Non-Scientists mentioned in the accounts.
Robert Reed Ellison (rancher)
Joe and Sally Humphreys (rancher)
Liz Browning (store owner)
Hallie Stillwell (authoress)
Fritz Kahl ( Mayor)
Walter T. Harris
Stan Redding and Carlos Antonio Rios
Robert Reed Ellison, (born, 1867)
1883 Texas Range hand, and the earliest white man whose experience of these lights is widely repeated. He is also referred to as one of the original settlers of Marfa, and a rancher. (www.desertusa.com/Cities/tx/marfa.html) and also by Texas State Historical Society 'Handbook of Texas Online' who also state that he was 16 in 1883 and the son of J. R. Ellison who lived in Plata, Texas. See Item 11 in my History of Marfa archive. This story is also cited by Cecilia Thompson in 'History of Marfa and Presidio County (1985). William Syers 'Ghost Stories of Texas, page67 says that a Sul Ross Dr. Elton Miles (author of Tales from the Big Bend) claims this story or at least recounts it to Syers along with the comment that 'the aging Ellison observed that there were damned few lights, roads or cars' in his day. Thompson was not the original source for the 1883 Ellison story. Was it Miles that was the one that dug it up?
William Syers also notes 'The Lee Plumbleys of Marfa - her father was Pop Ellison:"
Who was he? Can his existence be independently corroborated? How about the Mormon geneology records? Who uncovered his account? I obtained a 1880 and 1900 US Census Cd from Allcensus.com on February 2, 2001. On page 231b, from Precinct 2, there is the following entry:
He was Family 11 that was enumerated in the 1900 Census. Roger (Robert?) was the head of the household and born in February, 1867 which would have made him 16 in 1883. His wife was Mary (age 24). He had two sons Robert (age 6) and Clarence (age 4) and a daughter Evelyn (hard to read) (age 2). This seem to corroborate his existence, but of course it doesn't corroborate the story aledged to him. According to Cecilia Thompshos 'History of Marfa and Presidio County (p. 316), "R.R. Ellison married Mary Elizabeth Wells in Chikasha Oklahoma in 1892. Marys parents (Aaron Wells) moved to Marfa in 1900. On page 337, Thompson says 'Evelyn Ellison, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.R. Ellison was born in Marfa in 1898...She recalls that her father had fertile fields all along the [Alimito] creek..The Ellisons later moved to the Matanosa Ranch. The ranch is now owned by Ira Yates Blanton"
When did this 'sighting' story begin to be spread?
Here is a typical version of the account:
Robert Ellison came to Marfa in 1883 and off-loaded his cattle in Alpine. He then drove the heard west and on the second night out, while camped just west of Paisano Pass, he saw strange lights in the distance. At first, he feared that they were Apache signal fires. Ellison searched the countryside by horseback, and finally realized that the lights were not man-made. Other early settlers assured him that they had also seen the lights and had never been able to identify them. (http://hometown.aol.com/donpamharris/Marfa.html)
The following notes about Ellison were accumulated before I got the Census CDROM for 1900:
I used Ancestor.com and the mormon online geneology to see just how many Robert Ellisions there were born between 1830 and 1883. I figure he may have been an old man by the time he settled; an age of say 50 years, by the time of the 1883 sighting. Using ancestry.com, there are 9 hits for 'Robert Ellison' in the Texas Land Title Abstracts archive these are al for 1907-1945 though., and 290 hits in the census data. I will need to get a quarterly membership for 19.90 to access, but I can also track down my Juhlines that way too, so its worth it for 3 months! OK, I did this! The census data doesnt seem to include any Ellises in the Marfa Area. How is this possible if they were ranchers and land owners????
Marfa is in Presidio County by the way.
47 hits for all states from 1830-1870.
3 hits where births in Texas:
August 25, 1870, Prairie Hill, Limestone Texas
July 7, 1856 Eastland County Texas
ca 1865 Smith or Caldwell County, Texas.
