Location: Bragg Road, Saratoga, Texas
Appearance: White, yellow, red, or green light that sways back and forth like a railroad worker carrying a lantern. The light may back away when approached or shoot up into the sky. It may also skim the hoods of cars.
- The light is said to be that of a railroad worker who was decapitated in an accident.
Other explanations: Perhaps car headlights, but no hard conclusions.
Additional notes: A portion of the road has been renamed Ghost Road Scenic Drive.
The Bragg Road Ghost Light, also known as the Big Thicket Ghost Light and the Saratoga Light, is located on a wooded dirt road surrounded by swampland that runs between Saratoga and Bragg, Texas. In the early 20th century, railroad tracks ran over the road and several deaths supposedly took place here while the trains were still running. Local legend describes a railroad worker being decapitated, among other tales. The rails were taken up in 1934, and it was after this that the ghost lights began their appearances.
The light seen on Bragg Road is said to sway back and forth, and changes from yellow to white to (sometimes) red or green as it approaches the observer. The swaying motion of the light is said to match the actions of someone walking with a lamp. Some report that the light backs away when approached or shoots up into the sky. Several reports I received mention that the lights came very close to their cars, even skimming their hoods.
The local community has leaned into the legend, even erecting informative plaques and renaming a portion of the road Ghost Road Scenic Drive. At several points during the 1980s and 1990s, the local government put forward proposals to cut timber on the road, which were blocked by citizens who wanted to maintain the integrity of the Ghost Road.
As with many other ghost light sites, several attempts have been made to debunk the lights as car headlights. However, these attempts seem to have been at best inconclusive, and the legend is still quite robust in the community compared to some other spooklights that have lost popularity in the last couple decades.
(1) Date received: Mon, 23 Aug 1999
Back in 1975 my brother, my newlywed wife, and a friend of ours climbed into a Volkswagen Beetle and headed for Kountze. At that time we all lived in Groves, Texas, next to Port Arthur, southeast on the Gulf Coast. It only took about 45 minutes to get there. It was a dark night around October or November. My brother had been before and convinced us to go along because I would not believe him about the ghost road. We drove the car off of the state highway onto a dirt road.
When we first got there it was dusk, so we could still see the dirt road and the tall overhanging trees. We drove down the road until we could not see or hear the highway noise from where we came. We parked the car and waited for the darkness. It seemed to take hours. I had suggested that we should turn our headlights on because it was so dark, but my brother said that the light from the car would keep the “Bragg Light” from appearing.
Just then my brother shouted, “Look down there, there it is.” At first I could not make it out, Then I saw a small yellow light that seemed to be about a half mile or more away. The more we stared at it, the brighter and closer it came. Then suddenly the color changed to amber and the light started moving from side to side.
Thinking that this could be a hoax and it was either a friend of my brother’s or a nearby farmer that did not like people there, I suggested that we put the car in drive and move forward, to see if we could run down whoever was carrying the light. But the further we moved, the light moved back at an equal distance. We stopped the car mainly in fear that we might run into a tree or some other obstacle, since we didn’t have our lights on. The light resumed its oncoming movement until it got to be about fifty yards in front of us.
My wife at this time was really scared. I got out of the car along with my brother, and suddenly the light stopped moving. It turned white and was about the diameter of a bowling ball, then it stopped in front of our car about 25 yards and shot up towards the sky.
This experience has made me a believer in strange (or natural) things. I’ve heard scientists explain it away as being swamp gas. That may be true, but it was still entertaining.
(2) Date received: Fri, 23 Jun 2000
I live only like twenty minutes from the Bragg Light. It truly is a remarkable sight; I have seen it dozens of times. First off, do not stop on the road; keep on your running lights or use no lights if the moon allows. Stopping only makes you wait longer. Just creep along at a slow pace and eventually you will see it.
When you first see it, it usually looks like a security light on a telephone pole does early on a foggy morning. It’s nothing more than a hazy white in the center and blue on the outer edges. The trees grow together in most places over the road so the light sort of makes the upper branches visible. You can slow down or stop at this point. It will usually come closer to you and the blue part of the haze will gradually fade to red as it gets closer.
