Outside of Crossett (Ashley County), where the old railroad tracks once lay, an unexplained light has become a local legend. It has reportedly been seen consistently since the early 1900s by multitudes of people. The light is typically seen floating two to three feet above the ground but also is said to move into the treetops and sometimes side to side. The light reportedly disappears as one walks toward it and then reappears the same distance away, so that one can never get a close look at it. The Crossett Light’s color reportedly ranges from yellow or orange to blue or green.
The Crossett Light is one of many similar phenomena commonly known as “spooklights” in the South. There are other notable “spooklights”—around Joplin, Missouri; Senath, Missouri; and Gurdon (Clark County), to name a few. Like other such “spooklights,” including the Gurdon Light, the Crossett Light is, according to legend, the ghostly lantern of a railroad worker who lost his head in an accident in the early 1900s and who walks the tracks to find it. There seem to be many similar stories explaining this phenomenon, but this seems to be the most common. There are also stories, not widely credited, that the light is related to extraterrestrials.
A commonly expressed scientific theory holds that the Crossett Light could be swamp gas, a natural phenomenon. Some authorities also posit that the light could be an illusion caused by car lights and an incline in the land. This theory is more widely accepted than the swamp gas theory; however, the major drawback for the car light theory lies in the fact that the light was first reported in the early 1900s, before cars were common in the area. The first reports of the light started as the railroads were put in, which may have started the famous railroad worker story. No one knows for sure what the Crossett Light is, but it has entertained many residents and visitors throughout the years who drive down that old road to watch for it.
For additional information:
Buckner, John W. Wilderness Lady. Little Rock: Rose Publishing Company, 1979.
Kelley, Deirdre. “Shedding Light on Spook Light Activity.” http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm349916.html?t=Interesting (accessed January 8, 2011).
Mindy L. Hunter
Arkansas Paranormal Research Association
Last Updated: 03/07/2011