Oklahoma is bursting with ghost stories, strange happenings, outlaw tales and Native American legends. Some of them are actually true. One of my favorites is the Spook Light of Northeastern Oklahoma.
I first heard of the Spook Light at a dinner party in Miami, Oklahoma, several years ago. I was there on business, and one of the locals asked me if I had seen the Spook Light. I was immediately intrigued, but also wary that I could be going down a snipe hunt trail. The locals were enthusiastic about this thing, and some of them actually claimed to have seen it. By the time I dug into my dessert, I was hanging between wanting to see this thing and feeling as if the city girl was being taken by the joking country folk.
A group of them promised to take me there on my next trip to Miami, but I laughed it off and said I wasn’t falling for that. A few days after I got back home, one of them e-mailed me a site that described the Spook Light in detail. Ok, now I was intrigued.
About a month later I was back in Miami, and my dinner partners had arranged a cookout and hayride to the road where the Spook Light made its occasional appearances.
The first reported sighting of the Spook Light was in 1881, and there have been countless sightings since then.
Located east of Quapaw, Oklahoma, the Spook Light road (known as the Devil’s Promenade by locals) is out in the country and during the day resembles every other dirt road in the state. It’s about 4 miles long, but the Spook Light only appears in a certain smaller area of the road.
The Spook Light appears as a moving, bouncing, reddish-orange ball of light. It dances around and has even come into moving automobiles. Some people walking along the road have reported feeling the heat as the light zooms by them. The light is not affected by wind or rain – it appears no matter what the weather happens to be.
There have been various theories over the years on what causes this light, most of them quickly discounted. One theory that seems most plausible is that an electric charge from grinding rocks underneath the ground causes the Spook Light. The area is over a fault line, so this idea is a possibility, but has never been proven.
Other theories are more interesting and involve ghosts. One story is that a Quapaw brave and maiden fell in love, but her father was against the romance. A real Romeo and Juliet story. The couple fled and were chased by Quapaw braves until they took a lover’s leap into the Spring River and died. Their ghosts, for some unexplained reason, converged into the Spook Light. Another one involves an Indian chief who was beheaded and travels the road with his lantern looking for the head. The lantern is the Spook Light - that's why it bobs around. But why would he need a lantern if he doesn’t have a head? Didn’t his eyes go with his head? Well, I don’t want to get in the way of a good ghost story….
Bottom line is that I did go to the cookout that night, and afterward we loaded onto wagons stacked with hay bales and rode behind tractors to the infamous Devil’s Promenade. It was about 10:00 pm, since the light usually appears between 10 and midnight. Our group of about 30 or so walked the dark, lonely road for an hour or more, wishing and wanting the Spook Light to appear, but kind of not, too.
The Spook Light did……not appear. Oh well, we all had a terrific time at the party and really loved the hayride. I hadn’t been on a hayride in a long time, and had forgotten how much fun they are. And the walk down the dark and scary Devil’s Promenade was hair-raising and a great experience.
Does the Spook Light exist? Of course it does – there have been too many witnesses over too many years for it to be figment of someone’s imagination. Is it a ghost? You be the judge.