From eerie roads to creepy defunct hospitals, these spots—and the stories behind them—will send chills down your spine
For every person now alive, science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, there stand 30 ghosts, “for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living.” So it stands to reason that wandering spirits abound in a vast state like Texas. From the barren deserts of the west to the thick woodlands of the east, specters have been reported to haunt defunct hospitals, active schools, lonely highways, and thriving hotels. Whether you believe in the afterlife—or just enjoy a spine-tingling tale—you don’t have to look far in Texas for a haunting. Sometimes, you just need to look over your shoulder…
East Texas Bragg Road SARATOGA
Deep dark woods and an oft-seen but unexplained light? These are ideal ingredients for a good ghost story.
The Big Thicket is a dense, biodiverse forest region in East Texas. A few tribes, including the Alabama-Coushatta and Caddo, hunted around the edges, but it was essentially uncharted territory when Anglo settlers arrived in the 1830s seeking solitude to hunt and carve out subsistence farms. Swampy, dark, and difficult to penetrate, it was a destination for people who didn’t want to be found. Oil and lumber operations rendered the terrain more accessible, but the Big Thicket remains plenty dense and mysterious today.
In the heart of the Big Thicket is Hardin County, and in the heart of Hardin County is the infamous Bragg Road, home to countless sightings of the Ghost Road Light (aka Big Thicket Light, Saratoga Light, and Bragg Road Light) that appears to nighttime travelers on the road between Saratoga and the defunct village of Bragg Station.
Before the current road was built, the arrow-straight clearing served as Santa Fe Railroad’s branch line built in 1903. From its inception, locals considered the line haunted by Mexican laborers murdered by a thieving foreman; a recalcitrant deserter shot by Confederate soldiers; a hunter lost forever in the woods; and a decapitated railroad brakeman searching for his head. But all the stories share a common theme—a floating orb of light.
The road replaced the railroad tracks in 1934, but the light remained, seen by hundreds of people over the decades. In the 1960s, Archer Fullingim, iconoclast editor of The Kountze News, spread its notoriety in articles. National Geographic published a clear photo of the light in a 1974 feature about the Big Thicket. Texas folklorist Francis Abernethy documented sighting stories from old-timers and young folks alike.
In 1997, Hardin County designated Bragg Road as Ghost Road Scenic Drive Park. A pretty road through the woods in the daytime turns into a spooky spot for supernatural sightings by night. Word is the most auspicious times to see the light are on moonless autumn nights. Dare you go? –MM Pack