Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Haunting summer family fun

By Deana Nall
Baytown Sun

Published June 14, 2006

Summer is in full swing, and it’s time to pack up the family and head out for some camping, fishing and ghost-light hunting.

If ghost lights are your thing, Texas is full of them. You got your Marfa lights, your Anson lights and, right here in our corner of the state, the Bragg Road light near Saratoga.

Texas Monthly, one of my favorite reads, has featured the Marfa lights in this month’s issue. The Marfa lights are probably the best-known Texas ghost lights. Legend has it that James Dean became obsessed with them while filming “Giant” in the Marfa area during the mid-’50s.

Michael Hall, the guy who wrote the Texas Monthly article, has actually spent entire nights alone in the Far West Texas wilderness investigating the Marfa lights.

I’m a bit too chicken for something like that. The whole time I was growing up in Beaumont, I never once ventured over to nearby Saratoga to check out the Bragg Road light. I knew plenty of people who did, though. One guy who went to my high school said he was riding down Bragg Road in the bed of a pickup truck one night when the light appeared in the distance, zoomed down the road, and got in the truck with him.

I believed him back then. Not so much now.

But I have seen a ghost light. Somehow, when you’re in a car with a bunch of friends and a guy you’re crazy about, you tend to get brave. This is how I wound up going to see the Anson light back in May of 1993.

Anson is a town of about 2,500 near Abilene in West Texas. It’s a quiet town known for its ornate courthouse (built in 1910) and its rigid conservatism (“No dancin’ in Anson!”).

At the time, I was a student at Abilene Christian University (Go, Wildcats!). Abilene is a fine town for getting a college education, but, other than that, it doesn’t offer much excitement. It’s no wonder I met my husband there. I didn’t have anything else to do.

So at one time or another, most ACU students — out of sheer boredom — are drawn to a dirt road north of Abilene just outside of Anson. The road turns off of a highway, passes a cemetery (of course) and leads to a crossroads. When you reach the crossroads, you’re supposed to turn the car around to face the way you had come, cut the engine and flash your headlights three times.

That’s what we did. “We” being my roommate, a bunch of her relatives who had come to see her graduate, the guy I was going to marry in a few months, and me. We all sat in the darkness, which, in rural West Texas on a moonless night, is exceptionally dark.

Then we saw it. A tiny light appeared near the tops of the trees in the cemetery. It danced around a little, moving from left to right, and vanished.

We left pretty quickly, wanting to avoid the cops who patrol the area for ghost-light seekers since the dirt road is technically on private property.

And we were a bit spooked.

So there’s my ghost-light story. If you go out ghost-light hunting this summer, don’t let anything get you. Especially the cops.

Deana Nall lives in Baytown with her family.


  • At Wed Jun 14, 06:26:00 AM, Blogger Beverly said…

    oh man, you know how many times I have taken a van full of middle school boys to Anson lights..I got other places too..there is a bridge that is outside Hawley that will scare the pants off ya..I had two big boys begging me to take them home..i love it!!

  • At Wed Jun 14, 09:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, I could tell a hilarious tale about a certain freshman at ACU who went to see the missle silos. As soon as we pulled up, we were met with a man in overalls pointing a shotgun at the car! By the way, the cops did come and gave us all a big scare. After that, I had no desire to see the Anson lights or anything else!

    I could laugh about it later, but when you are 18 and someone is pointing a shotgun at you, it is not funny!

  • At Thu Jun 15, 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Sarah P said…

    Anson lights...Seriously, what is about that place that encourages sardine-packed cars and sexual tension? I went in college and we had 9 people in an Explorer. I remember we actually got dressed up for it. Granted, there were boys in the car but come on! Make up and boots? For Anson?!

  • At Fri Jun 16, 08:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I doubt the "No dancin' in Anson" thing. The Cowboy Christmas Ball has been going on there for decades. It usually draws some pretty big names for such a little town. I still haven't seen the Anson Lights, though.

  • At Fri Jul 07, 07:41:00 PM, Anonymous Jerilyn said…

    I got to spend the majority of one night as a guest of the Anson police dept due to our desire to see the lights.

    Not arrested....just detained by a cop drunk on power and authority....wielding that power over two 19 year old girls and a guy not much older.

    I think they let us go at about 4am.....we were so scared we didn't even think to complain about being kept so long..for fear of getting charged with trespassing if the cop changed his mind.

    Still haven't been back there.... the anonymous one who could tell a hilarious tale about the missle silos...

    .....I have one of those, also. My friends actually made it to the silo and were poking around hwen the man with the gun showed up. Their night ended in the ER with the cops because she stepped in a snake hole while fleeing the scene.

    Renegades, rebels and - we sure thought we were bad back then.


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