Above: Wyatt Cox. Bottom of the page shows photos of the spooklight.
Interview Feature: Wyatt Cox talks about the Alabama Spooklight!
by Brent Raynes
Wyatt Cox is the author of UFO and Bigfoot Sightings In Alabama (2004). Though born in Florence, Alabama, he currently resides in South Carolina and is employed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
Editor: When and how did your interest in this mysterious light begin?
Wyatt Cox: My interest in what Greg and I call the Cloverdale Spooklights began back in 1977 when a friend’s mother mentioned to us that she had seen a large yellowish-orange ball of light flying above some trees a short distance from her home. She claimed the mystery light would appear almost every night. Sometimes the strange orb would stop and hover and sometimes it just moved slowly over the woods and fields near her home.
Our mutual friend knew Greg and I had an interest in UFOs, Bigfoot and paranormal phenomena and wanted us to come and observe one of these balls of light for ourselves. And we were not about to turn down an opportunity to actually see a UFO!
Editor: How many times have you both seen it, and what does it do and what does it look like?
Wyatt Cox: Since our first sighting on March 24, 1977, Greg and I have seen the spooklights approximately 160 times.
On some nights there would be multiple sightings and on other nights there would be no spooklights seen, even though we suspected they might be there but not producing visible light.
The “typical” spooklight is spherical in shape and about eight-foot in diameter. It is usually a bright yellowish-orange color but sometimes a spooklight will have a reddish tint. They all pulsate and are completely silent. On four occasions we have observed white spooklights. About a year ago we observed a “typical” spooklight in a large field near Cloverdale and fortunately, I had brought my video camera and was able to make a two minute video of the glowing orb. What we discovered when we played the video was that a much smaller and dimmer spooklight appeared to be “attached” to and was directly in front of the main light. While we have never seen a small spooklight attached to a larger one, we did on one occasion watch a reddish piece of light fall from a spooklight and it quickly disappeared once it left the main light. This video we made last year clearly shows me that there is much more to learn about the phenomenon.
When one is first spotted either it is seen approaching from the distance or in many cases,
the spooklight suddenly appears. It is really strange to be scanning the sky and one moment there is no spooklight and the next moment there is one emerging from a wooded area or is hovering over a field.
Several spooklights are in sight for 4-6 minutes as they move slowly in their “path.” Some will stop and hover for several seconds and some never hover. On one occasion a very slow moving spooklight was in sight for nine minutes. Sometimes a spooklight will simply vanish and may reappear a few seconds later. Which leads us to the view that spooklights may be present but not visible.
Fortunately, Greg has kept a detailed journal of our sightings from 1977 to 1982.
Editor: How many photographs have you taken and what did this photographic evidence consist of?
Wyatt Cox: Over the years, Greg and I have been able to take numerous photos including one video. I would guess that from 1977 to 1981 we took about 200 photographs of the spooklights.
One very interesting thing we learned about the spooklights from our video is they rapidly pulsate and it appears there is a much smaller and dimmer secondary light connected to the main orb by a two-three foot “beam” of light.
Editor: Please describe some of your most memorable experiences?
Wyatt Cox: I have what I call my two best sightings.
In August of 1978 Greg and I had one of our all time memorable experiences. We had been observing spooklights (I usually refer to them as the Cloverdale Spooklights because one of the most active sighting areas is near this small town which is a short distance north of Florence) for more than a year and had already seen more than thirty of the strange nocturnal orbs.
The sighting we had on this hot summer night was unlike any other sighting we have experienced. It was truly remarkable.
This night began like many others. Greg and I would drive out to a very large field which bordered an unused prison camp. My understanding is that this prison camp was in use until the early 1960s. In between this large field and prison camp was a set of train tracks which goes southward to Florence and northward into Tennessee. The field is at a higher elevation than the prison camp and train tracks. We would use an area near the north side of this large field which offered the best viewing of this area.
We arrived shortly after dark and set up a tripod mounted camera and began to watch. Unfortunately, as the night dragged on, we did not observe any spooklights. It appeared that this was one of those nights where there would be no sightings. And during this time period Greg and I began to learn that there are fewer sightings during the summer months.
We realized that 8:00 had turned into 10:00 p.m. Our previous experiences had taught us that it would be unlikely to observe a spooklight past 10:30 p.m. so I was ready to call it a night. Greg agreed but wanted to watch for a few more minutes while I loaded our gear. My car was about five hundred feet away and after a few minutes I returned to our observation site to see if Greg was ready to leave. Greg and I began talking about our disappointing night when we heard the sound of a train in the distance. The train tracks were nearby and we would have an excellent view of the train as it passed by. We joked that we would wait on the train so that we could honestly say we saw a “light” (the headlight from the train!) that night.
As the train approached to our left, for whatever reason I looked to the right and there about 30 feet directly above the train tracks was a hovering large yellowish-orange spooklight. It was about eight-foot in diameter and was very bright. The spooklight was maybe a 1/3 of a mile away from us.
