Naked Eye Accounts


There are two distinct classes of reports, suggesting two or perhaps more distinct types of 'Lights'.

1)The first is the apparently stationary light seen in the direction of the far west end of the road. This light may change brightness, split into multiple parts, change its shape, and its clarity of view as you move along E50 westwards. Apart from the dramatic descriptions by observers, this light fits the description of car lights on Route 66 seen under various levels of atmospheric refraction. It should be a permanent feature of the E50 so long as there has been traffic on Route 66.

2) The second category is the light/lights that move down the road, bounce around, and cause close encounters, even reports of hitting cars and passing through them. This sounds like ball lightning.

3) The third category is the lights that may predate the introduction of car traffic to this area. These oral reports seem to go back to the 1800's. It is not clear if the lights described are stationary or moving.

4)There are reports of the Hornet Light in other surrounding areas. It is not clear if those reports are reliable or accurate, or represent a different phenomenon.


Return To The "Joplin 'Spook Light'" Copyright 1997, by Bob Soetebier

On Sunday, April 13, 1997, my wife and I made a return visit to check out the site of the so-called "Joplin [aka: Hornet] 'Spook Light'" [JSL]. On this, our second visit to the location, with a perfectly clear sky, we were able to observe the JSL for almost two full hours. It was back in early April 1993 at the Sixth Annual Ozark UFO Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, that we first learned of the existence of the long-standing JSL. Ted Phillips -- famous for his many years of UFO physical-trace case investigations (both on his own, and in the company of his best friend, astronomer J. Allen Hynek who was the chief field investigator for the U.S. Air Force's "Project Blue Book") -- was one of the featured speakers at that conference. He spoke of his investigations of the JSL. After the 1993 conference, my wife and I drove to the JSL site. At that time we spoke to a few of the local area residents in the vicinity of the site. Each of them recounted personally seeing the JSL on more than one occasion. A few of them even stated that they had had very close (within just a few feet) encounters with the JSL at, or near, the popular viewing site. At that time my wife and I did not witness the JSL. This is probably due to the fact that we arrived at the site at during bright daylight at 3:30pm and left the vicinity at 4:15pm to return to St. Louis. Ted Phillips again was a featured speaker this year at Ninth Annual Ozark UFO Conference in Eureka Springs, AR. Upon my invitation, and just prior to Phillip's conference presentation, Ted and his wife Ginger had dinner with my wife and I and some of our other friends.

At that time, Ted made it absolutely clear that as a result of his 30 years of investigating, observing and photographing the JSL -- with a 35mm camera, telescope, videotape, a CCD [Charged Couple Device] and subsequent computer enhancement -- that, contrary to others' claims, there was absolutely NO way that the JSL was the result of distant headlights! He noted that the JSL was "furnace-bright," and that the more detailed photos exhibit multiple lights of varying shape, color and intensity, and that they make all sorts of strange and unexplainable movements. Phillips is convinced that the light is non-natural. He also noted that from his analysis of the light's intensity it is brighter than that of the planet Venus (which is second only to the Moon and Sun in our skies.) He said that at that intensity of brightness that there is no way that any sort of man-made object could be the responsible source of's just way too bright! From our own personal observations on this latest trip to the JSL site, I certainly agree with Ted's analysis. Ted reassured us -- again, from his 30 years of experience in investigating the JSL -- that on any given night we would have a 90% to 95% chance of seeing the distantly-sighted JSL. He also made note of the fact that he has observed the JSL in literally almost every type of atmospheric condition, including rain and freezing drizzle. Phillips said that he has only not seen the JSL on three visits to the JSL site during those 30 years. He also emphasized that while he personally has only seen the JSL from a distance, he does have a life-long friend (whose word he said he trusts) who has told him that he actually had the JSL show up INSIDE his parked car while he was outside of it!

