Sunday, April 4, 2021

Mysterious Spook Lights of Missouri

The state of Missouri has its share of anomalies- high numbers of UFO sightings, haunted sites, and paranormal weirdness, but the so-called spook lights, which remain unexplained to this day are among the strangest phenomena.

In Clarks Fork, an area south of I-70 in mid-Missouri accessible only by dirt roads, is one spot where strange lights have appeared. It is said that in the early 1800’s a man built a cabin near a spring and lived as a hermit. One day some hunters came upon the cabin but the hermit was gone, leaving a cold fire and his dogs. 

According to the book The Haunted Bookslick, people saw a ball of light near the hermit’s cabin which appeared to be looking in the windows. 

The ball of light would play with the neighbor’s dogs and in some cases scared them. Some families reported that the spook light would shoot through the woods, making a high-pitched noise, and even setting trees on fire, which would be found undamaged the next day.  One man reported that the light came close to his house and that he could see figures and hear talking inside the light. This light was reported into the 20th Century, but perhaps it is still there even though no one is around.

The Knob Noster Ghost Light, off Route 50 right next to Knob Noster State Park can been seen on stormy nights. Reportedly, a slave disappeared and his owner acted very suspicions about it, making the townspeople believe that he murdered the man. The hermet was killed by a lightning bolt as he walked along a ridge on Knob Noster looking for the source of a light he saw on the hill which looked like a lantern. When the hermit was discovered, he had a look of horror on his face, as if he had just seen a ghost. Shortly after people started to report seeing a lantern moving along the ridge during storms, and it still appears today, over 140 years later.

Source: Wikipedia
The Hornet Spooklight AKA Joplin Spook Light, Devil’s Jack-O’-Lantern, Ozark Spook Light, Ghost Light, or Hollis Light appears along a short stretch of road between southwestern Missouri and southeast Kansas and Oklahoma, near the small town of Hornet, Missouri. The area is known as the Devil’s Promenade. The earliest reports trace back 200 years by the local Quapaw Indians. Some say it is the ghost of a Civil War Soldier, others say it is the ghost of a Native American in search of his lost head. In yet another tale, the lights are the remains of a white farmer and Native man who killed each other.

The light appears along the road, in yards, and in fields. People report seeing it as different colors including blue, yellow, red, orange, and green, or even as a color-changing orb. The shape is usually reported to be that of a ball or lantern.  Sometimes more than one light appears at the same time, and some people report the lights following them alongside of their vehicle.

The Spooklight was so popular that there used to be a museum dedicated to the light. Leslie Robertson operated the museum where he offered booklets, photographs and a viewing platform for people to observe the light.  His interest was spurred when in 1906 at the age of 14 he saw the light for the first time. It wouldn’t be his last, as he said he saw it thousands of times.

In 1936 an article appeared in the Kansas City Star about the light, and the legend of the light appeared in the 1947 book Ozark Superstitions by Vance Randolph, a well-known folklorist. One man shot the light one day with his 30-30 rifle, yet it seemed unaffected.

According to Troy Taylor of, Resident Arthur Holbrook said in an interview he had first seen the light in 1905. A local Native man born in 1897 said that he had seen the light as a child and that his family said it had been around for generations. 

The light has been investigated by multiple groups, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who studied the light in 1946, but could find no reasonable explanation for the phenomenon.

Recently several paranormal research groups tried to get evidence of the light and were able to capture video of it. However, when approached from both sides at the same time one group was unable to see the light as they got close to it, while it still remained visible to the group on the other side.

Source: News Photographer Marta Churchwell
Professor Allen Rice, Ph.D. of the University of Central Oklahoma did an investigation of the spook light with his team called the Boomers. He said they found the explanation for the lights as being headlights and taillights, 9 miles west of the location. However, this would not explain the sightings that occurred prior to vehicles or roads.

In the summer of 1970 I got to experience the Hornet Spooklight first-hand. I was 14 years old. My father took our family out to Spooklight road to see if we could see the spook light. As we drove along the quiet, dark road, two yellow/white lights appeared to the right of the car. One was the size of a basketball, the other was the size of a softball. The smaller light went inside the car window in the back seat where I was sitting with my brother and sister, moved slowly, softly illuminating the interior of the car and ourselves, and shot out the other window. The second larger light went in front of the car, causing my father to stop the vehicle. Both lights then joined back together and shot off into the woods on the opposite side of the road. We all agreed that the lights acted like they were under intelligent control. I found out later that this same scenario occurred to other people. (see my article about my own investigation of the Spook Light in 2017)

The Marley Woods Lights. Marley Woods is the name given to an undisclosed location in South Missouri by internationally known UFO and Paranormal researcher Ted Phillips. It is at approximately the same line of latitude as the Hornet Spook Light. The residents don’t want to be disturbed by hordes of people, so they would only agree to letting the site be investigated if the location was kept secret. The site, which includes many farms and acres of property, is a hotspot for paranormal activity with UFO sightings, crop circles, unseen forces that push people, hauntings, and even bigfoot sightings.

One of the most misunderstood phenomenon in this area is the strange balls of lights- or spook lights that appear in the area, and have been reported by residents for many generations. In 1969 children playing on a trampoline were startled when they saw a glowing white ball of light that hovered in a nearby tree. The tree died within two weeks. Many people have seen these strange lights, both far away and close up. In my opinion they closely resemble the Hornet Spook Light in appearance and movement. 

Dr. Harley Rutledge and a team of Physics major student volunteers investigated this location after the wave of UFO and unexplained lights sightings in and near Piedmont, MO. He wrote about it in his now out of print book Project Identification, in which he described that the lights behaved in a way that defied known physics.

In 2007, Chuck Zukowski and Debbie Ziegelmeyer with the Center for Trace Evidence SIU Team and Ted Phillips investigated the site and obtained video of the object – visit to see the video. The SIU team revisited the site many times, only to come up with no explanation for the lights. 

Copyright 2016-2021 by Margie Kay
Margie Kay is an author and paranormal researcher. She is the host of Un-X News Radio and is the director of the OZ Inter-dimensional Communication Institute. Contact her at