In the quiet Texan town of Anson, a local legend has taken form after small lights no one could explain appeared. Is it the lantern of a ghost or is the Anson lights simply the lights from the cars on the highway?

There is something about the highway, especially along those monotone dusty roads that goes on for hours. The highway can make the mind wander, it takes you down a road, not only geographically, but something happens with the mind as well on long stretches of nothingness. Time passes differently when you are behind the wheel. Perhaps that is what happens along the highway in Anson? Where does the ghostly lights come from then?


Near Abilene, Texas is the quaint town of Anson, that may or may not have been the inspiration for the movie Footloose as they too had an actual no dancing law in the 80s. And although living in that movie sounds cool, living in the real town before Kevin Bacon, does not.

The landscape around this ghost town by the highway is flat and dusty. Nothing in the horizon except blue sky, red if the dust swirls in the air. The few growing things there is sparse, revealing everything in a spartanic landscape.

They don’t really like the fuzz down there, and they certainly don’t like the fuzz the legend the highway ghost had provided them with. “For a long time people were embarrassed by the Anson light,” then mayor (2000) Tom Isbell said in a great article in the Texas Monthly. “Anson has stories to tell, but for some reason we just don’t tell them.”

And for the time being, the town of Anson, is known for the Anson lights.

The Lantern of a Grieving Mother

The Anson lights have attracted many curious spectators, paranormal investigators and mediums to this town. But perhaps mostly, it is high school students with nothing to do in this no dance town on a Saturday evening. It can be a pretty scary sight in the dead of night, with only nearby coyotes howling and screaming.

To see the Anson lights, you must drive by the local cemetery, Mount Hope, just outside of the town. Then you follow a dirt road along the graveyard until you reach a crossroad. There you turn, facing the road again and stop your car and flash your lights at the end of the road. If you are lucky, you will see them, something will shine a light back. From the other side at an distance a flickering light can be seen.

The Anson lights: If you drive by the cemetery and flick your light, supposedly the Anson lights will flick back.
bokeh photography of lights
The Anson lights: If you drive by the cemetery and flick your light, supposedly the Anson lights will flick back.
Photo: Paul Cameron on

But what really is the Anson lights? Surely they are there as numerous Youtube videos and pictures have showed us them. One of the most appealing explanation is of course the supernatural ones. Because a ghost town has its ghosts as well.

Local legend has it that it’s a grieving mother looking for her son. She was out looking for him with a lantern in the snowy Texas winter. She never found him. Or… she hasn’t found him, yet. In The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories by Alan Brown there is more than one legend of just who is flickering the lights back by the graveyard. In another version of the legend, the mother told her sons to run to the store. She gave them a lantern that they would flash three times with, if they got into trouble. And they did. On their way home, they were killed by an oncoming train. They are still flashing their light, trying to signal their mother for help.

Debunking the Legend

Who is to say that this didn’t happen? Perhaps no historic records in any case that we have found. And with every unconfirmed record, there is this voice saying, well… doesn’t really prove it didn’t happen though. What is proven though, is that there is a more logical than paranormal explanation to it.

At Abilene Christian University, a professor brought along his students to prove that the lights were actually coming from traffic lights from a nearby highway than from a ghostly mother with a lantern. With GPS trackers and binoculars, his students were able to document that the light were just lights from cars going south on a nearby road. A thing the Southwestern Ghost Hunters Association had already claimed.

So, everyone happy then? Perhaps not the kids of Anson. The professor issued an apology for the reveal and to the locals of the town felt this was the story they could have fun with. What now? What now for fun?

The Anson lights is the approaching car lights from southbound traffic on US-277. Perhaps that is the true haunting, the cars going away. As the little town of Anson is closing up, boarding up their shops and the cars are streaming passed our out of the town, perhaps that is the true ghost of Anson.


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