Tuesday – May 5, 2015
The Marfa Lights
We visited Marfa, Texas this evening to view the Marfa Mystery Lights. The lights are said to appear at dusk each evening. We arrived at the Visitor Center around 7:00 p.m. It was still light, so we patiently waited with several other visitors for the sun to set. The sun set at around 8:30 p.m. Around 9:00 p.m. we started to see white and red lights dancing about in the distance. Some visitors who had witnessed the lights on previous visits said those were not the lights. Others were not convinced. We will make a return visit on Thursday night to judge for ourselves what we see. We will spend the night there in our Casita Trailer, so we will have plenty of time to observe the lights.
For generations the mysterious Marfa Lights have defied explanation of their true nature. The Marfa Mystery Lights are visible on many clear nights between Marfa and Paisano Pass as one looks towards the Chinati Mountains. The lights may appear in various colors as they move about, split apart, melt together, disappear and reappear.
The earliest reported sighting was in 1883 when a young cowhand, Robert Reed Ellison, saw a flickering light while he was driving cattle through Paisano Pass and wondered if it was the campfire of Apache Indians. He was told by other settlers that they often saw the lights, but when they investigated they found no ashes or other evidence of a campsite.
Cowboys herding cattle on the prairies noticed the lights and in the summer of 1919 rode over the mountains looking for the source, but found nothing. During World War II pilots training at the nearby Marfa Air Field looked for the source of the elusive lights from the air, again with no success.
Apache Indians believed these eerie lights to be stars dropping to the earth.
Many viewers have theories ranging from scientific to science fiction as they describe their ideas of aliens in UFO’s, ranch house lights, St. Elmo’s fire, or headlights from vehicles on U.S. Highway 67, the Presidio highway. Some believe the lights are an electrostatic discharge, swamp gases, moonlight shining on veins of mica, of ghosts of Conquistadors searching for gold.
An explanation as to why the lights cannot be located is an unusual phenomenon similar to a miracle, where atmospheric conditions produced by the interaction of cold and warm layers of air bend light so that it can be seen from afar, but not up close. Whatever they are, they have a simple, mysterious beauty all of their own.
The mystery of these lights still remains unsolved.
In recent years the lights have become a tourist attraction. The Texas Highway Department has constructed a roadside Visitor Center parking area nine miles east of Marfa on U.S. Highway 90 for visitors to view the curious phenomenon.
We departed Marfa at 9:30 p.m. This region of Texas has the darkest skies, due to minimal light from the surrounding small towns. The roads at night in this area are fraught with danger from wild animals lurking about and crossing the roads. So, the 30-mile drive to our campground was slow and on high alert for any animal activity within the area of our headlights.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.