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People have been seeing “something” near Marfa, Texas for many years.
Are they seeing UFO’s or, is what they are seeing a natural phenomena?
WHAT IS A UFO?
According to britannica.com, a UFO is “any aerial object or optical phenomenom not readily identifiable to the observer”.
THE ROSWELL INCIDENT
In 1947, near Roswell, New Mexico, the Roswell Army Airfield issued a press release that said the military had recovered the remains of a “flying disc”.
“The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County,” the press release read.
“The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.”
DISTANCE BETWEEN ROSWELL, NM AND MARFA, TX.
It’s not that far from Roswell to Marfa, about 269 miles.
UFO = Image by Peter Lomas from https://pixabay.com/
This week in our Texas Road Trip series, we are going to go to a community in far West Texas, Marfa.
Marfa is a sleepy little town located in the Chihuahuan Desert of far West Texas, out in the middle of nowhere, between Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains.
Marfa is the county seat of Presidio County.
During WWII, the Marfa Army Airfield was used as a training center for pilots.
The climate is a semiarid climate with hot summers and cool winters.
The town is about sixty miles from the border with Mexico and about 375 miles from Austin, the capital of the great state of Texas.
Today the town is known as a tourist destination. It has gone cool and hipster and is well known for its minimalist art, artisan shops, and art galleries.
However, Marfa’s main claim to fame is the Marfa Lights.
WHAT IS MARFA TEXAS FAMOUS FOR?
The town is famous for the Marfa Lights and for the shooting of the movie “Giant” in 1956. “
Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean and Dennis Hopper starred in that movie.
“Giant” was the last movie in which James Dean starred. He died eight days after the movie was finished in a car accident.
James Dean starred in three movies:
⦁ “East of Eden” (1955)
⦁ “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955)
⦁ “Giant” (1956).
He is most well known for his role in the movie “Rebel Without a Cause”.
Dean came to be known as the personification of the cool but troubled, non conformist teenage rebels of his day.
Dean was so captivated by the Lights that he kept a telescope near him so he could see the Lights at night.
THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The Chihuahuan Desert is the largest hot desert in North America.
The Chihuahuan desert is the easternmost and the southernmost desert in North America.
WEST TEXAS DESERT = image by Elizabeth Danford from https://pixabay.com/
WHERE IS THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT?
The Chihuahuan Desert covers an area of approximately 140,000 square miles .
It stretches from West Texas, into southern New Mexico, into the southeastern part of Arizona, and south to the northern edge of central Mexico.
Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas, is the largest city in the desert region.
In West Texas, the Chihuahuan Desert includes an area of about 50,000 square miles, almost one fifth of the landmass of the entire state of Texas.
RAINFALL IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The average annual rainfall for the Chihuahuan Desert is a mere 9.3 inches.
WILDLIFE IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The Chihuahuan Desert wildlife includes more than 130 species of animals such as Mule deer, Pronghorn antelope and mountain lions.
The largest prairie dog colony in North America lives in this desert.
WHAT IS THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT KNOWN FOR?
There are believed to be 3,500 plant species in this desert.
A fourth of the cactus species in the world are found in this desert.
Cactus, Cresote, Mesquite, and Yucca plants are some of the most abundant plants in the region.
OVERGRAZING IN THE CHIHUAHUAN DESERT
The Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem has been decimated by an increasing human population, over grazing with cattle, sheep and goats, and the waste and misuse of limited water supplies in the region.
For more information on the Chihuahuan Desert, click on this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chihuahuan_Desert
DESERT = image by MDHERREN from https://pixabay.com/
Marfa is situated at the intersection of U.S. Highway 67 and U.S. Highway 90 on the northeastern side of Presidio county.
The town is located 26 miles west of Alpine, 21 miles southwest of Fort Davis, 160 miles southwest of Odessa, and 162 miles southeast of El Paso.
The town’s elevation is 4,690 feet above sea level.
According to “The World Population Review”, the population in 2020 was about 1,531 inhabitants (https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/marfa-tx-population).
The town was founded in 1883 as a freight and water terminal for the San Antonio railroad.
According to legend, the town was named “Marfa” because the wife of a railroad manager who was reading the book “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, suggested the name to her husband.
The name “Marfa” is the name of a character in the book.
MARFA LIGHTS HISTORY
“Ghost Lights” are not unique to this area. They have been seen throughout history in different parts of the world.
The Native Americans who lived in the area before the arrival of the first European settlers, had observed the phenomena known as the “Marfa Lights” for many years before the first recorded observance by European settlers in the area.
The Apache believed the lights to be fragments of stars that had fallen to earth.
COWBOY = image by Elizabeth Fichtl from https://pixabay.com/
In 1883, Robert Ellison and some cowboys were herding cattle through Paisano Pass.
As nightfall came, Ellison and the cowboys prepared their camp for the night. One of the cowhands happened to notice, in the distance, several reddish orange balls in the direction of the Chinati Mountains.
The balls hovered, darted and danced five to ten feet over the ground across the desert landscape.
The cowboys thought for a few minutes, about what they were seeing.