Then all of a sudden the entire cloud-like haze will fall in on itself and become a small light which can be as bright as a car’s headlight. However it is far from being a car headlight, because it will fade on and off or just cut off and reappear. Sometimes it will last for a while and sometimes it is very short. Since the road is very straight and very long, it can appear to be very close, but my friends and I have run down the road at speeds of nearly 70 mph and still never have caught up to it.
I have also seen it very close. I have never seen it shoot into the sky, but I have just seen it go out right as it got to my truck and then reappear behind my truck. I have seen it up to six times in one trip down the road. Each time you see it you just want to see it again, so when you get to the end of the road just turn around and try again. You can see it best when traveling in the direction leading to Saratoga.
At any rate, it is very real and you will not be disappointed if you follow the guidelines I have left. Also, I would not recommend speeding down the road as we did. We only did because we know it well. It is very straight but there are a few bends.
One night we saw something even stranger. At about 12:45 a.m. we saw the largest U-Haul truck you can rent down there. It was pulled off partly on to one of the two pipelines and the running lights were going, but as we got behind it someone turned off the lights as if they did not want to be seen. So whatever you do be careful; it is a perfect place for suspicious activity. Happy light hunting. Good luck to all of you.
(3) Date received: Tue, 19 Feb 2002
A relative sent me this site and upon reading some of the stories submitted, the Bragg Road story caught my attention because I too have seen the lights of Saratoga. I am now a resident of Ohio, but lived several years in Houston, Texas. I had been told of the legend and had tried to convince someone to investigate this with me. Finally, I was able to convince a girlfriend to make the trip.
When we arrived at the dirt road, just the sight of it scared me to death. A very narrow, one lane road. Swamp on both sides, and the trees hanging over the road like hands. My girlfriend and I took one look at each other and, knowing that my car was an old beater and could break down, turned right back around and left.
I then convinced my brother and his friend to come back out with me. Neither were believers and I think they did this to pass the time and satisfy my interest. It was night, of course, and we traveled down the old dirt road until we could find a place to pull off. The guys got out of the truck and sat on the hood. I sat inside the truck with my two year old son on my lap, and also with the doors locked.
After about twenty minutes or so, I saw both of the guys’ heads turn to the right, then they jumped off the hood and both turned to the right. I could hear them saying, “What is that?” and “It is moving closer.” The next thing I knew, both guys were beating on the truck window wanting inside. I thought they were joking and I took my time unlocking the doors. When I finally realized that they were not joking, I let them in. After getting in, they quickly locked the doors and explained what they saw. So, we waited another twenty minutes or so for the lights to appear again and they most certainly did.
We all sat very quietly as the light drifted down the road. To us, it looked like a lantern. We could even make out the flickering of the flame inside. It was a very bright light, unmistakable. It got very close to the truck and then disappeared. We were silent all the way home. We decided that this had to be investigated again to prove we weren’t crazy.
The first chance we got, we went back out again and chose a different part of the road to park, much further down. Once again this very same light appeared. This time, it had been planned that when the light got almost in front of the car, my brother’s friend would get out and investigate. We sat there watching the light, waiting. Our friend slowly put his hand on the door handle and slowly began to turn the handle to open up the door. Just at the point of being able to open the door and jump out, the light disappeared.
Of course, no one would believe us, and we had to make the trip back out there many times to prove ourselves, but never did we go out there and not see that mysterious lantern resembling light. This is one story we were always able to prove. This has been the ghost story that we have been able to share with others. It happened back in 1986.
(4) Date received: Tue, 05 Aug 2003
Hello Obiwan. My entry is about the Bragg Light. I have seen the light before because I have been on Bragg Road many times. About two years ago around October, some friends and I went out to Bragg to play around. We were not actually on the road but had our cars parked across the road. My friend and I were in the back of the truck while the rest of our friends were getting our stuff to walk down the road.
