Devil's Promenade & the Hornet Spook Light
Spook Light Postcard
Bobbing and bouncing
along a dirt road in northeast
is the Hornet
Spook Light, a
paranormal enigma for more than a century. Described most often
as an orange ball of light, the orb travels from east to west along a
four mile gravel road, long called the Devil's Promenade by area locals.
Spook Light, often
referred to as the
Spook Light or the
Spook Light is
actually in Oklahoma near the small town of
Quapaw. However, it is most often seen from the east, which is why it has been
"attached” to the tiny hamlet of Hornet,
and the larger better known town of Joplin.
According to the
legend, the spook light was first seen by
Indians along the infamous
Trail of Tears
in 1836; however, the first "official” report occurred in 1881 in a
publication called the Ozark Spook Light.
The ball of fire,
described as varying from the size of a baseball to a basketball,
dances and spins down the center of the road at high speeds, rising
and hovering above the treetops, before it retreats and disappears. Others have said it sways from side to side, like a lantern being
carried by some invisible force. In any event, the orange
fire-like ball has reportedly been appearing nightly for well over a
one hundred years. According to locals, the best time to view
the spook light is between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and midnight and
tends to shy away from large groups and loud sounds.
paranormal and scientific investigators have studied the light,
including the Army Corps of Engineers, no one has been able to provide
a conclusive answer as to the origin of the light.
have been presented over the years including escaping natural gas,
reflecting car lights and billboards, and will-o’-the-wisps, a
luminescence created by rotting organic matter. However, all of these
explanations all fall short of being conclusive.
As to the theory of escaping natural gas,
which is common in marshy areas, the Hornet Light is seemingly not
affected by wind or by rain, and how would it self-ignite? The
idea that it might be a will-o’-the-wisp is discounted, as this
biological phenomena does not display the intensity of the ball of
light seen along the Devil's Promenade. Explanations of headlights or billboards are
easily discarded, as the light was seen years before automobiles or
billboards were made, and before a road even existed in the area.
explanation that is not as easily discounted, but not yet proven
conclusive, is that the lights are electrical atmospheric charges. In areas where rocks, deep below the earth’s surface, are shifting and
grinding, an electrical charge can be created. This area, lying on a
fault line running east from New Madrid, Missouri, westward to Oklahoma was the site of four earthquakes during
the eighteenth century. These types of electrical fields are most
commonly associated with earthquakes.
Other interesting legends
also abound about the light that provide a more ghostly explanation. The oldest is the story of a
maiden who fell in love with a young brave. However, her father
would not allow her to marry the man as he did not have a large enough
dowry. The pair eloped but were soon pursued by a party of
warriors. According to the legend, when the couple was close to
being apprehended, they joined hands above the Spring River and leaped to
their deaths. It was shortly after this event, that the light began
to appear and was attributed to the spirits of the young lovers.
Another legend tells of a
miner whose cabin was attacked by Indians
while he was away. Upon his return, he found his wife and children
missing and is said to continue looking for them along the old road,
searching with his lantern.
Others say the
Spook Light is the ghost of an Osage
chief who was decapitated in the area and continues to search for his lost
head, with a lantern held high in his hand.
Sightings of the
Spook Light are common, sometimes even reported
to be seen inside vehicles. A few people, who have been walking
along the road at night, have even claimed to have felt the heat of the
ball as it passed near them.
Reportedly, the moving anomaly, growing brighter and
dimmer, larger and smaller, can be seen approximately twelve miles
southwest of Jopliln,
Missouri. To get to Devil's Promenade Road, take
Interstate 44 west from Jopliln but before you reach the Oklahoma border, take the next to the last
Missouri exit onto Star Route 43. Traveling south for about four miles, you will reach a crossroads which is Devil's Promenade Road.
of America, updated January, 2016.
Devil's Promenade by day.
Readers Stories about the Spooklight
Reader's Story from Hornet,
I was doing some walking down memory lane this
evening and came across your website about the old Hornet Spook Light. Your site seems to be one of
the few that is updated, and I thought I would share my story of the Spook Light.
My dad was born in Seneca, near Hornet and Joplin.
In fact, our family cemetery is in Hornet - generations of folks who lived
and died on the prairie. It is a really amazing place. My dad is something
of an adventurer, and I think he got that from his mom. She would tell us
amazing and hilarious stories of cows jumping through the barn window, the
wagon turning over and dumping everyone out on their way to church, and of
surviving countless tornadoes in "tornado alley."
I remember my grandmother telling her
story of the Spook Light.
It seems that when she was in high school, it was common for buses to take
tourists - and locals - to see the light.
The night she went they had
a truly close encounter. It seems the light not only appeared, but
actually came down the road toward their bus, rested on the hood, and
then burst into a bright, blinding light and vanished. I don't know if
she ever went again. I heard the story many times and she never
changed or embellished it. She was in her 80's when she died about 15
years ago, so it was a very long time ago when she had her encounter.
