana's rough-and-tumble past return this Friday and Saturday with another season of Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk tours of downtown.
Scarlett Lewis will lead tour-goers on an intriguing journey through infamous downtown spots — both sides of the state line included — that feature sordid characters and even, perhaps, ghostly presences.
Tours are planned into the fall through Oct. 31 on Friday and Saturday nights the last two weekends of every month. It all kicks off at 8 p.m. at the Kress Gap. Assemble near the flying saucer mural.
"The main idea behind it is really to push the fascinating history of Texarkana," Lewis said, referring to the criminal underbelly of America here when Texarkana started.
"You get a lot of good stories from that," she said. "But also it gives people the opportunity that if they've ever wanted to ghost hunt, like legitimately ghost hunt, I bring some of my equipment. They're allowed to bring whatever equipment they want. It's more of an interactive ghost hunt as opposed to me just droning on about these historical stories."
Expect some wild stories to be told, ones adults will enjoy, complete with brothels and outlaws, and veterans with PTSD returning from war to suspect (correctly and incorrectly) their wives were cheating.
"More prostitutes got their throat slashed in this town than I think I ever knew," Lewis said.
She'll bring her ghost box, and tour participants may be able to speak directly to some ghosts, even one named Miss Bonnie. "She was the prostitute whose husband came back from war and caught her in the Parker Hotel," Lewis said.
Lewis was the tour guide when Brandy Aaron owned Haunted Texarkana Ghost Walk, and she says Aaron approached her and her Knock on Wood Vintage Supply Co. business partner Jonathan Fowler to see if they'd be interested in buying it. The answer was yes.
"I ran with it because it draws big crowds," Lewis said.
During the tours, she'll have the ghost box, a megaphone and a roster of stories to tell. On some occasions, they'll have living history reenactors, too.
After everyone meets at the Kress Gap, the walk lasts roughly an hour-and-a-half, traveling to Union Station, the 1894 City Market, TLC Burgers & Fries and other destinations.
Generally, the tours grow larger the closer to Halloween with 60 or 70 people per night, which might necessitate splitting the group in two.
"We go down various alleys, come past Hopkins (Icehouse). We tell stories about the Grim. We do both sides and we try to get it all packed in in an hour and 30 minutes," Lewis said.
At the time many of these tales are set, Texarkana was a gateway to the West and the Southwest.
"To me it's the excitement and the wonderment they get with the crazy stories. A lot of the people are from Texarkana. Most of the people that come are from here, and they're learning something they never knew before, like a lot of the shootouts that happened in the middle of the street," Lewis said, noting Texarkana at the time was truly the "wild West."
She aims to convey the excitement of Texarkana's past.
"That's my goal is to be a good storyteller and not bore people," she said.
(Admission is $15 per person. Tickets are available in advance at Eventbrite.com, or they can be purchased in person. For more information, email [email protected] or visit Facebook.com/hauntedtexarkana.)