Tri-State Spook Light Booklet

[Hornet Spooklight Booklet]
Tri-State Spook Light booklet. Credit: Prepared by Sean B. Palmer from original scans by Celtic Caper. Original material used under fair use.

In the Autumn of 1955, a booklet on the Tri-State Spook Light was produced in Joplin, Missouri by the retired Capt. Bob Loftin, an enthusiast on the light. One of the owners of this old booklet, which originally sold for 25c, scanned the pages and put them online. With the permission of that owner, in May 2002 I transcribed the entire document so that it could be searched, read, and quoted more easily.

The booklet itself is a mixture of articles from various sources, along with one photo by Orrick Sparlin, and a map in the appendix prepared by Capt. Loftin showing the three areas in which the spooklight has been known to show. There are many advertisements, presumably to finance the production of the booklet, and these have their own particular charm.

So as well as being a good source for information about the spooklight, it's also a pretty good source of '50s culture: one of the most interesting comments is that given by a man credited as "Frank Allen, Jr. (Colored)", who refers to the fact that there aren't any segregation problems along the spook light road, since he won't be going. The tone of the whole booklet varies between the sensationalistic, the skeptical, and the colourful, which reflects the fact that it's been composed from many sources.

If you have a copy of this booklet that you'd be willing to sell, please email me; there was a copy on ebay in the summer of 2006, but I only found out about it after it sold.

* * *

The Booklet


it Actually
Exists SEE for Yourself...

Authentic Guide by Bob


"The mysterious light of the Ozarks, near Hornet, Mo., has been
seen nightly for over a half century to the amazement of thousands."


"In the Star office we have recieved reports of these spook lights
for many years. Scientists had visited the area, seeking explana-
tions on the spot, but they failed to locate the source."


"During World Was II the U.S. Corps of Engineers spent weeks
in the area with the latest scientific equipment. They came away 


". . . it could be an interplanetary filling station for flying


". . . persons will be interested in knowing the "Tri-State Spook 
Light" contains points of interest for tourists, including map, pictures, 
news items, Army tests, stories and testimonials of many persons 
who have visited the Hornet, Mo., area and tried to solve the mystery."


NEWS RELEASE                            By LESLIE G. KENNON

State of Missouri
Jefferson City, Missouri

The Ozarks, thousands of 
sprawling acres of scenic beauty 
and packed full of Indian and 
colorful local legend, is reviving one of its oldest phenomena--
the "ghost lights."
 For more than 50 years, espe-
cially since the coming of the 
auto age, tourists from all over
the country have come to see 
them; national magazines have 
given space to the story; photog-
raphers have tried in vain to 
take pictures.
 And today the "ghost lights" 
are becoming a top tourist at-
traction in the area. No one can 
give an accurate account of 
whence they came nor can any 
two people describe the lights 
in the same words.
 To each, it is something dif-
ferent, a symbolism of something 
unknown, sometimes feared, al-
ways interesting. It is, to the 
tourists' way of thinking some-
thing unique which they cannot 
find anywhere else and which is 
well worth their time to visit.
 The "ghost lights," as they are 
called by local citizens, appear 
actually as one bright light, often 
dimming and then bouncing back 
over the rolling as a 
great blaze of light. It is as 
though some giant ball player
were taking his gigantic ball of

light and tossing it in the air, 
sometimes catching it on the 
mountain which serves as his 
mitt, or sometimes missing it 
when it disappears.
 During World War II the U.S. 
Corps of Engineers spent weeks 
in the area with the latest sci-
entific equipment. They tested 
caves, mineral deposits, highway 
routes, every possible logical ex-
planation as to why the lights 
existed. They came away baffled.
 Of late, nationally known sci-
entists have visited the area and 
as yet, they have not come up 
with the answer.
 Area residents come away 
with stories which would go 
well on Hallowe'en. As a Joplin 
police officer said, after relating 
a "weird experience" on the oft-
traveled ghost light road, "It was 
the last time I've been there and 
it's the last time I'm going there."
 Legend has it that an old time 
miner carring his lantern across 
the fields disappeared and that it 
is his lantern which still causes 
the light to shine.
 In a more logical sense, it is 
a definite tourist attraction of the 
area, a little "extra" in a tourist's 
trip to the Ozarks, the Shepherd 
of the hill country or on to 
Central Missouri to the Lake of 
the Ozarks or other points.
 The Missouri Division of Re-

sources and Development points 
out that the route is compara-
tively easy. You follow Main 
Street out of Joplin until the 
highway passes by Hornet and 
a large white frame store. Then, 
you turn on the first good gravel 
road to the right and travel it 
until it forks. Turning left, you 
ford a shallow stream, go up a 
hill and turn right. There you'll 
see the famed light.
 For half a century, the light 
has attracted tourists. It's a cinch 
that it will continue to do so for 
a good long time to come. The 
explanation of why it exists is 
secondary to the fact that it does 
and that is enough for the tourist.

