That would be just about anywhere in Texas.

Cure The Crazies in Mineral Wells


“Home of Crazy?” Mineral Wells is my kind of town! I got there as fast as I could. My original purpose of the visit was to investigate the history of a location that claims to be crazy haunted (not the Baker Hotel, but another house). However, when I got to town I was distracted by the “Crazy Water.” Supposedly, people once believed that water from certain wells in town could “cure the crazies,” and I felt I should probably know more about that … not that I really believe that there is hope for my kind of crazy.

The legend, dating from the 1880s, is that a “crazy” woman sat by a well (originally known as The Wiggins Well, for the owner, W.H. Wiggins) in town all day long. She continually asked people passing near her to draw her a pail of water to relieve the summer heat. This woman was said to be so addled that she had to be reminded to eat. That’s pretty doggone crazy! School children watched her daily through the windows, until lunchtime. That’s when the woman went back to a the small clinic owned by Dr. Yeager, which is where she lived. As she drank the water, “people slowly began to notice that the crazy old lady was not so crazy anymore.” Could it be the water that alleviated the old woman’s crazies? People didn’t know, but soon people were flocking to the well to try the magic water. They named the well, “The Crazy Lady Well,” but that was soon shortened to “The Crazy Well.”

A drinking pavilion was built over the well and expanded several times, even offering rooms for rent to those who wanted to stay and bathe in the healthful waters.

Crazy Well

The first Crazy Hotel was built in 1912, and enlarged in 1914. It burned in a fire in 1925, and was reconstructed in 1927. People from all over the world and from all walks of life gathered at the bar to sip that Crazy Water.

Crazy Hotel Fountain

Now, possibly that “crazy” woman of the legend was just experiencing menopause, and it got better naturally. Then again, that water is chock full of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfate, and a significant amount of lithium. It reportedly healed all kinds of ailments, with “the power to relieve or cure, dyspepsia, neuralgia, sore eyes, paralysis, insomnia, liver and kidney problems, rheumatism, scrofula, and improprieties of the blood.” The advertising of the time was rather amusing. Below is a postcard from those days long ago which would have certainly lured me to come there in hopes of curing arthritis.

We Lost Our Job in Mineral Wells

In the 1930s, the Food and Drug Administration banned this type of advertising, because there was no scientific data to verify the claims that mineral water was a “cure-all.” By the 1940s most of the water companies had closed down, which was a hard hit for the economy of Mineral Wells.

These days only one company, located at 209 W. 6th Street, seems to be in existence. They sell bottled water (I bought a case of it), they offer baths, and they even rent rooms at the Crazy Bath House. Stay there and you can bathe in mineral waters all day long if you would like.


A visit to the Crazy Bath House is on my list of things-to-do. I want to spend more time in Mineral Wells because the town and its history intrigues me. I’m sure I’ll tell you more about the town and its haunting on another day. For now, I need to go drink a quart or two of Crazy Water. If it works, you will be the first to know. Cheers!

  • [Postcard of Mineral Wells Welcome Sign], Postcard, n.d.; digital images, ( : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Mineral Wells Heritage Association, Mineral Wells, Texas.
    Crazy Well, Mineral Wells, Texas, Photograph, 1890?; digital image, ( : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
  • the Crazy Hotel. Crazy Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas – America’s Great Health Resort, Text, n.d.; digital images, ( : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
  • We lost our job at Mineral Wells, Texas, Photograph, 1920?-1930?; digital image, ( : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
  • Photo of bath house courtesy of Crazy Bath House.

Murder and Mystery on the Austin Steam Train

Austin Steam Train

When I stumbled across the website for the Austin Steam Train Association, the first thing I noticed was a murder mystery tour! I squealed to my husband, “I wanna go!” Bless his heart, he bought me tickets that very day — five months in advance so we would be sure to get good seats. From what we could tell by looking at the website, he had bought some of the best seats on the train.

For the next five months, I bragged to everybody and their dog, “I get to take a train ride. Ninny, ninny boo boo.” I canceled my Ghosts of Denton tour for that night, willingly trading a night of work for a relaxing evening of fun. I waxed poetic for hours to anyone who would listen about the murder mystery show we would see and the thrill it would be to ride on a train through the Texas Hill Country. Beginning in Cedar Park, near Austin, the train would travel all the way to Burnet on a 66 mile round trip. We would be entertained by the highly acclaimed Penfold Players, who work in partnership with the Austin Steam Train Association, performing “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream… Murder!” The website boasted:

“While the story unfolds before them, passengers will test their sleuthing savvy as they attempt to catch the killer; enjoy a three hour train ride through the beautiful Texas hill country; and indulge in a variety of hors d’oeuvres, as well as wine and beer service, all included in the ticket price! “

Sounds like great fun, doesn’t it? We had great expectations.

