Bragg Road – The Ghost Road of Hardin County, TX
Bragg road – the ghost road of hardin county.
“Mysterious ghost lights haunt this isolated road in the heart of the Big Thicket. A unique part of Hardin County is also one of its most mysterious, fascinating and out-if-way places: The Ghost Road. The Ghost Road is situated in the heart of the Big Thicket. It begins at a bend on Farm-to-Market Road 787 that is 1.7 miles north of the intersection of FM 787-770, near Saratoga.
Trees growing on both sides offer a natural canopy as drivers travel down the long dirt road. Its original name is the Bragg Road, named after the town that was in that area at one time. The name Ghost Road was attached in this century after a number of tales that center around a ghostly light that is said to be seen on certain occasions at night.
The section of area was just part of the Big Thicket, thick with native and underbrush. In 1902, Santa Fe Railroad hacked a survey line from Bragg to Saratoga, bought right-of-way and opened the Big Thicket forest with a railroad, and the Saratoga train began its daily trips to Beaumont, carrying people, cattle, oil and logs. When the area’s oil booms and virgin pine gave out, road crews pulled up the rails in 1934, the right-of-way was purchased by the county and the tram road became a county road.
Tales of a ghostly light gathered steam in the 1940’s, ’50s and ’60s as more people traveled to the road. Explanations on the Ghost Light (or Bragg Light as it was called originally by locals) are varied and descriptive. Some people believe the light is the reflection of car lights while scientists believe it is a gaseous substance. Of course the best explanations are left to the imagination.
One story about the light is that it is a mystical phenomenon that frequents areas where treasure is buried and that Spanish conquistadores are looking fo the golden treasure.
A story that really gives you chills, is the one about the husband looking for his bride. The story goes the couple was honeymooning at the Bragg Hotel, which used to be at the end of the road, and by mysterious circumstances the bride was murdered. The light is the groom who continues to search for his bride’s killer.
Whatever the light is, its presence, or the thought of its presence, has been powerful enough to generate enough interest to make sure the Ghost Road remains as it is, an important part of Hardin County history.
To reach the Ghost Road, take U.S. 69 at Kountze to FM 326, from there take the turn onto FM 770 which will take you diretly to Saratoga. Go through Saratoga and at a right on FM 787 turn, the Ghost Road is not far off the beaten path.”
This article contributed by The Silsbee Bee
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I have been down the road twice. Once in the 1960’s and the second time in 2005. It was the summertime and before we had air conditioning in our car, but everyone in the car was a bit scared so we kept the windows up. We did not see much on that evening trip, but when we got back to Beaumont, we found that on the passenger rear door handle was hanging a hook with cloth hanging from the part that is attached to the arm. 2005, I drove down the road in the late afternoon, it had rained that day and there was a light fog hanging low on the ground. I did see a light, but it was next to a house back in the woods. After passing the house, I drove past an old school bus parked on the side of the road. I pulled over to see if they were in trouble but no one was in the bus and it was locked. I took several photos of the bus and the license plate before leaving. Shortly I reached the end of the Ft. Bragg Road and turned around to drive back. The fog was beginning to get thicker and was not coming onto the road. I had checked the mileage on the location of the school bus, but when I got to the exact location. There was no bus, nor was there any tire prints. Then I began to look for the house in the woods and the pole light, but there was not house with a pole light. Driving all the way to the start of the road, I never passed a vehicle. Now I did see one coming towards me with their headlights on, but they never passed me and there was no roads for the car to turn onto, it just vanished. Looking forward to returning again this Halloween 2022.
My sister, her husband took my friend and I down Bragg road 1966. It was in January and a foggy night. We went to the road from the thicket, tx side off fm 1293. We didn’t have to wait too long for the light as it rose from the ground just a little ways from our car. Actually it looked like when a car light shines on an aluminum can. But it daced up and down went back and forth. It would go out, then come back..it was like it sat on the hood of the car. It was fun to watch not scary at all. I’ve been back several times, but those times were never like that first time. I plan to take my grandkids down Bragg road soon so hopefully the light will dance for them too.
We used to drive out there on the weekend nights, the lights were puzzling.
