A Return Visit To The Famous "Joplin Spook Light"
By Bob Soetebier © 1998
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.

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