San Antonio Mythbusters

San Antonio Mythbusters

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Known as the home of The Alamo, there's a lot of history in San Antonio – and a lot of urban legends. The Battle of the Alamo is the source of many of these, and a visit to the historic site will disprove many preconceived notions. For example, it is said that the battle took place during the coldest weather ever seen in San Antonio. Urban myth. The weather was scrupulously recorded by at least two individuals.

Test your knowledge of other local legends with these San Antonio mythbusters.

1. Fritos corn chips hail from San Antonio.

TRUE: Back in the 1930s, a San Antonian named Charles Elmer Doolin, baker by trade, inventor by avocation, stopped for a snack at a gas station lunch counter. The cook was selling bags of homemade fried corn chips. Doolin was hooked, and bought the recipe immediately. He tinkered with it, even developing his own hybrid corn plant, to achieve exactly the flavor he wanted. Eventually, he and his brother perfected the chip and the rest is history.

2. "Keep San Antonio Lame" is an actual catchphrase used by locals.

TRUE. This San Antonio urban legend is legit. Austin, San Antonio's quirky neighbor to the north, is known for its art, music and all around creativity; Austinites have embraced their uniqueness with the slogan "Keep Austin Weird." In response to this and to criticism that San Antonio was just, well, lame, some enterprising and disaffected young San Antonian came up with a slogan of his own. It's not unusual to see T-shirts and bumper stickers supporting the idea.

3. "San Antone" is a common nickname for the city.

FALSE. This nickname is usually only tolerated if someone is singing the 1930s-era song "San Antonio Rose." Alamo City and Mission City are acceptable, however. And those in the know can get away with calling the city "San Anto."

4. In 1985, an entire hotel was moved from its original location to a new one five blocks away.

TRUE. The Fairmount Hotel, originally constructed in 1906, was in danger of being demolished. Robert D. Tips, a well-known local character, was motivated to save the building and arranged to have it lifted onto rollers and transported to a new home. Thus began a year-long renovation that made the Fairmount Hotel one of the finest in town. The move also garnered recognition from the folks at Guinness: Largest Structure Ever Moved on Wheels.

Fairmount Hotel
401 S Alamo
San Antonio, TX 72805

5. If your car stops on the railroad tracks at Villamain/Shane Road, the ghosts of several children who died on the spot in a horrible school bus accident will push the car to safety.

FALSE. This is San Antonio mythbusters 101. True, it's been documented that a car stopped on the tracks will slowly roll off, seemingly without assistance. An almost imperceptible slope and gravity are the cause, though, not a band of ghost children. The fact is, there was never a school bus crash here. And the streets in the vicinity were named for the developer's grandkids, not for children who died in a bus crash.

6. Legendary blues singer and guitarist Robert Johnson recorded only 29 songs (and a handful of alternate takes) during his lifetime. Sixteen of those were captured for posterity in San Antonio.

TRUE. Mystery and doubt swirls around Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson equals urban myth. San Antonio comes into the picture in November 1936. Brunswick Records had set up a temporary studio at the Gunter Hotel, which is still standing but now known as the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. It is here that Johnson committed 16 songs to posterity.

Sheraton Gunter Hotel
205 E Houston St
San Antonio, TX 78205

7. The San Antonio River starts on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word.

TRUE. The river originates from a spring on campus. The headwaters are a rock-lined pool, about the size of a hot tub, and bubble up to the surface from an aquifer. Known as the Blue Hole, the spring is surrounded by a low limestone wall and is an attractive spot for an afternoon stroll.

University of the Incarnate Word
4301 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209

8. The largest marine life park in the world is located in San Antonio.

TRUE. This may be surprising since San Antonio isn't usually associated with the ocean, but SeaWorld San Antonio is not only the largest of the SeaWorld parks, it's the largest marine life park in the world. Not for long though. Alas, we should probably go ahead and classify this under San Antonio mythbusters, because in 2011 Resorts World Sentosa in Japan opens, and their Oceanarium will far surpass the size of San Antonio's park.

SeaWorld San Antonio
10500 Sea World Dr
San Antonio, TX 78251
Seasonal hours
$58.99 adults; $48.99 children

9. There were no U.S. survivors after the Battle of the Alamo.

FALSE. It's true that all of the men, with the exception of one slave, were killed defending The Alamo. This includes legendary figures Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. However, Santa Anna did set a small group of women and children free, with instructions to return home. There are lots of other San Antonio urban legends surrounding the Battle of the Alamo.

300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205
Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM, Sun 10AM-5:30PM; Extended hours in summer

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