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Hornet - Joplin - Seneca Ghost Light

The Hornet Ghost Light, also known as The Joplin Spooklight, the Tri-State Spooklight, the Neosho Spook Light, the Seneca Light, and the Devil's Jack-O-Lantern, is located in extreme southwest Missouri on the Oklahoma border. The closest towns are Joplin, MO and Quapaw, OK. Hornet is an abandoned village close to the location of the sightings. The light has been seen many times since the Civil War era along a rough gravel road outside of Joplin.

Theories about the light abound. Folklore attributes the light to the spirit(s) of Indians from various local tribes such as the Quapaw, or as an ethereal miner searching for his wife and/or children who were kidnapped by Indians. Another old tale relates the light directly to the Devil himself. Legend had it that if a bridge in the area was crossed a certain number of times, the Devil would appear. The road the ghost light appears on became known as "The Devil's Promenade" after this old story.

Several scientific theories have been put forward to try to explain the lights. Swamp gas and car lights have of course been mentioned. Other ideas include minerals in the air set to light, electrical or sub-atomic disturbances caused by the New Madrid fault, and heat rising from the ground at the end of each day. The trouble with these theories is that none of them can fully explain the bizarre behavior of the light. In 1946 the Army Corps of Engineers supposedly studied the Hornet Light and could not find a cause for it. They called it a "mysterious light of unknown origin."

Physically, the light is described as a yellow or orange colored ball that travels eastward down the road, sometimes at great speed. The light emits sparks and a few witnesses have reportedly felt heat as it came close to them. The light does some interesting acrobatics as well. It has been variously described as hopping, swaying, spinning, or moving in arcs. Some have even reported that the light "landed" on the hood of their car or even inside the car. However, the light will avoid anyone who approaches it. It has been known to disappear in front of a person and then reappear behind them.

One thing is for sure -- the light exists and thousands of people have seen it.

Hornet Light (1)

Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 22:53:30 -0500
From: psmith (
Subject: Hornet Spook Light

I used to live in Miami Oklahoma and frequented the spooklight road at least two or three times a week for about 18 months or more in 67-69. As you are aware there are documented reports of the light being seen in wagon and buggy days - way before the advent of our smog machines we call cars!

Also, I was there one night, with other people, and we waited until there were no cars present except our own. If you are familiar with the road, there is a small creek way down the road...a mile MAY be a close guess. That particular night the Spooklight was not seen at a distance. It came within about 50 feet of our hood and was as big as a basketball! We had been out there many nights before but all yelled: "TURN ON THE LIGHTS!" My sister did so which took forever it seemed. They were hidden headlights on a 1968 Ford Galaxy. That was no car light that close sir.

Thanks again for your sight. Your sight is very refreshing compared to the run-of-the mill stuff I usually see.

My sister now lives fairly close to the Marfa Ghost Lights in Alpine Texas. My mother has seen those lights and says they are not at all like the Hornet light. Oh well. They are something! :)


Hornet Light (2)

From: "Groves, Mark" (
To: "''"
Subject: Joplin Spooklight (Hornet Light)
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 18:02:21 -0400


I work at Radio Disney, and thought you would be interested to know: We're preparing a "theater of the mind" ghost story series for the 13 nights leading to Halloween. One of the stories will be about the Joplin Spooklight- which my mother saw very up-close when she was in her 20's (in the 1950's). I interviewed her about her experience, and then did research on the light. It really is amazing. The radio drama I've written from her story is (mostly) accurate- with just a few added "Joplinite" characters for drama purpose. However, when she and her 3 friends drove from Springfield to Joplin to find out more about the light before they tried to see it, the locals were not very friendly concerning the Spooklight. But, in similar vein to other experiences, the light floated down a road toward them, disappeared, then reappeared behind them. About a foot behind my mother's head, to be exact.

I hope someday to take her back, so we can both see this odd phenomenon.



