NORDHEIM — Deep in the brush on Peggy Oliver’s ranch lie creepy clowns, disembodied dolls and a host of Halloween horrors too numerous to name.

On Saturday, for one night only, the haunted trail on Oliver’s property west of Nordheim will be open to anyone with $5 to spare and a taste for thrills.

Proceeds from the event will go toward Project Graduation for this year’s Yorktown High School seniors. The project is intended to promote safety for high schoolers on graduation night. The funds will be used to purchase items, such as laptops and gift certificates, that local students can use when they go off to college.

“The last year, ... some of their birthdays and Western Days had been canceled, and they said, ‘We want a haunted trail,’ so we really went all out on it,” Oliver said, referring to last year’s event. “There were kids everywhere. They loved it.”

After local students who attended last year’s event requested that the haunted trail be this year’s Project Graduation fundraiser, Oliver and her team of volunteers went all-out planning and decorating this year’s spooky spectacle.

During a rehearsal on Thursday evening, under the light of an orange moon, guests were treated to several scream-worthy moments, and Oliver pledged that Saturday’s event would be far scarier.

The event will begin with a “soft scare” from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by the “real scare” starting at 7 p.m. onward, Oliver said.

The volunteers began working on the trail at the start of September and scoured stores such as Goodwill, Big Lots, Target and Spirit Halloween for decorations. They hand-painted masks onto dolls, hung spectral ghosts from tree branches and went all-out on the displays, which include, among other attractions, a “rotten candy” stand at a haunted carnival with cockroaches perched atop the popcorn.

Nearly the entirety of the mile-long trail, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, is lined with decorations, and each twist and turn reveals a new set of surprises along dirt paths with names like “Creepy Hollow” and “Creepier Hollow.”

“We have more fun decorating than anything,” Oliver said. “I have a good group — a really good group.”

The Nordheim ranch has been in Oliver’s family for a century, she said. Her father inherited the property after her great-aunt, whom Oliver described as a reclusive person known to point a shotgun at would-be intruders, died.

Since her great-aunt’s death, Oliver and her family have witnessed several paranormal events at the property, including flickering lights and voices at her great-aunt’s old home.

Those events inspired Oliver to begin hosting Halloween events on her property with other friends from Yorktown, which they have done for the last several years.

“I love Halloween,” Oliver said. “It’s gonna be like ‘Blair Witch.’”

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Mark Rosenberg reports on local, regional and breaking news for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to

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