In my Marfa History page under Item 11 The Handbook of Texas Online says that Robert Reed Ellison was 16 in 1883 so he was born in 1867. He later bought a ranch in Plata, Texas. His father was J. R. Ellison.
www.ancestors.com checked their census records for texas from 1860-1890. Here is their list:
Robert Ellision, Caldwell County, 1870, 1880.
Robert Ellision Eastland County, 1880
Robert Ellison, Grayson County, 1860
Robert Ellison, Navarro County, 1880
Robert Ellison, Upshur County, 1880.
I also searched under 'Ellison' and there are 591 individuals in the Texas census records for 1820-1890. I found a John R. Ellison in San Jacinto County, 1880. There are no Ellisons recorded in any of the counties surrounding Marfa between 1820-1890.
How can this be possible? Was the Census voluntary and not punishable if you didnt participate? How complete is the Texas Federal Census Index for Presidio, Brewster etc? Here's what the archive says
' In 1850, the name, age, sex, color, place of birth, and literacy was added to the questionnaire. In 1860, the value of real estate was an added feature of the enumeration. And in 1880 the census added questions relative to marital status, and parents' place of birth. All available census schedules, from 1790 to 1920, have been microfilmed and are available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., at the National Archives' regional archives in twelve states, at the LDS Family History Library and LDS family history centers throughout North America, at many large libraries, and through microfilm lending companies. Some state and local agencies may have census schedules only for the state or area served. "
What does 'all available' mean in the above quote? Could the Marfa area have been lost or not included? I sent an email on February 2, 2001, to ancestor.com to clarify the conditions of the Census and the completeness of the archive.
Sally and Joe Humphreys,
Cecilia Thompson says their granddaughter is Anne McCracken. (p. 197 of 'History of Marfa and Presidio County') They told Anne this story.
The 1900 Census for Precinct 1 does show a Sally and Joe Humphreys, page 221b, line 84. He was 52 years old, she was 44. They had two children: Annie (age 19) and Joseph Jr. (age 17). Joe's brother Jessie (age 33) also lived with them. Here is an excerpt from the Census file:
2... "Descriptions vary. Spiraling, basketball-sized neon globes. Floating fireballs. The taillights of some flying object (unidentifiable, of course). Giant sparklers (the Fourth of July kind). Lamplights that dance. Faint flickers of light. Colors, meanwhile, range from red to yellow to, most commonly, green or white. The only consistent description you'll get from the folks who live in Marfa, population 2,515, is that they're not headlights. "If they're headlights, then I've seen some pretty creative drivers," jokes Liz Browning, owner of the Cows n' Udder Crafts store. " (http://www.worldofthestrange.com/Archives/110899.htm From World of the Strange, Louise Lowry, November 8, 1999)
The store is listed in Marfa (http://www.globalbusinesses.com/marfabus/busid.shtml).
111 Dean Street, Marfa Texas. 79843.
Hallie Stillwell ( born 1897 died 1997)
7..."The ghost lights have entranced area settlers and visitors for more than a century and have eluded precise scientific examination and explanation for at least half that long. Some viewers claim to have seem them up close, describing them as one or two (occasionally more) red or yellow or bluish lights about the size of basketballs, or one colored basketball-sized light, or as a single, startlingly bright light. But most people view them from afar, the way Hallie Stillwell has done for more than 75 years. " (http://www.urbanlegends.com/science/marfa_lights.html Janet Christian. Urban Legends. July 23, 1993. marfa_lights.html)
Hallie Stillwell 1897–1997 The New York Times identified Hallie Stillwell (1897–1997) as a "rancher and a Texas legend." As readers of her autobiography know, she became a rancher because she married one, but the legendary status she earned on her own. At the age of nineteen, Hallie decided to take a job teaching school in the remote border town of Presidio, Texas. Her father thought it a dangerous proposition and told her she was getting into a wild goose chase. She responded, "Then I'll gather my geese." After teaching for a year, she got a proposal from an old-fashioned rancher twice her age, Roy Stillwell. Hallie's escapades as a bride in the rough environs of the Big Bend ranch have appealed to thousands of readers. This sixth printing of I'll Gather My Geese is dedicated to her memory. Former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who knew Hallie Stillwell, introduces the film and Texas actor and rancher Barry Corbin, known for his roles in Lonesome Dove and Northern Exposure, provides the narration for the documentary. (http://www2.austin.cc.tx.us/marketng/Bend-NR.htm)
