Viewing Austin’s most haunted attractions by Segway
In the early afternoon of July 26, 1916, a fire broke out in downtown Austin’s Kreisel Building. It started small—tentatively tasting walls and sampling ceilings. But its hunger wasn’t so easily appeased. Before firefighters subdued it, the flames had spread to nearby buildings, consuming everything from feed sacks to furniture to plumbing supplies.
Austin legend has it that the rebuilt Kreisel building, in which The Speakeasy bar opened in 1997, is haunted. Over the clink of glasses and live music, bar patrons might hear the screams of the two women trapped in the blazing fire, the pounding of the firefighter’s axe against the door, and the sound of footsteps racing up the fifty-nine steps that led to the terrace. Tragically, the fire consumed both the women and the firefighter, but some people ascribe to rumors that late at night one woman’s ghost has been spotted inside the old, dangling elevator that sealed her demise.
This story, among others, is just one you may hear while on Segway Nation’s Bat and Ghost Tour, a 2.5-hour evening tour of the capitol grounds, downtown Austin, and the Congress Avenue bridge bats.
The bat part of the tour is seasonal—the Mexican free-tailed bats typically migrate to warmer climates around October and return to Austin as early as March—but the ghost tour is offered year round.
Anyone at least fourteen years old who is capable of balance and who weighs between 100 and 275 pounds can participate; the activity can be a fun experience for dates and family outings.
Don’t worry too much if you’re not comfortable within the first five minutes of stepping onto the vehicle. The tour guides are very helpful and accommodating—sometimes to the point of dragging patrons behind them throughout the tour. They’ll give you plenty of time to warm up and gain your “seg legs,” as Bryan Deutsch, manager and tour guide of Austin’s Segway Nation, puts it.
“Some of the most fearless people are the grandmas,” he says. “Sometimes you’ve got to tell them to slow down. I’ve seen them take off by themselves before—up curbs, down curbs.”
Tours begin promptly at 6:45 p.m., when instructors go over basic Segway guidelines, Segway dos and don’ts, and how to navigate and control the Segway’s speed. Happy cruising!
For more information on tours, visit nationtours.com/austin.