We saw the light up in the trees on the Bragg side of the road and it looked to be more blueish in color, but it was bobbing around like you have explained earlier. It was a very creepy feeling. However, that is the only time I have ever seen it in the millions of times I have been on the road. The saddest part is that local timber companies have cleared lots of trees down the road. I went last year down there before I moved to see it one last time, and it wasn’t the same.
(5) Date received: Wed, 25 Feb 2004
I see that the site hasn’t been updated recently, but I would like to throw my two cents in. I have seen the light a few times. I don’t feel like it’s spooky, but it can be playful at times.
The first time I saw it, it was coming from behind us, where the main road is. It was small and bright, so I passed it off as being headlights, except it stayed there for quite some time as we drove down the road. Of course, it went away before it got close.
Shortly after that we saw it in front of us, but this time it was a dim glow, pale green in color, and about the size of a basketball. It came at us very fast and whizzed right over the hood and front windshield. At the front windshield I would say it was about the size of a good-sized pumpkin and still a dim green misty glow. It didn’t look like a lantern or anything.
It stayed about thirty feet behind us after that, even when we got out to look at it. We walked towards it and it maintained its distance, and was approximately ten feet off the ground. We turned around at the end of the road and it flew back over us on the way out and stayed behind us the whole way back to the main road. That was my first trip.
My last trip was made with a lot of friends in two cars. We drove down the road all the way to the railroad tracks. We stopped and got out. We had flashlights and kept our car headlights on. It was a fairly clear night, and I brought along my camera. Only two pictures came out of the 27 exposure roll, and the two that came out have some strange mist floating about that I cannot remember being there.
We say “Saratoga” when we refer to the road. It is a very beautiful place to be, day or night, and I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of, except a playful ball of light, and maybe another car coming up the road in the opposite direction of you. I haven’t been there in a while and don’t know what it looks like now, but we have a band here in Port Arthur that plans on having a tour of the road soon and play music, I’ll make sure and bring my camera and video tape and take what pictures I can for you.
(6) Date received: Sat, 04 Sep 2004
I have read some of the stories that you have published on this subject, and just thought that I would send you mine.
I spent half of my life in the Big Thicket, but it wasn’t until after I was married that I ever heard of Bragg Road. You see, there are many strange and unexplainable things that happen in the Big Thicket, as any of the natives will tell you.
But when I did first experience Bragg, it was a something that I have shared with countless others, time and again.
The light is very much real. My husband and I lived in Saratoga and Kountze for a while, and Bragg Road was one of our favorite places to go. The light is very much there, and even my husband, who is the biggest skeptic in the world, will tell you about it. We not only saw the light, we had an extremely close encounter with it.
It was back about ten years ago. We had decided to take a ride down the road around midnight. We were down about the second pipeline when we saw the light and we stopped. We watched the light coming up the road towards us. As it got closer, my husband began to drive towards the light.
When the light got right up to the front of the truck, instead of disappearing, the light actually continued up the hood of the truck, thru the cab, and out the back window. It filled the entire cab with an eerie blue-green light. Neither of us tried to reach out and touch it, mostly because we had never heard of that happening before. But as we retold the story to some of our friends, we found that at some of them had experienced the same thing.
I don’t know what the light is. I know what they say, and I know all the legends. But there is a lot more to the area surrounding Bragg Road than what many people have heard. Some of the older folks that have grown up out there will tell you stories of things that they have seen and heard that cannot be explained. And to me, Bragg Road is more than just a neat thing to go and see. There is a lot out there. And most of it is freaky.
But I do recommend going. I still take my friends up there. And I actually traveled down Bragg last May with some friends from Houston. Unfortunately, we did not see the light, but we will go again.
Thanks for letting me say my piece.
From: “Steve Quinn”
Subject: Saratoga Ghost Light Investigation (Revised)
Date: Saturday, August 14, 2004 1:20 AM
Date of Investigation: Saturday, August 7, 2004
Pre-trip Inspection: 11:45 AM to 12:10 PM CST
Ghost Hunt: 8:30 PM to 10:15 PM CST
The Ghost Lights of Bragg Rd near Saratoga, TX have been attributed to swamp gas, vehicle headlights, and ghosts.
