E. Abernethy, Father of Folklore in East
Texas or otherwise, has explored the phenomenon of the Big Ticket Light more
than anyone, though Archer Fullingim, publisher-editor of the Kountze News, first
spread the light's fame.|
The Big Thicket Light, a.ka. the Saratoga Light,
shows up at night on a seven-mile stretch of road connecting Farm Road 1293 and
a former health spa/oil town/Big Thicket gathering area in Hardin County.
The road itself originated as right-of-way for a branch of the Santa Fe line
from Bragg Station to Saratoga
laid in 1901. The rails remained until 1934, but as the path was a good one, their
removal permitted auto and truck traffic access to Saratoga.
Stories of mysterious lights appearing to travelers began while the rails
remained, then continued after their removal. Fullingim, apparently recognizing
a gift horse when he saw one, publicized the light and naturally the curious flocked
to the area to catch a glimpse of the ghostly light and thrill a bit in the Thicket-darkened
same stretch of road in daylight|
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007
what is the light? Take your pick. Says Abernethy, some believe the Big Thicket
Light is: car lights approaching Saratoga
through the woods; low-grade gas; a reflection or foxfire or swamp fire; or the
result of hysterical imagination.|
So much for science. Abernethy the
Folklorist continues with stories gathered from the folk: the light comes from
Spanish treasure, buried but never reclaimed; fire unextinguished from the Civil
War, when Union troops attempted to "burnout" renegade Confederates; a decapitated
railroad brakeman's light by which he searches for his lost head; a long-dead
hunter who carries a fire pan looking for a way out of the Thicket; or....
To see light is to believe it, maybe. But what is the light? For one thing,
it makes for a wonderful mystery.
January 29, 2007column
A syndicated column in 70 East Texas newspapers
Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie McDonald is
executive director of the Association and the author of more than 20 books about
More on the Big
Thicket Light / Ghost Road
Bragg Light Misnomer
Dear TE, I have lived in Saratoga, Texas my entire
my life (36 years) and grew up a quarter of a mile from the end of Bragg Road.
Everyone who grew up in Saratoga knows [the local mysterious light] it as Bragg
Light, not the ghost light, ghost road light, nothing with the name ghost or Saratoga
even mentioned in the name. The light is there and it's not swamp gas as other
people try to say because there aren't any swamps around Bragg Road. My granddad
was born in 1897 and was raised in Saratoga and always talked about the light.
So does my dad, who has spent his entire life here (since 1934). People try to
write articles about the road and light, that are not from the area and they get
so much wrong about it. Just like it is known that oil was discovered in Saratoga
way before Beaumont, but because it wasn't a boom it's not recognized as that.
I just wish someone could write a completely accurate article on the Bragg light
so it is known that it is there and what it is. My Dad tells me the story of the
headless man looking for his head is something that someone from out of town made
up and that people that descended from Saratoga never heard of it until they talked
to people from other areas. I apologize if it sounds like I'm "going off" on this
subject but as someone who has lived here all my life it's irritating to hear
people talk and write about things that they don't completely know about. I have
a magazine from years ago that featured Bragg Road and was fairly accurate on
the article because they did a lot of research from the people around here before
it was published. - Thomas Tomlinson, Saratoga, Texas,, May 03, 2007
I was born and raised
in Beaumont and heard many
stories about the "ghost" of Saratoga.... A friend of mine once told me that her
car was actually attacked and dented by an unseen force when she was in Saratoga.
.... On a double-date, I was taken out there late at night, but nothing occurred.
... I would like to know more of the story (legend), whether it be true or not.
... - Thank you, Rhoda W., January 02, 2002
courtesy Jim Adams, Jr. , 2011|
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