TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Towns A-Z / West Texas : Marfa

THE MYSTERY OF THE MARFA LIGHTS
Marfa, Texas

Suggested slogan:
"We've been leaving the lights on for you for 120 years."
©
Marfa light
"A 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
Then 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
Sign: See Mystery Lights
Book Your Hotel Here & Save:
Alpine Hotels
Van Horn Hotels
Lajitas Hotels
More Hotels


A painted wall sign at Marfa
Photo courtesy Rob Hann, 2002
US 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:

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


The 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...

Marfa Lights Forum

  • 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 miles away.

    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

  • You 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
  • Related Stories:
    Saratoga Ghost Light:
    Bragg Road Ghost Light by Ken Rudine
    The Ghost Road by Bob Bowman
    The Big Thicket Light by Archie P. McDonald
    Pollok and a Mystery Light on the Bodan by Ken Rudine
    Lubbock Lights:
    Lubbock Lights and UFOs by Clay Coppedge
    See Marfa, Texas

    Getting There

    Hwys 90 and 17
    26 miles West of Alpine
    21 miles SW of Ft. Davis
    159 miles SW of Odessa
    162 miles SE of El Paso via I-10

    Marfa Area Hotels - Book Here & Save
    Alpine Hotels | Van Horn Hotels | Lajitas Hotels |
    Fort Stockton Hotels | Pecos Hotels |
    More Hotels |
     
    HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

    TEXAS FEATURES
    Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright ©1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
    This page last modified: October 4, 2008