Never been, but definitely gonna go!! Any suggestions on the best time to go other than at night?
10-11:20 pm. I went last night and captured the light on camera. This was the second time I had went. The first time I didn’t see anything, but like night I seen the light 4-5 times.
I grew up in that area and been down Bragg too many times to count. Tried the baby powder thing too. Thought it was just a bunch of bs stories because the only thing I saw was some cars coming towards Bragg on 787 then lights would disappear when it rounded the curve. Late one night I was looking for my son because he was off on his 4 wheeler and wasn’t home when he was supposed to be. I was standing towards the end where Bragg meets 787 hollering for him because I didn’t want to get my truck muddy going down Bragg. I saw what I thought was my son’s headlights coming towards me. Then they disappeared, I hollered again to quit playing around n to get his butt home. The light came back on n started towards me again. At this time I realized that my son’s 4wheeler had 2 lights and this was only 1 AND I didn’t hear a vehicle of any kind running. Next thing I knew, the light got higher off the ground but still moving closer. I ran to my truck got my phone and thought I was recording it as it went out again, came back on, lowered to the ground, darted to the right and went back out again. I was very disappointed when I realized it didn’t record. The best times to go see things I think is on foggy or slightly rainy nights.
Me and my daughter out there on several occasions. One night we went to the end to turn around and we seen a car coming well we looked down at our phone and looked up and just that fast it was gone. We couldn’t believe it there were no side roads or trails to turn on! And another time we recorded where down by the train tracks I said the Indians are coming we’re being invaded by the Indians and when I played it back you can hear a male voice with a country slang say “ they ain’t gonna get us”
Grew up in Hardin County. As a teenager, fellow classmates and I would load up in the back of a pickup bed and cruise Bragg Rd. I saw this ‘almost’ every time we went. This was also a ‘hot spot’ for hayrides!
I’ve been there several times.. there’s more going on out there than just a little ghost light. Although we were followed by that as well. There are many spirits out there, some not so friendly. It’s a lovely drive. They also say if you put flour or baby powder on the trunk of your car and stop on the tracks, ghost children push you over them. You’ll just have to see for yourself 😉
I have experienced the lights myself my parents had property well my brother has it now in Big Thicket lake estates growing up in the summer we would go look for the lights if it moves thru your car your car won’t start
Melinda why did you leave me
Back in the early 60’s we would make trips to Bragg Road. We saw the lights many times. It wasn’t scarey, just puzzling.
I love Hardin County history. Thanks for the story
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3 Ghost Lights In Texas That You Have To See To Believe
Katie Lawrence is a Southeast Texas native who graduated 18th in her high school class with a GPA of 4.25. She attended college in the Houston area and began writing for OnlyInYourState in 2015. Today, Katie writes, edits, and performs several other tasks for OnlyInYourState and has never been more passionate about a job before. Outside of work, you can likely find her curled up on with a hot cup of coffee, practicing yoga, baking, or exploring the beautiful Lone Star State (in particular, the vast and mystical West Texas desert).
More by this Author
We still have a couple more days left until Halloween, and we have something perfect for you if you’re looking to squeeze in a last-minute activity. Surely you’ve heard of phenomena known as “ghost lights,” or unexplained orbs floating in the sky. Although most likely caused by swamp gas or other atmospheric occurrences, these events usually have a paranormal legend associated with them that will make the hair all over your body stand at attention. The following are three of these terrifying lights right here in Texas:
Have you ever witnessed any of these ghost lights? What do you think is the explanation for them?
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
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Big Thicket National Preserve
“ We were told there were not any Sundew carnivorous plants at this park, but we found one on our hike!!!!! ” in 2 reviews
“ We did a 7+miles hiking at the north end of the Preserve , which is also called the Turkey Creek trail . ” in 2 reviews
“ I highly recommend you have a decent set of tires for it though bc there are lots of potholes and mud ... ” in 2 reviews
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6102 Fm 420
Kountze, TX 77625
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Animals, plants, and fungi abound here. Stayed at an air bnb right near a turkey creek trailhead, and it was probably one of the most peaceful places I've ever been. The pitcher plant trail was awesome!