We were totally dismayed! There it was just hanging in the air. It was not moving and it
was completely silent. We had never seen a spooklight act in this manner before.
As the train continued its travel (it was moving fairly slow) and came closer to the Spooklight, it continued to remain in its fixed position.
When the engine of the train passed directly under the spooklight, it instantly began “following” the train. The speed and direction of the spooklight was synchronized with the train. The strange orb did not change its elevation or brightness. It merely followed the train until it was out of sight. The entire spooklight sighting lasted about four minutes.
Greg and I watched in total amazement. This was a new experience for us. There had been other sightings of spooklights hovering at ground level, but none that were affected by a train.
Every time Greg and I get together to watch for spooklights we always talk about this sighting. Several questions we have that remained unanswered. Was the spooklight “waiting” for the train and became visible when the train became close enough? Was the spooklight obtaining energy from the train’s electrical system or was it attracted to the train like a moth is to a small flame?
One thing I did learn – I always have my camera ready!
Another all time best experience occurred in October of 1977 when Greg and I (with four other witnesses) watched a Spooklight “crash.”
We were at the same location as mentioned above. A few of our friends had learned about the spooklights and on occasion they would accompany us to watch them. We were less than a _ mile away from a large wooded area and also near the back side of the unused prison camp. While the night air was humid, the sky was clear. The moon had not yet risen.
At 9:00 p.m. we all suddenly noticed a large and bright spooklight moving towards the east at a low altitude. It did not float in from the distance; it just suddenly appeared. We guessed it was about 500 feet above the ground and it was moving slow. It was also descending; at first very gradually and then at a very high rate of speed. Its angle of descent also increased to about 30 degrees. The spooklight continued its descent until it came to the wooded area. And then it continued losing altitude and it appeared to “crash” in the forest. We were all close enough to see the “crash” for it looked like the glowing orb had hit the ground.
We of course were all excited and were wondering what to do. Greg and I both began running in the field towards the woods to see what really happened. The other four also came with us. As we entered the forest with both excitement and caution, we made our way through the darkness with flashlights and walked to the place where we thought the spooklight had crashed. But there was no ball of light. There was only darkness. We theorized that maybe it had crashed in a low spot or in a nearby ditch. With our flashlights on we searched the woods for quite a while and found no evidence of anything unusual.
Two days later, Greg and I returned to the spot during the day time and spent a couple of hours looking in the forest. We could find nothing to suggest something crashed or landed. There was no scorched vegetation, no impact site, no broken tree limbs, etc.
It appears that either the spooklight does not produce significant amounts of heat or if does it doesn’t have much mass. Possible it fell to the ground because it was unable to sustain itself; maybe its energy was being depleted or whatever energy keeps it on its path had dissipated.
On this night I did not have access to a camera (big mistake)
Editor: Did either of you have a theory that seems to fit your observations of this recurrent manifestation of light?
Wyatt Cox: I believe the spooklights are a naturally occurring phenomenon. I have not seen any direct evidence suggesting they are associated with the paranormal even though north Alabama has its share of paranormal activity. This part of the state has some unusual geological features such as a stable fault line and large quantities of minerals which possess piezoelectric qualities in addition to many subterranean streams.
My theory is that large magnetic fields are produced by stress exerted on this fault line in a few “pockets” or “windows” near Cloverdale and are somehow responsible for the spooklight phenomenon. Perhaps these magnetic fields interact with the other magnetic fields which are produced by other means (Telluric currents, induced currents from the earth’s magnetic core, etc.) Whether there are magnetic “strings” that extend horizontally which produces a luminous “bubble” (Spooklight) or if the energy is somehow focused with enough intensity to create a luminous orb, I don’t know.
To be honest, I am not really sure of how the various electrical and magnetic fields create the spooklights. But I do believe the evidence strongly suggests there is a natural explanation to this phenomenon. And if my theory is correct, then once spooklights are clearly understood, then several branches of science will need to be significantly revised. And perhaps one day we could tap the “engine” that produces the spooklights and use this energy for various practical purposes.
Editor: What would you like to try and accomplish next in your investigative work into this “ghostlight?
Wyatt Cox: Greg and I have recently decided we want the public to know about these amazing spooklights. We have found three excellent sighting areas and they are easily accessible to the public. I am currently completing a book documenting these spooklights and hopefully it will be published this spring.
We would really like to have a team of scientist to visit the sighting areas and document this phenomenon. I am in correspondence with a well known geologist who has expressed an interest in these spooklights and am hopeful that he will come to the Cloverdale area and validate the reality of this phenomenon.
Greg and I would like to play a role in helping to solve the Cloverdale Spooklight mystery. And maybe one day soon there will be others investigating it and also know what it feels like to watch these strange and wondrous nocturnal orbs.