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Baffling "Spook Light" continues to appear on road in NE Oklahoma

Art by Christopher Shanefelt
An artistic rendering of the "Hornet Spook Light," which appears along the Oklahoma/Missouri state line periodically.
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Local professor claims he and a scientific investigative group from Edmond cracked "Spook Light" mystery

NORMAN, Okla. – Floating lights. Glowing orbs. Balls of fire. The Hornet Spook Light.  

Many are the names for one of the oldest and intriguing “unexplained” phenomena in Oklahoma, known commonly as The Spook Light, a subject previous highlighted here at Red Dirt Report on more than one occasion.

This strange light makes a habit of appearing along with a four-mile stretch of a gravel road East 50 Road also called “The Devil’s Promenade” in the Tri-State Area (Oklahoma/Missouri/Kansas) and situated in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma, near the Will Rogers Turnpike, across the Missouri state line from the small community of Hornet and just north of the town of Seneca, Missouri.

First documented in 1886 the “mysterious light of unknown origin”, as described by the Army Corps of Engineers, after their failure to explain the “Spook Light” enigma in 1946, have frightened people as soon as it gets dark. 

Possible explanations of the so-called “spook lights” are numerous, rarely credible, and never proven. Among the natural explanations include mineral deposits, swamp gas, ball lightning and ghosts alimented by local stories, to name just a few.

And even KSN, a Kansas TV station, caught the Spook Light on live television in October 2012. In the video, the Spook Light goes high in the sky. Traditionally, the Spook Light showed up lower to the road, which is now paved.

But the Spook Light mystery may finally have an explanation – one that is down-to-earth and solved by a group of investigators calling themselves the Boomers.

The mystery, according to the Boomers, was solved on the cold night of Dec. 14, 2014, according to an investigation headed by the leader of the Boomers, Prof. Allen Rice, who teaches Medieval and Renaissance British Literature at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

“Not only did we not expect to solve the case so easily, we didn’t expect to ever see the Spook Light,” Rice told Red Dirt Report in an email. “We were stunned the first night to see it so clearly and so often.”

UCO Prof. Allen Rice. (Photo provided)

Solving the mystery proved simple and mirrored previously advanced theories by other investigators: the light explained as headlights and taillights of passing automobiles.

"The Spook Light are ... car headlights and car taillights," Rice announces in his video, debunking the myths and folklore surrounding this long-time puzzle.

And with the Boomers’ video, it was the first time that video proof was provided with a clear explanation of the Spook Light phenomenon. 

The Boomers team composed of six members are used to trying to resolve mysteries with already 20 expeditions to their account but no real success. However, for the first time, the odds were in their favor. 

Since then, helped by local media coverage such as KFOR News Channel 4, Boomers’ 2015 video of the Spook Light went viral on YouTube with over 14,000 views. 

“We didn’t expect the video to be so widely viewed,” Rice explained. “I was hoping maybe a few hundred to see it in a year,” Rice wrote, adding to have heard about the Spook Light after reading a book called Weird USA at a bookshop. 

And while the Boomers may have unraveled this longtime Oklahoma mystery, the release of the news disappointed many, as noted on the YouTube page featuring their findings. The 22-minute documentary had more dislikes than likes.

“In a way, I am not surprised by those who are opposed to our conclusions because previous researchers who came to similar conclusions (but without video proof) were vilified in the same way,” Rice said. “I am surprised, however, at the intensity-level of the hatred.”

Many people are wondering: why previous investigations that got the same answer were inconclusive? 

Because, Rice said in his last unpublished report, the ones who got the same ideas as the Boomers, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers didn’t know how to prove it. And the ones who proved it such as Robert Gannon in 1965 didn’t know how to explain it. Worse, they did not have visual proof.

“All these previous gentlemen provided in the way of proof was their word of honor and perhaps a relatively unconvincing photograph of a small blob of light,” Rice wrote. 

Others explanations can be advanced to explain such hatred against Boomer’s video, such as the amateurism of the video due to a mediocre quality and constant shaking as commented on YouTube.

But the most common questions pointed out by many, including Troy Taylor, who experienced sightings of the Spook Light, is, "How are sightings of the light explained that took place prior to (the existence of) highways, cell towers, and even automobiles?” 

Taylor, based in Jacksonville, Illinois, is the author of 120 books on mysteries and is the owner of American Hauntings Tours and Events.

Although, the Boomers thinks that lantern and bonfire could have been interpreted as The Spook Light before automobile appeared in the region. Rice recognized that “until someone films such an experiment, the question remains unanswered.” 

The Boomers may have resolved (at least a part of it) the Spook Light mystery, still many are convinced the Hornet Spook Light, named before the former border village of Hornet, isn’t over.

Link to the Boomer’s documentary on Youtube.

Link to the Hornet Spook Light history by Troy Taylor.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The founder and creator of Red Dirt Report, Andrew Griffin, witnessed the Spook Light on March 31, 1995. He plans to return to this same site near Hornet, Mo., on the Oklahoma side of the line, on August 21, 2017 during the Great American Solar Eclipse. It is part of Griffin's ongoing investigation into a phenomena he calls the "Stilwell Enigma."

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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