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THE HORNET/JOPLIN SPOOK LIGHT
By Cary Stough
 
The Hornet Spook Light, located just outside of Joplin, Missouri, has perplexed supernatural-seekers and adventurers for many years. It is generally seen as an elusive orb of light which moves above the ground. What it is, or how this mysterious phenomenon is caused is much speculated. Thoughts range from electromagnetic radiation, to a type of gas, and even that the orb represents two long lost Native American lovers, on their journey back to each other through the physical world. The orb itself has been described to be spherical, obviously, and moves gently side to side in a pendulum sway. Some say it even takes the shape of a lantern, representing a lonely miner, made headless by Indians, searching for his head. It has been seen many times over the years. Some encounters have been the same and some have resulted in many stories which propagate even more myths. It has never been reported that the light has ever hurt anyone, but the stories keep coming in of peoples’ personal interactions with the orb. Whether it is of the supernatural or not defeats the notion that it is not just a myth, the Hornet Spook Light is out there and continues to cause researchers, both amateur and professional to ask questions.
     
Though the sightings occurred years before, dating back as far as the late-Nineteenth Century, the first professional recorded investigation did not take place until 1942 by a group of students from the University of Michigan. In 1946, the United States Army Corp of Engineers tested to dismiss the light as car-headlights but no definitive conclusion was ever reached. In 1955, another group of students attempted to study the light, assisting Captain R.L. Loftin of the Army Corp of Engineers, but still no conclusion on to what the light was were reached. Over the decades the light has been studied, but a suitable solution to the questions has yet to be found. Some exciting recurrences have been found though. There have been several accounts of the light getting as close to viewers as their car-hoods, but with every time an attempt to catch the light, the light has vanished. Also, the light seems to have intelligence. It knows when its comfort-zone has been breached and always vanishes—sometimes only to return into view some feet away. It is as if it can sense strange movement and takes the correct precautions to insure its safety. The light can be seen mostly every night, but it is possible that the light does not manifest.
     
My own personal investigations of the light have been unsuccessful as far as actually seeing the light. I have been twice, and in both investigations have not seen even a glimpse of the light. My cousin Brian Bilyeu, whom I interviewed before my second trip, has seen the Spook Light many times and was even a member of an amateur paranormal investigation squad. I recorded his testimonies, which offered a wealth of experience and insights into the supernatural aspects of the light. Brian’s investigations started in college when he and friends would go out in search of the light every weekend solely for the thrill of adventure. After his first sighting, he was hooked. He continued to visit every week. Brian describes the light to be intelligent, generally bluish-white in color and ranging in brightness depending on relation to the light. He carried out several experiments with the light, even recording it on video. During one encounter, a friend who claimed to be a medium (someone who speaks to ghosts), attempted to coax an audible response from the light, but nothing happened. When yelled at or screamed at, the light would always move farther away and vanish. There was only one sighting Brian recalled as frightening. He and a friend were standing at least a hundred yards away from the light, and it began to float towards them. Somewhere along its path of movement, it stopped and emitted a terrifying noise. Brian describes the sound to be similar to a dog’s wail, and similar to the sound of 20-30 people screaming. The light did not move any further, but the sound rushed past them. This was the only interaction that caused Brian any fear towards the light.
   
As I travelled to Joplin for my first time, I was skeptical of the myth. I had always heard many stories from my fellow citizens and family but vowed not to be convinced until I had witnessed the Spook Light on my own. The area in which the alleged sightings had taken place was not hard to find now that the recently built casino acted as our landmark; the light from the casino is yet visible deep in the country where the light supposedly appears. My first trip, I admit, I was slightly afraid—not because of what would happen if the light appeared, but what I would do if confronted by the phenomenon. Both attempts to see the light occurred from the middle to the end of the week around 8 to 10 o’clock at night. The only things that would constitute as a light of any kind were streetlights posted outside the houses and the headlights from oncoming cars in the distance. There was one time I was convinced I could see a single orb of light moving towards our group’s car, but as it got closer, the lights diverged and it became clear that the light was nothing more than a car. Nevertheless, it gave me quite the scare. The only thing that I questioned each time was the presence of three dogs near the sighting-area. They probably belonged to a nearby house, but it struck me that every time I passed, looking directly into their wan eyes, a sense of foreboding surged through my mind. Were the dogs simply awaiting the next passerby, or did they serve as a sort of gatekeeper to another world, a world of the mysterious possibilities our existence implies? I never saw the Spook Light, but gathering many testimonies of sightings as well as experiencing a supernatural dread myself, I am at least halfway convinced that there may be something out there that cannot easily be explained.
 


 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 


 
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