The Joplin/Hornet Spooklight Road (OK E50) at the Missouri-Oklahoma Border (Southwest Missouri and Northeast Oklahoma). The marked position is the general viewing location. The spooklights are visible in dark conditions when facing west. The distance between the viewing location and the NE/SW highway (I-44/Will Rogers Turnpike) is about 3 1/2 miles. (Map from Google Maps)
The Senath/Hornersville/Arbyrd Spooklight Road (Dunklin CR602) located in the Missouri Bootheel. The spooklight viewing site is denoted, the other points are haunted urban legend locations associated with the lights. The spooklights are visible in dark conditions when facing west. The distance between the viewing location and the NE/SW highway (412) is about 3 1/2 miles. (Map from Google Maps)
by Michael Huntington
Spooklights, or Ghost Lights, are a unique anomalous atmospheric phenomena associated with rural Lover’s Lane urban legends involving ghosts and, more recently, alien visitors and their technology. American folklore tales involving spooklights are numerous and can be found in nearly every state, in some form. The lights can go by different identifying names, depending on the nearby town names by witnesses from those towns.
The lights, themselves, appear as glowing, basketball-sized “orbs” – of various colors and intensity – that flit and move about long, country nighttime roads. In some accounts the lights interact with witnesses and their vehicles.
Traditional ghost stories generally involve a cursed Native American Indian spirit, or an unfortunate railway worker, eternally looking for their missing heads. Contemporary stories, influenced by 20th century Space-Age/Flying Saucer popular culture, see “alien probes” or “Interdimensional Beings” as the cause of these Nocturnal Lights.
Skeptical investigators, seeking a more mundane scientific explanation for a visible and documentable phenomena, theorize: optical illusions, hallucinations, ball lightning, seismic discharge plasma (Earth Lights), glowing phosphorous, swamp gases, hoaxers, or simple mis-identifications of some other natural phenomenon.
Do the similarities between the Joplin and Senath Spooklight Road layouts denote evidence supporting some kind of optical illusion involving automobile headlights and unique positioning? Quite possibly – and probability would tend towards this explanation. But, many of the early native tales – based upon observations – predate modern roads that would cause luminous nocturnal mirages…so who can tell? And what of reported electromagentic effects caused by proximity to active and “interactive” flying orbs? Are these also illusory optics? Questions abound.
The lights remain mysteries, however, due to the fact that the various locations that purport anomalous lights may have varied causes as multiple as the explanations. These map similarities may just denote a certain “type” of spooklight anomoly and not be the complete answer to all encounters, everywhere – as sweeping conclusions to this varied subject can never be. However, each of these localized phenomena CAN be tested and studied and documented. Each anomaly must be investigated fully on their own, first, before any true correlative data can be fully extrapolated. These similarities are interesting pieces of some intriguing puzzles, though, and aid in helping us see how things fit (or don’t fit) together. The answers, as always, lay in more study.
Note: Last Fall, I visited the Senath Spooklight Road in Southeast Missouri and conducted a field study observation with my friend, Julian Yarbrough. While doing some recent background, I came across these Joplin/Senath spooklight location map layout similarities on Google Maps and was excited enough to share! I will be fully documenting our observations in a future article and, possibly, a short doc (tons of pics and video)! I also plan to conduct a nighttime observation – with the family – at the Joplin Spooklight (OK E50) location next year when we travel to Texas and will share those as well!