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Has the Origin of the Mysterious Marfa Lights Been Found at Last?

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The mysterious Marfa Lights have been seen in west Texas since the 1840s. The strange, hovering orbs are most often spotted between the small town of Marfa and the area called Paisano Pass, often witnessed by drivers on Highway 90. The mystery has intrigued and baffled researchers for over 150 years, but did one man discover the lights’ origin point while living in a ghost town?

The lights were first seen by wagon trains from Ojinaga, Mexico, headed to San Antonio in the 1840s. In 1883, cowboy J. E. Ellison witnessed a strange light while on a cattle drive to Marfa. While skeptics regard modern eyewitness reports as cases of misidentifying car headlights, these 19th-century reports are obviously impossible to dismiss with such an explanation.

Has the Origin of the Mysterious Marfa Lights Been Found at Last?

Photo: Three Sisters Mountain by Max McNabb

An official viewing center stands along US-90 where visitors gather nightly for the chance of seeing the lights for themselves. Looking out toward the southwest from the viewing center, you’re staring toward the Chinati mountains and the ghost town of Shafter. This abandoned silver mining community is the only town in the Chinatis. A handful of residents still live in this lonely place, and Sacred Heart Catholic Mission Church, built in 1890, still stands just off US-67. Scenes from the 1971 science fiction movie The Andromeda Strain were filmed at the church in Shafter, and a few movie fans will make an occasional pilgrimage to take photos there. Most of the structures in the town are found at the base of Three Sisters, a tri-peaked mountain looming above Shafter. Located not far from the ghost town is the entrance to Cibola Creek Ranch, where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016.

It was in the ghost town of Shafter that one man believed he discovered the origin of the Marfa Lights. Jack Reed first witnessed the lights in the Chinatis from a distance when he was a young boy, but after moving to Shafter as an adult, he saw them up close and personal on numerous occasions. The lights even caused his car to die several times. He told his story to Judith M. Brueske, Ph.D., whose book The Marfa Lights is invaluable to any researcher. “When I first got to [Shafter],” Reed said, “it was kind of exciting to me, you know, and I started watching them. They walk up the side of the mountain, here and there and I’ve seen them around close to homes, standing around.”

Has the Origin of the Mysterious Marfa Lights Been Found at Last?
Photo: Sacred Heart Catholic Mission Church by Max McNabb

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