See all photos from Erika C. for Big Thicket National Preserve
We went camping for the first time here and I'm so glad we did. We went mid December and it was just beginning to drop temperatures so not mosquitoes or sweating. We found the perfect place to set up camp with no one around us but the coyotes. It was beautiful yet scary sleeping in the woods at night. We were able to witness thousands of pitcher plants the next morning. Their nature center is spectacular with all sorts of information about the Big Thicket. I would not want to camp anywhere else.
The preserve itself is fascinating enough...but my destination inside the preserve is supposedly the most haunted road in Texas! The preserve is seriously huge. I only visited a small part in particular but spent about 30-40 minutes driving THROUGH the preserve to get to the part I visited lol! But it's a gorgeous drive regardless! The preserve is really a fascinating phenomenon in and of itself...biologists have identified at least 8-10 different ecosystems existing all within the preserve....harmoniously! Of particular interest to me was the Ghost Road Scenic Drive (AKA Bragg Rd). It's an 8 mile stretch of dirt road that falls between Hwy 787 in Saratoga, Tx and Hwy 1293 in Bragg, Tx. It's famous for the haunting Saratoga Mystery Lights, among other ghostly and mysterious sightings and is reportedly the most haunted road in Texas! It's actually a "public park" in Hardin County...but this is no "park"...it's a surreal dirt road that's like driving through a creepy, never-ending tunnel surrounded by swamps and clearings. I saw an abandoned wheelchair and flashes of lights that made my stomach swim with butterflies! But they all turned out to be cars haha! So I didn't end up seeing any spirits or ghosties...but it was an interesting experience! I highly recommend you have a decent set of tires for it though bc there are lots of potholes and mud...Tropical Storm Hanna had just been through and it was nasty weather!
See all photos from Hannah S. for Big Thicket National Preserve
Beautiful park. We only stayed overnight as we were just passing through but what we saw of the park was very pretty. Lots of trees in our area. If we go back that way we would definitely stay again.
Be sure to stop by the visitor center first! Great info and Instagram-worthy photo op by the huge pitcher plant. Perfect for children. SO much info on carnivorous plants. We were told there were not any Sundew carnivorous plants at this park, but we found one on our hike!!!!! OMG We found a teeny teeny Pygmy Sundew! Smaller than a dime. Beautiful! Insects get trapped in the sticky dew, then the plant slowly devours the insects. Fascinating park. Great hikes. We camped here-- primitive camping, but the mosquitos and bugs were terrible. I ended up getting a spider bite on my leg that left a big black wound for six weeks. Eeeek. The place felt weirdly haunted while camping at night. But I'd definitely go back someday. Wonderful park.
See all photos from Pokemon Y. for Big Thicket National Preserve
The Big Thicket National Preserve is one of few great places to do hiking and camping at. The visitors Center was open on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and they gave us useful information and maps. The Preserve has different varieties of plants including pine and carnivorous plants. We did a 7+miles hiking at the north end of the Preserve , which is also called the Turkey Creek trail. We were able to see a great botanical diversity and the most fascinating, though, was the carnivorous plants. The Preserve has better trail than most parks I have hiked at both in the state of Texas and some National recreation Centers. We had a great experience on Saturday of the Thanksgiving.
See all photos from Tadesse T. for Big Thicket National Preserve
Fun park with some cool trails. Spiders like to make webs where you walk so watch out. Bring some bug spray too. If you're lucky you'll even see a woodpecker. Like everything else in the National Park Service, the staff here is very friendly and knowledgable. They obviously love their job and love wildlife. Make sure you check out the carnivorous pitcher plants and if you're super lucky, you'll see a bug go in!
