A Haunted History: Saratoga Lights, The Kissing Statue, and The French House,

Saratoga Lights:
As Halloween, pumpkins, hay-rides, and campfires become commonplace in Southeast Texas so do ghost stories. My childhood favorite is that of the Saratoga/ Bragg Lights. These glowing phantom orbs have intrigued and scared visitors for over 80 years. What is now a twelve-mile, long dirt road was, in 1902, a railway leading to Bragg Texas, a fledgling community founded on the timber industry.

untitled-3924The stories behind these mystical lights range from the death of a lost love to that of a work place injury resulting in a headless train conductor. The one consistent in these stories involves a suspended light approaching your car only to disappear moments before impact. Facing childhood fears, Lauren and I traveled what is commonly referred to as the “Ghost Road.” Not one to believe in ghost, I hoped to photograph the lights, but to no avail. There are countless videos and images of the fabled Saratoga lights on-line. But, like all pictures of Bigfoot, they too are grainy and out of focus.

The Kissing StatueThe Kissing Statue

Unlike most ghost stories,  Beaumont is home to a few less frightening tales . For example, Forest Lawn Cemetery plays host to a romantic ghostly tale. Within this sprawling cemetery is the Kissing Statue. This statue is an intricately carved granite figure of a man and woman eternally frozen in a loving embrace. But, are they? Supposedly, shinning your headlamps on the statue will cause them to lean inward and kiss. Cameras at the ready, I was no more than a peeping-tom waiting to photograph two slabs of granite making-out . As previously stated, I don’t believe in ghosts.  However, the longer I sat and watched, the more I wanted to see them kiss. Perhaps, within this large cemetery lies a  couple who had gone to war, married, had kids, grand-kids, grown old, and died, but somehow their love remained.

The French HouseThe French House

Another great story involves the French House, Beaumont’s oldest standing home. Mr. French, a tanner and merchant, built this house in 1845. Today the French House is a museum containing some of the French’s actual furniture, possessions, and clothing. It’s said that at times Mr. French can be seen on the front porch rocking in his chair. Under the light of a waning moon, I never saw  Mr. French. Yet again, something within me longed to see a ghost. Imagine the stories Mr. French could tell us. He would have watched as Beaumont, a small town, central to the timber and rice industry, became a boom town after the gusher at Spindle Top. His perspective would be like a time-lapse of Beaumont’s development. The fields he once farmed are now auto dealerships, businesses, apartments, and homes.untitled-3994As the sun began to rise, an orange glow settled on Mr. French’s  porch. Why do we love a good ghost story? Perhaps these stories connect us to our history. The thought of having a long discussion with an 1800’s tanner, a couple who’s love conquered time, or a conductor who saw virgin timber transported by steam train, is amazing. These would literally be the story of a lifetime. 

16 thoughts on “A Haunted History: Saratoga Lights, The Kissing Statue, and The French House,

  • Curt, I am curious about the mystical effect you have on your “ghost road’ photos. How did you achieve that? It looks very spooky! You know what I love about a good ghost story, or the idea that a ghost might appear? It’s the connection to the spiritual world, or, the non-visible world, if you’d rather. The idea that we could somehow be a part of something no longer accessible to the current day is a potent drawcard for me, when it comes to a good ghost story. I loved your photos, and write-up, but am sorry you didn’t get to see the elusive ghost lights 🙂 Leah

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    • Photoshop is a tool I both love and hate. For one I’m not very good at it. The conductor is from a photo I took at the Rusk Train Depot, the fog is a combination of a filter set, and clouds from a skydiving picture, and the road actually looks that creepy. I added a little depth by darkening the tunnel and adding an orb of light at the end.
      I saw the lights as a teen, and have seen them since. The way the road tunnels and it’s angle to the highway I assume it is refractory light. As always I love your perspective, when are you coming to the states to backpack with Lauren and I? After all the only people on earth as crazy as Texans are Australians.

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  • I love this post! I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, urban legend, and/or a true haunting story from the past. I do think there is something that draws people to a good ghost story, whether that be the desire to connect to our history, or the fascination of a time in our world that may be hard to imagine, the possibility of spirits good and evil floating around us in a parallel universe….I don’t know, but it is kind of fun to think about. Photographing a ghost….now that would be something. :)Your story telling combined with your photos = fantastic! (As always!)

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    • It was strange setting up a few go-pro’s and having the DSLRs at the ready for something I don’t believe can happen. But the longer I waited the more I wanted to be wrong. I was so attracted to the Kissing Statue. I’m a bit of a hopeless romantic. PS. been loving your post, you find so many awesome abandoned places.

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      • I would love to capture a ghostly apparition on camera! I have a good friend I sometimes go out shooting with, and he and I spent a summer going to “haunted” places to see if we could get something. Most of the fun just comes from checking some of those places out, and spending time with someone that enjoys some of the same things you do. The Kissing Statue definitely has a draw…the hopeless romantic in me loves the idea of timeless love, a love so strong that not even death can break the bond. Sigh…. 🙂 And thank you! Oregon has quite a few abandoned treasures, so it’s been fun to have the chance to check some of them out.

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  • I’ve lived in a house in Helsinki that was supposedly haunted. I don’t believe in ghosts, but my roommate was a bit nervous and would get jumpy from every noise the old building made. I would be a bit jumpy too, because I was sure that the pipes in the over 100 years old building would burst and I would have to move again (I had had to move to that place because of water damage in my previous one).

    So yeah, I don’t believe in ghosts, but the stories are still fascinating.

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  • LOL! Love your comment about crazy Texans and Australians! 🙂 I doubt I will be over your side of the world any time soon though. I am hopeful that I will be going on my first solo 3 day hike at the end of the month 🙂 My hiking partner is too busy until next year, and I am in dire need of going walkabout to get away from it all. So, the only way is for me to go on my own; which happens to be something that I have wanted to have the guts to do for quite awhile. Not sure that I want to encounter mystical lights and ghosts by myself though! 🙂 Cheers, Leah

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    • Where I’m training for my A certification in skydiving there are a few Australian instructors. They fit right in here in Texas.
      Hope you get some hiking in soon. I love solo hiking, best comfort tool for me is a harmonica. Its lite and anyone can play it with little practice. It’s a foreign noise good for frightening away predators. Plus belting out so blues makes me feel better.

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  • There is a campground at one of Western Australia’s most haunted homes, Oakabella Homestead that I have stayed at and I did a tour of the old house. Took heaps of photos with both phone and camera and not one came out!! Definitely something strange there although I didn’t actually see it.

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  • Hi Curt,
    I work for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. We have written a story (pretty similar to this one actually) called Haunted Beaumont. This article will be placed on our blog: http://www.beaumontcvb.com/blog.

    Would it be okay to use two of your photos? The Kissing Statue & Bragg Road photos are the ones I’d like to use on our site. We would leave the watermark on them & link back to this blog for credit purposes. Is this okay?

    Thanks!
    Ashley

    Liked by 1 person

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