MYSTERY OF THE MARFA LIGHTS
"We've been leaving the lights on for you for 120 years."
photo 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." - Photo courtesy
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.
Department of Transportation has thoughtfully provided a parking area where the
lights can be viewed.
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...... To wit:
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.
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
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
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...
Subject: Marfa Lights 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 US 90.
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. - Charley
Eckhardt, May 26, 2006
haven't 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