Marfa lights — seriously, does anyone know what they are?


Another of the great quirks that makes Texas, Texas, is the Marfa lights. Marfa is in far west Texas — alone, a tiny city in a very arid area. It’s desolate enough that Hollywood thought it would be a great place to film much of the movie “Giant,” which needed to use part of Godforsaken* County to make a point about how desolate Texas can be.

And way out there, there is a hill where one can stop after sundown, and watch the mysterious dancing of lights coming from the not-too-distant hills. So far as I can tell, no good explanation exists for what the lights might be. Physicists have ruled out mirages, and the lights were there long before auto headlights anyway.

Marfa hosts the “Mystery Lights Festival” over Labor Day Weekend (as the story cited above notes, the same weekend as Alpine, Texas, hosts its balloon festival — two West Texas happenings in one trip, perhaps).

Marfa lights, 2004 photo by Julie McConnell

Do you know of a good explanation? Anybody got one?

  • * No, there is not really a Godforsaken County among Texas’s 254 counties. Teachers wishing to use this in the classroom may want to be aware that there is a very short video of the Marfa lights mystery on “Texas Country Reporter’s” DVD collection commemorating 25 years of stories. Texas Country Reporter also has a DVD collection of visits to Texas State Parks, which is a good source of information about Texas geography. I suspect other DVDs from this company would offer other good geography and history supplements (Texas Country Reporter is broadcast on Channel 8 in the Dallas area, and on other television stations throughout the state).
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8 Responses to Marfa lights — seriously, does anyone know what they are?

  1. marfa says:

    As an extra side note just for fun. The Military airbase south of the marfa lights viewing center has a road pattern that strangle and accurately resembles a giant Flash light!!!! Maybe an inside government joke about the marfa lights. You have to see it to believe it!!

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  2. marfa says:

    ok im bored and I think the conspericy therory is a fun angle. so here are the rumors and facts

    there is rumored to be a military super tunnel running from ft Stockton Texas to chihuahua Mexico this tunnel would run directly through the Marfa and Alpine area.

    There are 6 old military airbases around Marfa. 2 of which are larger then Marfa. One of which was turned into the Marfa manciple airport. Which is still partial military.

    The largest of the airbases is located directly south of the Marfa lights viewing center.

    The marfa lights base is extremely complex and large almost twice the size of Marfa. You can veiw the base using google maps or flashearth.com

    X military from the base have privatly reported that this airbase was secretly manufacturing Nucluiar weopons to be shiped off to mexicp for testing.

    Alos reports of a small nucliar explosion on one of the airstrips during transport. killing many and covered up and repaired all hush hush

    The bases were built in early 1940′s and then demilitarized in the 1946 and fully abandoned by 1950

    Cave in alpine is reported as being a possible entrance way to a secret military compound. Several people clam to be slammed against the walls of the cave shortly after entering by huge gust of wind. They also report horrible screaming coming from the cave.

    I connect this with the rumored of the super tunnels which would release large gas pressure waves if the reported speeds that are being traveled in these tunnels are true. The screaming could be the sounds of the rails inside the tunnels as the transportation devices flash though.

    This same tunnel would go strait under the area were the Marfa lights are supposedly spotted.

    no explosives for any kind of geological purposes or other are aloud to be used in this area. This is enforced under the soil conservation act even though it makes no sense that it is allowed just hundreds of feet in other directions.

    If these super tunnels are passing under the marfa lights area could they be to blame for the marfa lights?

    Remember there are no reliable sightings of the marfa lights until after the military occupation of marfa.

    Marfa has been a military training hub all the way back to the army carveries back in 1912. And still has instillation at the marfa manciple airport. With confirmed reports of spying and security training.

    maybe we should bring in to question who owns the underground rights to some of these areas.

    All just a fun conspiracy but if you have never seen the marfa airbase next to the marfa lights you need to go to flash earth and take a look you will be shocked! is between marfa and alpine on HW90 just south of the marfa lights viewing center you wont miss it.

