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The Spook Light: This Creepy, Glowing Orb Might Give You Nightmares

This mysterious flickering light that appears in the back woods of Missouri might just have you spooked! What exactly is the Spook Light? Find out . . . if you dare!

One of the oddest and weirdest stories in the Heartland of America is that of the Spook Light, a glowing orb that appears near the border of Missouri and Oklahoma in an area known as the “Devil’s Promenade.” The bouncing, colorful light has been a mystery for hundreds of years. So what’s behind this eerie phenomenon?

What Is The Spook Light?

The light is also known as the Devil’s Jack-O-Lantern, Hornet Spook Light, Hollis Light, and the Joplin Spook Light. But each of these names gives you the rough idea: it’s spooky.

The Spook Light has been witnessed by Native Americans and others since the early 1830s, during the days of the Trail of Tears. No one knows for sure what the Spook Light actually is, but it is commonly described as a single ball of light (or a tight grouping of lights)—varying in size from the size of a baseball to the size of a basketball—that appears in the area frequently, usually at night, no matter the time of year.

Sometimes the ball of light remains still. Other times it moves with active vibration. Folklore and legend says it’s either the Devil with a lantern wandering the Earth, or the soul of a confederate soldier. Another tale involves the ghosts of two young Native American lovers searching for each other in the nightscape.

People have been coming to this area witness the Spook Light firsthand.
Photo by Atlas Obscura.

One of the earliest written reports of the Spook Light was in 1936, from the Kansas City Star, though the legend has been around for almost 100 years before its official documentation.

What Causes The Spook Light?

Some speculate that it could be anything from natural gas leaking out of the earth, to car lights in the distance reflecting off a river a few miles away. However, these strange lights have been reported since the 1880s (before cars) in the woods, over the land, and even in backyards.

In 1946, a team of investigators from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studied the Spook Light, but there were no concrete findings that seemed a logical source for the orb.

The Spook Light: A Haunting Attraction

Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura

The Spook Light is very popular, especially around Halloween. Automobile transportation made it possible for even more people to visit to these rumored haunted country roads—curiosity-seekers have been coming from far and wide for years trying to spook themselves and witness the Spook Light, firsthand. And today, if you pull into Southwest Missouri, the odds of someone being able to give you the proper direction to the mysterious light are pretty high.

What do you think the Spook Light could be? Is it something logical that hasn’t been considered, or could one of the old legends hold true?

Is it time for a road trip to see for yourself? The Spook Light is 11 miles southwest of Joplin, Missouri. Get directions to the best viewing spot here!

Word on Fire - Vague Faith
Larry Fleury

Larry Fleury is a writer and outdoor photographer who has a background in atmospheric science, marketing, astrophotography, creative writing, and all things outdoors. His photography has been featured by The Weather Channel, Midwest Living Magazine, and National Geographic Your Shot. Larry lives on the edge of the Ozark Mountain Range in Southeast Kansas, where he spends his free time fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, storm chasing, and playing guitar on the porch.

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paula brown

My grandmother was an honest, christian lady, and there is no doubt in my mind the incident she told us as children was true. Her mother told her she could go blackberry picking by herself if only she would be home before dark. She lost track of time and the sun was setting and she became a little frightened. She turned around to see a ball of light slowly bouncing behind her as if God sent it to safeguard her home. It disappeared as her home was in sight. I believe this was her guardian angel that was assigned to her at birth, as we all have. The Bible says one day we will actually meet our angel and know they’re name.


Have you ever considered that it Could perhaps be Spiritual, and that it ISN’T meant to be evil but good?! Angels have been known to be called UFO’s! They APPEAR as light, or a male or female, ANYTHING that someone might NEED to see in order to Help them.
I KNOW… A lot of people think that those of us who believe in THAT sort of thing is crazy, but think about it, there are a Lot of people who have Actually SEEN Angel’s too! Besides, if it is where people have died, the Angels are there to escort them to the next realm!

Martha Johnson

I hope it’s supernatural. We need some mysteries in life. However, it’s probably moonlight bouncing off outcroppings of quartz rock or something boring like that.


I don’t know what it is. But I know the people that do know don’t want us to know!!

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