the lantern of a headless brakeman haunt Hardin County's Ghost Road? |
Or is it just the reflection of distant automobile lights or swamp gas?
Whatever it is, the strange light that bobs along the arrow-straight road cutting
through the Big Thicket forest near Saratoga
has intrigued curious visitors for decades.
The road's origin dates
back to the 1930s when he Sante Fe Railroad opened up the forests with a railroad
and began carrying logs, cattle, oil and passengers to Beaumont.
On one end of the railroad was Dearborn, a sawmill settlement named for the town's
mill superintendent. Another town on the line was named for Confederate general
Braxton Bragg. When the virgin pine played out and the oil wells stopped producing,
the railroad tracks were pulled up and the right-of-way became a county road.
now, people were beginning to see ghostly lights on the road. The skeptic hooted
and hollered. But the stories grew and going out to look for the light became
a good excuse for young couples to go the woods.|
One oldtimer swore a
light panicked his team of horses and dumped him in a ditch. A preacher claimed
the light was an omen of the end of the world. A young man said the light landed
atop his car and began making odd noises.
Some disbelievers insisted
that reflected auto headlights were the source of the light. And there were claims
among the scientific community that the light was simply a gaseous apparition.
But the story generating the most interest was that the light was the lantern
of a brakeman decapitated in a train crash on the old railroad. According to a
local legend, searchers found the brakeman's body, but not his head, and he still
wanders along the road looking for his head.
No matter what you believe,
the Ghost Road Light exists. It has been captured in photographs, even by no less
an authority than the National Geographic. And writers have listed the road with
better-known ghosts such as the Marfa
good thing when they see one, Hardin County's tourism promoters these days have
embarked on a effort to set aside the Ghost Road as a landmark and local park.
All Things Historical
23-29, 2001 Column
A syndicated column in over 70 East Texas newspapers
Bob Bowman >
courtesy Jim Adams, Jr. , 2011|
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