The Ozark Mountaineer (The Ozarkwide Monthly Periodical)- October, 1955 ". . . the mysterious Light if the Ozarks, off and on, has ap- peared for fifty years near Hornet, southwest of Joplin, and has attracted renewed attention this year because of its unusual size and brilliance. An eerie of- fect is created over a wide area as it moves about with varying intensity. Thousands of people who visit the scene have been mystified by it." * * * Neosho Daily News -- 9-27-35 "Neosho people are nightly driving up to see the 'light' near Hornet. None have failed to see it so far, and in fact, we have heard it rumoured that one girl fainted, swearing afterwards that the light preched on the radiator of her car." Galena Sentinel-Tims--10-20-55 Your editor visited the "Spook Light" near Hornet, Mo., the night of October 24 and though it cut some fancy capers, it seemed absolutely harmless. The story that appeared in The Kansas City Star, October 2, about the light coming inside a car and burning the upholstery can prob- ably be taken with a "grain of salt." This was a good night to view the light judging from the big eyes and open mouths of the other spectators. * * * Carl Junction Standard--9-22-55 "We doubt if there is a person in the Four-State area of the Ozarks who has not heard about, and many have seen, the famed ghost light of spook light found near Hornet, Mo. This weird light is gaining momentum as a drawing card for tourists ac- cording to the Missouri Division of Resources and Development. . . . a host of request for in- formation about the spook light were recieved by the Division and the Joplin Chamber of Com- merce. . . . . . . This mysterious light, some say, has appeared in the vicinity for more than 80 years." * * * Springfield News Leader -- In article by Joe Clayton-- "A motorist tells of driving toward "Spook Light" until it vanished, then finding it behind him. The strange glowing, float- ing ball remains one of the few things left on earth which defies all efforts to strip it of its mysticism." --4-- LEGEND By O. W. Buzzard, Hornet, Mo. There are several legends about the spook light. The oldest one is handed down by an Indian tribe who love in this vicinity, the Quapaws. I have talked to many Indians in the area and the story that their forefathers handed down to them is no doubt true. It has of course, by now become a matter of record. The legend is that a handsome young Indian brave fell in love with a beautiful Indian maiden of the Quapaw tribe. The young Indians were desperately in love and it seems that the old Chief, father of the maiden, tried to take undue advantage of the situation by asking for an unusually large payment for his daughter's hand. Being unable to meet the demands of the Indian Chief, the couple decided to escape and elope. They had scarcely reached the outside of the camp area when their absence was discovered. The Indian Chief became very angry and sent out a large group of warriors to pursue the young brave and his daughter. The young maiden knew that she would be severely punished and her lover would be killed. Knowing that they were going to be captured, the young couple de- cided to commit suicide by leaping from atop a high rocky cliff over-looking Spring River. This spot is now known as "Lovers' Leap" or "Devil's Promenade." It is believed that the spirits of the young Indian couple return nightly to form the phenomenon which we view to this day. A large Indian Pow-wow and stomp dance are held annually in the Spook Light area which is attended by thousands from near and far. The bridge crossing Spring River has been named Devil's Promenade Bridge. For over 50 years tourists have stopped at the store here in Hornet for directions to view the light which per- forms nightly. (Mr. Buzzard is operator of the general store at Hornet, Mo.) --5-- The Old Timer's Story of The Light (As told by F. Q. (Bill) Mizer of Hornet, Mo., to Mrs. Orval Jewett, reporter.) I've been around here since 1886, and I have heard all the stories, but this story about the light, and the first time it was seen was in 1903. At that time there was a widow lady living near State Line Road. She lived alone, and when she first re- ported seeing the light, she thought someone was trying to run her off her property. The reports persisted, and a bunch of boys decided to investigate. One night about six or seven of us went to the widow's house, the were Jake Leach, Edgar Zirkle, W. L. Buzzard, Jiram Elliott, John Ventle, and maybe others. We didn't have long to wait before we saw the thing that had the widow frightened. The first time I saw the light, my hair raised several inches from my scalp, and I had a hard time keeping my hat on my head. There was a draw on her pro- perty, and a little branch ran through. Lots of cattails grew there, and as everyone knows when the vegetation dies down, and conditions are right, phos- phorous gas comes from the de- caying vegetation. You can rub some of the fuzz from the cattails on your hands and your hands will glow in the dark. So we thought we knew the answer, but as we took up our vigil on this particu- lar night, we were not so sure. After we had waited for a time, we saw this light moving up the draw. It floated like a will-o'- the-wisp, up the draw, and dis- appeared. Then presently it re- appeared, and got to within a hundred feet of us, floated around, and when the wind got up a bit, it disappeared. And as I said before, I had a hard time keeping my hat on my head. Well, the next night, seven or either of us went back, and wait- ed. And the light reappeared just as it had done the previous night. Each time the wind would get up a bit, the light would float away. One of the fellows, who thought he was a bit smarter than the rest of us, said the marsh gases were causing this bit of a ghostly apparition, but we were never sure. I tell you-when you're sitting out there in the --6-- dark, and this ball of light floats around for awhile, and disap- pears, you begin to wonder. After a month or so, the light stopped reappearing with regu- larity, and we had almost for- gotten about out experience; but early in 1905 reports had started coming in again about the light. I have talked to hundreds of people about the strange light which has existed here since long before the coming of the automobile. Since the passing of time and the many thousands of tourists coming here it looks like the old light is here to stay. --------------------- HALTS BUS While coming home from a school carnival at Quapaw, Okla., we got the thrill of our lives. The light had evidently grown tired and weary and decided to do a little hitch-hiking on our bus. The light perched on the rear window as though trying to get in the bus. We were scared half to death-women screaming and all. The light was so bright it temporarily blinded the bus driver and he had to stop the bus. Just as we stopped, the light went away. I'll never for- get that bus ride. Louise Graham Route 1, Galena, Kans. * * * I think the light is caused by some kind of gas. I'm sure it isn't light from Quapaw because I have seen it from other directions also when the light comes up close to you, it you talk it will go away.