This year we arrived at the JSL viewing site at 7:00pm. Since it was still daylight, we decided to drive down "Spook Light" road from its eastern-most intersection with Stateline Road. We drove 3-1/2 miles on the arrow-straight portion of the gravel road and turned around at the western-most point where the road makes a curve to the south and headed back. Because of the poor condition of the road (it's an undulating gravel road full of innumerable potholes) it took us a full 40 minutes for the drive down-and-back. Upon our return, at 7:40pm, to the viewing point (between 1/4 and 1/2 mile west of north-south Stateline Road) on the gravel road, we found our friend Beverly Trout (Iowa MUFON State Director) in the company of three of her friends already parked and waiting for us on the side of the road. Right after we turned around and parked, a couple more of our friends (from the St. Louis and Columbia, MO, areas) pulled up and parked right behind us. At precisely 7:45pm "the show" began with a vengence! It was just at dusk at this time when the light flared up...way down, and just above, the undulating road in the "V-notch" formed by the trees along the side of the road. From that point on, and right up until 9:35pm when we finally decided leave (it had gotten down to almost freezing -- and so were we! -- by that time), the light was visible almost the entire time. Occasionally it would "dim out" for a period of anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds, or so. But, most of the time it would be visible for minutes at a time. During 95% of the time when the JSL was visible, there would usually be at least one major or primary light that would vary in intensity. That particular light would frequently flare up and even move around, either up and down or slightly to the sides. At times the movements of this primary light were dramatic. That is they would be very quick and cover a short relative distance...never moving very far, though. At other times, this primary light would be accompanied by numerous (up to 6 or seven additional), but smaller, lights. These lights appeared on both sides of the main light, but usually above it, while still to one side or the other. Sometimes three of these smaller lights would also line up in a 45-degree diagonal line on the right side of the main light. Typically, various of these smaller lights would wink on and off, and/or disappear completely, only to reappear in an altogether different position. At varying times I saw some of these lights give off different colored hues. These colors ranged from white to yellow to red to green to blue. This was mostly best observed with binoculars. But, these various colors were sometimes even visible with the unaided eye, too. While we did not have a "close encounter" with the JSL, it was a spectacular show nonetheless.

I would definitely recommend others consider checking it out whenever they are in the Joplin, Missouri, area (near the tri-state border with Kansas and Oklahoma.) I would urge caution, though, at any time when visiting the site. For a couple of very good reasons I would particularly not recommend visiting the popular viewing site on either a Friday or Saturday evening. Due to unfortunate incidents of vandalism (cut fences, etc.) and littering (beer cans and bottles by the score by line the side of the road) the local-area residents have understandably instigated a "Neighborhood Watch" program. They have also prevailed upon the local police to enforce the anti-loitering law. Now, having said that, I should note that during the two-hour period that we were parked along the gravel road we only had a couple of cars pass by us. No one else showed up nor stopped to bother/question us. It was just us and our half-dozen friends at the viewing site on that particular Sunday evening. (Who knows...maybe we were just lucky that we were left alone and that no one stopped to question our protracted parked presence?)

Keeping the above-mentioned cautionary information in mind, the best way to get to the JSL viewing site is to take Hwy. 43 for approximately 6 miles s.s.w. from I-44 in the Joplin, MO, area. About 4 miles n.n.e. of Seneca, MO, Hwy. BB goes east from Hwy. 43. At this intersection of Hwy. 43 and Hwy. BB, turn west on a paved county road and go 2-1/2 miles to the head of the "T-intersection" with the now-paved Stateline Road. Turn north/right on Stateline Road and go 1-1/4 miles. At this interesection, turn west on the gravel road on your left. If you arrive near, or after, dusk you won't have to drive too far down this gravel road for a good view. I guarantee that when you see the JSL it will be a memorable experience. Good luck, and hopefully, happy viewing. --------------------------------------------------------------------- [NOTE: "The Light at the End of the Road...The Joplin Spook Light" is a brand new 90-minute video release. It is a John Carpenter production of long-time UFO researcher Ted Phillips' 30 years of study of this long-standing ("documented sightings from the 1800's") anomalous light. The video includes Phillip's telescopic, CCD camera, videotape and 35mm camera photo-documentation of the "Spook Light," and much more. It is available for $29.95 plus $3.00 shipping from: Carpenter Research, 4033 S. Belvedere, Springfield, MO 65807.] (


