Location: Anson, Texas
Appearance: White, orange, or blue light that sways from side to side, near the ground or at tree height. Occasionally splits. May also bounce or twinkle before disappearing gradually. Displays avoidant behavior when approached.
- The light is said to be that of a woman searching for her lost children, carrying a lantern. In some versions, the children are flashing their lanterns to their mother.
- The light is the spirit of a child or children killed on the railroad tracks.
- The light is the lantern flash of a deceased son who worked on the railroad and used it as a signal to tell his mother he was coming home.
Other explanations: In 2000, the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association investigated and declared the lights to be the headlights of passing vehicles on a nearby highway. In 2011, a group from Abilene Christian University came to the same conclusion.
The Anson lights are located off of Highway 180 in the town of Anson, Texas, about twenty miles north of Abilene. The viewing point is at a crossroads next to a cemetery. According to reader reports I received during the 1990s and 2000s, the lights were supposed to be “called” by driving down the dirt road to the crossroads, turning the car around, and flashing the headlights three times. However, articles within the last ten years seem to contain no mention of this particular method, except for those that were “borrowed” from my original website article on ghosts.org.
A variety of folktales exist to explain the lights. The most common is that of a woman looking for her lost child or children, calling to mind the urban legend of La Llorona, another very popular Texas tale. In some of the stories the mother simply carries a lantern to light her way while searching, while in others she instructs her children to flash their lantern three times if they are lost. The latter is tied into the “calling” of the lights by flashing one’s car headlights. Some versions differ by explaining the light as the spirit of a child or children killed on the nearby train tracks. In another story, the triple lantern flash comes from a son who worked on the railroad and used that as a signal to let his mother know he was coming home.
The most common description of the Anson Lights is a white light that sways from side to side, but it has also been seen in orange and blue. Some reports involve the light splitting into several different lights. The light stays either near the ground or at tree height. Although the most common motion seems to involve random swaying or drifting, the light has also been known to bounce erratically off the ground. It does move along the road, although it doesn’t ever seem to get close enough to the observer to get a good look at it. In fact, in some cases a person can be right under the light and the light will not be visible to him, only to the people observing from a distance. The light seems to twinkle and fade out gradually for the most part, although some report the light to disappear instantly, sometimes in response to turning on headlights.
In 2000, the Southwest Ghost Hunters Association conducted an investigation of the Anson Lights and made a fairly convincing case for headlights of passing cars on the nearby highway causing the phenomenon. A 2011 follow up conducted by Abilene Christian University using GPS on their iPhones came to the same conclusion. Since that time, it appears no other attempts have been made to study the lights, and there has been a dearth of articles on the subject over the past decade. It seems as though this may be a fading legend no longer of interest to the general population.
Following are experiences that were sent in to ghosts.org by readers.
(1) Date received: Fri, 8 Oct 1999
I am from a little town called Hawley in Texas. There is a town next to it called Anson. Outside of Anson there is a cemetery. A few years back my ex-boyfriend told me he wanted to take me out to see the Anson Lights. It is supposed to be a ghost of a woman from the 1800s who is looking for her lost son. Well, at the time I was in the frame of mind that there had to be a scientific explanation for this. So we went.
Now, this is how you are supposed to do this. About a quarter of a mile down the dirt road running alongside the cemetery there is a crossroads. You are supposed to go to the crossroads and turn around and flash your lights, then turn them off and wait.
That night we went. This is the part that really freaked me out. We didn’t even get past the cemetery and this big bright light popped up behind the car. I am not the type to be scared easily, but this totally flipped me out. I started jumping around the car locking the doors. We went to the crossroads and turned around and waited. Well, it was only a few minutes and there it was again. It was a floating white light that just moved from side to side, around in circles and up in the trees. No set pattern.
We were only there a few minutes when a police officer came and told us to leave. He told us that it was nothing but lights from the Stamford highway. Well, we left, and on the way home my ex told me that that was a total lie. He and some friends went out there one night in two different vehicles. One was a truck with a high powered spotlight mounted on it. They had CBs in their vehicles. The truck drove up and down the Stamford highway for over an hour with the spot light on. The whole time my ex and the others never saw the light, until the truck got back.
