The Spooklight hovers over a lonely road on the state line between Missouri and Oklahoma, in a remote spot where the trees come together above the road. Sometimes it quivers, even moves a little and some say - although I've never experienced it - it chases vehicles or bounces on the hood of the car.
I have seen it, however, on many occasions starting with my youth when I was transplanted to the area from northwest Missouri. Going to see the Spooklight became one of those trips we made to show visiting relatives the sights of the Ozarks.The mysterious Spooklight
Although I haven't been in years, I hear it still shines on the same road although viewing conditions aren't as ideal as they once were. More people live on or near the road with yard lights that cut through the darkness. The one-time Spooklight Museum no longer exists but the curious still come to view the Spooklight.
Some call the road where the orb is seen Devil's Promenade and there are several legends that attempt to explain why the light is there. It's known as the Spooklight but also as the Hornet Ghost Light. Hornet was the small community located adjacent to the road that, like many places, has become nothing but a name and a memory.
One story claims it's the spirits of two young Native American star-crossed lovers who chose to jump off a nearby cliff rather than be parted. Another says it's the ghost of a long ago miner who came home to find his family murdered or gone. The Spooklight, they say, is his lantern as he searches for the family or for their killer.
According to various sources, the Spooklight has been seen since the earliest settlers arrived in the region. In some accounts, it dates back to the Civil War era, in others to the 1880's. It's been said by a few that it was seen as early as the 1830's, during the Trail of Tears which passed nearby.
Over the years many teams of researchers, both scientific and paranormal, have visited the site. Some studies have determined it's no more than a light refraction from nearby highways and roads. The only problem with that idea is that the Spooklight sightings were recorded long before the automobile debuted.
Back in the day, when the Spooklight road area had fewer residents, the place had a creepy vibe.
The light itself appeared more intriguing than frightening. What I saw was just a bright orb, often hovering in the notch between two trees above the road. When viewed through binoculars, it appeared to pulsate. Sometimes I saw colors wrapped in the light. On a few occasions, it seemed to sprout small fingers of light but these were visible only with the binoculars.
My scariest encounter happened when my cousin and compatriot decided we would walk down the road, gravel in those days, to come as close to the Spooklight as we could. We ventured beyond the last of the parked cars and approached the light. Despite the usual crowds who had gathered to see the light, it grew quiet as we left the others behind. The sound of our feet crunched as we advanced, the darkness growing deeper and the shadows blacker. We were within feet of the phenomenon when we heard a woman scream, an ear-splintering sharp cry that sounded as if it came from the brambles and woods along the road. Was it paranormal? We were teenagers and decided to abandon our curious quest.
The fact it had to be at least midnight might have been a factor.
I haven't been out on Devil's Promenade for a long time but as far as I know the Spooklight is still there.
I've had more than a few paranormal encounters in my life, most more involved that my Spooklight adventures but those are stories for another time, maybe in a different place.
Tomorrow is Halloween so it's the season to ponder the mysteries of the unknown and the elusive Spooklight.