If you're looking for lore on the Marfa Lights, Fritz Kahl is the man to see. Before he became mayor, he ran the Marfa Airport, and long before that he was a training pilot at the World War II-era Air Force Base that is now affiliated with numerous lights legends. "A lot of those stories are just plain ol' not true," Kahl says, seated in his office in the town's new, one-story city hall. Among the legends Kahl knocks down is the one about nuclear testing at the base. He denies the popular story that he and other pilots used to fly over the lights and drop bags of flour on them, hoping that would help solve their mystery. They didn't chase them in Jeeps, either, or do much of anything besides watch them from a distance like everyone else. Kahl did get close to one, back in 1973. He gave a hand-written testimony of the encounter to researchers, which is now on file along with several dozen other Marfa Lights experiences at the Archives of the Big Bend at Sul Ross University in Alpine, 25 miles east of Marfa. In his account, he described several lights as having "the intensity of a car light on bright" and "the size of a bushel basket." As for the one that came close to Kahl and a friend, this is what he reported: "We both had the distinct impression that it knew exactly where we were and that it was just daring us to chase it. It seemed to possess intelligence." Now, as mayor, Kahl tones down his beliefs in the lights, as many residents do for fear of looking like a bunch of loonies. "Oh, I'm not crazy when it comes to the lights, except for maybe I've always been the only one around here crazy enough to talk about them," he says. "It's not a big thing anymore. People know there's something out there, and they accept it. It's a friendly situation." Kahl goes on to tell me he has seen too many people of my profession come at it the wrong way -- reporters looking to solve the mystery, or at least to poke fun at it. He refers to a Japanese TV crew from a few years ago, and the filmmakers from England's BBC who are in town just this weekend. Says Kahl: The Japanese, "they didn't have a clue. This is the first bunch of limeys we've had, though. We'll see how they do." ( The Truth is out where? http://www.austin360.com/entertainment/xl/features/1999/10/28marfamain_003.html)
An unscientific method was tried in the 1980’s by Dallas journalist, Kirby Warnock. Warnock’s family had settled in the Trans-Pecos region just north of Big Bend country more than one hundred years ago, and he first saw the lights in 1963, when he was eleven-years-old and his brother was eight. He and his brother decided that the reason no one ever got close to the lights was because they used motor vehicles, such as airplanes, jeeps, and cars. The two men thought that if they headed out on foot across the desert, they just might be able to sneak up on the lights. One summer, they assembled their gear and a camera, and at dusk, started walking. They tried for four hours to get close to the lights, but it was like walking up to a mirage. The more they walked, the further the lights moved away. Warnock reported that he thought the lights were "trying to frustrate and thwart us. It was like they knew what we were doing and were teasing us by staying just a little ahead of us." It is a fact that distances are deceiving in the desert. The Warnocks could not tell if they were looking at a light as big as a tire or one as big as a cantaloupe. They just could not get close enough to get a good idea of how big the lights actually were. (http://www.theoutlaws.com/marfa.htm)
Walter T. Harris.
Although mysterious lights can be seen all along the mountain range from the Chinatis to the Chisos, they are most constantly seen on the high desert plateau of Marfa. This has prompted many serious searches for the lights’ source. The first such attempt appears to have been made by Walter T. Harris just before the turn of the century. He was an employee of the railroad, and with the help of several other employees, he used surveyor’s methods of triangulation to plot the exact location of the night beacons. By his calculations, the lights were behind the Chinatis, "deep in Mexico, and impossible to be seen from the spot where we had taken our readings!" (http://www.womenwritersblock.com/marfa_lights.htm)
Stan Redding and Carlos Antonio Rios
Author William Edward Syers, in his book 'Ghost Stories of Texas' (1981) page 66, says that Stan was a photographer from the Houston Chronicle and Carlos was his photographer. They saw the lights from a position near the current Viewing Area.
