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SHOW-ME MYSTERIES: Book on myths and mysteries in Missouri well-worth picking up

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BOOK REVIEW: Myths & Mysteries of Missouri by Josh Young (Rowman & Littlefield) 2014

When it came time for me to choose a place in which to view the “Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017,” the choice was easy. I could still remain in Oklahoma, but be on the Missouri border and get the most coverage while still within the boundaries of the Sooner State.

And that chosen spot (which I wrote about here) was in the middle of E 50 Road in Ottawa County, near the small community of Peoria, and just west of Hornet, a largely vanished community inside the Missouri state line.

Why is that significant? Because E 50 Road is better known to folks in those parts as Spook Light Road. It’s on that road that for decades, the mysterious balls of light - known by different names, from the Devil’s Lantern to Earth Lights – is more prominently called the Spook Light. And despite some efforts by scientists to figure out what the Spook Light really is, only prove that science has yet to figure out this Missouri mystery.

Yes, it is considered a “Missouri mystery” because it was first seen in the Show-Me State (don’t forget that all-important hyphen, my friends) even though it technically appears in Oklahoma. And for Missouri-based author Josh Young, his chapter on the Spook Light is saved for the final chapter of his 2014 book Myths & Mysteries of Missouri.

And you know what they say – save the best for last, right?

After reading and reviewing Benjamin Radford's killjoy of a book Mysterious New Mexico, it was a pleasure to dive into Young's fun-loving book that addresses not only the Spook Light mystery, but others as well, ranging from the first chapter on the brilliant "Jim the Wonder Dog" to a chapter on notorious outlaw Jesse James (who was shot and killed in St. Joseph, Mo. in 1882) to lost mines and that 1811 shaker known as the New Madrid Earthquake that changed the landscape forever and left a deep impression on those that experienced it.

Young is clearly having fun with Myths & Mysteries of Missouri, particularly with chapters on the Beatles famous "vacation" in rural Missouri in 1964, after weeks on tour to the unsolved mystery involving three Springfield, Mo. women who disappeared one night in June 1992. Their bodies were never found.

It seems as though Young kept his stories and research closer to the southern (Ozark Mountains) areas of Missouri (I know there are some great mysteries still unsolved in the St. Louis area), but that's okay. I like a writer who has a sense of wonder and fun when delving into the mysteries of their home state. Plus, Young is a natural and gifted storyteller.

This is one mystery book I highly recommend and would read again just for the sheer joy of it.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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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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