-Ruth Ferris, Quapaw. FIRE WITH NO ASHES Many settlers camped here on our property "overnight" when they used to travel by wagon. After investigating the place where they had seen camp fires the night before, my mother and father became aware of the light because they found no ashes where the "firet" lights had ap- peared. This was back in the 1800's. After my father passed away we inherited the place and have had numerous experiences with the light. My sister and I have seen what we thought was a car's tail light only to have it disappear when we approached. I have seen it dance through the trees and scurry across the fields leaping fences as though being carried by a ghost. THe light travels so fast, it couldn't be caught by anyone. Juanita Kay * * * ALL I GOT IS THE FACTS, MAN! - "I ain't been and I aint going and you can be sure they won't be any segregation problems on that road." Frank Allen, Jr. (Colored) Joplin, Mo. --7-- FOLKLORE and FACTS By Roy Grainger, Joplin, Mo. This section of the Ozarks has its own superstitions and folklore. Here, too, the Indians have "handed down" many tales from genera- tion to generation. I thought of all this the first time I heard the light being discussed. I dismissed it from my mind and really didn't believe a light to be in existence. Each time it would be brought into the conversation my curiosity would be aroused more and more, but being from Missouri, I had to be "snown." Finally one night a bunch of us met to get see the light. One of the fellows had been there many times and as we drove along he told the story about the time when lead and zinc were discovered in the area back in the 1870's. Many miners lived in the area. Once of the miners lived here off the Spook Light road, just a "stone's throw" from the Indian terri- tory. One night his cabin was raided by the Indians while he was away working in the mines. His children were kidnapped and he never saw them again. It is said he took his lantern and started to look for them. He was never seen again. The light down the road as seen now is believed by many to be the miner returning night after night with his lantern still in search of his lost children. This story prompted another fellow in the car to say that he had been told that a number od years ago a small child from a miners family had wandered off into the woods and was never seen again by her family. She has become somewhat of a "nature girl" with witch- like feature who travels at night with a lantern in quest of food. This girl-the teller says-has actually been seen. With these conversations "fresh" on my mind, we turned onto the road to watch the light . . . and there it was! ! My first impres- sion was of an invisible person walking down the road with a lantern in his hand. As he walked the lantern would swing to and fro. Then it seemed to disappear as if going off into the woods only to re- appear at another point. This was my first visit. Another time a group of boys and myself took a rifle to see if we could shoot the light. This was an ideal night because the weather was quite damp and the light seemed to loom closer and larger. On this particular night there was a slight sprinkling of rain, but no fog. We stopped our car when we judged the distance between the light --8-- Tri - State SPOOK LIGHT MYSTERIOUS LIGHT OF THE OZARKS ------------------------------------------------------------------ | Light As Seen From Car, Near Hornet, Mo. | | [...] | | Actual Photograph of Spook Light as seen about | | Midnight. (Photo by Orrick Sparlin, Miami, Okla.) | ------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------------------ and ourselves to be approximately a half-block, we started to shoot. As we shot, the light seemed to dance from side to side as though dodging the bullets. Needless to say we never did hit our target. So it is with these experiences, I leave to the experts the solu- tion of the light. If I ever hear of a logical solution concerning it, I will be ever-ready to lend an inquisitive ear. --9-- MY GREEN-THUMB TREMBLED Chester McMinn My folks used to call the light "jack - o - lantern" when we moved here some 30 years ago. The old "lantern" and I got along pretty good together until about 2 1/2 years ago. Seem the old light felt real neighborly one night and decided to help me with my plowing. It gets hot here during the day so I do a lot of plowing late in the evening. I couldn't see too well and I guess the old light sensed it, because he started hovering all over the field where I was plowing. He made a dart in my direction and I absolutely "froze stiff" to the tractor. I was too frightened to run. He must have seen my pre- dicament because just about then he sailed out of sight. Another time while standing in the yard listening to the hounds running a wolf I saw the light sitting atop the Cherry Grove church. It would turn bright and dim alternately. I called my wife to look, but when I did the light disappeared. Fun and Failure Having lived on State Line road near the area where the "Ghost Light" is located, I have seen it hundreds of times. I can remember about 1942 when a group of students from Michigan University came down and camped out for 2 weeks in the vicinity of the "Spook Light." The performed every test they could, even shooting at it with high powered firles, but they