Location: Crossett, Arkansas
Appearance: White, blue, red, or greenish ball of light that hovers several feet above the ground, sometimes swinging back and forth. Size varies from two feet across to man-sized. May approach the observer and reappear behind him. May also display avoidant behavior. May hover over vehicle hoods or travel through the vehicle, or shoot up into the trees.
- The light is said to be that of a railroad worker who was decapitated in an accident.
- A second story claims the light is the headlight of a train that was derailed, killing passengers.
Other explanations: None.
Additional notes: This light has been active since the 1950s.
The Crossett light is a ghost light that appears in Crossett, Arkansas. Like many other spooklights, it is associated with railroad tracks and a legend of a person killed by the train, swinging his lantern and looking for his missing head. The actual tracks no longer exist in the location, but the stories and sightings persist.
Witnesses describe a white, blue, red, or greenish ball of light that hovers several feet above the ground, sometimes swinging back and forth in the air like a lantern. Its size varies from a couple feet across to “man-sized,” according to reports. This light may approach the observer and reappear behind them, but it may also display avoidant behavior and keep a certain distance when approached. Both behaviors have been described. Some observers have reported the light to hover over the hoods of their cars or even travel through or into the vehicle. It may also shoot up into the trees or into the woods on either side of the road.
Compared to some other, more obscure ghost lights, the Crossett light is well-attested online. Recent sightings seem more scarce, but I did find several from the 2010s. It does appear that subsequent to the tracks being taken up in the 1980s, the viewing point for the light changed. Therefore, the details of stories from the 1950s to the 1980s may not match up with current locations and other particulars. This change would also explain the decrease in modern sightings. Most of the firsthand accounts I received from readers of my website concerned older encounters.
Although some sources mention pieces on the Crossett light in Life Magazine and Reader’s Digest, those articles don’t seem to actually exist. It’s possible that readers are mixing up their ghost lights, as both magazines did publish features on “weird happenings” occasionally and very likely covered at least one of America’s famous lights during their runs.
(1)Date received: Mon, 16 Aug 1999
Having read on your website about the Gurdon Light, I must tell you that that same story is prevalent in the Crossett, Arkansas area in the southeast corner of the state. I grew up in that area and yes, I did make one trip while I was in college, right before I moved to California, and yes, I did see lights. It was incredibly spooky, and if there hadn’t been a whole bunch of us I would have made sure we got out of there really fast. Considering the relative isolation of the area at the time (1969-70), I really don’t know what other explanation there could have been. Certainly there were no other cars in the area, nor was the area lit by streetlights. Brrrrrrrr!
(2) Date received: Wed, 23 Feb 2000
I read one visitor’s letter about the mysterious light in Crossett, Arkansas. Going to a nearby college, I have seen this light once personally, and have many classmates who have seen it on numerous occasions. It is fairly large, about a human’s size or slightly smaller, and ranges from blue to yellowish green in color. It runs nearby to some old railroad tracks and I don’t know how true this story is, but I was told the light is a haunting from an old train that crashed there very long ago, killing many passengers. It is real. Many have seen it, and it often will move along the tracks and then come towards whomever is nearby viewing it. I was very skeptical, and in seeing it was very frightened.
(3) Date received: Wed, 22 Mar 2000
I have always heard my friends talk of going across the border to Crossett, Arkansas to see the “ghost light.” The legend is that a railroad worker was beheaded in an accident many years ago. He is supposed to be swinging an old-fashioned railroad lantern in a futile search for his severed head. I have never gone “parking to see the light” myself, but have listened to many credible accounts of people who parked along the old railroad tracks at night and saw the light. I have even heard of folks who came almost within arm’s reach of the glowing orb, only to have it disappear and reappear several yards down the track. I’ve not heard anyone lately tell of seeing the light, but at one time it was a regular Saturday night pastime. Cars lined up along the roads intersecting the tracks and waited for a glimpse of the poor railway worker’s ghost swinging his lantern.
(4) Date received: Sun, 3 Sep 2000
The story of the Crossett light in Crossett, Arkansas is true. The light will appear out of nowhere at railroad crossings. I have not seen the light but have heard several stories. One friend claims that he and friends drove a truck alongside of the rail road tracks and when they got close, the battery in the truck died and that they took off running for dear life. I have also heard that scientists say it is just a gas pocket or something, but I don’t think anyone can really explain the cause. Some say that a man was decapitated by a train on those tracks and it is his lantern light that is glowing, but hey, who really knows.
