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BICYCLE SPORTS
2770 Interstate 10 East
Beaumont, TX 77703
(409) 860-5959


Saratoga
Directions to the trail head from Beaumont:
Take Hwy 105 from Beaumont, past Sour Lake to Hwy 770.  
Turn rite on Hwy 770 and look for the BIG THICKET National Preserve Field Station on the left side of the road.

This is an All Terrain Bicycle Ride.  Wide tires are better!


Saratoga Ghost Road, Bragg Road Gallery




 Saratoga Ghost Road, Bragg Road Ride
Follow these signs...

Park in the park...

When we're all here, we'll begin the ride.

Keep an eye on Tom Thompson, Our ride leader...
Hear the whistle?  Saddle up!

The Trail Head Marker reads:

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The Ghost Road History

Rails Oil & Timber

      The Gulf, Colorado & SantaFe Railway (GCSF)
needed oil for it's locomotives and the Saratoga
boom offered opportunities.  So they built a nine
mile spurr south of the west end line between
Sommerville & Silsbee from Bragg to Saratoga.  
Construction began in Nov 1903 and reached
Saratoga in January 1904.  

      The road cuts through Big Thicket forest straight
as an arrow.  For nearly thirty years the line carried
oil, lumber, merchandise & people through the
dense swampy woods.

            The McShane lumber Co operated from 1904 -
1918 at the mill town of Dearborn near the Saratoga
end of the Sprur.  The sawmill had a daily capacity of
150,000 board feet.  To supply the mill with logs, the
company built a standard gauge railroad, the Dearborn
Tram and Transfer Company.  The railroad, mill and
townsite were abandoned and dismantled in 1918.  

      Eventually pipelines replaced rail transportation &
lumber production dwindled.  Crews pulled the SantaFe
rails in 1934, & the county purchesed the 100 foot right-
of-way for $263.35.  The tram became a country road.
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The Texas Historical Marker next to it reads:

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      GHOST ROAD, THE BIG THICKET LIGHT

      Ghost Road runs arrow straight through territory that
once was Thicket, Cypress Brake, Baygals and Loblolly
Pines.  It began as the bed of a branch rail line of the Gulf
Colorado and SantaFe that ran between the towns of Bragg
& Saratoga to provive access to the timberlands of the area.  

At the southern end of the line was the McShane lumber
company operation at Dearborn.  Tales of a ghostly light began even as the line was in service, before automobiles ran through
the area.

      The stories continued after the line was converted to a county road in the 1930's.  Arthur Fullingim, outspoken editor of the Kountze News, published accounts of ghost light sightings, which brought widespread attention and interest.  The road became a popular site for travellers, young couples and others interested in the phenomenon known as the Ghost, Bragg, Big Thicket or Saratoga Light.  Explanations over the years have included The Natural-- swamp gas or reflection of phosphoric Foxfire; The Historical-- gold hidden by Spanish Soldiers and explorers; as well as The Supernatural-- the spirits of a railworker searching for his lost head, a groom looking for his murdered bride, a lost hunter, disgruntled rail workers
or jayhawkers.  

      In addition to its place in popular lore, the roads once dense timber stands attracted development and lumber interests.  For decades, county officials disagreed with others including noted Big Thicket conservationist R.E. Jackson, over the road's importance.  In the late 1990's it finally became a protected resource.  Today, it draws visitors enticed by its flora & fauna as well as it's mythic ghostly lights.                (May 2005)

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Another marker along the way.  This one reads:

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      Folklore & Ghosts

      Ghost road runs "straight as a rifle barr'l" along the
old SantaFe branch line.  During the day the road offers
a delightful ecological tour.  At night the road becomes
the source of countless bone-chilling tales of mysterious
ghost lights that haunt the isolated road and the abandoned track.  Numerous reports of mysterious lights contribute to the spooky reputation Ghost Road (a.k.a., Bragg Road).

      Perhaps the light is that of a decapitated railroad brakeman with lantern in hand searching endlessly for his missing head?  

Or maybe it is a widowed groom looking for his bride's killer?  

Or did the Kaiser Burnout leave a bit of fire that was never
extinguished.  

      Greed for money sparked other tales.  Do spirits of the
Spanish Conquistadors search for burried treasure?  Or are
the spirits of a Mexican Rail Crew, murdered for their wages-- now resting uneasily in the nearby Mexican cemetary?

      When Ole Arch Fullingim, Kountze News editor, ignited a
public ruccus in the 1960's, F.E. Abernathy reported; "light-
seers poured onto the road by the hudreds.  People of all
ages and intellects came to see it and test their belief in
the supernatural.  They chased it, shot at it, tested it with
litmus paper and Geiger counters.  A preacher harangued
the road's multitudes from the top of his car, marking the
Light as an ill omen of the world's impending doom."

