Demise of a Historic Jacksonville Gem
Published by Tony Ringler in Haunted Places · 28 February 2022
In its early days, she stood alongside a trail and served as the only stagecoach stop between the Atlantic Ocean and the impassible swamps of Louisiana. Now, development has encroached on her and has left her in shambles. I'm sure the original intent was to liven and restore her, but over the years, her spirit has been killed.
The building once known as "The Old Spanish Trail" is currently being transformed into a reception hall. If the ones who plan on renting this place only knew its true history, they probably would run in the opposite direction. The Old Spanish Trail (or OST as she became to be known as) has served the Westside of Jacksonville on the road to Baldwin in many different capacities. She was once a stagecoach stop as mentioned before. She was a brothel which was run under the supervision of the Duval County Sherriff himself. In more recent times, it served as a fresh market and an antique store. The final use, prior to today, was a family residence and the 2 acres around it became one of the most innovative haunted attractions around.
But....who were the REAL ghosts of OST?
PFC Paranormal was privileged enough to investigate this hidden gem on numerous occasions. I myself spent many days and nights on the property and in the house. I became very good friends with the owners and was actually a manager of the attraction for its final 4 years. Throughout our stay, we had determined there were multiple spirits that resided at the house and on the property. Some were quite mischievous.
We will begin with Elizabeth. I am not real certain how or where any of the names came from, but they did respond and react to the names we used. Elizabeth was quite taken with one of our older actors in the attraction. We'll just call him James. Elizabeth seemed to really enjoy the visitors to the attraction and would hide with James and attempt to scare with him (notice I said WITH...). She would continually unplug lights and whisper in his ear as he lay waiting for the next group to pass. I worked a graveyard scene that was next in line after his. She would constantly run back and forth between us and pull on my cloak. As she flew past, she would seem to play tag with James, hitting him every time she returned. Now she had never spoken to me so I had no idea what her voice sounded like. It was a few years later we (PFC) were asking questions in the main room downstairs and got an EVP that we believe to be a girl saying "monkey". I sent this recording to James and got an immediate phone call...." That’s Her! That’s Her! That’s Elizabeth! That’s the voice I always hear!" During PFC's last investigation of the property, Misty got a reading from Elizabeth that she was ready to move on. Misty helped her cross over and has not been heard from since.
Next we will discuss Dillon. I get this image of him to be somewhere between Dash from he movie The Incredibles and Gage from Pet Cemetery. Very much a prankster, and our most visible entity. Dillon took great pride in sending our actors running away. He would get a bit confused when a few got used to him and really just saw him as an annoyance. He would reveal himself to just about everyone that came through, but remain at a distance so you would always question yourself as to whether or not you really saw what you think you saw. We always had younger people working in the attraction, but they were never allowed to roam or be without a guardian. This way we always knew where all our kids were, and this worked wonderfully, until.... One very busy night the attraction was busting with energy. Screams coming from the woods galore. Guests would exit the trail and would be laughing, some crying and some even trying to hide that fresh wet spot in the front of their pants. Almost all of them though would come out and tell our attendants and vendors what an awesome place this was and that the little boy on the other side of the fence that kept following them was really creeping them out! Didn't I just explain that no children were alone in the attraction? All of our kids were accounted for, well, Dillon just had to get in on the fun and did a great job of scaring our customers. He would constantly poke, pull or laugh at the actors behind their scenes as they waited for groups to come by. He was definitely part of the cast weather we wanted him or not. We last had contact with Dillon on the second to last investigation we performed. As far as we know, he still resides there today.