TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
 
New   |   Texas Towns   |   Ghost Towns   |   Counties   |   Trips   |   Features   |   Columns   |   Architecture   |   Images   |   Archives   |   Site Map

Hardin County TX
Hardin County

Texas Towns
A - Z
Hotels

SARATOGA, TEXAS

Hardin County, East Texas

30 17' 3" N, 94 31' 46" W (30.284167, -94.529444)
HWY 105 and FM 770
SW of Kountze the county seat
38 miles NW of Beaumont
Population: 1000 est. (1990, 2000)

Book Hotel Here › Beaumont Hotels
Big Thicket National Preserve
To Big Thicket National Preserve
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007

Saratoga

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD

About fifty years ago, I worked as a "hop boy" on a milk delivery truck that ran the country route for Kelly's Dairy in Beaumont, Texas. Dad was the salesman who drove the truck, so I had a sympathetic boss and could consume all the pint bottles (once upon a time milk came in such), of chocolate milk I wanted. I "wanted" when we served the customers in Saratoga, in Hardin County. The reason: the water smelled highly of sulfur. It really didn't taste bad if you held your nose, but a boy has his foolishness, so I disdained the smelly stuff and succumbed to the seduction of chocolate. Upon reflection, maybe Saratoga's water was just an excuse.

Anyway, that water helped this East Texas community earn its name and gave it unfulfilled notions of becoming a famous health spa like the one in New York from which it borrowed its moniker. J.F. Cotton discovered a spring at the site of this future town in the 1850s. I expect he smelled it before he saw it. In the 1880s, P.S. Watts attempted to capitalize on the water's unique properties. This was a time in which many people placed great faith in hydropathy, or the healing power of water. Watts may not have thought he was dealing with another Lourdres, but he did hope for another Saratoga, as in New York, where the elite retreated to "take the waters," sometimes seeking health and sometimes just enjoying their wealth.


Watts built a hotel and rental cottages and such, and changed the name of the community from New Sour Lake to Saratoga, hoping to attract customers. Not many came, but what made the water smell the way it did eventually brought some measure of riches anyway.

Old Cotton himself attempted to find oil in the area of Saratoga as early as 1865, and others tried again in 1887 and located a small well. Much larger production followed the discovery of Spindletop, about thirty miles south of Saratoga, in 1901. And the arrival of a railroad also enabled the expansion of sawmilling because timber produced there then could reach distant markets.

Saratoga enjoyed a period of some prosperity from oil-and-timber production, but failed to hold its advantage. From a population of 1,000 in 1925, it fell to about 350 in 1950, though lately the number of folks who call Saratoga home has reach about 1,000 again.


Dad sometimes got a sore back from lifting those cases of milk and our family frequently vacationed in Hot Springs, Arkansas, so he could take the famed baths there. He might have been as well off in Saratoga.

Fifty years later, I don't know if the water still smells like sulfur in Saratoga, and even if it does I might not be so persnickety now. On the other hand, chocolate offers a powerful alternative.


© Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical column

Saratoga serves as the Big Thicket Association Headquarters

Famous Son George Jones

Birthplace of country music legend George Jones.

"If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones." - Waylon Jennings

Two Poems for George Jones
  • The Possum by David Knape 4-27-13
  • A Picture of Us Without George by Luke Warm 4-27-13

  • Bragg Road Ghost Light Texas
    The Mystery Light at Bragg Road
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007

    Bragg Light Misnomer

    "I have lived in Saratoga, Texas my entire my life (36 years) and grew up a quarter of a mile from the end of Bragg Road. Everyone who grew up in Saratoga knows [the local mysterious light] it as Bragg Light, not the ghost light, ghost road light, nothing with the name ghost or Saratoga even mentioned in the name. The light is there and it's not swamp gas as other people try to say because there aren't any swamps around Bragg Road. My granddad was born in 1897 and was raised in Saratoga and always talked about the light. So does my dad, who has spent his entire life here (since 1934). People try to write articles about the road and light, that are not from the area and they get so much wrong about it.

