Ghost flames are a mysterious phenomenon also known as will-o'-the-wisp, spook lights, ghost lights, corpse candles, or orbs. Throughout the centuries, these lights have been attributed to fairies, elementals, ufos, and ghosts.
Famous Examples of Ghost Flame Sightings
The way ghost flames are reported depends upon the location and period when the sighting took place. For example, R.C. Maclagan wrote about such ghost lights in the Scotland Highlands in 1897 where lights were seen prior to deaths occurring at those locations. In these stories, the lights were referred to as "corpse candles" or "death candles". In 1902, newspapers reported a ghost flame appearing over a mountain where a woman's body was earlier found in a barrel. The people who lived in the villages and towns across the world where this phenomenon took place often attributed the flames to fairies. In other locations and throughout the years, these flames were also attributed to the following causes.
- Ghosts who were carrying lanterns
- Angelic apparitions
- UFO sightings
- Ball lightning
- Swamp gas
- Tectonic stress "earth lights"
The following are some of the more famous examples of ghost flame sightings.
The Big Thicket Light of Texas
The Big Thicket light, also known as the Saratoga Light, appears to travelers along Old Bragg Road in Hardin County, Texas. The road was originally a rail bed for a train that traveled from Bragg Station to Saratoga from 1901 through 1934. Lights were reported almost as soon as people started traveling through the area, and news reports about the lights started to increase starting in the 1960s. The National Geographic even published an article on the ghost flame in October 1974 with an actual photo of the light.
As is the case with most ghost flame sightings around the world, locals and investigators all offer their own theories. Skeptics believe the light is nothing more than car light reflections or swamp gas. Others believe that the light could be the ghosts of Spanish men coming back for buried treasure, the ghost of a man shot by Confederate soldiers or the apparition of a railroad man who was decapitated in a terrible train accident along this stretch of track. Although no one has been able to identify the source of the ghost flame, the photographic evidence and witnesses prove that the light is real.
Silver Cliff Cemetery Lights in Colorado
Silver Cliff is a very old mining town within Wet Mountain Valley just west of Pueblo, Colorado where strange ghost flames have been seen as early as 1890. Witnesses report lights floating throughout the Silver Cliff cemetery, and they describe the flames as glowing many different colors. The lights were witnessed so often that National Geographic published an article on the graveyard lights in August 1969. In the article, the author described seeing blue-white lights appear between the graves. As the lights were approached or a flashlight shone upon them, they disappeared. The National Geographic investigation revealed no explanation for the ghostly lights.
Yakima Indian Reservation Ghost Flames
Yakima Indian Reservation is located in the southern part of Washington state and covers roughly 3,500 square miles of both forest and flat land. The first reports were made by forest rangers in 1960, and most impressively Chief Fire Control Officer Bill Vogel reported a ninety-minute sighting of a mysterious ghost light in the sky over Toppenish Ridge. The officer reported that the light had a teardrop appearance (like a flame). Air Force investigators also became involved and gathered information on the light including photo and video footage. The lights attract both ghost enthusiasts and ghost hunters. Campers and Rangers observed and reported the greatest level of activity throughout the 1970s, and a number of witnesses even reported receiving telepathic messages from the lights as well as electrical devices failing.
The Hornet Spook Light in Missouri
Near the village of Hornet, Missouri, a remote road cuts through the countryside. This road is where witnesses have reported a mysterious light as early as 1866. The light is described as a ball of fire that travels along the middle of the road and also rises into the sky or waves left and right along the road like a lantern. The local history of this area is used to provide an explanation for the light. Some observers believe that the light could be a ghostly member of one of the local Indian tribes that were killed in the area long ago. Other historians believe that the light may be the ghostly lantern of a local miner whose children were kidnapped by Indians, and the miner's spirit continues to search for his lost children for eternity.
A number of writers and researchers have investigated and photographed the light through the years. A number of skeptical observers speculated that the light is likely caused by the headlights of cars traveling along a remote highway seen diffused through the trees. However, this theory doesn't explain why the light has been seen as early as the 1800s before cars were invented. The most significant investigation was conducted by author Raymond Bayless who, in October 1963, set up a telescope and camera to closely observe the light. Raymond and his team observed through the telescope that the edges of the light appeared to change color and shape like a "flame".
Ghost Flames in the Sky
Whether they are described as UFOs, fairies or ghosts, ghost flames have been witnessed and reported across the world and throughout history. So far, no researcher has been able to explain conclusively what causes the lights. Leading theories involve some kind of earthly geological phenomenon that generates the ghostly flames. However, just as many people believe that the spooky lights that dance across the land are, in fact, the lost spirits of the dead who roam the earth for eternity.