found out nothing. An old timer, the late Charley Dawes, who lived three-fourths of a mile off the road for 70 years, told me his father had seen the "Ghost Light" even before his son was born. A number of times we have left people in a parked car and walked down the road a mile or so, only to have the light appear between us and the car. CHARLES MILLER, ---------------------- You don't need a light down on "Spook Light" road to hunt possums or shoot doogies at night. A. A. WHITE Joplin [@@ doogies? --sbp] --------------------------------- | LOG CABIN CORNER | | STORE and STATION | | South of Hornet on Highway 43 | | Beer -- Groceries -- Gas | | Indian Jewelry and Sovenir | | Pictures of Spook Light | | Stop Here for Information | | About Spook Light | --------------------------------- --10-- DISAPPOINTING, BUT TOO LATE TO POST . . . Application was made October 24, 1955 to the Burgess Insurance Agency of Joplin, who have direct contact with representatives of Llyods of London, to secure a Financial Guarantee Bond offering $10,000 Reward if the Spook Light could be proved a Fake. We have offered to pay the premium for this interesting and unusual risk and regret that we have not heard the outcome of our appli- cation at this printing. On seeing our proposed guarantee of reward one insurance man jokingly said, "Don't me surprised if Scotland Yard doesn't send Sherlock Holmes to investigate." SORRY, THERE IS NO REWARD AT PRESENT . . . ----------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------------------------- I have seen the "Spook Light" a number of times. I have been within 10 feet of the light, but I still can't figure it out. It looks like a lantern swinging to and fro as it moves down the road. RAY TAYLOR, Joplin Geologists and scientists claim that the Spook Light is caused by a mineral deposit. I am in busi- ness at Quapaw and I know it isn't light from Quapaw.-- J. E. Rhodes, Quapaw. ----------------------------------------------------------------- | You'll See the LIGHT When You Check Our Deal. | | There's Nothing Spooky About Our LOW RATES. | | "THE FRIENDLY FIRST" | | First National Bank | | OF JOPLIN | | FOURTH AND MAIN | | JOPLIN, MISSOURI | ----------------------------------------------------------------- --11-- Yeary Sees the Light (Statement from Robert M. Yeary as told to Mrs. Orval Jewett, reporter.) I have gone down to the area where the "spook" light appears a number of times, but one night remains vivid in my memory. The light was really in a playful mood. Three of us drove down, and left the motor idling, in- tending to chase the light to its source, if possible. When the light appeared it wandered back and forth across the road, moved up from a distance, came close to us, and went out. Then it re- appeared from a distance, came close to us, and went out. Then it reappeared from a distance and we tried to sneak up on it; when we would move ten of fif- teen feet, the light would go out. Another time, we got behind the light, and tried to drive up to it. When we moved closer, it would disappear. This same night, we were sit- ting in the car, waiting for the light to reappear. When we saw it, the light moved up close to us from the distance, continued getting brighter, and suddenly it lit up the interior of the car much the same as a floodlight would do. You could have read a newspaper from the brilliance. The lasted only five or six sec- onds. There has to be an answer, but I just don't know. ---------------------------------------------------------- | We Don't Like To Boast, But We've Got | | The Coldest Beer Closest To The Ghost | | WIMPY'S | | REDING'S MILL INN | | DANCING NIGHTLY --- OPEN SUNDAYS | | Beer --- Good Food | | TAKE A SNACK WITH YOU TO SEE THE LIGHT. | | | | Hamburgers by the Sack Fried Chicken by the Box | | BEER and SODA POP to Go | ---------------------------------------------------------- --12-- FIRE WORKS For the 4th We moved to this section in 1918, and have seen the light often, especially around the first part of July each year. This is just about the time the Indians are having their stomp-dances down at the bridge. The Old Indian Medical Spring is on our property. In- dians have come from all over, including the well-known Frank Vallier, to drink from this spring. A number of Indians are buried here in the hillside above the spring. It is in this gully where the spring lies that the old light bounces around like a big ball. Why it always appears here the first part of July, I don't know. All the while it's here it bounces up and down this gully as far as you can see. Mrs. John Bryant * * * Rev. S. K. Biffle Joplin I have have been told that some people think of the light as hav- ing a religious bearing. One lady saying, "the Lord put the light there for a reason and that people (experimental groups) had better leave it alone." Maybe, they are connecting the light with the Psalms . . . "If I say, Surely the dark- ness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me." Psalms 139:11 --------------------------------- | MINNIE'S | | And | | MILT'S | | One of MISSOURI'S | | MOST MODERN | | Proudly Presents | | BILL PIERSON | | [...] | | And His Orchestra | | Featuring | | Jerry Seaton | | Formerly wrote and played | | for Tiny Hill, Russ Carlyle, | | Richard Hayes, Henry Busse. | | THE BEST IN | | Atmosphere . . Chinese Foods | | . . Sea Foods . . Chicken . . | | Steaks . . . Chops | | 1700 West 7th St. | | Highway 66 | | Dial MA 3-0415 | --------------------------------- --13-- [Photo] Shown prior to take-off for inspection of the Spook Light area is Colonel Vic Freer, Region- al Director, South Central Region of the Civil Air Patrol, and the author Capt. R. E. Loftin, Ret. on his left. Al Burgess, Jr., of the Burgess Insurance Agency, was also a passenger, taking several photographs of the area. Both Col. Freer and Mr. Burgess attest to the fact that a section of High- way 66 between Quapaw and Commerce, Okla., used in Capt. Loftin's experiments, is in direct alignment with the Spook Light road near Hornet, Missouri. -- Photo by Al Burgess, Jr. ---------------------------------------------- | KELLER'S | | BAR-B-CUE | | Chas. Keller - On 66 Highway | | Dial MA 3-4327 1514 West 7th | | JOPLIN, MO. | ---------------------------------------------- --18-- The