On a quiet and lonely night, a driver passes by White Rock Lake and sees a beautiful young woman. Though her exact appearance and what she wears varies from telling to telling, it is almost always a dress, and she is almost always soaking wet as if she’d just recently fallen into the lake. She asks for help from the driver, and taking pity on her, the driver agrees to drive her home.
Though the drive is long and the girl looks troubled, the driver is happy to help and talk to this personable young lady. Sometimes she’s talkative, referring back to the boating accident that caused her to be this way; other times she spends most of the ride silently weeping.
As the evening goes on and they get closer to the girl’s home, the driver becomes distinctly uneasy in her presence. There is something about her that just doesn’t feel quite right, a primal instinct that just screams that something about her is wrong…
The driver is all too happy to be rid of the girl by the time they reach their destination, but by the time they’ve arrived, the girl is gone, a puddle of water on the seat the only sign that she’d ever been there.
Puzzled, the driver approaches the house to find its middle-aged homeowner, discovering that the vanished girl they just described as living here was their child, and that she’d been dead for quite some time.
Drowned, in fact, in White Rock Lake.
History Of White Rock Lake
In the early 1830s through the 1840s, the land that would become White Rock Lake was farmland owned by the Daniel and Cox families. Good friends through the end of the Civil War, the families maintained a family cemetery on site that was later kept going by future families that lived in the area.
After the Daniel family fell on hard times, the cemetery today is marked only by a simple sign as the “Cox Cemetery”. Though generally unrelated to the legends of the lake’s spirits, it remains a grim reminder of a bygone era.
The lake itself didn’t begin construction until 1910, intended as a means of providing water to aid in shortages that Dallas had been facing. Along with White Rock Dam, construction of the lake was completed in 1911.
A quick influx of residential construction followed along this sudden lakefront property, and by the 1930s active work to create a park around the lake was underway to complete the recreation destination it is known as today, save for the brief period in 1943 where the barracks at Winfrey Point were used to house German POWs from Rommel’s Afrika Corps.
From its construction onward, White Rock Lake has been a premier destination for water sports and recreation in the greater Dallas area. With a historic boathouse and pier that are still used to this day, sailing and rowing are common sights in the lake, though swimming and powerboats have been forbidden since the 1950s out of safety concerns.
The surrounding park has a trail more than 9 miles long that is ideal for hiking, bicycling and running, as well as the Bath House Cultural Center and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
With activities that range from fishing to bird watching to the annual Dallas Marathon, White Rock Lake is truly one of the city’s must-see recreational locales. Whatever your recreational interests may be, chances are you’ll find something at White Rock Lake that’s a perfect fit for you.
And yet, in spite of that sunny reputation and the sight of families fishing, kayaking and otherwise enjoying nature’s splendor, the legend of the Lady of White Rock Lake persists. A story that’s been told with more than its share of variations over the years, yet one with enough similarities from telling to telling that it remains one of the most compelling legends Dallas has to offer.
Though the lake has had its share of deaths over the years, two, in particular, have been considered prime suspects for the identity of the Lady of White Rock Lake.
In 1935, Louise Ford Davis left a suicide note for her sister and flung herself into the waters of White Rock Lake. Though police arrived on the scene no more than five minutes after she’d gone in, she was dead on the scene.
In November of 1942, Rose Stone of Mansfield, Texas also went into the lake with a suicide note pinned to her sweater.
Though neither fully matches the descriptions that have been given of the Lady of White Rock Lake over the years, reports of her appearance and what she’s often described as wearing line up with these time periods rather well.
There are reports of sightings of the Lady of White Rock Lake going back as far as the 1930s, mostly from local high school students, but the likely earliest published account of what happened was from 1943.
Local writer Anne Clark wrote a tale in the Texas Folklore Society’s Backwoods to Border publication of a young couple just about to leave the park seeing her appear in their headlights before they attempted to take her home in Oak Cliff and she disappeared on them.
Similar stories would appear in the decades that followed, with some details changing with the times while others would remain undeniably close to the classic tale of the Lady of White Rock Lake.
While some of these stories are questioned, others have been told as personal experiences by people regarded as reliable and trustworthy.
Nowadays she is a local legend, a specter of the city’s past who refuses to leave. There are periodic ghost hunts and events that tourists can take part in, but if you want the true experience of the Lady of White Rock Lake, why not simply take a drive by it at night.
Enjoy the dark, beautiful Texas nights, the beautiful serenity of the lake. At the very least you’ll have a nice drive by a beautiful Texas landmark, but there’s always that chance… perhaps you’ll see a ghostly, beautiful woman dressed in white walking by the lake, dripping wet and looking lost.
Perhaps she’ll ask you for a ride, perhaps… perhaps your story is only beginning.
(If you do intend to drive by White Rock Lake at night, it couldn’t hurt to have a towel handy, just in case she hitches a ride and leaves a puddle behind in your car.)