Mystery Lights in the Desert of West Texas

by Ragtimelil

A real unsolved mystery is still occurring near Marfa, Texas.

If you decide to visit the Big Bend area in West Texas, consider visiting a local nightspot near Marfa. There's no music or refreshments, but there are plenty of bright lights along a deserted stretch of road. So many people have stopped to watch the mysterious Marfa Lights as they are called, that a large viewing platform was built to accommodate visitors.

The First Written Account

In 1883 a lone cowboy rode behind a herd of cattle that was driving near Paisano Pass about 26 miles west of the settlement of  Alpine, Texas. He camped during the night and suddenly saw some flickering lights toward the south west. Robert Reed Ellison was afraid that he was seeing  Apache campfires. When he investigated later, there was no sign of any human activity. 
He was the first recorded person to see the Marfa lights, but not the first to actually see them. Native Americans said that it was the spirit of Chief Alstate who wandered the region after offending a tribal God. 
Early settlers and cowboys on the trail had been seeing the lights for years but no one could explain them. During WWI residents were afraid that the lights were meant to signal an invasion in the area.  During WWII pilots tried to discover the source of the lights with no success. Investigators have walked out into the desert, only to find dirt, rocks and sand. 

The Lights

The lights have been described by some as red, yellow or bluish colored, usually in pairs or one startling white light about the size of basketballs. They are usually described as orbs that bounce around and vanish only to appear again elsewhere. The colors can change and they can split in two and then reassemble
The lights have also been observed by passing planes. In February of 1988, a pilot by the name of R. Weidig was flying at about 8,000 feet around 20 miles from Alpine, Texas when he spotted the lights drifting up. He said they would just float up and disappear.
 Common explanations are headlights coming from cars on US Highway 67/90. But the lights appear far from the highway. Others say there probably is an uranium deposit in the ground. No uranium deposit has ever been found. Experts have discounted the idea that there is swamp gas Many investigators who have tried to get close to them only to have them dash away get the feeling that they are conscious and taunting them.
An attempt to find the light's source was  made by Walter T. Harris at the end of the 1800s. He used a surveyor's method of triangulation to plot the exact location of the lights. According to his calculations, the lights originated far away in Mexico behind the Chinatis Mountains. They would have been impossible to see from where he took the readings.

The Viewing Platform

The lights are reported to appear each evening south of Marfa, Texas. Some residents get a friendly feeling from them and don't particularly want the mystery solved. There is one explanation that makes some sense. I'm afraid I'm one of the people who love a mystery and would rather not see it explained away, but if you're of a mind to see the best explanation I've come across, you can visit this site.
I would love to see the lights myself and visit the new viewing center complete with viewing binoculars and bathrooms.


Visitors can see the lights any evening. Labor Day Weekend is celebrated as the Marfa Lights Festival in Marfa, Texas.

Updated: 02/14/2013, Ragtimelil
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Light Comments

Ragtimelil on 05/27/2013

Oh, I don't think we're the only ones out here. I'm just not sure they're putting on a light show in Marfa Texas. I could be wrong, though. Mhhhuuuuauauauauaua

katiem2 on 05/27/2013

Regardless it seems to me a bit outrageous to think we living beings here on earth are the only thing out here... I'd like to hear more about this too...

Ragtimelil on 05/27/2013

Thanks. I'd love to find out that it's aliens, or ghosts or something. but I suspect it's some sort of natural phenomena. But it's fun to speculate.

katiem2 on 05/27/2013

Hmmm an interesting phenomenon who knows for sure, great article.

Ragtimelil on 05/26/2013

Possible. But they seem to appear just about every night.

frankbeswick on 05/26/2013

I suspect that the lights are an electrical phenomenon akin to ball lightning.

Ragtimelil on 05/26/2013

I never did either and I live in Texas! Thanks.

MikeRobbers on 05/26/2013

Never heard about that case before but it's quite an interesting story.

Ragtimelil on 02/21/2013

Me too. I want to go out and see them. Only 17 hours away from me. Ready for a road trip? (you have to bring your own car....)

JoHarrington on 02/21/2013

My curiosity is so piqued now! I want to know what they are!

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