      A legion of skeptics claim the light is reflected car
headlights, but true believers remind them that the lights
were there before the cars.  

      Or maybe there's a scientiffic explanation: "Foxfire"
or swampgas? Electromagnetic field?"
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NOTE:  The markers on both ends of the road are identical.

This was an "out and back" type ride.  We're taking a
break before we turn around and head back.




PHOTO  GALLERIES

 Pics from our 2005 Ride:

This is usually a summer evening ride.   We started
before it was fully dark.  
It was a beautiful nite.

The entrance to the Ghost road was a mile or two away.

Joe, Billy, Katie & Boogie and friends at the entrance
to the Bragg Ghost road in Saratoga, Texas.

GHOST!?!?!   No, it's our ride leader Tom Thompson.

Why did the cyclist ride the road?  
To get to the other end, of course.
The markers at both ends of the road are identical.



 Nov 4, 2006 Photo's

     Because of Hurricane Katrina, our schedule was thrown off this year.  What is usually a summer ride was rescheduled in the fall.  It was a cool clear evening and it was a full moon.  We were not there to seek ghosts, but to ride bicycles and enjoy each others compnay.  
     This year we had a special surprise at the end of the road.  

I used my bicycle and it's incredible Cateye 3 LED headlite to illuminate the BIG THICKET sign.  This is where we gathered.

Our hosts, Abbie (left of Abbie's Imports fame) & "Mean Jean" had a real surprise party waiting for us at the other end of the road.  Chili, hot dogs, soda, hot chocolate, hot tea, torches and a beautiful table.

The tail gate was down, the chili was hot and the spot they found couldn't have been more perfect.  It looks really rocky and rough, but the rocks were packed really hard and made a very nice surface for a party.


Pictures really didn't do the table and justice.  It was beautifully set- it had a European flair.  Remember, we were way back in the woods, really in the middle of no-where!  It was a Wow! moment.


We had a lot of couples on this ride.


Gene read what amounted to the Historical Markers pictured above for all to hear.  It gave a fair glimpse into the events that brought us here this evening.

Like the steam rising and disappearing into the cool nite air, the evening was fading into a memory.  The ride back was fun, challenging for some, but incredible for all.  We had a bright full moon and good company and determination to do it again next year.

e

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      Girish is from Bombay, India.  He is a retired Chemical Engineer from Exxon-Mobil which makes him a full time Gymn Rat & Cyclist.  He had so much fun last year at the ghost road ride that he offered to work with Abbie of Abbie's Imports to provide the exotic menu listed below for the half way point feast.  His lentils were the best I've ever had!  The food was excellent.
       Getting a southeast Texan to try anything new can be a challenge... but we learn't this:  promise them food, work 'em hard, then let them try something new.  Comments I heard were, "I wouldn't ordinarily eat food like this, but this is really pretty good..."  Success!
       Everyone ate and well.  There was an abundance.  The greatest compliment to the chef is that people who were aprehensive tasted, but came back for more.  Hey, lentils are beans, sort of.  


Girish's Menu for the 2007 Half Way Point:


- Antipasto/ Tapas
- Stuffed grape leaves ( GREEK )

- Olive Pesto ( ITALY )

- Humus with pita chips ( MOROCCO )

- Potatoes Bravas  ( spain )
- French lentil du puy with smoked sausage
- Chicken Suvalaki ( GREEK )
- tea etc

     Abbie of Abbie's Imports, Mediterranean Food Store

 Nov 3rd, 2007 Pics
      This years ride was tuff.  Saratoga Road is actually un-paved and it had been a while since it had rained this year.  Dry means sandy.  Sandy means it will be hard to ride.  We were all pretty wibbly wobbly, but, and I hope I speak for everyone, a good time was had by all.  Several folks had the good sense to turn around before they exhausted themselves, realizing they had met their match.
      Others needed to quit after turning was an option.  The locals were extremely accomodating tho, giving several couples a ride back to the starting point in the back of their pick ups.   It was like a war zone that evening too, because the first Saturday of November is the opening day of huntin' season.  Every vehicle out there had a rifle in it's rack.
      This was a counter cultural ride of sorts:
It's safe to assume all who were in attendance were not hunters.  
We were exercising.  
We were trying new foods.  
We were seeing a local point of interest.  
We were learning about the areas history.  
We were enjoying each others company, friends and family alike.
      Oh, by the way, this is not a road bike ride... bring a cruiser, a hybrid or a mountain bike.
Food good!

Jesse & his son, Chris


It was  a beautiful european style table
Mean Jean serving it up hot!

Sisters

Hey, ya'll, I need more pic's here, my selection is woefully inadequate.  burn a disk or bring a thumb drive and I'll download what ya have.  Thanks.  e

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