A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

Recent entries:
Entry in progress—BP (1/28)
Entry in progress—BP (1/28)
Entry in progress—BP (1/28)
Entry in progress—BP (1/28)
Entry in progress—BP (1/28)
More new entries...

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Entry from June 18, 2008
Marfa Lights

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Marfa lights
The Marfa lights or the Marfa ghost lights are unexplained lights (known as “ghost lights") usually seen near U.S. Route 67 on Mitchell Flat east of Marfa, Texas, in the United States.

These lights in this area have persisted all through the 1800s, and they continue today. These reports often describe brightly glowing basketball size spheres floating above the ground, or sometimes high in the air. Colors are usually described as white, yellow, orange or red, but green and blue are sometimes reported. The balls are said to hover at about shoulder height, or to move laterally at low speeds, or sometimes to shoot around rapidly in any direction. They often appear in pairs or groups, according to reports, to divide into pairs or merge together, to disappear and reappear, and sometimes to move in seemingly regular patterns. Their sizes are typically said to resemble soccer balls or basketballs.

Sightings are reported occasionally and unpredictably, perhaps ten to twenty times a year. There are no reliable reports of daytime sightings; the lights seem to be a nocturnal phenomenon only.

According to the people who claim to have seen the lights, they may appear at any time of night, typically south of U.S. Route 90, and 67, five to fifteen miles east of Marfa, at unpredictable directions and apparent distances. They can persist from a fraction of a second to several hours. There is evidently no connection between appearances of the Marfa lights and anything else besides nighttime hours. They appear in all seasons of the year and in any weather, seemingly uninfluenced by such factors. They sometimes have been observed during late dusk and early dawn, when the landscape is dimly illuminated.

It is extremely difficult to approach an ongoing display of the Marfa lights, mainly due to the dangerous terrain of Mitchell Flat. Also, all of the land where the Marfa Lights are observed is private property, and access is prohibited without explicit permission from the owners. There are only a very few accounts of success in moving very close to observed lights, but those that exist generally describe objects resembling fireworks lacking both smoke and sound.
Skeptics discount paranormal sources for the lights, attributing them to mistaken sightings of ordinary nighttime lights, such as distant vehicle lights, ranch lights, or astronomical objects. A few suggest they have deliberately been given a paranomal mystique designed to attract tourist business to this remote west Texas area, pointing out that it wasn’t until July 1957 that the earliest published account of the Marfa lights, “The Mystery of the Texas Ghost Light,” by Paul Moran, appeared in Coronet Magazine.

Critics, challenging this account, note that the designated “viewing area” is located at the site of Marfa Army Airfield, where tens of thousands of personnel were stationed between 1942 and 1947, training American and Allied pilots. This massive field was then used for years as a regional airport, with daily airline service. Between Marfa AAF and its satellite fields—each constantly patrolled by sentries—they consider it unlikely that any actual phenomena would have remained unobserved and unmentioned.

28 September 1960 Cumberland (MD) Evening Times, “Ghost Light of North Texas Still Puzzles After Century,” pg. 18, cols. 6-7:
Almost a century has passed since the settlers of Texas’ Big Bend National Park first reported a mysterious light. It glittered like a weird eye from an isolated peak in the Chinati Mountains.

Time has not dimmed its brilliance; travelers along U.S. Highway 90, between Alpine and Marfa, can still see it plainly most any night. Strangely enough, no one even now knows what it is, where it originates, or why it shines.

Countless persons have searched for this ghost light without success. When it is approached from the air or across the searing floor of the desert, it suddenly vanishes.

At night the strange light twinkles in the distance like a star that has come to rest on the mountain slope. An Indian legend has it that it is a campfire kindled by an ancient Apache ghost condemned to roam the high mountain trails forever.

It is pale compared with the light of a star and often appears as a double light. And one minute it can be a tiny, almost invisible sparkle, the next a vivid splash brighter than any automobile headlight. At other times, there is no light at all.

One explanation is that the light is a reflection of the moon from an undiscovered mica vein. But to allow a reflection to move, the vein would have to be a large exposed lode which would almost certainly have been discovered long before now.

