Sunday, September 29, 2013

Inside the rural Missouri town with mysterious light that even Army engineers are at a loss to explain

A photographic series documents a famously unexplained light phenomenon that appears in an area of the Ozarks known as the Devil's Promenade by speaking with the locals who've seen it and heard tales of it all their lives.

The name of the area lends the series, created by artists Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal, its name and the apparition itself is known to the townspeople in southwest Missouri as the Spook Light.

Spook Light appears as a basketball-sized orb of light, but only every so often and only by chance on a road called E50, where the rolling Ozark hills disappear into the endless flatness of Kansas and Oklahoma.

Even the Army Corps of Engineers once tried to pinpoint the cause of the floating orb. They traveled to the area outside Joplin, a town now known as the 2011 site of a devastating F5 tornado, to study the Spook Light in the early 1940s.

They were unable to come to any conclusions.

Guesses as to its origins run from everyday expulsions of gas from the areas abundant shale deposits to UFOs.

‘It was before midnight,’ she said. ‘It was like a big, huge ball with a yellow glow and it went right straight through our car. I just screamed.’

Mary Roundtree, a local historian, told NPR she's seen the light, too.

'Its very spooky,' she said. 'It looks like a light way far off, and then its right on you.'

Roundtree said she saw the light as a kid when she and her parents were lured to E50 out of curiosity.

'My heart was just pounding and it was up in my throat and I thought my head was going to explode and my hands got all cold,' she said.

And like almost everyone else whose seen the bobbing orb, she has her own variation of the tale that's behind it.

According to Roundtree, a old Indian man came across some dead bodies in the woods where the Spook now appears. After he buried them, a white farmer came by carrying a lantern. The two killed one another but the light of the lantern still hangs there as an apparition.


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