Ghost light, phantom light, ghost train or phantom train, regardless of what it’s called, it’s an eerie phenomenon in St. Louis, Sask.
Just outside the small village of 450 people is a legend that dates back a century.
The story involves a train conductor, either in the front or caboose car, who was decapitated by the train one night.
Some speculate he either fell or was checking the tracks when the train reversed over him.
Many locals believe that led to the mysterious ghost train that has long haunted the old tracks and stories of the conductor roaming the tracks looking for his head.
Edward Lussier of St. Louis has witnessed the ghost light.
“When I was growing up in my teens … we used to go there quite a bit on weekends and if you sat on the track and looked south down the train track, the light would appear periodically,” said Lussier.
He recalled one night in particular.
His father, mother, aunt and uncle wanted to see the light and he and his cousin wanted to follow in his own vehicle and scare them.
Lussier’s father and uncle were walking the tracks while his mother and aunt waited in the parked car and Lussier and his cousin walked behind them.
“The light came behind us and lit us up and the silhouettes and the tracks and they kind of recognized us…. Dad come running ’cause he thought we’d be scared and we hadn’t even noticed, we didn’t see the light ourselves, so that was kind of a eerie thing,” said Lussier.
Les Rancout, St. Louis’s mayor, has also seen the light.
“It basically looks like a street light from a distance that’s a little brighter and gets a little dimmer and there’s a little red light that’s sometimes seen on either side of it,” said Rancourt.
The small red light is believed to be the lantern of the headless conductor.
This mysterious sight has been featured on an Unsolved Mysteries, a U.S. TV show, and was immortalized in a Canada Post stamp earlier this year.
Many have tried to explain the ghost train phenomenon, including universities and the army.
Two La Ronge teens received first place in their science fair when they thought they solved the mystery.
In their experiment, they found a road that lined up with the site. When one girl’s father flashed his car lights, the ghost train appeared. When he flashed his rear taillights, the small red lights appeared.
Rancourt said others have tried to duplicate their experiment but without the same results.
Locals doubt the girls’ theory because the lights were seen long before the advent of cars in the district.
The ghost train was once a popular draw for people, with shirts made and a diner named after it.
They are gone now from the community but people are still drawn to the light.