Others think that luminous gas, similar to the kind known as “swamp gas,” might be responsible.

Some believe that the light is a mirage. It’s true that inverse images require a special type of stratified air such as abounds in the Chinatis.

It is also true that mirages are reflections of distant artificial lights. And 100 years ago the brightest light in this part of America was a kerosene lantern.

Some day, perhaps, someone will unravel the mystery. But for one century, at lest, the Chinati Mountains have guarded their secret well.
-- H. N. Ferguson

5 March 1967, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Off Beaten Trail” by Ed Syers, pg. 8A, col. 4:
San Antonio’s Ralph Martin: “Will pass Marfa on vacation. What’s the story behind ‘The Old Ghost Light” shown on the latest Sinclair map, between Alpine and Marfa? (Note: Forwarding background on that never-completely-explained will o’ the wisp, mountainside light. Meantime, Marfans, what’s the latest on your Chinati Range phantom?

7 May 1967, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Off the Beaten Trail” by Ed Syers, pg. 4A, col. 6:
But this is not the ghostly Marfa light. Hear Austin’s Mrs. Michael Frary, whose husband is University of Texas Professor of Art: “Two years ago, we were loaned the 101 Ranch (adjoins Marfa’s airport, 9 miles toward Alpine). We’d go to the airport, watch the lights. There were quite a few. They’d zoom in and be big as a headlight, yet with no possible road to put them up the mountains, or they’d seem to bounce off the mountainside.

“We talked to many people, asked the mechanics at the airport how they could dare leave so much, unguarded. They said no one would dare come near the airport at night. Too many funny things happened there.

“The local story is that the Government built the runways for World War II pilot training and had to abandon them because, somehow, the pilots spun in. Washington sent down investigators with helicopters. They flew over the lights, which stayed bright until the observer was quite close, then vanished.

“Scientists ruled out marsh gas in the arid mountain country.
“Mike took photos last year, but somehow they didn’t come out. We’d love to hear any more information. But we definitely have seen the Marfa Ghost Lights.”

25 May 1967, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “Off the Beaten Trail” by Ed Syers, pg. 12A, col. 3:
Occasionally, my editors get after us for haunting a story too long, but ghosts are persistent, too; and now I see we’ve left out one important thing about the Phantom Lights of the Chinatis, south of Marfa. Are they good guys or bad? For example, you sure wouldn’t want to meet that headless, vengeful ghoul some dark night up near Stephenville.

Well, rest easy. These are definitely good ghosts, declares Sundown’s Mrs. W. T. Giddens, who was raised in the Chinatis.

“I’ve seen the ghost lights all my life and I can’t remember their causing harm (other than fright). They’re just curious, want to investigate things new to them, like the air base was during the war. They liked following you out in the pastures at night, seem drawn to people or stock...and animals don’t seem to fear them at all.”

15 June 1967, Victoria (TX) Advocate, pg. 4A, col. 6:
Fort Worth’s Edward B. Worley, Jr.: “Your columns about the Chinati Mountain (south of Marfa) phantom lights have been very interesting. I wonder if you know the same kind of phantoms occur in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina? There, was the original home of the Cherokee, driven west so long ago. Remnants escaped, hid in the mountains, now have a small reservation in the Smokies.

“The Smokies’ lights can be seen frequently on Brown Mountain. As with the Marfa lights, people have tried for years to catch them and learn what they are; the lights will not be caught.”

27 March 1975, El Paso (TX) Herald-Post, “Club Plans to Find Mystery Marfa Lights,” pg. C2, col. 1:
Coordinated observation of the mysterious “Marfa Lights” will be attempted by members of the Big Bend Outdoor Club and a team of engineers from Houston to determine the coordinates of the lights near the old Army base east of Marfa.

The “Marfa Lights” are an unexplained phenomenon observed for many years in the area near the old airbase. Points of light, varying in number, have been frequently noted to move erratically along or near the ground and to sometimes shoot up into the air. Many previous attempts to locate the source of the lights have failed.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (2) Comments • Wednesday, June 18, 2008 • Permalink