From firsthand I know this. One night we took my family out there. My youngest brother did not believe at all, so he and a couple of friends took off.
A few minutes later the rest of us saw the light. Then a really strange thing happened. Two lights popped up, and they both were doing exactly the same thing. Then we realized that one of them was my brother on the hood of our friends truck with a spotlight covered with a black t-shirt. And he was mocking the pattern that we had seen the light move. We were all laughing when they pulled up and stopped. My brother jumped off and laughed and said, “I told you there was no real light.” We were still laughing and we pointed behind them where the light was still moving in its circles.
He went white as a ghost and from that minute on he believed too.
(2) Date received: Sat, 19 Feb 2000
I too have seen the famed Anson Lights outside Anson, Texas, and I can corroborate the story. There is a cemetery off the highway and you take the dirt road down to the crossroads. The first time, I went with two friends and we drove to the crossroads, turned our cars around, and waited for ten minutes. We saw a glow on the horizon and thought our eyes were playing tricks on us, but they weren’t. Sure enough, this twinkling, flickering light (getting goosebumps as I write this) dances down the road towards our car, and it got fifty feet away before I went into hysterics. My friend turned on his headlights, which made it disappear. We drove up to the corner convenience store to get our bearings. Then, we decided we just had to go back. We had just turned the car around by the crossroads when the light started swinging madly from side to side.
I’ve been back several times and the light has done different things, like fly into the trees. One time it didn’t show at all. Another time, I saw a dead black dog lying on the crossroads. Not uncommon to see roadkill, but another friend had been out to the site two or so years before and had seen a dead, black dog lying in the same vicinity. Something else happened out there and he won’t discuss it, nor will he return. Another friend’s boyfriend went out there and shut the engine to his car off. Wouldn’t start. They had to push it to that convenience store.
A lot of people have claimed that it’s just lights from the highway, but I can’t understand how a light from the highway could approach within fifty feet of the car. The light is bright enough to illuminate anything behind it, like another car or a prankster. There was nothing. The last time I went, the only lights I saw were the ones from a local’s car who had crept up behind us, right on our tail, and then flooded us with his headlights like he had come out of nowhere. Scared us. And yes, the sheriff does patrol the area and he will issue tickets if anyone is out there trying to see the lights.
Sorry for the length. Hope you enjoyed this account. If you decide to post it, please omit my name and email. Thank you.
(3) Date received: Tue, 14 Mar 2000
I read the posted story regarding the Anson Lights and I can verify that they exist. I’ve seen them quite a few times firsthand. For those who aren’t familiar with the largely empty area that is referred to as West Texas, Anson is a small town, the kind whose only claim to fame is the fact that dancing (yes, dancing) is against the law there. Anson sits about twenty miles north of the town of Abilene, a city home to three colleges and Dyess Air Force Base. I had the dubious distinction of being a resident of Abilene for six years while attending college there at Abilene Christian University. As a young college kid, I soon heard about the infamous “Anson Lights” and so a few friends and I made the trip out to Anson one Friday night.
We got to the caliche road turnoff and proceeded down to the intersection, turned around, killed the headlights and engines of our cars, and looked around for anything that could be construed as a “supernatural” light. We didn’t see anything, so we flashed our headlights three times and waited. After a few seconds, a light began to feebly glow a ways down the road. It appeared to be orange-ish, looking very similar to an arc-sodium streetlamp or such viewed at a distance. After a bit of time, the color gradually changed to a bluish hue similar to the xenon headlamps in some cars.
After a bit more time had passed, the light, which appeared to be anywhere from 200 yards to a half-mile away, slowly faded out. We wondered if we could bring it back if we flashed our lights at it again, and sure enough, when we did, it gradually reappeared. Shortly after that, the Anson Police Department, who are the finest collection of ignorant rednecks to wear a badge, appeared and stated that it would behoove us to leave. So we did.
