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.”
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.
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.
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.
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. |
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 sign at the junction with FM 1293|
& Yvonne Rudine, August 2007
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.
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.
down the road on a quiet moonlit night, you can decide for yourself.
Road Area Hotels - Beaumont Hotels
courtesy Jim Adams, Jr. , 2011|
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