Growing up in the Big Thicket and visiting the parents there often, I love this place. Stop by the Visitor's Center and enjoy the cool displays and full wall murals. The giant pitcher plant is pretty cool if I do say so. The movie is worth watching too. If nothing else, relax and cool down in the nice, cold theater for 10 minutes. For the kiddies, don't forget to get a Big Thicket coloring book and be part of the Junior Ranger Program, for free, of course. Once they complete a few little challenges they will receive a little ranger hat and badge. Take a walk down one of the trails such as the Kirby Trail, which is only a few miles down the road from the Visitor's Center and will allow views of Village Creek, or the Sundew Trail, which is excellent for families or a nice picnic lunch and will allow you to see Big Thicket's 2 carnivorous plants: the sundew and the pitcher plant. For those looking for a bigger adventure, you can rent canoes/kayaks from one of the area outfitters (info available at the Visitor's Center) and paddle Village Creek. Also, it is little known that the trails are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so grab a flashlight and take a night hike! Choose a night with a full moon, and you'll barely need a light. Tread lightly and you're sure to see and hear more wildlife than you do during the day. If you want to camp overnight in the Preserve, back country permits are available for free in the Visitor's Center. Please don't go camping without telling the park first, because even experienced hikers have gotten lost in the thicket. There is also a special place tucked off Village Creek where you can experience the pull of quick sand!
First off no park fee to get in which is pretty cool. There are 40 miles of hiking trails that are throughout this park, making it a great place to get a workout in. Been here about five times and only ran into ten or so other people. If you're jogging watch out for spiders.
I'm certain this address is wrong, here's the correct one: 6044 Farm to Market Road 420 Kountze, TX 77625-7841 I went with a couple of my buddies and ran the Woodlands Trail loop and had a pretty great time. I love a good trail run and Woodlands didn't disappoint. The trail is easy to navigate and great for walking or running. The scenery was great as we ran across bridges, over dirt and grass, but bugs were often an issue. Either way it was worth the drive out of Beaumont to take in a bit of nature and a great trail run.
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Pro Tip Albuquerque, New Mexico is the closest large city to El Paso. In Texas, San Antonio is the closest major city to El Paso, nearly an eight-hour drive east.
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Haunted Places in Kountze, Texas
Light of Saratoga - Bragg Road Ghost Lights
The Ghost Light is known to appear and disappear at night without a known cause. Some attribute the phenomena to swamp gas; others say it is the spirit of a railroad worker who was decapitated in a train accident and is searching for his head. The light is said to ...
Forest Lawn - Kissing Statue
Legend has it that at night at this cemetery, two statues awaken and kiss. So the story goes, if you shine car bright headlights on the man and woman statues from the driveway that runs behind them, they will come to life, turn around, and kiss. Another point of note ...
Security Cameras picked up a creepy shadow on the wall of the 2nd floor. There are no windows down this hall, and the camera was only activated by motion. Ghost hunters came to check this out and what they found was astonishing. The hotel is currently closed, ...
Lamar University - Sigma Phi Epsilon
Local tales say this house, purchased by the university in the 1980s, was once a dream house built by a farmer. After the farmer passed, it fell into disrepute as a brothel. Now a frat house, a ghost named Chester is said to reside here, making himself known by knocking, ...
The Historic Ott Hotel
This 1928 historic hotel is said to be haunted by several spirits. Two are thought to be Anna and Joshua, a couple who were killed under mysterious circumstances while Anna was having an affair in the hotel in 1930. Oddly enough, they were said to have been killed by the ...
Ghost Lady of West 7th St
Port arthur, texas.
It is said that one night, a woman was decapitated here as she was trying to cross the train's path while it was stopped. Folks say her ghost can be seen walking down the tracks.
The 1845 plantation-style mansion was formerly owned by surveyor general Thomas Jefferson Chambers, who was shot dead through a ground floor window in 1863. Local folk say that a shadow has been seen pacing the downstairs room where he was assassinated, and screams have been heard coming from the ...
Big Woods Cemetery
Shadows and electrical interference are the two big ticket items to look for when visiting Big Woods cemetery.
Cork Grinders Wine and Coffee Bar
I own a wine, craft beer and coffee bar in the historic district of Baytown, Texas. Our building is very eclectic and was built in the late 1920's. It was originally a theater (The Texan Theater). My staff and I sense a paranormal presence on a regular basis. Recently we ...