Hornet Light (3)

Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2000 05:41:11 -0800 (PST)
yourname Toni Gonczy

My friends and I drove from Springfield to Joplin on a Sunday night in 1998 and arrived there around midnight. My friend Dave, who had been there and seen it before told me to go down this dark gravel road and park. Then he had me turn out my headlights. We were just sitting there and nothing was happening. Then he said for me to flash my brights. I did. Not 5 seconds later down the road I saw what looked like a red laser pointer. It grew bigeer and bigger in a matter of seconds. Then it turned into a big white round light about the size of a basketball. It bounced in and out of trees. Up and down the road. It came so close it lit up the whole inside of my car like daylight! Then I turned my car on and started chasing it down the road. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen! I've been once after that and the same thing happened. It was totally worth the hour drive to Joplin, to sit there for 15 minutes and watch the spook light. I am definitly a believer.

Hornet Light (4)

From: "Dana Edwards" (
Subject: the hornet spook light
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2002 4:04 AM

Late in the evening during the summer of 1998 four of my friends and I went to check out this legend known as the spook light. We probably arrived on the road at 2:00 in the morning or so. The second we turned onto the road we noticed a small light way off in the distance. Looked miles and miles away. We kept driving up the road at idle speed all the while the light changing colors, moving, disappearing, reappearing, and changing size. Sometimes the light had a reddish color to it, sometimes a greenish glow, and sometimes it looked white. After about an hour of being out there we came over a hill and a white/yellowish basketball sized light was at the bottom of the hill not more than 7ft from our vehicle. We had no lights on for the whole amount of time we were out there and we didn't see anyone or anything else while on the road. To the side of the light I could swear there was almost a purple haze to the right of the light. The light got about 3ft. from the car, then spun around in a 2ft. circle parallel to the ground. We all got very scared and had the car in reverse at full speed in no time flat. After going back over the hill the light was gone. This is the real deal. I was in high school at the time at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, Ks and went to school next day, mentioned the incident to my art teacher and she told me her story of the spook light and about how the light was no where to be seen and just about as they were going to leave it lit up inside of her car. I've heard many stories somewhat like mine and there is no way that gasses are causing this paranormal activity.

Jason Maples

Hornet Light (5)

Subject: Hornet Light: Joplin/Hornet, Missouri
Date: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 5:53 PM

Over this Halloween I went to the Hornet Light. My mother,aunt,uncle and two of my cousins went there. If you do see the light it is amazing. Well, we went there and there where tons of people there. It is hard to find, the people don't turn there headlights off or anything. Well, after about a half an hour we saw something off in the tree's it was about 500ft away. My little cousin, my uncle and my mother went closer to see it. I went with them but all the sunned the light got very bright and I started running back as fast as I could to the car. Call me a chicken but I was scared. Well, they stood there for about 10 minutes and came back. In the mean time when I was with my aunt we saw the light split in two.(My other little cousin was in the car asleep.)My mother tried to take a picture but when she tried it wouldn't show up. So after they came back we decide to drive closer to it personalty I thought that was a bad idea. well we drove closer about to where my mother and uncle where. Well, we stopped and they looked for it again. Come to find out there was a house there& the house had those street lights by it. So my uncle and aunt said we probably didn't see the light. Well, since they had been there before my mother believed them but I didnt.What we said that night I say was the light, its pretty cool to be out in the middle of no where and find something that amazing.

Happy haunting,
Katrina Bass

Hornet Light (6)
From: "Cathryn Greene" ( To: Subject: Hornet Spook Light Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2004 6:38 PM I just wanted to say thank you for your article about the Hornet Spook Light and also for posting other readers encounters with it. I lived in Welch, Oklahoma three years ago and have seen the spook light several times. It's very interesting to read about other people who have seen it and to find that their experiences are similiar to mine! I guess you could say that I'm skeptical when it comes to ghosts, ufos and the like, but the spook light is definitely real. This is no flash light or swamp gas. I saw it with my own eyes and it gave me the creeps!


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