Raymond Bayless and the Spook Light

Some stories are just more fun than others. I picked a few people who crossed paths with the scientists at the lab to write about, and one of them was an amateur researcher named Raymond Bayless.  (More below.)














I wrote about Raymond’s work recording what he believed were the voices of the dead and briefly mentioned a 25 page report he sent to Rhine about an Ozarks legend called the Spook Light (that report was ultimately published in Fate Magazine).

Briefly, the Spook Light is a golden-amber glowing light that has been appearing at the end of a lonely road near Joplin, Missouri for more than a century. From my book:

… the exact location has changed.  Throughout the years it’s been spotted on various stretches of road on the northern edge of the Ozarks, along the Missouri/Oklahoma state line.  The source of the light has never been found.  The Army Corps of Engineers looked into it during WWII and rather dryly concluded that the spook light was a “mysterious light of unknown origin.”  Most researchers ultimately decide that it’s just the reflection from headlights on a nearby highway.  But when Raymond wrote his report in 1963, he included evidence of sightings going back to at least the 1800’s, years before headlights and highways.  In Ozark Superstitions, author Vance Randolph also found people who saw the Spook Light “long before there was any such things as a motor car.”

Ever since I read Raymond’s report I’ve been dying to go there. One day Art Silverman, from NPR’s All Thing’s Considered, was in the area with Doualy Xaykaothao working on a story.  I said they had to look into the Spook Light, and they ended up doing a piece about it called Halloween in Missouri: The Devil’s Promenade!  There’s also a current picture of the light from NPR’s website (taken by James E. Smith) which I’m copying here, in order to do a little then and now thing.

The Spook Light then:

The Spook Light now:

I love that it’s still an unpaved, dirt road.

2 thoughts on “Raymond Bayless and the Spook Light

  1. My father was the Hollywood actor Don DeFore. He & my mom were collectors of American art. One of the paintings I inherited is an original oil painting by Raymond Bayless. I’m fairly certain my dad bought it directly from Bayless, as dad was friends with a some known artists (his art and woodshop teacher in junior high was the famous painter Grant Wood). Dad cut out an article from the Los Angeles Times dated 3/12/64 about Bayless and his research on the Spook Light, and he laminated it and attached it to the back of the painting. The painting is supposed to be of the Spook Light and/or the area where it appears; it is a pastoral scene with a dirt road in it. The article mentions the 25 page report that Bayless wrote on his Spook Light investigations which was sent to Dr. Rhine. I’d love to find a copy of that report. I’m also curious what the painting is worth. He was a known painter and illustrator of scifi books and some of his works is in the National Air & Space Museum. One of his originals is currently on eBay for $15K. He also published several books on the paranormal.
    How can I get a copy of what you wrote about Bayless’ voices of the dead? Does anybody know where those “voice” recordings are? On an interesting side note, my parents were friends with Walter and Margaret Keane (made famous again in the recent movie Big Eyes). Margaret did a charcoal portrait of me at age 3 in 1962 and it was signed with her name, and in it I have big eyes! Lol; early proof that SHE was the authentic artist. I sat for that portrait in their living room and I still remember it and their house which was eerily familiar in the movie. At least 3 of the paintings shown in the movie were owned by my parents.

  2. Hi! A few things. First, I remember your father! Mr. B! But about Raymond Bayliss, his report about the spook light was published in Fate Magazine, so you can contact them for a copy of that issue. You might also be able to find it online if you google it. What I wrote is in my book Unbelievable and you can get a copy from the library (hopefully). But I don’t write a lot about it. You can learn more from what he wrote.

    That painting you have, that’s very exciting. I can’t tell you what it’s worth, I’m not an art appraiser, but if it’s of the spook light there’s probably someone out there who would love to own it. It might bring more than his other paintings because of the subject But you should hold on to it if you can! Can you take a picture of it and send it to me?

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