This small residential property is believed to be haunted. It was apparently a former sector of a nursing home, before conversion to a one story house. Former resident reported being attacked by an aggressive entity, and of seeing a shadowy apparition running through the hallways at night. (Submitted by Callum Swift)
Huntsman Chemcial Plant
In the administrative building of the chemical plant, the apparition of a tall pale man has been seen wandering the corridors. He is believed to be a former worker who died in an explosion here. Doors open and close by themselves, and night patrol staff have reportedly been followed by ...
Lake charles, louisiana.
Calcasieu Courthouse is said to be haunted by Toni Jo McQuiston (born Annie Beatrice McQuiston), a murderess and the only female to die in Louisiana’s electric chair. Toni was a beauty but a tough girl, into drugs and prostitution. But after she fell in love with Claude Henry (nicknamed Cowboy)at ...
Wunsche Brothers Cafe and Saloon
A benign and lively ghost apparently haunts this cafe in Spring, Texas. The ghost is believed to be the original owner Charlie Wunsche. Although the ghost appears more inclined to mischievous pranks - holding doors closed, hiding items and messing with electronics- he has been sighted by employees ...
First Line Apartments
The apparition of a woman in white haunts the apartment complex. She has been seen pacing the hallways and walking in and out of rooms in owners suites. She has also been seen by motorists staring down into the street late at night. Residents have reported hearing strange noises and ...
Cinemark Tinseltown 17 and XD
This spot, as urban legend tells it, is haunted by the apparitions of a small boy and a man. They were said to have died in a trailer park long ago when one was murdered and the other burned to death in a fire. Witnesses have also heard voices and ...
Midnite Slice is housed in the original Seabrook Post Office. Reports include doors opening and closing by themselves and a broken oven timer ringing. Alarms going off by themselves. A woman visited Midnite Slice claiming her the ghost of her mother was at the location and she stopped by to visit. While ...
H.E.B. - Auto Zone
This site formerly was an H.E.B. grocery, and is now an Auto Zone. The ghost of a little girl has been seen walking in the back warehouse. Before the location was bought by H.E.B., it was there that she was murdered after being kidnapped.
Point Bolivar Lighthouse
Bolivar peninsula, texas.
According to legend, the keepers son killed his family now he haunts the grounds trying to find his dead parents. this 116 foot black lighthouse was built in 1872 but is no longer in use. (Submitted by Nathaniel)
Supposedly rife with spirited activity. The haunting tales usually center around an elevator shaft where one or more people plunged to their deaths.
The unoccupied second floor is the site of most of the haunting claims. People report ghostly footsteps and items moving as well as the full-body apparition of a large black male ghost.
Jefferson Davis Hospital
The hospital opened in 1925, and it had been built over an 1840s city cemetery that held thousands of graves. Many were unmarked, suspected to be cholera and yellow fever victims. Although some gravesites were moved, it is said that the actual remains were not transferred along with them. The ...
Jefferson Davis Hospital - Elder Street Artists Lofts
Elder Street Artists Lofts, formerly the Jefferson Davis Hospital, is said to be haunted by deceased hospital patients. The activity here is said to stem from the fact that the site was built over an 1800s cemetery where about 3,000 Civil War and yellow fever victims were buried. Before the ...
Bob Casey Federal Courthouse
This courthouse is said to be haunted by a former judge who died after complications from surgery. Apparently, unable to let his work go, even after death, he continues to haunt the building. People claim that his chambers are colder than the rest of the building (no reports ...
Old Downtown Library - Julia Ideson Building
Reported to be haunted by the ghost of a former caretaker and his dog.
At this cemetery where renowned General Sam Houston is buried, there is a statue commonly called "Black Jesus." According to legend, the bronze statue was erected over the grave of a 5-year-old boy, and it sooned turned deep black. No amount of cleaning could restore the color of the statue. ...
Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville - Walls Unit
Although it hasn't been in use since the 1950s, this unit, an abandoned death row, is said to be haunted. Witnesses describe apparitions and unexplained sounds here as well as on the nearby catwalk; it is reported that on one Halloween, a correctional supervisor recorded the sound of a disembodied ...
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
Said to be haunted, the Woodland Home at this museum site is a bit of a mystery. Folks say from the loft you can hear the sounds of unseen people walking beneath you and even see their footprints in the gravel below, leading to the house. It is said that ...