Did not see or smell any evidence of a swamp or swamp gas.
From the pipeline right-of-way that crosses Bragg Rd, approximately 1.3 miles north of FM 787, headlights of northbound vehicles entering FM 787 from FM 770 became visible after vehicles rounded the first curve, approximately 2.8 miles away.
Although these vehicles are traveling 55 to 65 MPH, the viewer will observe the following:
- The headlights will appear as a single light source for the duration of the trip from the curve to the south entrance of Bragg Rd, approximately 1.5 miles.
- The light will bounce or bobble up-and-down and side-to-side as the vehicle traverses the 1.5-mile roadway.
- The light will fade in at the first curve and fade out at the last curve.
- The light will appear slightly yellow as it fades in and again, as it fades out.
- The tail lights of southbound vehicles on FM 787 can also be seen.
- To the viewer, all lights will appear 100 to 200 yards away and relatively stationary for the time that they are seen, regardless of the speed of the vehicles or their distances from the viewer.
- When the viewer moves towards the light, the light will appear to move away.
- When the viewer moves away from the light, the light will appear to follow.
- The light from the oncoming vehicles will light up the road surface and the trees along the roadway for several miles and then suddenly vanish.
- The light will spill out of the opening onto the pipeline right-of-way as if an approaching vehicle is about to emerge.
When the light bounces and bobbles about, it appears as if someone or something is holding a lantern, large flashlight, or spotlight.
The sequence of colors (yellow, white, yellow, red) is caused by the vehicle’s front right parking lamp, headlights, right front parking lamp, and right rear tailight.
The inability to overtake the light is similar to the inability to overtake mirages of water seen on hot roadways.
The path of the road through the trees creates a perfect tunnel for directing any light source. The sand on the road is very fine and covers the trees along the path. If the silicon content is high, this may explain the refraction phenomenon. In any case, a telescopic effect is concentrating the light down the road like a make-shift laser or holographic projector.
It�s hard to except this ghostly phenomenon as just headlights, especially when research scientists and paranormal investigators have not offered a reasonable explanation for the headlight phenomenon. Until that’s done, many people will continue to believe the ghost theory.
Date: Wed, 24 May 95 03:58:00 -0500
Hi, I thought some of you might be interested in this article that was in the Palestine Herald Press today:
TOWN URGES TIMBER CUTTERS TO NOT CUT TIMBER ON HAUNTED ROAD
HOUSTON (AP) – The east Texas town of Saratoga is once again up in arms over salesmen who want to cut and sell timber from haunted Ghost Road.
But residents want nothing to spoil the spirit world they claim haunts the eight-mile sandy path that seems more like a tunnel with its thick canopy of trees and other foliage.
For the fifth time in the last 30 years, Hardin County commissioners have moved to sell the timber, which could add between $60,000 and $100,000 to county coffers. And for the fifth time residents have objected to removing any of the roadside timber that provides the spooky ambience.
Hardin County Judge Tom Mayfield has named a committee to hold open hearings and decide on a compromise regarding the road, which has been pictured in National Geographic magazine and on Japanese television.
Officially known as Bragg Road, the strip runs straight as a rifle shot from Farm-To-Market Road 787 northwest of Saratoga to Farm-To-Market Road 1293 at the town of Bragg. Saratoga is about 60 miles northeast of Houston.
For decades, visitors to Ghost Road have reported seeing a floating ball of light that varies from softball- to basketball-size. Some say the light dances throught the trees, floats along the roadway and sometimes skims above cars.
Local legend says the light comes from the lantern carried by the ghost of a train brakeman beheaded in a long-ago accident, or perhaps it is the spirit of a murdered railroad worker.
Others say the light is caused by swamp gas or the refraction of car headlights from the highway at the south end of the road.
Whatever the reason, the road has long been a popular visiting spot for teenagers.
“I never saw the light myself,” says Keith Nugent, 38, who lives along the road. “But I know some mighty reputable people who say they’ve seen it.”
Like many others, Nugent fears that cutting the timber will destroy the road’s character.
Counters Judge Mayfield: “It’s changing anyway.”