Folklore Friday: The Gurdon Light
Hey, Bookworms! These last few weeks have been pretty bleak. I sort of feel like I’m being suffocated by an unrelenting blanket of darkness at all times. Probably, you get it. I think we all need a little pure wonder in our lives right now, so today we’re gonna talk about a light. No, not the one over at the Frankenstein place; it’s the mystery light of Gurdon, Arkansas. Let’s get our local legend on!
For as long as anyone can remember, a small bobbing light has appeared near the railroad tracks in the small town of Gurdon, which is around forty minutes outside Little Rock. The time and location of the light varies slightly, but it’s always there, burning bright, bouncing up and down through the woods.
The local story is that, back in the '30s, a railroad worker, let’s call him Zeke. So, Zeke is out working on the tracks at night with nothing but lantern light to guide him through the pitch black woods when he misstepped and fell onto the tracks. Before Zeke could get back up, a train came tearing down those tracks and sliced his head clean off. Now his ghost walks along the tracks looking for his lost head and, presumably, the number for OSHA because he should not have been out working on a train track in the dang dark. I mean, come on. You can’t see old Zeke’s ghost, but you can see the light of his spectral lantern bobbing along at his side as he searches.
There was a violent, railroad-connected murder nearby back in the day, so there’s that. The theories about the source of the light are so compelling that Unsolved Mysteries did a segment on it. To be honest, the theme music from Unsolved Mysteries scares me way more than any other detail of this story, but that is neither here nor there.
The locals are completely unfazed by the light now. It’s just another part of their town. No one knows what causes the light to appear, but folks have been trying to figure it out for years. Any number of scientists have studied the light and they have tried to debunk it. Lord, have they tried to debunk it. They have tried to science the little light into submission, but it refuses to be scienced. The Gurdon Light laughs in the face of science!
I definitely suggest that you check out the Gurdon Light. It’s a long walk from the road to the best viewing spot, but I think it’s totally worth it. Tripsavvy published a pretty detailed article on the light and it’s possible origins. Maybe a Halloween field trip is in your future? You can also find videos of the light on YouTube, if you’re not feeling outdoorsy.
What I love the most about the Gurdon Light is that it defies logic and science. There is no explanation for it, but it still exists. In a world that can be so dark, it’s good to know that no matter what kind of day I’m having the Gurdon Light will be there. Dancing through the dark along the railroad tracks not giving a hoot if it’s explainable or not. The light is a reminder that magic and utterly mysterious things still exist in the world. There is, and always will be, a light in the darkness of everybody's life.
Did you miss my last folklore post? No worries, you can read about the Black-Eyed Children here.