Steam Boat House
The Steam Boat House on the Park Grounds of the Museum. It is located behind and off to the side of the Gift Shop. Sam Houston lived, died, and was funeralized in this house. Vague reports of paranormal activity here but no solid details. (Submitted by Tabitha)
Some say if you drive down the street slowly you will see black figures begin to follow the car and see handprints appear on the windows. The car will feel very cold in spots.
2309 Wichita Street
The unusually pointy and turreted private home at 2309 Wichita St., made up of half-timbered gables, spires and rooftop decks, is rumored to be haunted, perhaps by former owner and former VA nurse Charles Fondow, who passed away in 2011 in a Barbados hospital at age 64 after becoming ill ...
The Victorian Inn
The third floor Zachary Suite - in king bedroom an unseen woman hums a happy tune. In the living room, a man whistling and being touched on the shoulder has been reported. In the queen room someone reports being touched on the back from shoulder to shoulder. On the ...
The Bishop's Palace was finished in 1893, and was survived the Great Hurricane of 1900. Rumour has it the protective former owner, Walter Gresham, still haunts the place, and has been known to appear during freak weather events. Witnesses say his spirit appears agitated, pacing back and forth across ...
Miss Bettie, daughter of the historic Ashton Villa's first owner James Moreau Brown, is rumored to have haunted the house since its 1975 restoration. Her apparition has been seen in a long turquoise dress on the second-floor landing. Her pianist sister may be here too, some say, because the piano ...
1895 Moody Mansion
This 1895 mansion is open to the public for tours. Visitors have reported disembodied footsteps and apparitions which have shown up in photographs. (Submitted by Callum Swift)
Van Alstyne House
The 1891 'Gingerbread House' housed an antiques store for many years, until the owners left due to the overwhelming paranormal activity. Reports ranged from tables being flipped over by unseen hands to a foreign voice that told a visitor that he would die if he didn't leave right away. (Submitted ...
Said to be the oldest hotel on the island, Hotel Galvez has a haunted room 505. Reports say that very few people actually stay all night in that room, because there is an eerie presence that makes them feel uncomfortable. The mysterious scent of gardenias is said to be a ...
Michael B. Menard House
The 1838 historic mansion is the oldest house in town, and may be one of the most haunted. A former owner would hold séances in the house until his death, and supposedly encountered a number of spirits from a bygone era. However, most of the ghosts haunting this place ...
Martha Chapel Cemetery - Demon's Road
Bowden Road is called Demon's Road by some locals, because of all the hauntings that have been reported here. It leads to Martha Chapel Cemetery. Locals warn visitors here not to provoke the spirits, as ghosts have been known to follow visitors home. A hand reportedly came up out of ...
The ghost of a girl apparently haunts the apartment complex. There's a story of her ghost seeking revenge and killing her unfaithful boyfriend but the story is so obviously the product of an overactive, watched-too-many-B-movies mentality that we can't be bothered to reproduce here. Just because one believes ...
An former housekeeper reported that she felt a happy presence in the house, and described a gentle pressure upon her body while in the attic. She encountered a negative feeling in the cellar.
Patterson Road Bridge
At this bridge on Patterson Road, which runs between Highway 6 and Eldridge, visitors have experienced some strange events. It is said that if you park your car on it at night, you will hear tapping all over it. The spirits doing it are reported to be ghostly soldiers who ...
Stephen F. Austin State University - Mays Hall 11
According to some reports, the building was once a hospital with a morgue in the basement. Other reports say the city hospital did not actually have a morgue in the basement. A 1940s-era ruined bomb shelter is said to be one one end. An eerie, negative feeling is said to ...
Stephen F. Austin State University - Griffith Hall
On the third floor, rumor has it that a female student once jumped out the window after playing with a Ouija board. Her ghost causes the lights in the shower room to flicker at the same time every night, at the exact time she died. Her apparition has been seen ...
A ghost named Chester haunts the theater building, who is rumored to have been an architect of the building, but passed away before its completion. Legend has it that the building was erected backward and he killed himself in disgrace. His ghost has manifested as a face on a stage ...