Author William Edward Syers, in his book 'Ghost Stories of Texas' (1981) page 68 says that Joe sheriffed the county from 1926 to the 'forties' and saw the lights nightly in the Chinatis. To him they were old friends.
Author William Edward Syers, in his book 'Ghost Stories of Texas' (1981) page 68 says that her father was 'Pop Ellison'
Scientists mentioned in the accounts.
Dr. Elton Miles,
Author William Edward Syers, in his book 'Ghost Stories of Texas' (1981) (p. 67) identifies him as an English professor, a lorist and a careful writer who 'probably has the most extensive paper research yet focussed on the lights. Miles tells of Robert Ellison 'wagoning his wife into the emptiness of that country and seeing the lights. When later 'experts' explained them as automobile headlight reflections, a then aging Ellison observed that there were 'damned few lights, roads or cars in his day. He authored 'Tales from the Big Bend'
Dr. Ray Hauser.
An interesting web-anecdote was recorded by researcher Dennis Stacy in 1989. It seems that Dr. Ray Hauser of Hauser Laboratories in Boulder, Colorado, wrote The Marfa Independent with an unusual request. He offered one dollar for each used car air filter (up to ten) used in the area south of Marfa. The filters had to have at least a thousand miles of wear and tear. Hauser wanted to analyze the dust in the filters to see if there might be a connection between the lights and the chemical composition and behavior of certain dust-clouds. According to Stacy, "the idea sounds completely cock-eyed, until one remembers that accumulated dust in grain elevators is capable of tremendous explosive ignition." (http://www.theoutlaws.com/marfa.htm)
He is a real person (http://www.rayhauser.com/) and serves as an expert court witness. Here is his online bio: History: Ray Hauser was co-founder of Hauser Laboratories in 1961 and was a Director of the public company, Hauser Chemical Research, Inc. from 1983 until 1997. He sold the laboratory to the public company in December 1989, and has completed a ten-year employment agreement with that firm. He has chosen to work independently, but he has available the engineering and chemical services from friends at Hauser Technical Services when lab services are needed for clients.
I emailed him on February 10 to get a confirmation Here's what he replied:.
"About ten years ago, I expressed a desire for such air filters, and I received a couple that had very little debris in them. I was curious about a possible cause of the Marfa lights, if they really exist. I was at that time working on high temperature superconductors, and hypothesized that if there were such a thing as a room temperature superconductor, it might have unusual phenomena in a dust cloud, perhaps optical emissions. The few particles in the filters that I received had no matter that I could find response to magnetic field, neither attraction nor repulsion. That's my story. If you have access to a larger sampling of Marfa dust, you're welcome to try my hypothesis. Ray Hauser, materials engineering consultant. web site www.rayhauser.com
Geologist Pat Kenney: (deceased?)
One of the most famous sightings of the Marfa lights occurred in 1973 when two geologists, Elwood Wright and Pat Kenney, observed two lights and tried to track them down. At first they used a jeep, then later proceeded on foot. They never caught up with them, but the scientists were left with the unnerving impression that the lights were toying with them. (The Unnatural Museum..http://www.unmuseum.org/spookl.htm)
11... "The orbs appear at dusk on the horizon. The red, blue or green lights dance around in the night and at times split into two separate entities. Efforts to get near them have failed and left those who have tried feeling as though the orbs were toying with them. The closest report is that of geologist Pat Kenney who was in the area in search of uranium deposits. He is to have claimed to coming within 25 yards of an orb and says now, "finally, after some 15 years of studying the lights and searching for their source, I kind of adopted the local 'let 'em be' philosophy, and quit looking so hard." (http://www.strangetexas.com/marfa.htm Cary Darling , Strange Texas News, Copyright 2000)
" But there are some whose natural curiosity prickles and prods them to seek an explanation. For them, the search for the source of the Marfa Lights can prove a lifelong quest. Such as seeker is Kirby Warnock, whose family settled in the Trans-Pecos region just north of Big Bend country more than 100 years ago. "My late father, Dr. Frank Warnock, took me and my brother, Miles to see the lights for the first time in 1963, when I was 11 and my brother was eight," says Kirby, who lives in Dallas. "The lights fascinated me. But when I asked my father, 'What are they, Dad?' he simply responded, 'We don't know.' Well, I wasn't satisfied with that, so I determined to find out," Kirby says. "Every summer, when I visited my grandfather in Fort Stockton, I drove out to see the lights. I took pictures of them. I talked to everyone I could about them. Over the years, two of those folks, Fritz Kahl and the late Pat Kenney, spent hours talking with me about the Marfa Lights," he says. "Fritz, a pilot, ran the airport at Marfa, and Pat was a geologist. Fritz told me a lot about earlier sightings of the lights--he had even searched for them from the air--while Pat helped me try to pinpoint them, so I could examine them up close. "In the late Seventies, a corporation became convinced that vast uranium deposits existed in the area," says Kirby. "They paid Pat Kenney to live out there and investigate further. Well, Pat had all kinds of surveying equipment, and he and I located a stretch of land where it was impossible for car lights to interfere. When the ghost lights appeared, we triangulated them. "My brother and I tried to get close but never could," Kirby says. "The lights always seemd to move away, out of our reach. Once, Pat saw them fairly close, within 25 yards or so, but Miles and I never did. By the way, Pat never found uranium deposits, either. "Finally, after some 15 years of studying the lights and searching for their source, I kind of adopted the local 'let 'em be' philosophy, and quit looking so hard," he says. But Kirby just couldn't let go altogether. He wrote an article about the Marfa Lights for the Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, "Spirit", in April 1982, which he later reprinted in 1988 in the first issue of his publication "Big Bend Quarterly". A research assistant for the NBC television program "Unsolved Mysteries" picked up on the story, and the producers eventually contacted Kirby for his help in televising a segment about the lights. Kirby appeared in the show and served as a technical advisor as well. The program, which aired in 1991, also included appears by Fritz Kahl and Hallie Stillwell. "I still don't know precisely what the lights are, but I do have theory," says Kirby. "I believe the Marfa Lights are some type of natural phenomenon, just as St. Elmo's fire is a natural phenomenon. The real mystery about the Marfa Lights is that they occur so often. The Big Bend country harbors lots of mysteries, and these lights are just one of them," he says. Scientific theories about the lights exist, of course. Once concept describes the lights as an atmospheric phenomenon that resembles a mirage, wherein, under certain atmospheric conditions, headlight beams or even the lights from stars just over the horizon bend back toward earth and appear to move around and change. Such explanations don't excite old-timers like Hallie Stillwell. (Janet Christian 'Those Marfa Lights" http://www.urbanlegends.com/science/marfa_lights.html)
Don Witt, Physics Professor, Sul Ross University
16..."March 1975. Don Witt, then a physics professor at Sul Ross University in Alpine, coordinated a monumental effort to locate the lights' source. Using the Sul Ross Society of Physics Students, the Big Bend Outdoor Club comprised of community members, and local pilots, short-wave radio amateurs, and a few outside professionals, Witt's group was positively unable to form any sort of solid conclusion. They did say, however, that sometimes the lights that people claimed were "Marfa Lights," were really artificial lights from area ranches or automobile headlights merely passing behind unseen obstructions along distant Highway 67, which winds through the Chinati Mountains between Marfa and Presidio. " (http://www.theoutlaws.com/marfa.htm marfaL8.html)
" One Sul Ross researcher, physics professor Don Witt (who came to the university from the CIA -- ammo for the sure-to-come Marfa Lights conspiracy buffs), did the most extensive experiment. In 1974, he led a group of college students from all over the state on a two-day hike through the area. They brought along a variety of equipment, including a spectograph on loan from NASA. Their only conclusion: The lights are there. That's all. The lights are there. The experiment was the butt of many jokes on campus and was the last one done on that level at Sul Ross." http://www.worldofthestrange.com/Archives/110899.htm
There was considerable consternation when a Sul Ross State University physicist, Donald Witt, announced ninety years later that he had solved the mystery once and for all. Witt concurred with the Southern Pacific engineer that one source of light indeed originated at the ranch, now called the Mellard or M.E. Ranch. A second source, he declared, was U.S. 67, and he invited a number of skeptics to his lab to see a presentation of evidence. Steve Neu of Alpine, then a student, was there when Witt unveiled his coup. "There was a great expectation as he opened this box," Neu says, laughing. "It contained an auto headlight." That explanantion satisfied no one, including Witt, who continued to be obsessed by the mystery. Another encounter with the inexplicable on one cold night in January 1974 convinced Witt that his announcement had been premature. As he and an assistant were returning to Alpine, they were stunned to observe two bright yellow lights oscillating near the horizon. "I can't explain what we saw that night," Witt admits now. "It occurred to me that it could be the lights of a locomotive on the Ojinaga-Topolobampo run. Of course, that would have been eighty miles away. I never checked to see if there was a train at that hour." (Gary Cartwright, Texas Monthly, http://www.texasmonthly.com/ranch/readme/marfa.php)
A Google Search does turn up a person by that name in Texas, though he is at the University of British Columbia where he does relativity and string theory. (September 2000 http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~birger/ubro_cg.htm email: email@example.com)
Robert Black, grad student, Sul Ross University, Geology
18..."Then, a sighting occurred in 1985 which appeared to succeed in wiping out the car headlight theory...at least, that's the claim. Robert Black, a graduate student in geology at Sul Ross University, decided to climb Goat Mountain south of Alpine for rock samples. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, he and a friend drove out a county road east of Marfa, parked their truck, and hiked in. It was early in the morning on an exceptionally warm day for the mountains at that time of year, and both men were dressed in light-weight clothing. After collecting rock samples, Black's friend, who loved sunsets, commented, "This is going to be a beautiful sunset, isn't it. Look, the sun's going down." At that moment, Black realized that they had stayed longer on the climb than he had intended. They would have to really hurry to make it out before dark. Breaking into a run, they spied the truck way off on the Flats, but distances are deceiving in the desert, and before they could reach the truck, the sun was down. They were on the west side of Goat Mountain, in the middle of the Mitchell Flats. Black says it best, "Anyone who knows the Marfa flats, knows that it is flat, featureless, and boring---no geological marker out in the sea of desert and really no way to find your way around, especially in the dark." The men wisely decided to spend the night where they were. To keep warm, they gathered creosote bushes for fires. A little before midnight, as they huddled around the fires looking toward the north and northwest in the direction of Highway 90, their talk turned to the Marfa Lights. The men were right in the Flats, where the lights were normally seen, and they began to hope the lights would make an appearance. They didn't have long to wait. Shortly after midnight, they saw a "horizontal length of light that had a sort of dancing vibration movement." As the men watched in fascination, the "little beams of light danced up and down in a kind of wave formation, moved across, jumped straight up vertically, came back down, danced horizontally, then disappeared." They saw the lights four or five times that night. Black's account was unusual because it was the first reported sighting of the lights from a location several miles south of Highway 90 and looking north toward Highway 90. The Chinati Mountains were to their backs. It ruled out any supposition of car headlights in the mountains as being the cause of the mystery lights. Since Black and his companion were between the Chinati Mountains and Highway 90, and the lights appeared between the men and the highway, skeptics were forced to rethink their previous positions. (http://www.theoutlaws.com/marfa.htm marfaL8.html)
Sul Ross State University. Alpine Texas, www.sulross.edu
Hello, yes we did have a student at our University in 1985 by the name of Robert Black and he was a geology major in the year 1985. I went through the yearbook for that particular year and I remember him well. I have not called the Registrar's office, but would be glad to do so should you need additional information. Robie Golden Director of Alumni Affairs Sul Ross State University.
Dr. Avinash Rangra, Professor of Chemistry.
Avinash Rangra, a chemistry professor still at the university, went along for Witt's experiment and continues to research the lights on his own time. "It's hard for the university to seriously approach the Marfa Lights," Rangra says. "If we were to say to our colleagues in your part of Texas that we're going to spend state money looking at the lights, they would of course think the professors out at Sul Ross are crazy." (http://www.worldofthestrange.com/Archives/110899.htm)
A google search turns up many hits to him. He has a web page at http://homes.sulross.edu/~arangra/. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org In his bio he says: " I was born on March 30, 1939 in Hariana, a small village in the state of Panjab, India. I earned my B.Sc. (with Honors) in 1959 and my M.Sc. (with Honors) in 1960. I went on to become Chairman of the Chemistry Department of Hindu National College in Hariana, Panjab from 1960-62. I then went to Oklahome State University from which I received my Ph.D. in 1967. Afterwards, I arrived at Sul Ross State College (now a University) as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. I have since become a full Professor of Chemistry."
I sent him an email at email@example.com on January 28, 2001. That bounced, so I used a different address on January 30. firstname.lastname@example.org. If I make contact, I will ask him about Robert Black.
Dr. Edwin Barker, Astronomer
19..."In July 1989, scientists from McDonald Observatory on Mount Locke outside Fort Davis, and from Sul Ross University, decided to conduct another investigation into the lights. Included in the group were a professor of chemistry, Dr. Avinash Rangra, and an astronomer, Dr. Edwin Barker. With them were eleven other technicians and observers. Since the lights are most frequently seen near the Chinati Mountains from Highway 90, which runs east and west between Marfa and Alpine, the scientists decided they had best rule out any misidentification of headlights on Highway 67, which winds through the Chinati Mountains north and south between Marfa and Presidio. A radio beacon resembling a red spotlight, visible in front of the peaks, was used as a guide. In order to prevent the misidentification of headlights, two marker lights were placed at the borders of Highway 67, where it enters and leaves the mountain range. These marker locations were manned by two technicians with radio equipment. Any lights spotted outside the markers, which the scientists could not explain, would be identified as the ghostly phenomena. The investigators used special cameras and night-viewing equipment. At midnight, an unknown light appeared past the right marker light in the middle of the empty Mitchell Flats. Contacting the technician at the marker by radio indicated there was no traffic on Highway 67. The ghostly globe was recorded on a video camera. Observers were certain the light did not come from a man-made source. It disappeared and came back and faded again. Doctor Rangra confirmed that something of natural origin was occurring over Mitchell Flats outside Marfa, but he did not know what. All he could say for certain was that it was not man-made. Doctor Edwin Barker agreed. People were seeing real activity in the atmosphere, but how to explain it? One scientist thought the lights might be refracted starlight. Another believed them to be illuminous gases produced by small earthquakes. But the fact is, every one of the scientists in the investigation were not sure and could only say for certain that it is a natural phenomena as yet unexplained by science. "Ha," the locals snorted, "we already knew that."( http://www.theoutlaws.com/marfa.htm marfaL8.html)
There is an Edwin Barker at the University of Texas who was involved with the Lunar Prospector mission. Kathy Sawyer mentions him in the Washington Post article " NASA Aims for Deep Impact, on Moon and Science" July 26, 1999 page A09. In another web page " UT Austin engineers and an astronomer, working with reasearchers from NASA - Ames and the Los Alamos National Laboratory came up dry in their efforts to find water on the Moon. Their efforts, however, laid the groundwork for future investigations. Shown, from left to right are: Dr. Edwin Barker, research scientist at McDonald Observatory; Victor Austin, Goldstein's graduate student; Dr. David Goldstein, aerospace engineering professor; and Dr. Steve Nerem, aerospace engineering professor." (http://www.utexas.edu/admin/opa/oncampus/99oc_issues/oc991026/oc_lunar2.html) below is the picture:
Here's a search fragment : ...said Dr Edwin Barker, assistant director of McDonald Observatory, who ... 23, 1994, at least one astronomer decided to go and look ... www.starclass.com.au/news/news24.html
Nov 6, 1996. Edwin Barker (McDonald Observatory) has been elected Vice-Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. (http://www.utexas.edu/research/vp/alert/news_archive/1996/m11d06.html) email : email@example.com.
I sent him mail on ... and he did respond that he and others have looked into the lights for 35 years. I sent him a second email asking about the radio tower and other manmade features, but by February 2 he had not replied to this second mail as quickly ( 24 hours) as he responded to the first one last Sunday.
I was in fact interviewed by "Unseen Mysteries" on site along with a geologist (U. Texas at El Paso) and physicist (Sul Ross U. in Alpine at the Observatory, I have been aware of the Marfa Lights for some 35 years. Never have seen them for sure. Although we did see something that night of the TV interview, but not in the typical direction as the lights are seen from our view point that night. They are a real phenomenum but not in the numbers people report today.. Many untrained or first time observers see car lights directly. But they have been seen back at least 100 years and maybe even in the 1200's by Pueblo Indians. Your are looking across a shallow basin some 5-10 miles across. I don't have any scientific evidence to back me up, but the conditions are next to perfect for an atomspheric refraction of light sources across the valley. I have wanted to setup an acoustic sounder(s) to defin the position and altitude of the refracting layers that must exist in the basin. However, time nor money has ever permitted it and I would also face alot of local opposition(and more) from the local (Marfa, Alpine, Fort Davis) tourism advocates. Hopefully, this brief discourse has been helpful. Thank you for your LP comments, we would do it again given the chance.
A son working at McDonald Observatory
40... In fact, my son even made his own attempt at explaining the glowing orbs. He was working at the McDonald Observatory, and one night they trained one of their telescopes on the viewing site until they spied some of the glowing lights. Everyone working that night saw them. They pinpointed the location. The next day, they traveled to that exact spot, certain they would find the source. What did they find? Grass, rocks, dirt. That's it. Nothing else. (http://www.tje.net/para/wots/9903/99_03_15_01.htm firstname.lastname@example.org. from www.marfalights.com)
I sent a letter to them on January 28, 2001 and hope to get a reply with a name!
20..."The Marfa lights are elusive, and most people lucky enough to see them observe them from the ground. Nevertheless, a few pilots and aircraft passengers have encountered them. In February 1988, R. Weidig was flying at about 8000 feet, some 20 miles from Alpine, Texas, when he noticed white lights in motion around the Alamito Tower's red beacon light. "We noticed white lights coming up... I don't know how high, but it seemed like several hundred feet. Then the lights would just dissipate ... They moved around that tower for some reason. They'd get on the right hand side of it, the left hand side of it, and go just straight up." In June 1988, a stranger case was reported by E. Halsell, who was a passenger on a plane flying toward the Chianti Mountains. "'Suddenly a bright light came toward them rapidly, seemingly from a great distance. "It came straight at us til it got to the hood of the plane....It was engulfing us, larger than the plane.' It seemed as though they were inside the light. 'We couldn't see to fly. It scared us.' According to Halsell, as they tried to turn away from it, it moved in front of them. 'Always it moved around us, like it was observing us....We made right turns and left turns and it stayed right with us, like it was playing a game.' The light was very bright, but 'It was kind of fuzzy, like a halo or aura, a ball of light without an obvious center.' The light was white in color, was constant rather than pulsating or flickering. There was no unusual sound." (Brueske, Judith; "Encountering 'The Lights,'" The Desert Candle, 2:1, July/August 1988.) (http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf060/sf060p15.htm William Corliss Science Frontiers)
10..." Marfa's Mayor Fritz Kahl remains skeptical of such reports. "They come out with some real wild stories where the lights have stampeded horses and chased cars down the road. That's totally ridiculous. These lights are mild. They're friendly. They're not going to hurt anybody." Kahl first encountered the lights in 1943 when he was stationed at the nearby air base. He attempted to chase them in his plane but nearly crashed before a crew member alerted him that he was flying too low. The ghost lights are a mystery the Mayor and many others here would like to remain unsolved. "This is a local phenomena that is very fascinating and we've had some good minds in here trying to find out what it is. "Oh, no. I don't want it solved." (marfal4.html)
Copyright (C) 2001Dr. Sten Odenwald