OF THE MARFA LIGHTS
"We've been leaving the lights on for you for 120 years." ©
of an actual Marfa Light; I thought the whole thing was a hoax, but
I can't explain what showed up in the picture...maybe you can."
- Julie McConnell, June 27, 2004
there is the mystery of the Marfa Lights. Which, after all these years,
is about all you can say about them. There are lights. They're near
Marfa (9 miles east), and they're a mystery.
The City of Marfa conducts their Mystery Lights Festival every
Labor Day weekend (the same weekend that Alpine
has their Balloon Festival) celebrating these unusual phenomena.
The Texas Department of Transportation has thoughtfully provided a
parking area where the lights can be viewed.
- John Troesser
A painted wall sign at Marfa
Photo courtesy Rob Hann, 2002
Marfa Lights by
C. F. Eckhardt
I’ve seen the Marfa lights. Twice. Only the first time I saw the Marfa
lights, what I saw wasn’t the Marfa lights. This requires explanation...
90 and US 67; Merging Highways by N. Ray Maxie
"These two US Highways merge for 34 miles in far West Texas,
mostly between Alpine and Marfa. There, together, they go through
Alpine, skirt around the picturesque Paisano Peak and Twin Peaks,
both 6050 feet high. Then on to Marfa where 67 leaves 90 and turns
south into Presidio, ending at the Mexican border... 90/67 also passes
another very interesting landmark. One you won’t want to miss......
The Marfa Lights... Stop and enjoy a pleasing respite at the provided
installation just a few miles east of Marfa.
This modern observation area has plenty of parking and restrooms;
plus picnic, exercise and “hanging out” space. It’s a very pleasant
desert viewing area with a short walking trail nearby. You will find
it on the south side of the road and a couple miles east of the winery
road. It’s not well-lighted since brighter lights will interfere with
viewing the Heavenly and phenomenal dancing lights that habitually
perform across the distant southern horizon. They have installed only
“walking lights” about the perimeter for safety.
After witnessing the lights and reading the history of it; you can’t
help but go tell others about it.
If you are driving along too fast in the dense darkness of Highway
90/67, you may miss it. But don’t be too disappointed if you stop
and those famous lights are bashful and not performing on your visit.
They, like General Douglas MacArthur, will return.
The night desert breeze is usually a bit chilly. So be sure you have
a jacket. Sit, relax and wait around a while. You’ll be glad you did.
My wife and I have, on occasion, taken a picnic “dinner basket” to
enjoy while we wait for the lights.
Mega Long Trains
Here’s’s another interesting observation. While you are there viewing
the Marfa Lights, long Union Pacific freight trains will sometimes
quickly rumble through. Or you may even see a sleek, silver, fast
moving Amtrak passenger train zip by. The railroad tracks are just
across the highway and parallel to US 90/67 on the north side. As
you watch the train lights come closer from a great distance away,
it’ll be blowing loudly at each road crossing. With the ground shaking
beneath your feet, those bright lights and roaring engines soon pass
and disappear into the night. Trains run frequently on a regular schedule
along the Sunset Limited route from New Orleans to Los
Angeles. Connections can be made to most major US cities – if
you have time enough to spare. All the trains are caboose-less since
there’s no longer a need for them. That’s why so many of them have
been donated to railroad towns to be put on display." ... more
I was browsing
the forum and found some stuff on the Marfa Lights. My pal John
Tolleson and I had an unusual experience with some 'Marfa Lights'
that weren't THE Marfa Lights in late June, 1991. We'd been to the
Western Writers of America's convention in El
Paso and were returning to San
Antonio and Seguin.
We got caught in a gullywasher of a thunderstorm between El
Paso and Sierra
Blanca--water about 8" deep on I-10, all the lights out in Sierra
Blanca, winds that were pushing that old Lincoln all over the
road. When we got to Van
Horn we were ahead of it, and we turned south there onto old
We decided we'd see what we could see at the Marfa Mystery Lights
viewing area--and we saw quite a show. What we were seeing were
brilliant flashes of light out on the flat. Now, I am an experienced
artillery forward observer, so this is pretty accurate estimation.
At ranges of 2000 to 4000 meters from the viewing area, we were
seeing brilliant flashes of pure white, pinkish, bluish, and pale
orange light. These were from ground level to upwards of 20 meters
in the air, brilliant enough that they lit up patches of ground
some 200 meters in diameter with such intensity that we could distinguish
the shapes of individual bits of brush, even from a mile to 2 1/2
We came back convinced we'd seen the Marfa Lights.
I was out there several years later and mentioned what I'd seen
that night in '91. The people out there said "We've never seen anything
like that out there!" I later discovered that the previous April
there had been a minor earthquake in the area. I believe what we
saw may have been produced by aftershocks from that earthquake.
Eckhardt, May 26, 2006
lived until you have seen the Marfa lights on a moonless night while
flying solo in a Cessna 182. That will make the hair on the back
of your neck curl. - B Eubanks, June 22, 2002