I went back to see the Anson lights many times while I was in college, sometimes with friends, sometimes with a date (hey, it’s a weak excuse, but it works), and I have seen the lights every time I have “called” them with my headlights. I say “lights” because, on different occasions, I have seen them split into two or three distinct, different lights, go through every visible color in the spectrum, and move, sometimes hanging there, sometimes swaying back and forth, and (only once) jumping around like a cat set on fire.
(4) Date received: Fri, 31 Mar 2000
I first heard about the Anson Lights from an old history teacher of mine. He was known for tall tales so I didn’t really take much notice. But about a year later I started to hear stories from everybody, and reliable people too, like my minister, my aunt, everyone.
Well, one night a friend and I went out there. We went to the cemetery and we flashed our lights just like the legends say to. We waited a little while until we start to see some lights in the distance. At first we thought that they were headlights, but then they started to change colors and bounce all over the road.
We got out and start to walk to the lights. It was weird because we couldn’t catch up to them, and yet they didn’t get any farther away. I am now a firm believer and plan a second trip soon.
(5) Date received: Fri, 18 Feb 2000
I live in the boring city of Abilene Texas, and I too have seen the mysterious lights in the small town of Anson. Since Abilene is so boring, most of the high school guys have to find their kicks somewhere else, which is where the story comes in. I first heard about the lights a couple years back and managed to get the courage to make the small journey to see what all the hype was.
I can still recall the first time I ever pulled onto that long dirt road next to the dark cemetery, scared as hell. As we made our way to the deserted crossroads, tension was running high among the group. As the myth tells, we flashed our lights and then waited, but not for long.
Shortly after turning off the lights, we were slowly approached by a zig-zagging light in the formation of a flickering lantern. The light slowly made its way down the road about a quarter mile, where it stopped in front of us about a hundred yards and then suddenly disappeared. We were all in shock and pretty much horrified by what we had just seen.
We quickly drove down the road to see if we could find the source of the light, but were unsuccessful. Call me crazy, but I then volunteered to stay at the cemetery with a friend as the rest of the bunch went to the end of the road to try again. We both hoped to see the light and uncover the mystery.
It wasn’t long until we saw the guys flash the lights and then disappear. After waiting around fifteen minutes and scared out of our minds, we started toward the car. About halfway to the car the others began to honk the horn and flash the lights without warning. Not knowing what was going on, we were soon met and picked up. All of the guys had horrified, pale looks on their faces.
We later found out as the two of us waited, the others spotted the light appear and dance about ten to twenty feet above our heads. Totally freaked out after hearing the news, we drove back to Abilene, to soon make the trip again. Ever since then, the guys and myself have been believers. This is honestly a true story, and I urge everyone who reads this to make the trip to Anson and see for yourself the incredible and mind-blowing lights.
(6) Date received: Mon, 15 May 2000
I read your story about the Anson Lights and could not believe that I saw the same thing. A coworker and I went out to Anson after work one night. We live in Abilene, which is about 35 minutes away. I went out there not believing I would see anything. I was wrong. I have spent my whole life not believing in ghosts or the supernatural. That one night at Anson kind of changed my way of thinking. I really don’t think it could be lights from a nearby highway because of the way it moved and hovered. If you have any more info on Anson can you please pass it on. I plan to make another trip out there soon. Thanks.
(7) Date received: Mon, 12 Jul 2004
I am writing in regards to the website with all of the Anson Lights stories. My husband and I have seen them multiple times and would like to share our story on your site.
My husband and I have been out to see the Anson Lights quite a few times. We were, of course, skeptical at first, but what we saw made us believe that there is definitely something paranormal out there.
We pulled up to the crossroads, turned around, and flashed our lights three times just like you are supposed to do to make them appear. Until recently, the light didn’t come very close and was a bit faint, but since I found out that we are expecting a baby, the light has become very bright and come much closer than before. In fact, we got scared and almost left, thinking that there was a motorcycle coming down the road. My husband has a theory that maybe because of the fact that we have a baby on the way, the ghost somehow sensed that and therefore, showed a lot more activity. Also different was the fact that there were multiple lights on our most recent trip out to Anson. There were two faint orange glows that remained constant and then the main light that was the brightest, but the main light went from dim to very bright and disappeared sometimes.