    Just like it is known that oil was discovered in Saratoga way before Beaumont, but because it wasn't a boom it's not recognized as that. I just wish someone could write a completely accurate article on the Bragg light so it is known that it is there and what it is. My Dad tells me the story of the headless man looking for his head is something that someone from out of town made up and that people that descended from Saratoga never heard of it until they talked to people from other areas.

    I apologize if it sounds like I'm "going off" on this subject but as someone who has lived here all my life it's irritating to hear people talk and write about things that they don't completely know about. I have a magazine from years ago that featured Bragg Road and was fairly accurate on the article because they did a lot of research from the people around here before it was published." - Thomas Tomlinson, Saratoga, Texas, May 03, 2007


    The "ghost" of Saratoga
    "I was born and raised in Beaumont and heard many stories about the "ghost" of Saratoga.... A friend of mine once told me that her car was actually attacked and dented by an unseen force when she was in Saratoga. .... On a double-date, I was taken out there late at night, but nothing occurred. ... I would like to know more of the story (legend), whether it be true or not. ... - Thank you," Rhoda W., January 02, 2002


    Related Articles:

  • The Big Thicket Light by Archie P. McDonald
    "The Big Thicket Light, aka the Saratoga Light, shows up at night on a seven-mile stretch of road connecting Farm Road 1293 and Saratoga, a former health spa/oil town/Big Thicket gathering area in Hardin County.."

  • The Ghost Road by Bob Bowman

  • Saratoga Ghost Road by Ken Rudine

  • Pollok and a Mystery Light on the Bodan by Ken Rudine

  • Pigs Discovered Oil Cartoon by Roger T. Moore

    More Texas Towns | Texas Ghost Stories
  • Ghost Road Scenic Drive Hardin County Park  Sign
    Ghost Road Scenic Drive
    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007

    Lance Rosier Big Thicket National Preserve historical marker
    Lance Rosier Historical Marker
    Big Thicket National Preserve

    Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007
    Hardin County TX 1920s map
    1920s Hardin County map showing Saratoga
    From Texas state map #10749 (SW of Kountze)

    Courtesy Texas General Land Office

    Take a road trip

    Saratoga, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Kountze the county seat
    Beaumont
    See Hardin County | East Texas

    Book Hotel Here:
    Beaumont Hotels | More Hotels
    Texas Escapes, in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.

    Texas Towns A - Z Texas Regions:
    Gulf Texas Gulf Coast East East Texas North Central Texas North Central Woutn Central Texas South Panhandle Texas Panhandle
    South South Texas Hill Texas Hill Country West West Texas Ghost Texas Ghost Towns counties Texas Counties

    Texas Escapes Online Magazine »   Archive Issues » Home »
    TEXAS TOWNS & COUNTIES TEXAS LANDMARKS & IMAGES TEXAS HISTORY & CULTURE TEXAS OUTDOORS MORE
    Texas Counties
    Texas Towns A-Z
    Texas Ghost Towns

    TEXAS REGIONS:
    Central Texas North
    Central Texas South
    Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Panhandle
    Texas Hill Country
    East Texas
    South Texas
    West Texas

    Courthouses
    Jails
    Churches
    Schoolhouses
    Bridges
    Theaters
    Depots
    Rooms with a Past
    Monuments
    Statues

    Gas Stations
    Post Offices
    Museums
    Water Towers
    Grain Elevators
    Cotton Gins
    Lodges
    Stores
    Banks

    Vintage Photos
    Historic Trees
    Cemeteries
    Old Neon
    Ghost Signs
    Signs
    Murals
    Gargoyles
    Pitted Dates
    Cornerstones
    Then & Now

    Columns: History/Opinion
    Texas History
    Small Town Sagas
    Black History
    WWII
    Texas Centennial
    Ghosts
    People
    Animals
    Food
    Music
    Art

    Books
    Cotton
    Texas Railroads

    Texas Trips
    Texas Drives
    Texas State Parks
    Texas Rivers
    Texas Lakes
    Texas Forts
    Texas Trails
    Texas Maps
    USA
    MEXICO
    HOTELS

    Site Map
    About Us
    Privacy Statement
    Disclaimer
    Contributors
    Staff
    Contact Us

     
    Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved