The Viewing Area

Viewing Area


1.1) The Texas State Highway Department has constructed a roadside parking area nine miles east of Marfa on U.S. Highway 90 for motorists to view the curious phenomenon. According to an historical marker at the site, dated 1988, this area was prepared for the public around that time, although an email to the Marfa Chamber of Commerce on January 24, 2001 asking about this replied that 'this view area has been there a few years'. They would also not give me an exact mileage count to get from the town to the Viewing Area. The best info I have about this is in the comment by Bill Baker below in Item 1.2. It is important to nail down where people are standing when they take the pictures so that I can do the proper map analysis to see in which regions the lights are seen most frequently and where the road ways etc are.

"The Marfa Lights, mysterious and unexplained lights that have been reported in the area for over one hundred years, have been the subject of many theories. The first recorded sighting of the lights was by rancher Robert Ellison in 1883. Variously described as campfires, phosphorescent minerals, swamp gas, static electricity, St. Elmo's Fire, and "ghost lights," the lights reportedly change colors, move around, and change in intensity. Scholars have reported over seventy-five local folk tales dealing with the unknown phenomenon. - 1988" - Text of the "official" State of Texas road marker (From S. Laroche ' )

1.2) The viewing area is at the edge of the old Marfa Army Air Field. According to Bill Baker's article: "the viewing sight is located just a few hundred feet from the entrance of the abandoned and naturally reclaimed air base and as you look for the lights you are looking across where the old base stood."

2.1) James Long published a sketch of the area:

        ^  North          ====================XXX=================  Highway

       / \                %%                    Viewing stand.

        |                 %%                /

        |              C  %%               /

                       h  %%%             /

                       i   %%            / Estimated to be about

                       n  M %%          /   twenty miles, maybe less.

                       a  n  %%        /

                       t  t   %%%     /

                       i  s    %%%

                                %%% R - Radio antenna light.




and notes " The Texas Highway Department has installed some fifty feet of parking area and (***) o three hundred feet high) rise around the edge of the plain. The only vegetation on the plain is scrub brush and small cacti, no more than a couple of feet tall. Although visibility across the plain was unblocked and excellent, there was the major disadvantage of completely losing any sense of distance. "

Copyright (C) 2001 Dr. Sten Odenwald