It was during my first year in college that a bunch of friends and I drove out to a deserted road to see the famed "Hornet Spook Light" that has haunted a particular area south of Joplin, Missouri for almost 100 years. We drove to the spot where it was usually seen. We waited for maybe 45 minutes but saw nothing (it was maybe 11:00 - 11:30 P.M. in October of 1992). We finally decided to give up and go home. As I turned my car around, someone shouted "There it is!" I looked out my back window, and I saw it. It was perhaps 100 yards away; an eerie orange light about the size of a lantern. It moved about as if it had intelligence: It would make an inverted arc and sway steadily from one side of the road to the next, peaking at one side, travelling to the other side, dipping low in the middle of the arc, peaking at the other side, and repeating the process. We watched for maybe 30 minutes, then we got spooked and left. That's it. (


I enjoyed "bikebob's" account (see below) of his experience with the Joplin/Hornet Spook Light. Having been a long time resident of Joplin, I have spent many a night experiencing the "Spook Light". There have been many intensive investigations by both amateurs and professionals and as of yet, nobody has come up with an explanation for this most unusual phenomenon. I too have had very similar experiences as mentioned in "bikebob's posting on the Spook Light. Although there was one particularly interesting night in which a friend and I were parked at the base of a hill on "Spook Light road" after a frustrating evening of trying to persue the glowing light in the distance. After about 15 or 20 minutes of waiting we noticed a faint glow at the crest of the hill. The glow became brighter and brighter until suddenly a basketball sized brightly glowing sphere rose over the crest of the hill and hovered approximately 5 feet above the road. We were about a distance 25 or 30 feet from the light (It's hard to judge exact distance in the blackness of night) and I noticed that what we were seeing was truly real by the fact that the light was reflecting off the folage of the trees hanging over the road. This continued for about a half a minute then the light slowly descended the hill and advanced towards the car. By this time my heart was pounding and in a fearfull, knee jerk reaction I foolishly started the car and turned my headlights on. When I did this, the light vanished and all we could do is look at eachother in dissbelief. This was the closest contact I have personally had with the "Spook Light" and to this day, I still wonder what would have happened if I would have remained still and not reacted so abruptly and defensively. Perhaps the light would have entered the car. Who knows? Maybe next time I'll have the opportunity to find out! All I know is that there is "something" strange and real out there and has been for nearly one hundred years according to recorded accounts. It's worth checking out even if you aren't fortunate enough to experience a close encounter. DMJ9076, (Now living in Tulsa, OK) (


This story began, for me, in 1960 when I lived in Commerce, Oklahoma. My husband was stationed in Iceland and I was staying with his parents. It was one of those warm summer porch sitting nights when Al's parents said it would be a perfect evening to show me the Quapaw Ghost Light. I've always been a skeptic so I figured this would be fun and I would see some drummed up "miracle" created to add magic to the local Indian lore. We drove about ten miles and onto a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead I saw two or three cars parked alongside the road. Bill told me to look up toward the sky off on the right hand side of the road. There, gleaming a bright white, was a street light. At least it looked like a street light, only, there was no pole. We parked the car and stood on the narrow graveled road. I stared at the light for a few minutes and wanted a closer look. Actually I was looking for the pole. I felt like I was getting closer to it when it disappeared. I turned around and the light was behind me, still hanging in the air with no visible support. I never mentioned the light again because I figured I'd be locked up and the key would be thrown away. Almost forty years after that siting I had my chance. I live in Virginia and since Global Book Mart headquarters in Joplin, Missouri, I decided I'd ask Leon and Lisa Martin, the owners, if they'd ever heard about it. Joplin was about fifteen miles away from Quapaw. I got a resounding affirmative reply as they told me the light was really quite famous. We talked casually about it until a couple of days ago. Leon sent me an article from the Joplin Globe, August 27th issue, that told of the Mensans who were bound determined to give their "true" theory of the ghost light. Joplin's Ghost Light This is the history and several theories that was published by Bob Soetebier of Missouri, in April 1997. Ghost Light According to Mensa's and Other Reliable Sources (


