The "Marfa Lights" Marfa, Texas


The Marfa lights, also known as the Marfa ghost lights, have been observed near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States. They have gained some fame as onlookers have ascribed them to paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, or will-o'-the-wisp, etc. However, scientific research suggests that most, if not all, are atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires.

According to Judith Brueske, "The 'Marfa Lights of west Texas have been called many names over the years, such as ghost lights, weird lights, mystery lights, or Chinati lights. The favorite place from which to view the lights is a widened shoulder on Highway 90 about nine miles east of Marfa...at this 'official Marfa Lights viewing site'. The lights are most often reported as rather distant bright lights distinguishable from ranch lights and automobile headlights on Highway 67 (between Marfa and Presidio, to the south) primarily by their aberrant movements." - Brueske, Judith (1989). The Marfa Lights. Ocotillo Enterprises. p. 7.

Referring to the Marfa Lights View Park east of Marfa, James Bunnell states, "you might just see mysterious orbs of light suddenly appear above desert foliage. These balls of light may remain stationary as they pulse on and off with intensity varying from dim to almost blinding brilliance. Then again, these ghostly lights may dart across the desert...or perform splits and mergers. Light colors are usually yellow-orange but other hues, including green, blue and red are also seen. Marfa Mystery Lights (MLs) usually fly above desert vegetation but below background mesas."

The first published account of the lights appeared in the July 1957 issue of Coronet magazine. In 1976, Elton Miles' Tales of the Big Bend included stories dating to the 19th century, and a photograph of the Marfa lights taken by a local rancher. The earliest anecdote commonly cited for the observation of the Marfa Lights is that of the cowboy Robert Reed Ellison in March 1883. This was while he was herding cattle through the Paisano Pass southwest across the Marfa plain. The lights were next reported in 1885 by Joe and Anne Humphreys. Both stories appear in Cecilia Thompson's book History of Marfa and Presidio County, Texas 1535-1946.

Several studies and any number of Skeptics have claimed that the Marfa Lights are either reflected car lights or atmospheric phenomenon. What they fail to explain is the reactivity of the lights. They react by moving closer or away as you attempt to approach them. The Lights have been reported long before autos were present and, after all this time, remain unexplained.


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