Ghost Train: The St. Louis Light

In the town of St. Louis in Saskatchewan, Canada, there has persisted for years tales of a light traveling on train tracks which have been long closed. This light is now called the “St. Louis Light.”

St. Louis Lights
An alleged photo of the St. Louis Light

The Light is described as becoming visible along a railroad bed north of St. Louis where the tracks have long since been removed. Though the Light travels the length of the railroad bed, there is no identifiable source but it begins as a glow that increases in brightness, reaching a brightness witnesses have compared to a star. The Light usually starts on the right side of the bed and moves to the center before disappearing after a few seconds to about an hour.

There are some variations to the myth, however. Some claim they have smaller lights flash on and off in the general area of the Light. Others say they have seen the Light followed by another light which is deep red in color. This red light is sometimes preceded by reactions from animals, such as coyotes and wolves howling and even geese honking.

There are claims the St. Louis Light can’t be captured on photo or video, though both claims have been debunked. It is also said the Light can affect a car or interfere with the electronics, though this has never been documented either. It is theorized that if a car physically touched the Light some consequences may occur, but that has been connected with other similar lights.

So where did the Light come from?

Union Station
Postcard depicting Union Station in St. Louis

Unfortunately, there is no concrete explanation as to what may have happened in the area to cause it to be haunted. However, there are a few tales associated with the Light that have been passed down which may shed some illumination.

One story is very generic, suggesting the light is that of a rail worker’s lantern, who is searching for his head which was cut off in an accident on the tracks, though other lights have similar stories. Other versions of the story suggest the lantern is someone looking for a little girl on the tracks who was struck by the train, while some claim the light is related to a train accident. It could be the Light is supposed to be the headlamp of a train engine, while the red light is the lantern marking the rear of the train. Most versions do not have anything specific to set the St. Louis Light apart from other ghost train stories.

However, one story claims the story is related to a train passing by St. Louis when it was stopped due to snow on the tracks and two men decided to steal the mail. Eventually one or both of the thieves got into an altercation with the conductor, who was killed. Later, one of the thieves killed his partner during an argument over the stolen mail. Both bodies were hidden in snow near the tracks, and weren’t found until later in the Spring when the snow had melted. Though there is no date presented with the story, some suggest it takes place between World War I and World War II, possibly during the 30’s.

As for scientific explanations, two twelve graders received science fair gold medals for investigating and allegedly debunking the source of the Light. According to their research, the students determined the light may be caused by “diffraction,” which is when light passes through a small opening, such as traffic lights through the trees on either side of the railroad bed, and can expand or diffuse in size.

St. Louis Light
Another photo allegedly depicting the St. Louis Light

While this may explain some sightings of the St. Louis Light, there are a few minor issues. Mayor Emile Lussier told CBC News in 2001 that he was present when a scientist came to investigate the Light, and that the scientist was baffled by the behavior of the engineer’s light. There is also how the St. Louis Light was reported before the use of cars, which eliminates the potential light sources which could have caused diffraction.

Allegedly NASA investigated the Light and declared it to be swamp gas. The show “Unsolved Mysteries” also did an episode on the St. Louis Light and even blocked off the nearby highway, though the Light nevertheless appeared.

Regardless of where the Light came from or what it means, it continues to live on in the folklore of St. Louis today with many people posting online experiences of seeing the Light after taking friends and family to the railroad bed. Odds are the legend of the St. Louis Light will be told by local residents and those interested in the paranormal for years to come.

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