They came to the conclusion that what they saw were the signal lights of Apache warriors who were known to frequent the area.
In the following weeks, Ellison told what he had seen to ranchers, cowhands and settlers in the area. Many of these people claimed to have seen something similar to what Ellison and his cowhands had seen.
At this time, there were no “artificial” lights, other than fire.
There were no automobile lights, flashlights, airplanes, satellites, etc. that might have been used to create this type of event.
An article about the Lights titled “Ghost Light Appears in Marfa Area” was written in the San Angelo Times in 1945
Another article about the Lights was the article in Coronet Magazine (1957) . The article described the Lights as the “Texas Ghost Lights”.
ARE THE MARFA LIGHTS A HOAX?
I don’t believe the Lights are a hoax for the following reasons:
⦁ Native Americans living in the area, observed the Lights for many years before the first European settlers established their homes in the area. No highways or artificial lights, such as car lights, flashlights, satellites, etc. existed at this time.
⦁ In 1883, Robert Ellison mentioned the Lights to other ranchers and settlers living in the area. Some of these people claimed to have seen similar sightings. No highways or artificial lights, such as car lights, satellites, etc. existed at this time.
⦁ O.W. Williams, the grandfather of Texas gubernatorial candidate, Clayton Williams, wrote of the Lights in the 1880's.
⦁ People from all walks of life have reported seeing “something” out there.
People are seeing “something”. What that “something” is has yet to be determined.
POSSIBLE EXPLANATIONS FOR THE MARFA LIGHTS
Possible explanations for the cause of the phenomenon include:
⦁ phosphorescent minerals that might glow in the dark and can be seen from a distance.
⦁ the accumulation of methane gas.
⦁ St. Elmo’s fire.
⦁ headlights of automobiles
⦁ satellites in the night sky
⦁ the flickering of distant campfires
Phosphorescent minerals and methane gas are not found in the area and conditions in the area do not favor the creation of St. Elmo’s fire.
Another explanation is the reflection of headlights in the distance from automobiles, pickup trucks or a satellite orbiting in the horizon.
This explanation does not consider the observances of the Native Americans or the early European settlers in the area long before automobiles, flashlights or satellites were invented.
The Lights have been observed to move, dance, dart, split into various parts, etc.
They probably aren’t campfires as campfires don’t move, at least not the campfires I have made.
Many people believe the lights to be UFOS as the lights show the same characteristics as UFO sightings in other parts of the world.
According to this article in nationalgeographic.com, Marfa is one of the top five UFO hot spots in the American Southwest.
⦁ a mirage
⦁ a campfire in the distance
The Lights are seen in the same general area on many clear nights.
People who have seen the Lights have said they hover, dart in one direction, then another direction, change colors, often disappear then reappear.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE LIGHTS
The lights are said to be about the size of a basketball and are red, yellow, blue, white and sometimes other colors.
The lights are said to dance, move and bounce around at different speeds.
Lights from an automobile would shine in a straight line and not bounce around.
The lights appear suddenly, from nowhere. They move rapidly, then stop suddenly. They hover for some time and then they dart off in different directions.
WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO SEE THE MARFA LIGHTS?
The best place to see the Lights is nine miles east of the town off U.S. 90 on the Mitchell Flats. Mitchell Flats is where most of the sightings have occurred.
The Texas Highway Department has built a roadside park nine miles east of the town on U.S. Highway 90 for the purpose of viewing the Marfa Lights.
CAN YOU SEE THE LIGHTS EVERY NIGHT?
No, they appear randomly without regard to the temperature, season or weather conditions.
MARFA LIGHTS VIEWING AREA
Address: US-90, Marfa, TX 79843.
Phone: (432) 729–4772
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THINGS TO DO
MARFA LIGHTS FESTIVAL
The Festival is held each year during the Labor Day weekend.
For more information on the Marfa Lights Festival 2019, click on this link: http://marfachamber.org/menu/
You can also call this number: 432–295–0509
JAMES DEAN MEMORIAL MARFA
The James Dean Memorial is off of US Highway 90, about 7 miles west of the town, on the north side of the highway.
The artwork was done by artist John Cerney in October 2018.
For more information on the James Dean Memorial in Marfa, click on this link:
If you are into flying gliders, the Marfa Plateau and the surrounding mountains produce the thermals necessary for some good glider flying.
Glider lessons and rides are available throughout the year.
For more information on flying gliders in the area contact the Marfa Municipal Airport at 915–729–3102. or 1- 800 667 9464.
In the 1970’s, minimalist artist Donald Judd bought some buildings to display his art. Today, the town has become a center for creative people to display their work.
Many art festivals are held throughout the year.
For information on art festivals in click on this link:
For more information on the arts , click on this link:
DONALD JUDD MARFA
In 1971, Donald Judd, the American minimalist artist, left New York city and moved to here to promote his theories on Minimalist Art.
From New York city to Marfa, Texas. Talk about different living conditions. From a major metropolitan city like New York to a one horse town like Marfa. I bet it took him some time to get used to living in the desert.
In 1979, Judd bought 340 acres of land outside of the city limits.