(5) Date received: Sat, 09 Feb 2002
It has been a while (about 25 years) since my nephew told me this story. When he was in his twenties, he and a few of his friends decided to go take a look at what they believed was just a story about something that didn’t exist.
He said that you can ask anywhere in Crossett and someone will tell you where to go to see the ghost light. So off they went in two cars. He said there were two roads that cross the tracks and the light appears on the tracks between the roads.
They parked both cars across the tracks, one on each road. Then they got out of the cars and started walking toward each other along the tracks. They thought they wanted to get it between them and get a good look at it.
He said that he took a few steps forward and suddenly saw a ball of light rising from the tracks ahead of him and (to use his terms) he had to argue with his feet because they wanted to carry him away from there.
The description that he gave me was of a round semi-opaque ball of light about two to two-and-a-half feet in diameter that was somewhat ragged on the bottom, as if it had sort of pulled itself loose. It floated above the tracks in place, and he watched it for a few seconds and then the fools from the other car started shooting at it and he did have to run then to get out of the line of fire.
He said he asked those guys if they thought they could kill it, but he was ready to leave anyway!
I believe this story because this person is pretty much a cynic about just about everything and he probably never told it to anyone except me. I laughed at him for a long time about it, because he finally found something that could scare him.
(6) Date received: Mon, 01 Apr 2002
I am 50 years old now, and I saw the Crossett Light twice, once when I was about eight years old and again at about 13 years old. I live in Texas, but on trips to visit relatives in Crossett, we would go out to the railroad tracks to view the infamous light. I’ve never witnessed anything else in my life “mysterious”, but “the light” is absolutely out there. The tracks are in the middle of nowhere, where no reflections or any other kind of light could explain it. As you are looking down the tracks, it appears. Sometimes it would change colors, but primarily it was white. It would change sizes, and the most incredible thing was that it would dart into the woods in a straight line, and you could see it hovering among the trees. Then, it would dart back, right in the middle of the tracks and just glow steadily. I have heard that scientists have studied it, and that Reader’s Digest wrote an article about it many years ago. I don’t know if either of these are facts. All I know is that the light was there, and to my knowledge it has never been explained.
(7) Date received: Sat, 23 Nov 2002
I have lived in Crossett my whole life (I’m now 44) and I have seen the light several times. It shows up along what used to be a rail line; the tracks were long ago taken up. I first saw it when I was about 12 years old. It literally jumped up from out of a bush by the roadside, and arced over my head, then down into the ground on the other side of the road.
The strangest sighting of it I ever had was back around 1979 or so. A friend and I were out riding and having a few beers and we decided to stop in the middle of the tracks and take a look. Sure enough, it was out and hovering over the tracks, showing a swinging motion like someone carrying a lantern. We sat and watched it for the better part of an hour and it never went out or stopped this motion the whole time.
My 12 year old daughter recently went on a hayride with friends and they saw it too. I have noticed over the years that it tends to show when there is a weather change coming on, usually when it is heading to overcast.
(8) Date received: Sun, 11 Jan 2004
This may enlighten those curious about the mystery of the Crossett light.
As a young boy my father told me of an unfortunate accident that happened behind our house about a mile down the dirt road. He told me that when he was a young boy about 12 years old he had gone down to the railroad tracks to see the Red Ball Express come through, as he did almost daily. On this day when he went to the tracks he noticed that as the train came closer the engineer was blowing his horn continuously and almost frantically. To his surprise, he could see a body lying on the tracks, and as the train got closer to the body, the horn blew a shrill whistle of danger but the man never moved.
As the legend has it, it is true that an older black gentleman fell asleep, passed out, or perhaps he was already dead. No one knows, but what we do know is that he did not move off the tracks as the Red Ball Express continued on its path, so perhaps that is why he wanders up and down the tracks.
The railroad tracks are no longer there and the Red Ball Express will not be seen, but if you’re one of the fortunate ones you may see the light that the older gentleman carries. The question is is he looking for his lost head or is he warning those that approach the train tracks of the once impending danger that caused his demise.
I have read all the Crossett light sightings and the Gurdon light sightings and I felt that it is my duty to shed some light on the strange and eerie lights. I know this to be the truth because my father was called to be a witness for Union Pacific Railroad that owned the Red Ball Express at the time, because of a lawsuit that was filed by the family of the deceased man.