Employees here have witnessed footstep sounds and elevators opening by themselves. Objects have been reported to move and disappear, reappearing in different places.
Old Greenhouse Road
Urban legend has it that if you turn off your headlights and drive around the corner to the bridge slowly, a mist will form into person-shape. It is said to be the spirit of an older woman who died in a car accident here.
One of the numerous La Llorona or "weeping woman" haunting claims.
The 1830 Magnolia Plantation has a main plantation house, slaves' quarters, store, blacksmith shop and slave hospital. The site, built by Ambrose Lecomte II and his wife Julia Buard, is now owned by the National Park Service and is believed to be haunted by mistreated slaves. Reports say that the ...
Northwestern State University Campus
A ghostly woman that students call Isabella is reported to haunt the campus.
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Bigfoot Is Hiding in the Big Thicket
By Michael Hardy April 30, 2014 Published in the May 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine
Image: Tom Burnette
We’re resting on a log in the Big Thicket, enjoying the silence.
“Do you notice anything?” asks our guide, Rob Riggs.
We notice that there aren’t any birds chirping and wonder if that’s normal.
“No,” Riggs says. He listens carefully. “It is pretty quiet. Well, we may have one around.”
This reminds us of something the 68-year-old said earlier in the day, over coffee in his sister’s kitchen. “One of the things that will often happen in a Bigfoot encounter is that things will go dead silent in the woods—all the insects and the birds will go quiet for unknown reasons. And that ain’t natural.”
Author Rob Riggs has been hunting Bigfoot for over 30 years, and he's finally found him — right here in Texas!
We’re in the middle of the woods in snake country, on a log beside a rotund man wearing a camouflage baseball cap and a magnetic bracelet, and we are afraid.
Riggs tells us that he first heard legends of a giant ape marauding through the woods of East Texas while growing up in Sour Lake, a small town just outside the Big Thicket. This was in the ’50s, when the beast was known variously as Booger, Hairy Wild Man, Swamp Beast, Old Mossy Back. No name really stuck until later in the decade, when a creature of similar description was discovered in northern California, a creature soon dubbed Bigfoot.
At first, Riggs discounted the stories. “I just assumed there was some kind of reasonable explanation for these sightings, that it wasn’t possible that there was any kind of hairy monster in the woods.” He left home for college and didn’t move back to East Texas until 1979, when he became a reporter for the Kountze News, the largest publication in Kountze (Wikipedia: “home to the world’s only known pair of married armadillos”).
When Riggs ran a notice in the paper calling for stories of unusual sightings in the woods, he was deluged with letters. A teenage girl claimed that a giant ape had chased her away from a cemetery. A couple in a car on Ghost Road—the local lovers’ lane—reported that Bigfoot jumped on their hood, forcing the man, who fortunately had his shotgun handy, to scare the creature away by firing at it through the front windshield.
From these accounts, Riggs concluded that there was at least one large, hairy beast walking around area forests (in conversation, he estimated the animal’s size at eight feet tall and 1,000 pounds), and in 2001 he published his findings in a book, In the Big Thicket: On the Trail of the Wild Man. Two books later, Riggs now believes that Bigfoot(s) use bioradiational energy and telepathic powers to hide from humans, a theory he unfolds in his just-released opus Bigfoot: Exploring the Myth and Discovering the Truth. (Llewelyn, its publisher, specializes in “the very best in metaphysical books and resources.”) Bigfoots must use something, otherwise Riggs would have seen one during the more than three decades he’s been looking.
It’s true: Riggs remains Bigfoot-less to this day, although he did hear a howl once while camping overnight in the Big Thicket. (“There’s no way I can adequately describe how loud that was.”) His friend Tom Burnette, who lives in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, has been luckier. A fellow Bigfoot scholar and the co-author of Riggs’s new book, Burnette claims to have photographed the elusive beast twice with motion-activated cameras. Some might say that the pictures depict 1) the backside of a bear, and 2) a blob that could be anything, but they are wrong. It is Bigfoot.
Riggs would like photos of his own, of course, and to that end has moved into a Chaparral camper on the edge of the Thicket in order to mount cameras and set out bait.