Tri-State Spook Light By CAPT. R. E. "BOB" LOFTIN, Ret. The stories of the mysterious Light of the Ozarks has been a subconscious challenge to my curi- osity since first hearing of its existence over five years ago. My inner urge to meet the eerie light has resulted in hours of silent plan- ning as to where, when, and how I might solve this strange phe- nomenon. The opportunity pre- sented itself this summer for my quest into the realm of the sup- posed supernatural. The experience I had acquired as a Weapons Company Commander had given me ample knowledge of how to seek out and destrot by using the various instruments and methods relevant to this task. I felt over-confident in my proposed conquest as to the solution of the mystery surrounding this light near Hornet, Missouri. Several months ago had you mentioned the Tri-State Spook Light I would have casually re- plied, "Elementary, my dear Wat- son." This however, would have turned out to be the understate- ment of my career. Maybe I had not forgotten that a small boat, a raft, a good dog team and a couple of size dozen feet would take me almost anywhere; as it did in Alaska. Having moved somewhat south, I had now gathered equipment for another type of adventure and was ready to launch a new experiment. My first action in this direction was with my neighbor, Bill White, who escorted me to the area near Hor- net where the Spook Light was known to perform its fantastic capers. I was a little surprised that first night, that some of my in- formants had been accurate in their description of the ghostly light. The next day I visited the area and was directed to the home of Bill Mizer, who is the most wll- versed resident of Hornet regarding the light. After a lengthy inter- view, Mr. Mizer accompanied me in my car to the road where the Army Engineers had performed their test in 1946. It was then I realized the Army experiment had been conducted on a different road than that from which I had seen the light on the previous night. Rechecking of the two roads showed I was correct in assuming the Army had been on the wrong road. The number of people viewing the light numbered ten to one more on the new ghost light road. Mr. Ghost had changed the location of his nightly promenade. This seemed strange but not unusual inasmuch as the light was first viewed by Mr. Mizer from still another loca- tion--often referred to as the origi- nal ghost light area. It was after these revelations that I obtained a copy of the Engineers' test of the area. My first endeavor was to check the correctness of their re- port. On the next day I recon- noitered the road forming the north boundary of the city of Quapaw, Okla. I located and marked the high ground at several points for a distance of 10 miles west of Spring River. That night my party split into two groups: one to watch from the old spook light road near Hornet, Mo., and Bill White and I returned to the road north of Qua- paw, Okla. Through the use of a portable spotlight connected to our car battery we were able to signal the other party a prearrange code from a distance of approximately 9 miles. This proved the Army test, though not comprehensive, had its merits. Before trying to solve the mys- tery of the new spook light road, I made every effort to obtain more information about the light. It was while in search of old reports, news- paper articles, and the whereabouts of individuals connected with former experiments that I saw the need for compiling a booklet about the spook light. Many people had told me about seeing articles con- cerning the light in various pub- lications. Some of this information --19-- was true but in other cases pub- lishers denied having printed such articles. In my search for the best picture available of the light I was di- rected by Marie Kolb, director of the Ozark Playgrounds Association, in Joplin, Mo., to the studio of Orrick Sparlin, Miami, Okla. Hav- ing made this trip to Miami about 2 p.m. on a sunny afternoon it was not by chance that I noticed a small section south of Highway 66 south of Quapaw that seemed to run directly east and west. Previous to this day, I had checked all the gravel roads west of Spring river but could not find a parallel to the road forming the north bound- ary of Quapaw. On my return from Miami I measured the distance from the east-west segment of Hi- way 66 between Quapaw and Com- merce and found it to be that same distance as that between the old and new ghost light roads near Hor- net, Mo. It seemed almost impos- sible that car light as seen from this section of highway could ap- pear as a gigantic ball of fire on a lonely road 13 miles away. By the time I became aware of this section of east-west road be- tween Quapaw and Commerce I had become acquainted with the most distinguised scientist ever to visit the spook light road--Dr. George W. Ward, scientist form- erly of the Bureau of Standards, Washington, D.C., and of late The Midwest Research Institute. We had both worked out a hypothesis for the new spook lights existence. My job was now to make several experiments with light of Highway 66 and report my findings to Dr. Ward. The night of August 3, 1955, through use of colored lights I sent signals which were received on the new spook road near Hor- ner. There were times when only one car was moving east on the segment of Highway 66 and other times when 20 or 30 cars moved in this same direction simultane- ously. This explained why the phantom light would change from the appearance of a lantern to a stupendous ball of fire. The reddish glow of the light would vart as the number of cars and truck in- creased or decreased as they moved in a westerly direction. When there ------------------------- | | | For an Evening of Fun | | Come to . . . | | Ken's Bar | | 2409 W. 7th ST., | | Phone MA 3-0529 | | | | Joplin's Newest and | | Finest Night Club | | ENTERTAINMENT | | NIGHTLY | | Finest Foods in Town | | Henry Chinn, Chef | | | ------------------------- ----------------------------- | | | STOP AT | | LITTLE KING'S | | COURT | | | | 2207 W. 7th | | (Highway 66) | | | | Air Conditioned in Summer | | Hot Water Heat in Winter | | | | GET INFORMATION | | ON GHOST LIGHT HERE | | | ----------------------------- --20-- wasn't