Department

History

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

According to witnesses, on many nights a mysterious glow appears along the path of the old railroad track about four miles north of Gurdon, not far from Interstate 30. The light sways back and forth across where the train traveled, one to three feet above the ground. Sometimes it appears to be a “yellowish white” “orange-red” or even a “bluish white.” And, it appears in all kinds of weather. This phenomenon—commonly known as the Gurdon Light—has been the source of much discussion and speculation since the 1930s. Local legend says that the murder of railroad section foreman Will McClain explains the light’s source. It is probably southwest Arkansas’s best-known ghost story.

For decades, many have visited the area to see the Gurdon Light. It has been an “unsolved mystery” from the time it first appeared in the 1930s. Since the 1950s, area young people have made witnessing the light a tradition. Through the years— particularly around Halloween—students have made the dark trip down the railroad tracks in hopes of seeing the mysterious light. The more mischievous young people hide and scare others walking along the trail. Some even hide behind tombstones in the old cemetery nearby to jump out and scare those walking by.

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