But for now, his only option is to wait, watch, and listen. He sits, ever hopeful, on a log in the woods, listening to the wind and scanning the horizon for movement. We do the same. For quite some time. It takes a woodpecker to break the silence.
“Man, I’d give my right nut for one to show up,” Riggs says, sighing wistfully.
Big Thicket National Preserve
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Big Thicket National Preserve - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)
21888 Ghost Rd
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The most haunted road in Texas lies... - Big Thicket National Preserve
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- Big Thicket National Preserve
This was an amazing national Park preserve. We watched the 15-minute movie and took a nice walk... read more
The Visitor Center has excellent displays and models. I enjoyed seeing the plant display that... read more
The most haunted road in Texas lies inside!
The preserve itself is fascinating enough...but my destination inside the preserve is supposedly the most haunted road in Texas! The preserve is seriously huge. I only visited a small part in particular but spent about 30-40 minutes driving THROUGH the preserve to get to the part I visited lol! But it’s a gorgeous drive regardless! The preserve is really a fascinating phenomenon in and of itself...biologists have identified at least 8-10 different ecosystems existing all within the preserve....harmoniously! Of particular interest to me was the Ghost Road Scenic Drive (AKA Bragg Rd). It’s an 8 mile stretch of dirt road that falls between Hwy 787 in Saratoga, Tx and Hwy 1293 in Bragg, Tx. It’s famous for the haunting Saratoga Mystery Lights, among other ghostly and mysterious sightings and is reportedly the most haunted road in Texas! It’s actually a “public park” in Hardin County...but this is no “park”...it’s a surreal dirt road that’s like driving through a creepy, never-ending tunnel surrounded by swamps and clearings. I saw an abandoned wheelchair and flashes of lights that made my stomach swim with butterflies! But they all turned out to be cars haha! So I didn’t end up seeing any spirits or ghosties...but it was an interesting experience! I highly recommend you have a decent set of tires for it though bc there are lots of potholes and mud...Tropical Storm Hanna had just been through and it was nasty weather!
The claim for this park is that it is located at an ecological crossroad providing a "remarkable diversity of plants and animals". The 15 irregularly shaped tracts which comprise the 112,00 acres in this preserve are scattered over a large area. There are some developed trails, but even the most highly touted trails traverse cut-over forested areas with limited interest. Perhaps the diversity of bird life was low because of the time of year (February), but bird life was neither numerous nor diverse. There might be ecological diversity, but the inclusion of these disparate units in the national park system is questionable.
Nice, forested, and relatively quiet park. We stopped briefly at the visitor center and then went for a short walk at the Kirby Nature Trail down the road. I love how dense the “thicket” is.
I think this is one of those NPS units which is more about retaining the remains of an important eco-system than entertaining the public (not that there's anything wrong with that!) People should note that it is a "National Preserve" and not a "National Park." As a place to visit it is okay but not terribly interesting and doesn't offer the sights or experiences which people might expect. What is, perhaps, more interesting (although very sad) is the area around Big Thicket much of which is filled with communities of the rural poor -- broken down homes and RVs, which offer a glimpse of a part of America that many people don't really know about. (Please excuse the ignorance of the commenter above who seemed to be offended by having to see all this on the way to visit the Preserve.)
We stopped at the visitors center to gather information before our trail hikes. This stop is necessary to understand the enormity of the park and the trails. The park ranger offered advice, since we only had one day to hike. The trails he suggested were perfect and well marked. The information on the trails was helpful as well for identifying the different ecosystems. Bug spay is a must and watch out for the webs across the trails as well as the large snakes.
Begin at the visitor’s center for an overview of the Big Thicket. Be sure to talk to a park ranger about activities and maps for the preserve. We hiked the Pitcher Plant Trail and really enjoyed seeing the carnivorous plants. The trail is a one-mile loop, the first part is paved or a boardwalk, with the last 2/3 being a dirt trail through the woods. The pitcher plants are all located along the boardwalk. You will need to drive a few miles on a well-maintained gravel road to reach the trailhead. Free admission. There are restrooms and a gift shop at the visitor’s center.