Part 2: Sightings of the Spook Lights
Accounts of sightings vary from a single burning light that changes colors and chases vehicles to multiple dancing lights that spin and join and separate again. These accounts to follow are from Author Raymond Bayless’s extensive study that took place in October of 1963.
Bayless himself spotted the spook lights on October 17th, 1963 and reported the lights as a “bright light at the end of the roadway. The light fluctuated in intensity and at times became two separate lights, hovering one above the other. The light returned about an hour later and was so bright that it caused a reflection on the dirt surface of the road.” The track of highway that is known as Devil’s Promenade was only recently (2000’s) turned from a dirt to a paved road. “The group of researchers began to move westward along the road in pursuit of the light. The light receded backward as they got closer to it. The group began navigating the hills and ravines of the road and the light vanished.”
During Bayless’s investigations he also talked to many locals about their reported sightings of the Spook lights. When he talked with Mr. Arthur Holbrook, he stated that he had first seen the light in 1905 when there were only a dozen motor vehicles in the nearby city of Joplin, Missouri and Route 66 wasn’t even constructed yet.
One of the more well-known “experts” on the Spook lights that Bayless talked with was Leslie Robertson, the curator of the Spooksville museum, first saw the light in 1916. The “Spooksville Museum” was located along Spook Light Road and offered a collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, personal accounts, as well as a platform for people to observe the Spook Lights for themselves with telescopes and cameras readily available.
The lights had been seen by Joplin and Quapaw locals for over 100 years, and the stories had been passed down for generations by the time Bayless interviewed them. One account contributing to this was J. Leonard (born in 1896), who was a member of the Miami Indian Tribe in the early 1960’s. He told Bayless that “his parents had spoken of the light many times. He could personally remember seeing it as long as he had been alive.” According to the stories his parents had told him, “The light had been in existence for several generations or at least 100 years.”
Another local Native American in the area, Guy Jennison stated he membered hearing about the lights “when he was attending the Quapaw Mission School in 1892. By that time, it was a local legend.”