Last weekend we took that train ride and I am almost reluctant to tell you about it. Almost. Our experience didn’t quite live up to the hype, and I want you to know some things before you book your own tour. My review is a mixed bag. Parts of the tour were very wonderful … then there were the parts that weren’t.

When we boarded our car, which was called The Eagle Cliff, I was pleased to see the lovely royal blue chairs scattered at the tables in the dining section of the car. Unfortunately, we weren’t seated at those tables. The spaces that had been reserved for us were two mismatched chairs slammed against the wall in the front of the car near a large floor fan. There was no table for us. Remember that I told you that we booked five months in advance? We shouldn’t have bothered. These seats looked like an afterthought, as if we had booked tickets that day and the ticket-master said, “Sure, we can cram you into that car.”

I sucked up my disappointment to try to make the best of it. After all, we probably wouldn’t be sitting the whole trip, because we would be up and down indulging “in a variety of hors d’oeuvres.”

Before the train even started down the tracks, the hostess passed out boxed suppers. We had to ask for a TV tray, but we still wound up eating out of our laps. The supper wasn’t bad (roast beef sandwich, macaroni salad, fruit, and an unidentifiable dessert with lots of whipped cream), but it wasn’t exactly what I had expected. There were no hors d’oeuvres. But, there was beer and wine.

Determined to enjoy ourselves despite the lackluster accommodations, we munched our meal as the train pulled out of the station and started chugging down the tracks. I truly enjoyed the motion of the train and watching the little towns as we rolled through them. The volunteers and staff on the train were very attentive to our needs.

Then, the play began.

Penfold Players 1

I have nothing but high praise for the Penfold Players! Those actors traveled from front car to back car performing a scene from the play and then from back to front with the next scene. It was wonderful melodrama.

Penfold Players 2

They performed in each car with high energy and excellent skill, and they knew how to work the crowd. I don’t see how they kept the same powerful level of performance throughout the night. I enjoyed the play, but unfortunately, since I had never been to a murder mystery play before, I didn’t think about writing down the clues that were given in each scene, so I didn’t figure out “whodunnit.” It didn’t matter. The play was great fun.

Penfold Players 3

Between scenes, my husband and I decided to walk to the front of the train and view the other cars. I envied the passengers on every other car … ours was not the best of the bunch! Of course, Mister Tucker had to get a photograph when we were between cars, because some of the scenery was quite lovely.

sunset from train

But, don’t tell anyone that he leaned out of the car, because there are signs everywhere that tell you not to extend any of the appendages you value outside of the train. Evidently he felt that his brain was expendable (but it’s not!).

snapping photos

Everything seemed to be going well, and then …[dun, dun, dunnnn] the air conditioner in The Eagle Cliff quit!! Yeah, I know! It was traumatic!

Penfold Players 4

We weren’t quite an hour into a three hour trip! The good news, for us, is that we were near the fan. Do you recall that I mentioned that floor fan? Ours was the only car that had a fan sitting smack dab in the middle of the floor … as if the folks expected that the air conditioner might blow.

To the credit of the volunteers and crew on the train, they worked valiantly to try to restore the air-conditioning to no avail. They served us ice water, and graciously did everything they could to keep us comfortable. They offered, after the play was finished, for us to move into seats in air-conditioned cars. Since there weren’t enough seats for all of us to move, and since I was already accustomed to the heat, we stayed put to allow those who needed it more (like the pregnant woman) to get comfort. In spite of the discomfort in the car, the actors still put on a great show to the end.

After dark, there was no opportunity to view the scenery. The play had ended. No more beer or wine was being served. There wasn’t anything else to do, so I sat in an uncomfortable chair and dozed the rest of the way back. But, that nap on the train was one of the best naps I’ve ever had.

Because I felt that we had not received the experience we paid (through the nose) to have, I called the Austin Steam Train Association when we got home. I told the new director (she has only been on the job three weeks) exactly what I just told you — except for the part about Mr. Tucker hanging out of the train.

She apologized for our experience, and said that they were working to make the website better so that people could tell what kind of seats they were buying. She said that, indeed, the Eagle Cliff had experienced air conditioning problems on the morning run that day, but that the early crew had not communicated that to the evening crew so that repairs could be made before the trip. She didn’t really have any suggestions about how you can book a trip experience that will be better than the one we had.

Would I go on the Austin Steam Train excursions again? I would give them a second chance. If the Penfold Players were aboard, I definitely would be enticed (they are worth seeing!). I enjoyed the ride itself, and was impressed by the volunteers and staff.

