Friday, August 6, 2010

Looking for Ignis Fatuus in East Texas

A friend of mine and I went to look for the famous (famous in my neck of the woods anyway) Bragg Road Ghost Light a few days ago. For those of you not "in the know", Bragg Road is a road deep down in the forests of East Texas near a little town called Saratoga. Formerly a railroad line, the road is straight as an arrow and travels due north. Years after the railroad was dismantled and the county put the dirt road in, stories began to pop up about the ghost light. It seems that when traveling down this road, many people have experienced a strange light approaching their cars (or come up from behind) and speed right past them or over them. Some people have seen "nothing really" and others were so impressed (or disturbed) by the sighting that they've said it's made them rethink their perspective on reality. A friend of the person who went with me said that he couldn't stop thinking about it for two weeks.

The legend goes that it's the lantern of a railway brakeman who lost his head after the train rolled over him. I'm sure you know the rest. Yep, the light is him looking for his head. Other legends range from the light being that of a phantom hunter lost in the woods, murdered Mexican workers who were killed by their foreman for their money (there's supposed to be a small Mexican cemetery off of this road), the spirits of the Caddo Indians who once made this area home, and others...

No one's discovered what the light really is yet, so the thing is still a mystery today. In addition to this mysterious light, other strange phenomena has been experienced on this road. These things include missing time, disorientation, compasses spinning wildly, eerie silence when there should be crickets and other swamp critters heard, and even sightings of ol' Bigfoot himself.

Probably a mile after we entered the eight mile long dirt road, we see our first light. After a little ways up the road, we discover that it's just a car load of teenagers. Further down the road, another light pops up behind us. We suspected it was the teenagers behind us, so we didn't bother stopping to wait for the light to zoom past us like it's supposed to. Even further down, another light. This one turned out to be someone on a four-wheeler who thought he'd park beyond the treeline next to the road so we wouldn't see him. Once almost to the end of the road, yet another light appeared behind us. Again, we suspect the four-wheeler or more teenagers. We arrived to the end of the road, turned around, and headed back. Yep, there were the last set of "lights": a group of teens standing around their truck in one of the many pull-off spots on the road made so people could park and wait for the light while listening to the sounds of the Big Thicket. As we began to make our way out, we see one last light almost at the halfway point down the road.

"Maybe this is it", we hoped. So we stopped our car and began looking, watching it closely. It moved! Not forward, but side to side. Maybe the four-wheeler guy is playing tricks on us by driving all over the road? Hehehe.. We'll just turn our lights off and drive a little closer to play with him. "He's gonna sh*t bricks when we turn our lights back on and we're a couple hundred yards closer". When I turned the lights off though, the light we were looking at was gone.

We knew what that normally meant. The "light" that we spotted was not giving off light, but reflecting ours. "It's something reflective that someone put out there to catch wind and move and fool people", we figured. So we turned our lights on and kept driving slowly. We're gonna solve this particular mystery. We'd stop every now and then and watch it. Still, it would move around and even get closer. When killing the lights, it again disappeared. After driving slowly for almost a quarter of a mile, this light turns into two lights. Green ones. Then we start to see a form around it. Something/someone is there! It's time to roll the windows up. After getting a little closer, our strange shape with two reflectors made itself known. It turned out to be a very large bobcat walking around in the road. A bobcat that we started seeing from about a quarter of a mile away.

We never saw the famous ghost light of Bragg Road, but that doesn't mean it's not there. I'm sure that if a die-hard skeptic were with us, the mystery would have been solved. "Well, that's it. It's just animals or people in vehicles", they would proudly proclaim. And then I would proclaim how it's a little hard for animals or vehicles to zoom past you or over the roof of your car while wearing nothing but a bluish light, as many credible witnesses have reported.

This story doesn't have anything to do with cryptozoology (though it does mention Bigfoot). It's just a little true tale written up to show that sometimes all is not what it seems. Philip's blog page is titled "Strange is normal". But sometimes, normal can be pretty strange too.

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