Oct 26

Joplin Spook lights

A listener writes “I’m really interested in bigfoot, but this account is actually of my sighting of the Joplin Spook lights from Joplin, MO – on the border of Missouri and Kansas/Oklahoma.

It was the summer of 1998 I believe. I was in a band that played in the St. Louis area, but we had driven to Bartlesville, Oklahoma for a gig and we were on our way back. One of the members had heard about the Joplin spook lights. We were all in our early 20s and were up for an all-nighter, so we got directions to the spot from a guy in a local gas station. We arrived after dark – but before midnight.

If my recollection is accurate, it was an old dirt road on a straight stretch that dipped down into a valley and then rose again on the other side. The whole stretch was maybe ½ mile or so I’m guessing. We parked on one end of the stretch and sat and watched and waited, telling stories. We were not doing drugs or alcohol. It was me and the three other band members. I remember it being very dark that night. I don’t know what the moon phase was, but it was dark. And for a long time absolutely nothing happened – we were pretty disappointed and were getting ready to leave because we knew it was going to be getting light soon. It was probably 4-4:30am.

But then, sure enough, on the horizon down in the valley, a small light appeared. At first we thought it might be another car – as others had come and gone throughout the night. But it wasn’t. It started a yellowish color and would change to an orange. And this light, I’m guessing less than 100 yards out when we first saw it, started getting bigger and closer. It appeared to be about the size of a basketball, or maybe a beach ball. And it started bobbing up and down – I’ve described it as if someone were dribbling a basketball in slow motion. Just a slow, steady bob up and down as it approached us up the valley right over the road. It always seemed to be less than 10 feet off the ground.

At one point, I remember it split into three balls of light that would undulate between yellow, orange, red and even a pale greenish color sometime. I distinctly remember that these three balls of light appeared almost playful. They would chase and follow each other. At one point they formed a loose triangle shape and slowly spun in formation as they approached. The balls of light emitted no sound that we could hear. Just slowly, eerily getting closer and closer. We had gotten out of my buddy’s Ford Explorer and were standing by the hood. We were all pretty freaked out but trying to be quiet. These balls of light reformed back into one and kept getting closer and closer. When it was about 25 yards out, I got really spooked and opened the passenger side door to get back in the car – as if that would protect me for some reason. And as soon as I closed that door behind me, the lights winked out. Just completely vanished. We waited a few more minutes – all pretty stunned, but they never reappeared.

Back then I was already considering the ministry, and I had the conviction that whatever it was we saw – it wasn’t something that honored God. So, I never went back to see it. And for me once was enough. Several of my buddies went back, though, and saw the phenomenon at least two more times. We never felt threatened by it – but these lights appeared to have… dare I say, personality? They appeared sentient. They seemed playful but shy. So, that’s it. The time I saw the Joplin Spook lights. Pretty wild stuff. To this day I still don’t know what they were. And honestly, I have a little trouble fitting them into my western, Christian world view. All I can say is that there are things out there that are beyond our human understanding.

I also had an interesting “squatchy” encounter a few years later. I had quit the band and had gotten married. As I was going to college to finish my undergraduate degree, I renewed my love for fishing. So, one early summer morning, I think it was late May or June – probably early 2000s, I went wade fishing on the Bourbeuse River on the border of Crawford & Gasconade County in Missouri. The location was called Koenig Road. It’s not even a bridge, but just a low water crossing, what we call a “slab.” I parked my truck, grabbed my rod and fishing vest, and started fishing, right at the crossing. I always catch a few smallmouth bass right there by the slab. It was morning, but not dark, probably 7am or so. So, I started wade-fishing downstream. In the summer, this river ranges between inch-deep riffles to feet-deep pools, but seldom over your head. The water was cool, so it must’ve still been late spring or early summer. When I wade fish, I’m pretty quiet. Especially going downstream, because I go slower so as not to kick up sand and debris that spook fish. As the water got deeper, I switched lures to a big, neon-yellow Zara Spook. I know it sounds weird, because it’s such a big, loud lure, but I used to catch big smallmouth on it. I crossed the stream to the north side because it was shallower. The right side was deeper and opened up to a long, smooth run of water. Now, another reason I liked to fish with that big lure is I could cast it a long way. I had waded maybe a ½ mile downstream from the road, but the woods on the south side were thick and ran right up to the bank of the river. It was a virtual wall of trees and brush over there. The river was probably only thirty or forty feet across. So, as I crept downstream, I began throwing this big, bright fishing lure way downstream ahead of me and close to the south bank. This is where it gets interesting.