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  3. marfa says:

    I would like to toss out a theory! Since the shadow government and the new world order has bid left out.
    Even the locals forget that there are 6 or 7 old military airbases. 1 of which is right next to the marfa lights viewing center. You can throw a rock from there and hit old foundations its that close! Second it was demilitarized in the early and mid 40′s and there are rumors that marfa was the first real test site for nuclear weapons in the 30′s contrary to the belief that we started testing in the 40′s. There are also reports of small earthquakes in the area of marfa back in the 30′s. Could the earthquakes actually have been the shock wakes from an early nuck test? Then Consider that all the bases line up and are in close proximity. Also notes that there is rumored to be an entrance to a secret underground military facility right out side alpine tx just 15 min from the base at the marfa lights viewing center. Then lets stretch this fun conspiracy out further there theories behind some of these military super tunnels is the release of large burst of CO2 could this burst of CO2 have something to do with the marfa lights. To add more military recently was active right out side of marfa around 2003 by one of the old airfields doing training …. could they have been doing large scale maintenance on these tunnels? dos the natural bowl that marfa sits in make it a prime candidate for keeping nuclear gasses from escaping in worst case scenarios which would be beneficial to the secret testing going on in the 30′s and could this also be looked at as a great place to hide from nuclear fall out if a nuclear attack was to happen somewhere else? Could Marfa hold a large deep underground compound to act as a refuge for the new world order shadow government. Is everything already in place? Is the story of the marfa lights just a story hide the gasses that are coming from these super tunnels?

    Look twice

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  4. :) says:

    i know what the marfa lights are they fire fairies.
    my papa has seen them when it happen.
    he took a photo ive seen it. they are as small as light bugs. but brighter than them.
    they might appear if you look closely enough and be as quiet as a mouse try it and see.
    – :)

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  5. [...] Lights:  AstronomyCafe.com says they are reflected auto headlights; whatever they are, Marfa hosts a festival over Labor Day weekend Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Lookin’ good, for 4.28 billion years [...]

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  6. Kay says:

    I go with the naturally escaping gas theory. But I want them to be something more mysterious and I definitely want them to remain unexplained! My cousin and I, reliving our West Texas childhoods (I grew up in the Permian Basin; my cousin visited our family there most summers), took a trip to our old stomping grounds last summer and dropped down to Marfa. Of course, we went out to see the lights. They are not flashy, at least not the ones we saw, but it is kind of freaky. And we were surprised by how many folks — and from so many countries — that were out there that night. I can’t wait to get my husband out there to see them.

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  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the suggestion — auto lights is one of the more common suggestions, and indeed it appears that some lights do reflect in ways that make the autos appear where they are not, through reflections off of mirages. But that’s not the whole story by a long shot.

    According to the Texas Historical Commission marker at the viewing site, the first reports of lights were in 1883 (take this link to James Bunnell’s site, suggested to me by physicists as one of the most authoritative: http://www.nightorbs.net/View_Park.htm). Bunnell has photos of automobile lights from the highway, and he compares them with the lights that get everybody’s attention — they are different. Go to that site and look around.

    So, in summary, the first reports of the lights predate US Highway 67 by 47 years, and analysis by serious scientific observers seems to separate out reflected or refracted headlights from cars and the lights observed.

    Bunnell’s site has a DVD for sale. There have been reports on the lights at meetings of the American Physical Society, mostly saying what the lights are not, but so far there is no great agreement on what the lights are. They appear independently from autos on the road.

    The lights are still a mystery, or maybe several mysteries. While several sources of odd lights have been suggested, none of the suggestions can explain all the lights seen.

    Where did you get the history of U.S. 67? I live a couple of miles off of 67 myself, but several hundred miles northeast.

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  8. cephyn says:

    It’s US67. There are no reliable reports of the lights before 1957, and US67 has been there since 1930.

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