best time to visit the Ghost
Road in Hardin County is late in the evening when nightfall descends
over the Big
Thicket and your imagination begins to push aside conventional
thoughts like, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
Skeptical, solid-thinking men and women have driven down the arrow-straight
stretch of woodland road
between Saratoga and Bragg--and emerged from the Thicket
convinced they “saw something.”
light of Ghost Road has been explained in various ways--as the
distant lights of automobiles, swamp gas, and other natural phenomenon.
And there’s the endearing legend of a railroad brakeman who was supposedly
decapitated in a train wreck and wanders up and down the road, lantern
in hand, looking for his missing head.
No matter what the explanation is, the ghost
light apparently exists. It has appeared in newspapers and the
prestigious National Geographic. Even a school textbook tells its
ghost road began as a rail line when the Sante Fe Railroad hacked
a route from Bragg
to Saratoga in 1902 and opened the Big
Thicket with regular service, carrying people, cattle, oil and
When the oil
played out and the virgin pines were cut over, the tracks were removed
and the tram line became just another county road.
Bear and deer hunters began coming back with strange stories about
a floating light on the road. One old man swore that a light had
rushed between his team, panicking the horses and dumping the driver
and his wagon in a ditch.
began hearing about the ghostly lights dancing through the woods,
darting and floating in different colors--red, white, blue and green.
his book, “Tales from the Big Thicket,” F.E. Abernethy described the
enlarging stories: “Light-seers poured onto the road by the hundreds.
People of all ages and intellects came to see and test their belief
in the supernatural. They shot at it, they chased it, and they tested
it with litmus paper and geiger counters. A preacher harangued the
road’s multitudes from the top of his car, making the Light as an
ill omen of the world’s impending doom. There were some nights the
light didn't show at all, but for the most part it was there to inspire
stories that could be passed on, to change and grow at the will and
imagination of the story teller.”
|By the 1960s,
the light was supposedly chasing and floating over cars, stopping
engines, burning hands and running over people.
thanks to people like Hardin County Commissioner Ken Pelt and Big
Thicket advocate Maxine Johnson, the ghost road is on its way to becoming
an East Texas tourist attraction, not only because of the ghostly
lights, but for its scenic appeal. The green tunnel of pines and oaks
shades a botanical experience with rare plants such as bladderworts,
floating hearts, orchids and sundews.
|Old Bragg Road
sign at the junction with FM 1293
& Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
signs at each end of the road and made other improvements and Johnson
is raising funds for historical markers, picnic areas, and interpretive
displays, including one at Dearborn, a ghost town and sawmill site
near the road.
But the road’s
biggest attraction remains its ghostly light--an ethereal entertainer
who may be real or simply the figment of a lot of imaginations.
By driving down the road on a quiet moonlit night, you can decide
Book Hotel Here:
Road Area Hotels - Beaumont Hotels
courtesy Jim Adams, Jr. , 2011
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