I hadn’t cast that lure too many times when something on the far (south) bank began stomping and huffing at me. As soon as that Zara Spook hit the water, I heard a *fooomp* on the ground and a *huff* from behind the trees. The first time I heard it, as I started working the lure back, I said to myself, “Dang, that must be a HUGE buck!” At the time, I think I was just trying to process what would stomp and huff in the woods of Missouri. I retrieved the lure back to me without a strike and made another long “bomb” cast all the way across and down the river. And sure enough, just after that big, bright lure hit the water with a splash, I heard it again. Same location. South side of the river within the trees. *Foooomp!* *Huffff* And that’s when I actually got a little spooked. I’ve been around cows and horses and such all my life. I know what a hoof sounds like when an animal stomps on the ground, and this wasn’t that sound. Even a big bull will only make a solid “thud” sound when it stomps. I know a deer couldn’t produce this sound. It sounded like somebody dropping a big, flat rock on soft turf. And the huff was pretty impressive, a lot more than just a big buck snort. Still, I was reluctant to stop fishing. I was a little spooked, but I couldn’t see anything.

By this time, my mind had gone to bigfoot. I grew up on bigfoot stories. For example, my cousin and his friend (they were in my older brother’s class), claimed to see one from a distance while they were jumping on their back-yard trampoline as kids. They described it as a big, tall hairy manlike thing that was pushing against a tree like a runner when they stretch out their calf muscle. And their sighting wasn’t too far from this location. But like I said, I had waded that far downstream, and I knew there was good water further downstream, so I was reluctant to turn around. I decided that my imagination was just getting the best of me, so I cast downstream again. Sure enough, as soon as that lure hit the water, I heard the exact same sequence – *FOOOOMP!* *HUFFF!* This time, I didn’t even work the lure back to me. I just reeled it in real fast. I think I had turned around and started heading back upstream before I had even retrieved it. And, as soon as I could climb up that north bank, I did, so that I could put more distance between me and the sounds and walk quickly back to the low water slab. By the time I got back to where I started fishing, I had calmed down. I had never really felt threatened, and because I was still trying to figure it out, and reluctant to just stop fishing on my day off, I decided to start fishing upstream. I fished probably another ½ mile upstream before I got to a pool that was too deep to wade. I had caught a few fish, but the fish weren’t biting very well, so I returned to my vehicle and went home. Never saw or heard anything more.

All I can say is that it was an interesting experience. I still don’t know what it was. I’m convinced it wasn’t a buck. Besides, would a buck stomp and snort three times in a row at a fishing lure? We didn’t have bears in MO back then, although they reintroduced them in the last ten years or so. The only thing that I can think might be even close to sounding like that might be a big bull. And yeah, cows occasionally get out and wander around in the woods. But again, why would a bull do that? I was thirty feet across the river and probably another 100 feet upstream. And that was super-thick brush back there. And pretty steep, too. That just doesn’t make sense. Is it possible that some crazy redneck was messing with me? I guess it’s possible. But that’s not a really safe thing to do in the backwoods of MO. I didn’t, but a lot of anglers carry a sidearm for protection. Since then, I’ve done a little more casual research and I think it was likely a frustrated and annoyed bigfoot. I was headed its direction and was repeatedly throwing this big, bright lure in its direction. I know that it’s just my interpretation of the event, but it felt almost like a little kid working up a tantrum.

Now that I know a little more about bigfoots, I don’t have any regrets for turning around. I was a sitting duck wading in the river. I didn’t have anything to protect myself with – other than my fishing rod. (Believe it or not, I had a cousin that beat some feral dogs off with a fishing rod.) Whatever it was never shook any trees. It never threw anything at me. It never made any real vocalizations other than those three huffs. I never heard any wood-knocks. Pretty soon after this, I found the BFRO website and read a couple stories of encounters from the river bottom.

Also, about the same time, I had an uncle that heard something screaming out back of his house in the middle of the night. His cows were all worked up and bawling and when he and his wife went out to check on them, he heard this God-awful screaming from behind the tree line in back of his barn. From what I know of, nothing else ever happened. No cows were missing, and they never actually saw anything, but it was the kind of loud screaming that an old redneck had never heard before. It’s possible that it could’ve been a panther, but my whole family was thinking bigfoot. Lots of other stories from around the area, especially around the Meramec River.

Like I said, I enjoy the show. You do a great job of just letting people share their experiences. Maybe someday some of these mysteries will be solved. Until then, keep up the good work! Feel free to contact me anytime.”

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