Railroad tracks near Gurdon, Arkansas
In 1931 the depression gripped the town of Gurdon. Work was scarce, and men became angry and desperate in their search for a living. One such instance played itself out near the railroad tracks of Gurdon.
On a frigid December night William McClain, a foreman for Missouri-Pacific railroad, was confronted by an employee that needed more work hours. William, typically accommodating, could not provide the man with the extra hours. With the holidays so close, William was determined to spread out the working hours to all the men, giving them each a fair share.
The employee, now enraged, continued to berate William in the freezing night. With murderous rage the man struck William in the head with a shovel. William tried to struggle to his feet but the man found a pick ax and repeatedly stabbed William.
William McClain died at that spot in the cold December night.
Shortly after William's murder people began to see a strange light appear along the tracks. The light seems to move along side the railroad tracks. Many people believe this is the ghost of William checking the tracks, with lantern in hand, as he did in life.
People have described the light as orange or yellow in color, like a flame in an oil fueled lantern.
People typically have witnessed the ghost light from a distance. Approaching the ghost light is near impossible due to the rough terrain that surrounds the tracks. When people have made their way to the tracks the light has usually disappeared.
Gurdon is located approximately eighty-five miles south of Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Interstate 30, just east of the Interstate on Highway 67.
8 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
My friend and I visited Gurdon, but did not see the light. However, we plan to stake it out and spend some more time there in the future.
Some more specific directions:
There are actually two entrances to the tracks. This one is the easier of the two. Exit I-30 to Highway 53 toward Gurdon. As you are entering the city on 53, you will see a set of railroad tracks. There is a dirt road on the right (to the west) before the tracks. Turn right on the dirt road and follow it until you see a little circle where you can leave your car. The tracks are right in front of you. Follow the tracks to the right (west). You will need to go over four trestles (the wooden bridges that hold up the track). WARNING: The first trestle is starting to get rotted out, so bring a flashlight and watch your step! The first two trestles are pretty close to each other, but there is a large gap between the second and third. I would say it took us about 25 minutes to get past the fourth trestles.
A couple of notes: bring strong flashlights, as it is really dark out there and the trestles could definitely be dangerous. Wear bug spray. And plan to camp out for a while if you really want to see the light.
I grew up in Clark county Arkansas, which Gurdon sets in. As a teen, I started going to see the light. There were few nights that we failed to see it. Most commonly, it comes out from the woodline, crosses up and over the tracks, and then disappears into the other woodline. It usually appears light yellow, but sometimes is almost orange in color. A group of us were spread out along the tracks one night, walking back to the cars, when it crossed about fifty (50) feet in front of myself and the two girls I was walking with. That night, it was very orange in color, and appeared to be about three (3) feet in diameter.
What got me interested in the Gurdon Light was my boyfriend went there 2 weeks ago and he said he wants to take me there. I didnt really think much of it. Until yesterday. We are doing a research paper for english and thats the subject i chose and i plan on going there this weekend for the first time to experience it first hand. im so excited about going. i dont know what to expect except from what ive read and what my boyfriend told me.
We went to Gurdon two weeks ago and had a great time. You know the light is not head lights because they are easily seen and readily identifiable as head lights, especially on the I-30 overpass. Its a long hike. Be careful of rotting trestles. We got some great pictures and posted them on the ThorntonAusten.com blog.
Don't worry about explanations and skeptics. Just have fun. TA
I was born in Gurdon in 1942. I have always heard the story of the lights, but since we moved from there when I was just a baby, I have never seen them for myself.
My parents and siblings had all seen them. The main story I always heard was the man looking for his head.
I went there last night and saw the lights. We walked until we got between the 6th and 7th trestle. It is a long hike, so I thought there was no way it could be headlights or taillights, but they are for sure. How do I know for sure? Two people in our group didn't like crossing the trestles so they went back and stayed with our cars at the highway crossing. After we saw the lights a couple of times I called them on their cell phone. We then confirmed that EVERY time we saw lights it was happening as cars crossed the tracks. Nevertheless, it was a fun adventure.
My dad is from Gurdon and my family still lives there. As a child we would go spend a lot of holiday's and summer's with my family. As long as I could remember my dad told me the story behind the light, although I was always to scared to go check it out! Now I have kids and my dad has told them about it, now they want to go see it! I've heard many stories over the yrs with family and friends there. It's a must see and I guess my kids are gonna make me go see it! And I think the guy Terry that left a comment is my cousin "Terry" from there lol..
i have seen the light several times i live in gurdon. i believe that Mr. willams was pushed by his offender while a oncoming train as approaching the track selection that they where at. yes, the trestles are hard to cross, its worth it. the dirt road that may be your other option on intering the tracks is actualy a intrence to a cemitary, there are a lot of unmarked graves there, and some of the grave stones mark all the way back to the 1800s there are a lot of unmarked graves out there also. the grave yard is drectly across the tracks on the dirt road, in a medow looking area i have been over in that grave yard sevral times i thought it was intreasting. i will recomend using a flashlight while walking, and to turn it off and wait at least 5 min, to see if u see the gurdon light. i am reserching the gurdon light for one of my classes i think if you really study about the places that you live in you will be suprised about what you find. please excuse my grammer and spelling.