Imagine an oval orb of bluish white light hovering and bobbing in mid-air over the ground in a remote and wooded Arkansas location near the railroad tracks. Eerie, right? This is a description of the Gurdon Light.
All About the Gurdon Light in Arkansas
Is is Real?
Yes, the light actually exists.
Unlike many other ghostly phenomenon in Arkansas the Gurdon Light is not just a folktale.
It has been seen by countless people, documented in photos and on video. Its existence is generally accepted by even the most skeptical.
Have I seen the Gurdon light myself? Sadly, I have not. Mostly because I am a fraidy-cat.
I did go out there once when I was a teenager. A small group of us began walking through the woods following the railroad tracks in the pitch black darkness. We quickly decided that this was a little TOO scary and turned back before we had a chance to see anything.
Where is the Gurdon Light Found?
The light is found near the small town of Gurdon in Southwest Arkansas. Gurdon is about 85 miles south of Little Rock on I30.
The lights are always seen in the woods along a set of railroad tracks.
I am not going to try to tell you exactly how to get there! Just know that the adventure is not for the faint of heart. You will have to walk…a long way…in the dark…through the woods…potentially over old train trestles…so, be safe and search for the lights at your own risk.
Also, you should be aware that seeing the Gurdon light is particularly popular around Halloween, so you might not be the only one walking through the dark in the woods if you go during the month of October!
If you really, really want to see the light you should ask a local the best way to get to the starting point for your trek.
What are the legends and theories surrounding the Light?
The mystery of the Gurdon Light isn’t whether or not the lights exist. We know that the light exists.
The mystery is what causes it!
Here are a few of the legends about the light as well as a few of the more scientific theories.
The THeory of A Ghostly Apparition:
Some folks think the Gurdon Lights are related to a murder that took place along the tracks in the 1930’s.
A foreman of the Missouri Pacific railroad, Wiliam McClain, had gotten in an argument with one of his employees. The employee became angry and killed his boss. He used a railroad spike hammer to commit the murder.
Reports indicate that it was a grisly scene.
So the story that is most often told about the light is actually based on this true crime. It is said that the light is the ghostly lantern of a murdered man who still wanders around the scene of his death.
The THeory of the headless ghost
There is another ghostly theory that has less actual evidence, but remains a favorite with local college students and ghost seekers. Perhaps because it involves a decapitation. This is actually the first story that I was told about the Gurdon Light.
This legend claims that a man who was working for the railroad accidentally fell into the path of an oncoming train and was killed. They found his body…but not his head.
Some say that the light is the lantern of that man’s ghost. He is walking around the tracks still trying to find his lost head.
Both of the ghost stories seem to indicate that the light looks like an old-fashioned lantern.
Reflection of Lights from the nearby interstate
At one point there was a belief that the lights were somehow a reflection of headlights from the nearby interstate. However, this idea has been proven to be false.
First, and most importantly, the Gurdon lights were known to locals long before the existence of the interstate.
Secondly, a local professor from nearby Henderson State University studied this theory extensively and determined that there is no way for the lights to be reflections or “mirage” lights.
Have you ever heard of the Piezoelectric effect? No? Neither had I. However, this is a real, scientific term which means: “the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress.”
I also had never heard of earthquake lights.
Earthquake lights sometimes appear in the sky just before or during an earthquake. They have appeared as cloud-like streaks or even as, yes, floating orbs. They are caused by the piezoelectric effect.
One more scientific theory is that the Gurdon light might be a milder form of earthquake lights and that they are caused by underground geological movements.
Not only that but the quartz crystals that are abundant in this area of Arkansas might also be a contributing factor.
None of this has been proven, but this does seem to be the most popular and probable theory at to date.
Could the lights just be the result of methane gas rising from the swamps in the area?
The answer seems to no. The Gurdon Light is unaffected by atmospheric conditions which is not the case for swamp gas.
I haven’t ever heard anyone seriously suggest that the lights come from alien activity, but I guess that you never know!
What Does the Gurdon Light Look Like?
The lights have been described in various ways – most people say that they see a small orb of bluish white light. Some say that the light occasionally changes to more of an orange color. Some say that they have seen a larger light.
It hovers a few feet above the ground and moves a bit.
Unsolved Mysteries 1994
The Gurdon Lights were the subject of an episode of the television show Unsolved Mysteries way back in 1994. You can still find this on Youtube.
In the show one of the interviewees says, “Do we really want to know, because that would take all the mystery out of it and the fun.”
I think I might agree!
To be sure the Gurdon Light is a captivating mystery whether you’re a believer in the supernatural or prefer a scientific explanation.
Let us know if you have seen the lights!
Thanks for stopping by!