My dad, as I said, is also an adventurer, and until I married, we
would all vacation every year in that section of Missouri, visiting
the family and exploring every little road and interesting spot on the
map. I've explored countless deserted cabins and been through just
about every little museum in the area. So, of course, one night we had
to see the Spook Light.
I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I know I was in high
school, so that would have been the late 70's, early 80's. It was late
when we got there, and I only saw a few cars in the area. Dad parked
and we waited. Yes, it showed up. I've read the explanations of the
light...and some very reputable and determined people claim it's cars
on the highway. What I saw was certainly NOT headlights. We watched a
car drive down the road toward the light. The light was above the car
as it passed under it - and the light was brighter and larger than the
tail lights receding in the distance - so I don't see that headlights
even farther away could appear that large, even if you could logically
assume that the light was above the car, because the highway was
higher than the road...I understand all of that.
What happened next convinced me that it was not headlights. The large
light split into two smaller lights - and yes, looked like headlights.
So, I assumed it was just that and was somewhat disappointed...until
the lights moved into a vertical position, held that position for
several seconds, then moved back to a horizontal location, joined, and
vanished. If a car could have accomplished that feat, that meant it
had somehow driven in a traditional way, then on its side, then
righted itself and managed to blend its headlights into one bright
light and vanish.
I wasn't a child - I was at least 16 years
old. I know what I saw and I've never seen anything like it since. I
have no explanation for it. I believe I saw the Spook Light. I don't believe it was
an alien or ghost; I am convinced there is a logical scientific reason
behind it. But whatever it is, it certainly wasn't headlights that
night! Perhaps other sightings can be attributed to headlights, but
not that summer night 30 years ago!
dad wants to take my sister and our families back to the old family farm
one more time - my daughter, niece and nephew have never been to Missouri.
I'm planning to ask for an evening at the Spook Light. Maybe we'll get lucky and pass the mystery on to the next
Submitted by: Cassandra Krummel Golden, November, 2009
Reader's Story from Hornet,
I saw on your list of most haunted places
the name of a place that is very close to my heart. The
Spook Light at
My great uncle, Garland Middleton, owned a museum there for many years. He inherited the nickname "Spooky"
from the former owner
has been studied by scientists from all
over, Corps of Engineers, and many more people and for over a hundred
years and it has never been explained. I have seen it lots of times
myself. I've seen it split into four glowing balls turn red then blue
and disappear. It'll be in front of you. then disappear and then be
behind you. It's literally went through cars. Sometimes it comes out
sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. The best time to see it is
after midnight when it's really quiet. They tried to close the road it
to the public several years ago. Talk about a 4-state uproar!!!!!! It's still open. :) The story goes back to Indian days.
Diane Melton, October, 2005.
A Reader's Story About
the Spooklight in Oklahoma
My name is
Jackie and I grow up in Quapaw, Oklahoma, attending grade school
and high school through the 10th grade before we moved. My
father grew up with the light and I would have to say I saw the
Spook Light at least 175 times or more during
the time that I lived there in the 1960s.
There used to be an old bar near
Spook Light Road where my
dad would take us when we had company from out of town. We kids
loved to go there, play pool, and listen to the old man who owned the bar
tell us stories about the light. Often we would sit outside on the car to
watch for the
Spook Light. We had to be real quiet or it would not
come out. As we watched, all of sudden it would appear at the other
end of the road. My dad would leave his lights out and try to creep
up on it, but always, by the time we got near the light it would be
suddenly be behind us.
It was a regular tradition that our
family would attend the Indian
pow-wows on the every 4th of July holiday. On one of these
occasions, after we left the pow-wow, we went to my Aunt’s house, which
was just right off
Spook Light Road. As
we were drying there about 10:00 p.m., a light came up behind us weaving
back and forth across the road like a drunk. My mom insisted that we
pull over and let the car pass; however, as soon as we did, the light took
off across the land.
I have seen it with a big white light with a
small green one below it, as well as it sometimes appearing as a red or
yellow-orange colored orb. I believe, at one time Readers Digest
came out with a story on it in the late 1950s or early 1960s. On another occasion my father took me and all
our friends out into the country where we had such a bizarre experience,
it would make you believe almost anything. At this place there was a
fence upon land where an Indian
and his wife were said to have been killed by a white man. According
to the legend, the Indian stated before he died that he and his wife would
always be around. At the fence, dad had us hold our hands out with a
piece of bread over the fence. Suddenly, we would feel something
taking the bread from our hands. Even with a flash light, you could
see that one second it was there, and the next, the bread was gone. This was very scary to me at the time.
When I grew older, my dates always took
Spook Light Road
and along the way we would cross the Spring River Bridge, its wooden
structure rocking side to side so badly, that I was frightened before we
Spook Light Road. I always
saw the light appear near Quapaw, Oklahoma.
I don't know if it is the same now like it was
back then, so I will be making plans to go home to Quapaw,
see it again. My Aunt Mary, who was raised with me will go with me. It should be fun as we talk about our old stories and try to find the
Submitted by: Jackie
Oliver, June, 2005
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