Before I booked a train ride, though, there are a few things I would do:

  1. I would NOT book on-line, but would call a ticket agent so I could ask questions about the car I’d be riding.
  2. I won’t be riding on The Eagle Cliff again. The executive director suggested riding in the car called The City of Chicago.
  3. I would definitely ask if I was going to be seated at a real table, if there was a meal involved on the trip!
  4. I would probably book a trip for the fall or the spring, so that if the air conditioner didn’t work then it wouldn’t be quite so traumatic.
  5. If I want to see the scenery, my trip would not be an evening one.

Even though I would take the Austin Steam Train Association’s tours again, I can tell you one darned thing for sure: If I step on that train and see a floor fan in my car, I’m going to scream, “Bloody Murder!”

Interesting Cemeteries in North Texas, a guest post by Tui Snider

I’ve asked my friend Tui Snider to guest post for me today. She is a travel writer specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Tui will be coming to Denton to the Emily Fowler Central Library on Sunday, June 8th at 2:00 to talk about fun things to do in North Texas (some of them are included in her Amazon bestseller called Unexpected Texas). I’d love for you to meet Tui, so come on down!

Interesting Cemeteries in North Texas

Hello! And thanks, Shelly, for letting me be a guest on your blog today. Shelly and I share an interest in historic cemeteries, so I thought I’d talk about some of the most interesting graveyards I’ve explored in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.


Weirdest Grave Marker: Aurora Space Alien Grave

The most unusual grave marker I have ever seen was in Aurora, Texas. I say “was” because, alas, this unique headstone was stolen in 2012. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the story:

In April of 1897, a Dallas Morning News article claimed that a mysterious cigar-shaped object crashed in Aurora, Texas. According to the reporter, townsfolk discovered a tiny humanoid body in the wreckage and buried it in their local cemetery. Plans to have the body exhumed have been repeatedly stymied, partly because Texas State law requires permission from the deceased being’s next-of-kin. If, as many believe (and as the on-site Texas State Historical Marker claims) the little body buried in Aurora Cemetery is “not of this world” then finding its next-of-kin is going to be quite a challenge!

I recently met Steven Hudgeons of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and he said I’m one of the few people to have a decent photo of the alleged alien’s most recent headstone before it was stolen. For more information (including a link to a History Channel investigation) check out Alien Grave in Aurora Cemetery: The Roswell of Texas?

Most Playful Headstones:

All talk of extraterrestrials aside, Aurora Cemetery is a beautiful place full of shady trees and bluebonnets in the spring. Although most folks drop by to look for the space alien grave, Aurora Cemetery is home to other unusual grave markers. One is an over-sized cowboy boot made of stone that doubles as a large vase.


If you head over to the newer section of the graveyard you can find other shoe-themed headstones. I’m not sure whether the Walker family was simply riffing on their name or if they just loved footwear, but one of their family member’s headstones features an English style riding boot, while the one beside it showcases a women’s pump style shoe, both made from solid black granite. For more information check out Quirky Headstones: These Boots were made for Walker


Quirkiest Cemetery Statue: Jesus in Cowboy Boots

Speaking of footwear-themed headstones, there’s one in Paris, Texas that really takes the cake. It’s a 21-foot monument with a statue of Jesus, who – instead of being barefoot or wearing sandals – is clad in cowboy boots! Many theories surround this statue: Was it a joke? Blasphemy? Or was the sculptor simply bad at depicting feet? No one really knows, but if you are ever in the Paris, Texas it is definitely worth swinging by Evergreen Cemetery to see the Jesus in Cowboy Boots for yourself!

But wait, there’s more!

North Texas is full of fascinating historic cemeteries! I could go on and on… I could tell you about the pretty marble angels in Athens, buried treasure in a Fort Worth graveyard, a chilling murder memorial in Euless, or even how a historic cemetery in Boyd has links to the Mickey Mouse Club… but I’ll leave it at that for now.

I’d love to meet you. Come say hi on Sunday, June 8th!

tui-snider-author-2If you live near Denton, Texas then look out, because I am coming soon to a library near you! Yup! I will be in Shelly Tucker’s neck of the wood on Sunday, June 8, 2014. I’m giving a talk about fun things to see and do here in north Texas, so if you’ve been bored, antsy, or just ready for a road trip, pop over to the Emily Fowler Library (502 Oakland St, Denton, TX 76201.) At 2 o’clock sharp I’m sharing all sorts of fun things to see and do here in north Texas. I’m also giving away a signed copy of my book Amazon Best Selling travel guide Unexpected Texas to one lucky audience member. Hey, it could be you!

Check out my Offbeat Travel Guide

If you can’t make the talk, check out my Amazon Best Selling travel guide Unexpected Texas. It’s chock full of fun things to see and do within a day’s drive of Dallas and Fort Worth. Not only will it cure summertime boredom, but most of the places mentioned are very budget-friendly.