Robert Goddard

                                          By Bob Jamison

          Ever hear of Bragg Road? A lot of us have. And it is in nearby Hardin County near the present town of Saratoga and about ten miles west of Kountze, Texas. Something happened there, according to stories passed down for many years. A man was decapitated by a train that was built on what was called Bragg Road. Actually, it was a tram road that carried lumber and supplies to and from the oil boom in Beaumont around l900. It was named for none other than a Confederate General Braxton Bragg.
The story goes, as the trains operated on this short tram of only nine miles (now a road) a man was killed by a train that destroyed his head. The “ghost” still lurks in the dark trails of the Big Thicket along that same tram road while looking for his head. An eerie light supposedly lights his way in his search. Until this very day, that light might be seen just after darkness as an ominous glow in the night. It has yet to be reasonably explained.

If you are interested, and brave enough, to witness this unusual experience you will find the road connecting Farm Road l293 and Saratoga. The right of way was for a branch of the Santa Fe from Bragg Station to Saratoga in l90l. The branch at that time was important because it connected with the main line to oil rich Beaumont Spindletop Oil Field. Then Saratoga had its own claim to oil even prior to the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop.  

Indians in the early days before l900 used oozing pitch they found near creek banks and bluffs to light fires and used it to cook. This eventually led to the discovery of oil in the Saratoga area shortly after Spindletop discovery and Sour Lake Oil Field.  

Bragg Road and the ominous light occasionally seen has been the attraction of the curious and otherwise a suggestive opportunity to show the pretty girl of your dreams the “real” reason of parking in the darkness just to look for the Bragg Lights.

But our area is not the only one of mysterious lights in the night. Baileys Prairie just west of Angleton along Highway 35, has an unusual legend about an old settler named Bailey (for which the area is still named). It seems, as the story is told, that Bailey happened to be a thorn in the side of the Father of Texas Stephen F. Austin. It developed as a quibble because Bailey got a large tract of land from Mexico when they were in power. Finally, Austin subsequently relented and granted Bailey title to his land. They say this drove Bailey to drink.  Before he died he declared in his will he wanted to be buried standing up facing west (towards Mexico) with a jug of whisky at his feet. But someone (a grave digger, they think) stole his whisky. He travels the prairie at night with a light looking for his whisky.

The King Ranch great, Captain Richard King was a frequent guest in the famous Menger Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. He had a personal suite at the hotel as did a number of other mentionable guest such as Sam Houston, U. S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, Richard Nixon, Mae West, Babe Ruth and countless others.

Captain King died in his hotel suite in l885. His funeral was held in the Menger Hotel lobby. The room in which he died is now named the King Suite. Some say his ghost still strolls the halls of the hotel while using the unusual port of entry which is now a wall. His body is seen walking through that wall where the entry once was.

The Menger Hotel has many other stories of ghost and invites those interested in visiting with them in the very same room from which these stories originated. Like the chambermaid that was shot to death by her jealous husband in l876. The hotel paid for her funeral. She now might be seen carrying towels that are never delivered. She wears a long gray skirt and has a bandana wrapped around her forehead. Other employees still don’t like to work alone where the chambermaid, Sallie White once worked.

For a step further, The Devil’s Tramping Grounds is another phenomenon that bears yet a reasonable explanation. It is located near Greensboro, North Carolina. It consists of a completely barren and completely circular path 40 feet in diameter and one foot wide. Nothing grows there. Indian war dances are one reason some thought. Others believe horses hoofs turning a grinding mill for sugar cane is another reason. Agriculturist claim the soil is barren and will not produce growth. So it must have been the devil that walked in circles in his meditation over the ages.

However, before you leave out to Bragg Road or the Menger Hotel, take a long look out your window on Halloween. You might discover your own vision of light that bears no explanation.