The 'Bike Bob Story": The Hornet "Spook Light" by Bob Soetebier I grant permission to any/all to freely distribute the following copyrighted (by me, Bob Soetebier) article under these terms: (a) The copyright statement and proper attribution must remain attached to article; (b) The article must be reproduced in it's entirety...unedited; (c) Any distribution (whether electronically, or in hardcopy format) of the article is to be done so without charge. The article may not be reproduced commercially without prior written permission from me. Bob Soetebier St. Louis County, Missouri

The Hornet "Spook Light" (HSL) is an intriguing enigma that appears in s.w. Missouri and n.e. Oklahoma. I have visited the HSL site. But, I was not able to stay until dark -- which is supposed to be the best time to view the HSL. One HSL-vicinity local-area area resident told me that he had seen the light and "saw it move all over the road, out into the nearby fields, and all over the place." When he "tried to drive toward it, it just disappeared." Another of the area's residents told me about her encounter with the HSL: "It came all the way down the road, hopping along like it was a swinging lantern light being carried by an invisible ghost. It hopped right over our parked car! It was real neat!"

Beverly Trout, Iowa MUFON State Director, told me of her recent experience: "It stayed way down the road." "It was very distinctive and very active." She described the distant HSL "Like tubes of light; moving all around; up and down; right to left, and back again." Sometimes "two or three other lights split off from it [the main light]; later to return to it." Trout said that she and her two companions watched the HSL almost constantly for a full 3-hour period, with only short breaks of HSL(s) inactivity. She noted that the light(s) were all different colors.

Lastly, I spoke with a man who lives right at the HSL site: "The Spook Light has come right down that gravel road [the "stem" of the "T"-intersection where he lives] and right up to me here at the house. The light varies in size from softball-size, to the size of a basketball. It also change colors, from blue, to red, to yellow, to green and to white. If you try to move toward it, or make any sudden moves, it just immediately disappears."

The above descriptions of encounters are similar to the following quote concerning the HSL from page 79 of the 1968 Dell paperback book, Mysterious Fires and Lights, (MFAL), by Vincent H. Gaddis: . . . . [The lights] change in size from that of an apple to a bushel basket, expanding and contracting, moving from left to right and back again, and from ground to tree-top height. In color, they range from a golden-amber or yellow to a reddish hue. Their intensity of light is sometimes so brilliant that the glow is reflected from the surface of the road. Movements of the lights appear to be at random . . . . They appear and disappear, usually suddenly. When approached, they seemingly recede, only to reappear behind the observer. . . . . No one can say for sure exactly what is the HSL. Some have tried to explain away spook-light sightings and encounters with more "down-to-earth" causation. Debunking explanations include such things as swamp gas, ball lightning, mineral deposits, headlights, etc. But, they all seem to have holes in them.

As mentioned on page 330 in the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' 1990 book, Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri, the HSL has been around many years before autos and planes existed: . . . . summarized theories regarding its origin, stating that, some people think that the light at the Devils Promenade is the ghost of an Osage Chief who was murdered near this spot; others say that it is the spirit of a Quapaw maiden who drowned herself in the river when her warrior was killed in battle."

