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    Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

    THE GHOST ROAD
    IN HARDIN COUNTY

    by Bob Bowman
    Bob Bowman
    The best time to visit the Ghost Road in Hardin County is late in the evening when nightfall descends over the Big Thicket and your imagination begins to push aside conventional thoughts like, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

    Skeptical, solid-thinking men and women have driven down the arrow-straight stretch of woodland road between Saratoga and Bragg--and emerged from the Thicket convinced they “saw something.”

    The ghostly light of Ghost Road has been explained in various ways--as the distant lights of automobiles, swamp gas, and other natural phenomenon. And there’s the endearing legend of a railroad brakeman who was supposedly decapitated in a train wreck and wanders up and down the road, lantern in hand, looking for his missing head.

    No matter what the explanation is, the ghost light apparently exists. It has appeared in newspapers and the prestigious National Geographic. Even a school textbook tells its story.
    Bib Thicket Ghost light - Hardin County, Texas
    Photo courtesy Ken & Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
    Bragg Road Ghost Light >

    The ghost road began as a rail line when the Sante Fe Railroad hacked a route from Bragg to Saratoga in 1902 and opened the Big Thicket with regular service, carrying people, cattle, oil and logs.

    When the oil played out and the virgin pines were cut over, the tracks were removed and the tram line became just another county road.

    Bear and deer hunters began coming back with strange stories about a floating light on the road. One old man swore that a light had rushed between his team, panicking the horses and dumping the driver and his wagon in a ditch.

    Soon, everyone began hearing about the ghostly lights dancing through the woods, darting and floating in different colors--red, white, blue and green.

    In his book, “Tales from the Big Thicket,” F.E. Abernethy described the enlarging stories: “Light-seers poured onto the road by the hundreds. People of all ages and intellects came to see and test their belief in the supernatural. They shot at it, they chased it, and they tested it with litmus paper and geiger counters. A preacher harangued the road’s multitudes from the top of his car, making the Light as an ill omen of the world’s impending doom. There were some nights the light didn't show at all, but for the most part it was there to inspire stories that could be passed on, to change and grow at the will and imagination of the story teller.”
    By the 1960s, the light was supposedly chasing and floating over cars, stopping engines, burning hands and running over people.

    Today, thanks to people like Hardin County Commissioner Ken Pelt and Big Thicket advocate Maxine Johnson, the ghost road is on its way to becoming an East Texas tourist attraction, not only because of the ghostly lights, but for its scenic appeal. The green tunnel of pines and oaks shades a botanical experience with rare plants such as bladderworts, floating hearts, orchids and sundews.
    Bragg Road pipeline crossing and deet stand
    "The green tunnel of pines and oaks"
    Photo courtesy Ken & Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
    Bragg Road FM 1293 Junction , Saratoge Texas
    Junction of Bragg Road and FM 1293
    Photo courtesy Ken & Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
    Old Bragg Road sign - Saratoga ghost road, Texas
    Old Bragg Road sign at the junction with FM 1293
    Photo courtesy Ken & Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
    Bragg Road Ghost Light >

    Pelt built signs at each end of the road and made other improvements and Johnson is raising funds for historical markers, picnic areas, and interpretive displays, including one at Dearborn, a ghost town and sawmill site near the road.

    But the road’s biggest attraction remains its ghostly light--an ethereal entertainer who may be real or simply the figment of a lot of imaginations.

    By driving down the road on a quiet moonlit night, you can decide for yourself.

    Ghost Road Area Hotels - Beaumont Hotels

    More on the Ghost Road:

    Ghost Light caught on game amera
    Photo courtesy Jim Adams, Jr. , 2011
  • Ghost Road Light Caught on Game Camera by Jim Adams, Jr.
  • Saratoga Ghost Road/Bragg Road Ghost Light by Ken & Yvonne Rudine
    Two miles north of Saratoga off FM787 is the beginning of Bragg Road which travels north to FM1293. It is the Ghost Road where the Saratoga Mystery Light has appeared. Peering down this road is like looking in an infinite rifle barrel, that is green trees on top - pink dirt on bottom. This former railroad bed is now a dirt road, 8 miles long by 2 cars wide. Under daylight conditions it takes 30 minutes to safely drive to its junction with FM1293... more
  • 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
  • Saratoga, Texas
  • Beaumont Hotels - Ghost road area hotels

    Related Topics:
    Texas | Texas Ghosts | East Texas
  • Bob Bowman's East Texas
    July 26, 2009 Column
    A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers
    (Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 40 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)

    More Texas Ghosts

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    Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical"

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