During the early 20th century, a man by the name of Joseph Kemp rallied the town of Wichita Falls to build a man-made lake and reservoir.
Lake Wichita began at 2,200 acres, but has decreased in size due to the building of a dam and spillway in 1995.
Updated 9/24/2019 – Since the early 1900s, the lake and its reservoir have been an important part of the community and a frequent place for recreation and socialization.
The Drowning in the Wichita Falls Reservoir
But like most large bodies of water, Lake Wichita is not without a history of tragic accidents.
According to local legend, a young man by the name of Tom was drinking heavily in town.
By the time he left, he was severely intoxicated.
Tom walked along the reservoir when he accidentally fell in.
Due to his drunken state, Tom drowned.
Since then, people have claimed to have seen the ghost of Tom, balancing along on the reservoir.
For Texas native, Toby, the legend seemed like a plausible one.
“The reservoir gets fairly slick…
I feel like it could prove hazardous even without a night of heavy drinking,” he said with a shrug.
“I’ve seen the ghost of my grandmother before, so when people started swearing they saw an apparition of “Drunk Tom” down by the water, I really had no reason not to believe them.
And do you think this entity is a nice spirit?
Toby opened his mouth then closed it again.
“I think… there might be more to the story than what has been passed down,” he finally said.
What do you mean?
“I mean that I went down there a few nights ago…
“I had walked there from a bar, and I was pretty drunk, I’ll admit.
“I sat at the reservoir for about twenty minutes when I wobbled to my feet to go home.
“The air felt…dense around me, and I felt like my vision blurred.
“That’s when I saw something move out of my periphery,” he gestured.
“I turned and saw the apparition of a man, stumbling along with what looked like a bottle of whiskey in his hand.
“He was clearly drunk, and I figured it was the legendary Tom.
“I was just about to call out to him when another man ran up and shoved Tom into the water below.
A Battle to the Death
“Now this man seemed livid,” said Toby with revulsion.
“He leapt into the water, and started attacking Tom.
“He kept punching him, and pushing his head beneath the surface.
“They fought beneath the water and I realized that the angry looking man was trying to drown Tom.
“Part of me simply could not process what I was witnessing, but the other part of me ran to help.
“’Tom! Tom! Let me help you’ I yelled, and tried to grab onto Tom’s outthrust hand.
“…But every time I tried to grab him, my hands just went right through him,” Toby said, glum.
“The angry guy got a firm grip on him and dragged him as far below as he could.
“Tom didn’t come up again after that…
“That’s when I jerked awake, and found myself on the ground by the reservoir,” he admitted.
“I must have passed out, and I felt dangerously close to falling into the water.
“I think that’s why Tom showed me what really happened to him…
“He didn’t want me to be another body found in the Wichita Falls reservoir.”
Lake Wichita Trail
Wichita Falls, TX