any traffic on the Highway, we had complete control of the gohst light as to when it appeared or disappeared or turned pink or green. This still did not wholly solve the mystery of the light. After a further study of the light iself, I realized Dr. Ward was correct in his refraction theory. His theory is, "The fact that the light did not always appear, substantiated the refraction or bending of light idea in that the relative humidity and temparature would have to at- tain the correct values to produce the correct density of atmosphere to bend the light sufficiently for observation." This simply means that the rays of light are bent out of their normal course, since they pass through a rare, then dense, then rare substance which varies continually with the humidity and temparature. The interesting phe- nomena about the spook light is that it appears where it actually isn't. Thus the ray of light as you see it from Hornet can do a bag of tricks while the source of light might remain stationary. The weeks of hard work I spent in solution of the light were made insignificany by the fact that I knew I had been the first man to hold the "spook" in his hands. I wish to thank the many people who helped to make this experi- ment possible, especially the 93rd Spl. Infantry Co., U.S.M.C.R. in Joplin for the use of their instru- ments, and certainly to Dr. George W. Ward whom I quote from his letter to me of August 8, 1955-- "Your experiments with lights on the aforementioned highway were followed with a good deal of in- terest. It was indeed most grati- fying when you finally proved our theory." I will probably be called a liar more often than has the late Rob- ert L. Riplet, but I can truthfully say a trip to Hornet, Mo., to view this interesting phenomena is well worth your time. Editor's Note: The article "Tri-State Spook Light", which also appeared in our first issue this summer, has caused considerable controversy. All the letters and cards re- ceived, including the corrective criticism, were sincerely appreci- ared. However, there were some who insist on believing in ghost. We thought everyone was entitled to an opinion of his own, but evidently not. Some of the letters and remarks bordered on the in- sulting and for these few we re- call this old adage--"Remember that it's better to remain silent and appear a fool, that to speak and remove all doubt." We admit there is a range of hills protruding above the line of vision from the spook light road to the section of Highway 66, referred to in the experi- ments. Our assuming a possible solution is based entirely upon the theory that the light is bent up over the mountain and comes down on the road on the other side, the light coming down at different points and with various intensities dependent upon the temperature and humidity. Our hypothesis is based on the double Refraction of Light. We welcome discussions and correspondance and in no way insist our solution is infallible. Why not try is yourself? We haven't convinced many. B. E. L. --------------------------------- The Galena Sentinel-Times Printers and Publishers 706 Main Box 276 GALENA, KANSAS --21-- LETTER BY DR. GEORGE W. WARD August 8, 1955 Capt. R. E. Loftin, U. S. A. Ret. 2922 Virginia Joplin, Missouri Dear Captain Loftin: Following our telephone con- versation this week-end. I am re- lating my first experience re- garding the "Spook Light," near Hornet, including the refraction theory, which you have recieved. It has been a pleasure working with you and I wish you every success in your publication. I came to Kansas City January, 1945, from the National Bureau of Standards, Washington, D. C., to aid in the development of the Midwest Research Institute. Part of this effort involved addresses to various group such as Cham- bers of Commerce, Rotary, etc. It was while appearing in Joplin that one od the Joplin Newspaper reporters recounted the story of the "Spook Light," or as he classed it, the "Mysterious Light of the Ozarks." Naturally, being trained scientifically, my curios- ity was aroused. Arrangements were immediately made with the Joplin newspaper reporter, whose name I have forgotten momen- tarily, to view the phenomenon. We drove down south of Joplin some either to ten miles and eventually parked on a gravel road at the top of a long slope, the road continuing down hill away from us, as we faced west, to dissipate itself in a number of cattle paths. The moon was not ----------------------------- | KENTUCKY STRAIGHT | | BOURBON | | 6 Years Old | | [...] | | If You Can Find | | A Better Bourbon | | - - - Buy It! | ----------------------------- --22-- up and our reporter friend claimed that the night was ideal for observation. Not long after our arrival a suffused glow appeared in the sky, to the west over a range of hills, the center of the lighted area being in line with the axis of the road. This was followed almost immediately by a ball of light estimated as 4 to 6 feet in diameter that appeared to de- scend out of the hills and to rapidly advance toward us. As the greenish-yellow ball of light approached, the Publicity Director of the Institute caused some amusement by exclaiming that he had seen enough and he dashed back to lock himself in the car. The light approached and seemed to envelop us. Upon rap- idly turning toward the east to observe the continuance of the light past us I observed nothing. After observing the phenom- enon a second time I placed an observer at these points, one in the center of the road, another some 50 feet behind him and one at the fence line on each side of the road. I was the first observer on the road and found that after the light passed me I could not see it, but that the observer 50 feet to my rear could still see it. The fence line observers reported only an obscure flash appearance. These observations then caused me to believe that the source of the phenomenon lay ahead to the west and preferrably over the range of hills. Further reasoning led to the possiblity that the ------------------------------------ | CROWN | | COACH | | LINES | | Travel by BUS | | | | For Information Call | | Crown-Greyhound Union Bus Depot | | Third & Joplin Streets | | Joplin, Missouri | | | | Phone MA 3-3178 | ------------------------------------ --23-- cause lay in the refraction of automobile headlights from a road in direct line with the gravel road where we stood. The fact that the light did not always appear, substantiated the re- fraction or bending of light idea in that the relative humidity and temparature would have to at- tain the correct values to pro- duce the correct density of at- mosphere to bend the light suf- ficiently for observation. Further it was observed that as an observ- er moved down hill toward the observed source of light, the phenomenon was not visible while an observer remaining at approximately the top of the slope could see the light. The re- fraction theory was also borne out by the lack of good observa- tion at the fence lines. Satisfied that we were deal- ing with the refraction of distant automobile headlights -- one light instead of two, automatic- ally called for distance -- we sought on the highway road map a road travelled by cars that was directly in line with our obser- vation point. It was decided that such a road was the section of highway running east and west from Commerce to Quapaw, Oklahoma. It now remained to correlate automobile headlights on the highway with observation of the "Spook Light." We had satisfied ourselves as to the probably ex- planation and had no further interest. We suggested observa- tion from an airplane as to cars ---------------------------- | -- TOW SERVICE -- | | TIRES -- BATTERIES | | | | Complete Cooling System | | Cleaning and Muffler | | Service | | BLOCK & SIZED ICE | | | | JOE'S | | Service Station | | 2301 Main -- Joplin | | Day PHONES: Nite | | MA 3-9503 MA 4-1550 | ---------------------------- ----------------------------- | A friendly place to | | DINE | | [...] | | C & A | | BARBECUE | | 2608 Main Dial MA 3-6382 | ----------------------------- --24-- in Oklahoma and a radio report to a ground observer of the "Spook Light." We were quite pleased at your offer to collaborate when you learned of our theory. Your ex- periments with lights on the aforemenioned highway was fol- lowed with a good deal of inter- est. It was indeed most gratifying when you finally proved our theory. Yours truly GEORGE W. WARD Director of Research --------------------- I first saw the "Spook Light" back about 1911, before many roads or cars existed in this area. I have seen it a number of times, even in rain and snow and at all hours of the night for the past 44 years. ORA C. WINFREY Redings Mill * * * I've lived around Quapaw for 61 years. I've seen a number of teams investigating the source of the "Ghost Light," but none of them have ever found out what it is. I was here before there were any cars in this district and the "Ghost Light" was there then. LEONARD STONER, Quapaw * * * Miami News Record--1-6-52 ". . . even scientific experts have been mystified by "Spook Light," which bounces along a gravel road between Baxter Springs and Peoria. -------------------------------- | "To Make Her Smile As | | Bright As The Old | | Spook Light" | | Remember | | Aaron Florist | | 615 W. 21st St. Joplin, Mo. | | Phone MA 3-6768 | -------------------------------- ----------------------- | FOR EATING JOYS | | IT IS THE | | BEELER BOYS | | 210 W. 7th Joplin | | On Route 66 | ----------------------- ------------------------------ | CLYDE | | ELAM'S | | SERVICE | | STATIONS | | 1801 Main and 7th & Picher | | Joplin, Mo. | | "For Direction to Light | | Stop Here" | ------------------------------ ------------------------------- | A B C MATTRESS AND | | UPHOLSTERING CO. | | All Mattresses Rebuilt | | Cotton Mattresses made into | | Innerspring | | Free Pickup and Delivery | | Arnold Newby - Dave Sexton | | Phone MA 4-6856 | | 1607 Main St. Joplin, Mo. | ------------------------------- --25-- The Kansas City Star--May 19, 1946 From a story by the late Charles W. Graham (Part of Copyrighted Article Reprinted by Special Permission) The reader of ghost stories, if he would derive the fullest enjoyment from his reading, should put his mind in a state of temporary be- lief in the supernatural. The deeper one can sink into the belief, the greater is his enjoyment of the ghosts, but when the story is ended it's time to come back to reality. In my pocket was a short manu- script by C. Paul Spidell of Baxter Springs, Kansas, addressed to the Sunday Editor of The Star. I had read it two or three times. In stark incredulity first, then in growing amasement; it came to me that Spi- dell was not fooling. He was telling an actual experience, and his back- ground did not admit of undue superstition in his make-up. He is a big man, a Harvard graduate, with considerable experience in the realistic occupation of advertising. Here, in part, is what he wrote: "There was a dull glow. It got brighter, then scampered quickly across the field to a point about a hundred yards directly ahead of us. There it halted and grew in size and intensity. Excited whispers came from the car. The light paled and disappeared, only to repeat its performance, making its entry again in the field to the left. When it got in front of us this time, it started to come toward us in a sort of wavering dance. "It seemed to be about ten feer up from the ground. At it ap- proached there was a reflection on the hood of my car. Four beams were like pipe-stem arms and legs. About fifty feet away it stopped and decided to climb a tree to our right where it perched for awhile, losing its brilliance and turning into a kind of ectoplasmic cloud. "Whatever it was, it had a rest- less spirit. It faded and by fission reproduced itself into three bright little lights with waving arms and leg beams. About six feet apart, the trio scurried through a grove of jackoaks and across a field to our right, then converged into one blazing light which halted." There was more including a des- cription by Mr. Spidell of a lumi- nous tadpole which wriggled out of sight under a house, and a mansion with lighted windows. In The Star office we have re- ceived reports of these "spook" lights for many years. Scientists had visited the area, seeking ex- planations on the spot, but they failed to locate the source. In 1936 the late A. B. Macdonald of The Star went to see them and an explana- tion satisfactory to himself, but he did not obtain a proof. This spring