In 1986, the Chinati Foundation established an exhibit to promote the works of Donald Judd and other artists on the site Judd had bought.
The website for the Chinati Foundation is: http://www.chinati.org/ and their telephone number is: 432–729–44597.
In 1996, the Judd Foundation was formed to preserve and promote the work of Donald Judd in Marfa and in New York.
PRADA MARFA = image by popmortem from https://pixabay.com/
In 2005, the artists Elmgreen and Dragset opened an exhibit designed like a real Prada store.
They stocked it with Prada shoes and handbags chosen from the 2005 fall and winter Prada collection.
The shoes and handbags were donated by Miuccia Prada.
Prada Marfa is located 1.5 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas and 37 miles from Marfa.
Can you go inside Prada Marfa? No, you can’t go inside. It is a fake Prada store and is locked.
The newspaper for the community is the Big Bend Sentinel. Their telephone number is: 432–729–4342 and their website is: http://bigbendsentinel.com/
The November 1, 2012 edition has a report of a UFO sighting near Fort Davis.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The website for the chamber of commerce is: https://www.countyoffice.org/marfa-texas-chamber-of-commerce-marfa-tx-4fa/
The Chamber of Commerce telephone number is: 915–729–4942.
The Hotel Paisano is located at: 207 North Highland Avenue.
Their telephone number is: 432–729–3669.
Their website is: http://hotelpaisano.com/ .
The 1950’s movie “Giant” starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean was filmed in the area.
The stars and film crew stayed in the Hotel Paisano.
THE THUNDERBIRD HOTEL
The Thunderbird Hotel is located at: 601 West Antonio Street.
Their telephone number is: 432–729–1984.
Their website is: http://thunderbirdmarfa.com/ .
THE HOTEL SAINT GEORGE
The Hotel Saint George is located at: 105 South Highland Avenue.
Their telephone number is: (432) 729–3700.
Their website is: http://marfasaintgeorge.com/
CAMPING AND RV PARKS
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There are several camping and RV facilities.
El Cosmico is a 21 acre campground and hotel. Accommodations include:
⦁ 10 renovated vintage trailers
⦁ 15 safari tents and scout tents
⦁ 3 Sioux-style tepees,
⦁ 2 Mongolian yurts
⦁ tent campsites.
Their address is: 902 South Highland Ave.
Their telephone number is: 432–729–1950
Their website is: https://elcosmico.com/
909 West San Antonio Street Highway 90
Mediterranean style food.
Phone: 1 432–207–2090
103 Highland Street
Phone: 1 432–729–2030
515 S. Highland Ave.
Phone: 1 325–514–8675
The nearest WalMart store is in Fort Stockton, 100 miles away.
STATE AND NATIONAL PARKS
GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 105 miles north of the town.
The four highest mountain peaks in Texas are found here. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, is one of the peaks located in this park.
They aren’t much of a mountain but they are all we’ve got here in Texas. Apologies to Colorado but these mountains are the best we can do when it comes to mountains.
The Guadalupe Mountains National Park website is: https://www.nps.gov/gumo/index.htm
Their telephone number is: (915) 828–3251.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
RIO GRANDE RIVER = image by David Mark from https://pixabay.com/
The Big Bend National Park is located about 106 miles south of Marfa.
The Rio Grande river runs through the park. The Rio Grande river is the boundary between the United States and Mexico.
Sea fossils and dinosaur bones can be found in the park.
“Sea” fossils. In the desert. Out in West Texas. How did they get there? Think about that.
The Big Bend National Park website is: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm
Their telephone number is: (432) 477–2251
DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK
The Davis Mountains State Park is located about 25 miles north.
The Davis Mountains State Park website is:
Their telephone number is: (432) 426–3337
BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK
The Big Bend Ranch State Park is located about 59 miles south of Marfa.
The Big Bend Ranch State Park website is: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch
Their telephone number is: (432) 358–4444
BALMORHEA STATE PARK
The Balmorhea Pool is fed by an underground spring, the San Solomon Springs. The pool is one of the largest spring fed pools in the world.
Balmorhea is about 60 miles north.
The Balmorhea State Park website is: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/balmorhea
Their telephone number is: (432) 375–2370.
FT. DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
NATIVE AMERICAN = image by Wikil images from https://pixabay.com/
Ft. Davis was established as a military post from 1854 to 1891.
Troops protected mail coaches, freight wagons and people traveling on the San Antonio to El Paso Road.
Ft. Davis is 21 miles northeast.
The Ft. Davis website is: https://www.nps.gov/foda/fortdavisfrontierpost.htm
Their telephone number is: 432) 426–3224.
SITES OF INTEREST NEARBY
The McDonald Observatory is about 16 miles from Ft. Davis and about 37 miles from Marfa.
The McDonald Observatory website is: https://mcdonaldobservatory.org/
If you happen to be in the area, drive down to Marfa. Visit with the locals, eat some Mexican food, fly in a glider. In the evening, drive to the viewing area.
Who knows. You might see the Lights or a UFO.
Roswell, New Mexico isn’t too far away.
Hope you enjoyed this Texas Road Trip.
Safe and happy travels to all.
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