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Robert Kent

The men are
They cannot
explain the

It is night. In the small town of Gurdon in Arkansas, USA, railroad workers see a strange yellow light hovering above the railroad track.

The light seems to move in circles. The men walk towards it. It disappears. Suddenly the light reappears behind them. The men are frightened. They cannot explain the light. It moves slowly down the track. They follow it. At a certain point it moves off the track into a local graveyard. The terrified men continue to follow it. The light stops above a tombstone. Then it disappears. The men shine their torches on the tombstone. They read the inscription. It marks the grave of a railroad worker called Will McClain. The men remember his story.

Will McClain was a railroad foreman. One of his men, Lewis McBride, was giving him problems. The man wasn't doing his job properly. He was negligent. McClain fired him. McBride was a cruel violent man. He turned on McClain and hit him with a shovel. McClain was badly injured but he managed to run away from McBride along the railroad track. McBride chased McClain, caught him and murdered him brutally with a hammer.

The law soon caught up with McBride. They charged him with murder and he died by execution in February 1932. Not long after, the strange yellow light started to appear at the place where McClain died. Was it McClain's ghost?

People from the town of Crossett, also near Arkansas, saw a similar light above their railroad track. They believe it is the ghost of another railwayman. In the early 1900s a brakeman climbed down from his train just outside Crossett. He wanted to inspect the track. It was night so he had a lamp with him. He bent over to repair something.

Just then, without warning, the train lurched forward, ran over the man and decapitated him. The man's horrified companions carried his body on to the train. They couldn't find his head. Today people say that the light comes from the dead man's lantern. Every night the headless brakeman walks down the track, looking for his lost head.

There are many stories like these in the sleepy little towns in and around South Carolina, USA. Perhaps the best-known tells the story of Joe Baldwin.

In 1867, Baldwin was working as a brakeman on a train travelling through the town of Maco. During the journey, the train's boxcar came loose. Baldwin knew that an express train was due very soon. He stood on the platform of the boxcar and signalled with his lantern, trying to get the express train to stop. The driver didn't see him in time. In the horrific crash that followed, the express train decapitated Baldwin. They never found his head.

Perhaps the lights are caused by natural phenomena like gases, mineral deposits or local atmospheric conditions But, if you see any unexplained lights by railroad tracks, many people in the South would advise you to be very, very careful.

Source: English Digest


hovering: suspendida sobre
railroad track: vía del ferrocarril
towards it: hacia ella
disappears: desaparece
reappears: reaparece
frightened: asustados
graveyard: cementerio
tombstone: lápida, piedra sepulcral
shine their torches: apuntan sus linternas
foreman: capataz
negligent: descuidado, negligente
fired him: lo despidió
shovel: pala
badly injured: seriamente herido
to run away from: para huir de
murdered him brutally:
lo asesinó brutalmente
caught up with: lo atrapó a
by execution: ejecutado
not long after: no mucho después
brakeman climbed down: guardafrenos saltó

bent over: se agachó para
without warning: de buenas a primeras, de repente
lurched forward: se puso en marcha
ran over: atropelló
decapitated: decapitó
dead man's lantern: la farola (linterna) del muerto
headless: degollado
sleepy little towns: pueblos somnolientos
the best-known tells: la más famosa cuenta
train's boxcar came loose: furgón de carga se soltó
was due: estaba programado (para pasar)
signalled: hizo señales
lantern: la farola (linterna)
in time: a tiempo
horrific crash: espantoso choque
natural phenomena: fenómenos naturales
unexplained lights: luces inexplicables
would advise you: te aconsejarían