Every once in a while, near the Old Bragg Road that runs through the heart of the Big Thicket in northeast Texas’ Piney Woods region, a mysterious light appears.
Some folks call it the Big Thicket Light. Others call it the Saratoga Light. But no one’s ever been quite able to explain it.
The Old Bragg Road used to be a railroad bed with rocks and earth mounded up to keep the tracks dry. The rails were removed in 1934, but the high ground still made for dry travel through the dense woods of the Big Thicket.
The light was reported even before the tracks came up, but interest peaked in the 1960s when a newspaperman from Kountze, Texas began running front-page stories about the phenomenon which quickly went viral. People began to visit the area and wander down the Old Bragg Road, hoping to see for themselves.
Descriptions varied, as did theories about the origins of the ghostly glow.
Some said the lights were just a reflection cast by passing cars on their way to Saratoga.
Others hypothesized that it was foxfire or “fairy fire” caused by a bioluminescent enzyme is some species of fungi that feed on decaying wood. Plenty of that around, for sure!
Still others wondered if it might be caused by some sort of gas seeping up from the bog–will-o’-the-wisp they called it, or ignis fatuus–“foolish fire.”
Then folks’ felt inspired by the opportunity to share a really good yarn. Maybe the light was the glow of treasure, buried by some Spanish conquistador who never returned to find it. Or maybe it was the waning lantern of some long-ago hunter, still hoping to find his way through the dense swamp. Perhaps it was a bit of fire that never quite burned out after Confederate soldiers torched the thicket to flush out Jayhawkers who wouldn’t join the Southern cause. Or could it be it was the ghost of one of those Jayhawkers shot during the Kaiser Burnout, or the crew of Mexican road workers whose foreman killed them rather than paying their wages, or of a railroad worker who fell across the tracks and lost his head?
And then there were the practical ones who insisted that both the lights and the theories were all figments of other people’s overactive imaginations. They hadn’t seen a thing!
What do you think?