a Kansas City scientist, Dr. George W. Ward of the Midwest Research Institute, had veiwed the lights for diversion when on a business trip to Joplin. The intrigued him. after a few preliminary tests he reasoned out a hypothesis that was subject to proof. With that to start with, I sent a letter to Col. Dennis E. McCunniff, ------------------- | PETE'S | | CLEANERS | | 28th & Main St. | | JOPLIN, MO. | | "WE MAKE SPOTS | | DISAPPEAR | | LIKE MAGIC" | ------------------- ------------------------- | Dan Stanley | | FORD | | Joplin, Mo. MA 3-5660 | ------------------------- --26-- commanding officer of Camp Crow- der, three miles from Neosho, and not far from the lonely road. I ex- plained to him the hypothesis, and asked the assistance of the army in seeking proof. Colonel McCunniff invited me to Camp Crowder to talk it over. The Army Joins the Quest "They have my curiosity aroused," the colonel said. "I should like to know what they are. We shall be glad to co-operate." The solution of the "mystery" light probably will not satisfy some persons who have seen it. We have no desire to insist upon the solution and we certainly don't want to rob anyone of the enjoyment of a good ghost. We should like to point out only that the light is brighter, visible for longer periods, and seen more frequently in winter than in summer, as many observers have testified. The reason is be- cause the trees, being denuded of foilage in winter, form less obstruc- tion than in summer. In any event, the phenomenon of optical illusion enters into all of it, for it has been demonstrated many times that light at night often ap- pear much closer than they actually are. For what it may be worth, that is the opinion of the men who conducted the tests. ----------------------------------- | FENCE | | CHAIN LINK | | RED WOOD -- PICKET | | RAIL & STOCKADE | | "Installed Any Where In | | the 4 State Area." | | Call or write for Free Estimate | | Globe Fence | | & | | Improvement Co. | | JOPLIN, MO. | | 2213 Main Phone MA 3-7526 | ----------------------------------- UNPREDICTABLE I have lived here on the road over 2 years. We were about to take the light for granted, when one night about dusk, that crazy light came within about 7 feet of our car as we were driving home. It appeared as a big bright ball but vanished when we turned on the cat lights. The thing scared the "daylights" out of us. Mary Hamilton * * * Carthage Evening Press--7-23-55 "Whence comes the light or the reason for its existence are still a mystery." * * * The Southwestern--7-1-55 "For a half century, the light has attracted tourist. It's a cinch that it will continue to do so for a good long time to come." * * * If I ever have a flat on the "Spook Light" road, I'll drive it flat, cause I'll never get out to fix it. DR. J. C. KIMBROUGH, Veterinarian * * * Refraction of Light-- When a ray of light passes from one sub- stance to another of a different density, it is bent out of its course or refracted. The law of refraction is: When light passes from a rare to a dense substance, it is bent in the direction of a line that is perpendicular to the surface of the refracting body, when light passes from a dense to a rare substance, it bent away from a line perpendicular to the surface of the refracting body. --27-- EDITORS COMMENT: The test shown below has no connection whatsoever with the present spook light. The army test was con- ducted on a road approximately 1 mile north of the road from which the light is seen today. The results of this test has been best de- scribed by the State of Missouri, Resources and Development Di- vision stating . . . "They came away baffled." The tri-pod mounted telescope, now operated on the new spook light road by A. P. "Spooky" Meadows is three times more powerful than those used by the army. The light as seen through this scope cannot be sep- arated into a pair or pairs of automobile headlights. The light as seen through the telescope appears as a firey flame or flames, us- usally green at the bottom and red at the top. It is sure worth seeing. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- ARMY AND ENGINEERS TEST MAP AND PROFILE N ^ West Twin ELM Quapaw Spring | Ranch CREEK River OKLA|MI O | SCALE OF MILES LEGEND | ROADS/RAILROADS/Observation Point Lights ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Twelve miles souhwest of Joplin is a lonely road of Northwestern Oklahoma where the famous "spook light is seen. As this map shows, the lonely road is in direct line with another road bordering the north side of Quapaw, Okla. Experiments were conducted to prove a theory that the mystery light had its origin in the light of motor cars on the Quapaw road far ahead. Observations were made on the lonely road at points 1 and 2 on the map. Controlled test lights were flashed on the Quapaw road from points 3 and 4. From point 5, a motor cat was driven east, its headlights flashing. All of the flashed in the test were seen at points 1 and 2, in the spots where the "mystery light" occurs. Profile below the map shows that points 1 and 2, where the lights are seen, are from 200 to 250 feet higher than points 3 and 4 on the Quapaw road. Elevation at point No. 1, where the light is seen, is 1,050 feet. The highest point on the Quapaw road, where the light originates, is only about 800 feet. Thus from point 1, and observer looks down upon the Quapaw road. --28-- Try Your Own "Hunt for a New Point-of-Interest The Playgrounds of the Ozarks, the scenic vaca- tion wonderland of southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma, seems to offer an in-exhaustible fund of legend, folk-lore and historic sites as yet fully unexplored and unre- corded. The story of the "Ghost-Light" is a true story of such a search. The Ozark Playgrounds Association suggests ac- tual research in this field, interviews with resi- dents, as well as a review of historical material, for a new kind of "hunting." There's a rich re- ward of fun in seeking out such facts. If YOU know of some "little-known" facts of interest, you think could be developed as points of interest for tourists, won't you please advise the Headquarters Office of the Ozark Playgrounds As- sociation, 112 W. 4th Street, joplin, Mo. OZARK PLAYGROUNDS ASSOCIATION
Sean B. Palmer