Wednesday, October 31, 2018
  Around Campus

By Amanda Taylor

  PHOTO GALLERY by David Pike

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – What is it that is so appealing about ghost stories? Is it the thrill of being a part of something out of this world? Is it a glimpse into the possibility that just maybe we aren’t alone or that there’s an afterlife? Whatever the reasons are, people love ghost stories. At the UTRGV campus in Brownsville, ghost stories seem to run rampant.

In a recent article released by San Antonio Express-News, the UTRGV Brownsville campus was named one of the most haunted campuses in Texas. The article claims that the campus is haunted by cavalrymen and a woman in Victorian-style clothing. Books are said to fly off the shelves of the university library and a lonely jukebox will strike up a tune whenever the spirits see fit.

The History

Dr. Anthony Knopp, professor emeritus of history, said Brownsville is one of the oldest areas in the Rio Grande Valley. The UTRGV Brownsville campus is set near the historic Fort Brown, which includes an old hospital building and morgue that housed people plagued by the yellow fever virus.

“Matamoros, across the river from us (Brownsville), goes back to the time of the American Revolution, so there has been people and communities here for a very long time, and there have been various buildings constructed here,” he said. “When some of them go back as far as they do, this is the kind of thing that invites speculation about ghostly hauntings that might have occurred. Especially here on the Fort Brown field where the hospital was and the morgue, and all kinds of places that invite that kind of speculation and experience.”

Dr. David Bowles, UTRGV assistant professor in the Department of Literatures and Cultural Studies, authored the book “Ghosts of the Rio Grande Valley,” and is considered the resident ‘ cucuy’ expert. He said he’s heard plenty of ghost stories throughout this lifetime, including some stories from the UTRGV Edinburg campus.

“I have heard people talk about ghosts and there are some restrooms on campus (Edinburg) that if you go there at the wrong time, you could encounter poltergeists and things like that,” he said. “Definitely, some spooky stuff happens in this area.”

The Human Experience

Bowles believes that, regardless if you’re a believer or a skeptic, the ghost stories people tell should not be dismissed, as they are still human experiences.

“I don’t believe there are stories that should be dismissed because ‘Oh, ghosts are not real,’” he said. “There are stories that we should study and kind of relish because of what they say about the human condition more than anything else. But also, because if they turn out to be true, that’s pretty freakin’ cool, right?”

Knopp admits that he’s a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural and he’s never seen a ghost, at least not to his knowledge. But, he does acknowledge peoples experiences and chooses not to discredit them.

“Whatever brought that experience to them, it’s their experience and I try to appreciate that,” he said.

Regiment Hall
The Regiment Hall is said to be a haunted location near Fort Brown, which is located near the UTRGV Brownsville Campus. (UTRGV Photo by David Pike.)


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.