I vividly remember the first time I set out to see the Saratoga lights. My mom loaded up the family van with as many people as it could carry so we could experience a bona fide unsolved mystery.
Generations of locals say the lights are a periodic presence of unexplainable orbs and lights dancing up and down an old Big Thicket dirt road under a dark canopy of piney woods. My mom killed the headlights, and we crept along, holding our breath. My only comfort was that I was inside a locked car.
Bragg Road (aka Ghost Road) is a rite of passage in East Texas, between Beaumont and Livingston. It’s only about 8 miles long, originally a railroad spur used during the East Texas oil boom. Legend holds this run through swampy land was full of danger, and crews suffered numerous casualties from accidents, malaria and other perils. Some say those killed never left the work site.
The tracks and ties were removed in the 1930s, leaving a very straight road that anyone with a healthy dose of Lone Star courage can drive to see if the ghostly orbs appear. Some say they change colors. Others say they dart back and forth, even coming toward vehicles at light speed.
Naysayers believe they’re simply distant headlights, and scientists explain them as swamp gas. But nobody can explain everything that happens out there in the dark.
It took Mom over an hour to drive the entire length of Bragg Road. Every couple minutes she would yell, “Did you see that?” or “Whoa, that was beautiful.” As soon as I looked, the light (or whatever it was) would be gone.
By the end, I didn’t see a thing. But I did settle the fact that I was brave enough to travel the infamous Ghost Road.