Other theories . . . . are those of marsh gas, automobile lights driving east on Highway 66, and Quapaw, Oklahoma airport beacon lights. . . . . But the old-timers laugh at all such explanations, claiming that the Indian lights were seen at the same spot in the deep wood, fifty years before the 'Devils Promenade' road was built. Fred C. Reynolds of Kansas City says that his grandfather, a pioneer doctor at Baxter, Kansas, observed these lights long before there was any such thing as a motor car, adding that he himself saw the jack-o-lantern as a boy. Bob Hill of Joplin, Missouri, observes that the phantom was seen by many persons in this vicinity before there was a Highway 66, and certainly long before the airport was established at Quapaw, Oklahoma. This issue is further addressed on page 80 of Gaddis' MFAL: Several investigators have proved that on clear nights light is refracted into the area from automobile headlights on U.S. 66, five miles to the west. . . . . The refracted light, however, does not have the characteristics of the Ozark light. Moreover, [from] old Indian legends about the light . . . . [the "Spook Light"] was known as the "Indian light" to the grandfathers of the pioneer families in the vicinity, and was attracting tourists long before the construction of U.S. 66.

Some, but, by no means all, sightings of the HSL -- particularly during the time of the year when the leaves are off the trees -- might be attributable to the distant-road, auto-headlights hypothesis. The auto-headlight explanation certainly flies in the face of credible close-encounter HSL reports, such as this credible example regarding the HSL, taken from page 80 of Gaddis' MFAL: Dr. George W. Ward, formerly with the Bureau of Standards, Washington, DC, and later associated with the Midwest Research Institute, made an investigation in 1945. He wrote that he observed a glow over the hills, followed by the appearance of a greenish-yellow sphere of light about five feet in diameter. This sphere advanced toward the doctor and his companions. One of the men, a publicity director for the institute, said he had seen all he cared to see. As the light approached and enveloped the witnesses, he quickly locked himself in their automobile.

The HSL is currently under active investigation by UFO field-investigator, Ted Phillips. Phillips is famous for his many years of investigating innumerable "physical-trace" UFO cases. He presented a HSL update at the April 11-13, 1997, Ninth Annual Ozark UFO Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. [See Special Note attached below.] Distant sightings of, and close encounters with, the HSL continue to be reported. For further information and recountings of some of these numerous incidents, refer to these recent articles about the Hornet "Spook light" in the following publications.: "Spooklight" -- by Suzanne J. Wilson; p.p.: 8-11, January, 1997, issue of the Missouri Conservationist magazine; Freely available from the Missouri Department of Conservation Internet Web site URL address: "Old Faithful of the Ozarks" -- by Wann Smith and William Equals; p.p.: 33-36, October, 1996, [Vol. 49, No. 10; issue 559 of] FATE magazine; Web site: "The Hornet-Joplin 'Spook light'" -- by Bob Soetebier; p.p.: 10-12, July/August, 1996, [Vol. 11, No. 4] issue of UFO magazine (P.O. Box 1053, Sunland, CA 91041). Book references: Geologic Wonders and Curiosities of Missouri, by Thomas R. Beveridge; p.p.: 329-330. Revised and published in 1990 by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Land Survey, P.O. Box 250, Rolla, MO 65401. Telephone number: 314-364-1752. Mysterious Fires and Lights, by Vincent H. Gaddis; p.p.: 79-80. 1968 paperback. Dell Publishing. Special Note: Ted Phillips is an internationally known and respected UFO researcher. He refers to himself as a "nuts-and-bolts" UFO researcher. Ted's business, Astronomical Systems: Astronomical Telescopes and Astrophotography Equipment, gives him "license" to indulge his other passion: Scanning the skies for UFOs. His main field of expertise and interest is "physical-trace" evidence left as a result of UFO sightings and/or encounters. He has documented and reported upon literally thousands of UFO-related physical-trace cases over the years. Ted currently serves as an Assistant State Director for Missouri MUFON. He and his wife now reside in southwest Missouri, where he is actively investigating and documenting the Hornet "Spook Light." (Back) (

Copyright (C) 2001 Dr. Sten Odenwald