The Cloverdale, Alabama Spooklight Phenomenon


A Spooklight is a type of rare luminous phenomena frequently reported as a brilliant yellowish-orange ball of pulsating or flickering light about 1-3 feet in diameter and floating across open fields or above the forests in sparsely populated areas. The distance from the observer varies greatly. While some are seen at close proximity, others may be as far as a mile away. Some move about at a slow and steady pace and others “jump” and “dart” about very quickly. A few will stop and hover for several minutes. For reasons unknown a high percentage of Spooklights have been seen in the vicinity of r railroad tracks . These orbs are not reported as being solid objects. Rather, they seem to be some type of low temperature plasma.

Photo info: A thirty second time exposure of a large Spooklight seen a east of Cloverdale. The photograph was made by a Pentax 35 mm camera mounted on a tripod.

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Spooklights have been seen in numerous locations in the US for many years and some of the more publicized areas include Marfa, Texas, Brown Mountain, North Carolina, Surrency, Georgia and Guordon, Arkansas. A search on the internet for these Spooklight areas will result in dozens of websites offering information, eye witness accounts, photographs, etc.

What they really are has been debated for years. But the growing body of scientific evidence continues to perplex many scientists. And it is clear; what ever they are, conventional wisdom has yet to adequately explain what produces them and why.

One thing is certain; most people who observe one of these wondrous orbs will consider it to be a truly remarkable experience. An experience they will want to have repeated.

A growing number of researchers suggest that Spooklights seem to be the result of complex interactions of multiple electrical and electromagnetic energy fields which apparently are produced below the earth’s surface when the correct geological and hydrological conditions exist. These orbs possess certain electrical and magnetic qualities and by means unknown a spherical shaped luminous plasmodial phenomena is produced above its source of energy and are sustained up to several minutes.

Either they have the means of propelling themselves or they are “pulled” by some invisible unidentified force. They are normally seen during the nighttime hours. They are generally described as “a bright ball of light” about 1-3 feet in diameter glowing in the night for the most part, are seen floating slowly across a field or above a forest.

One location where there is a very active Spooklight area is in northwestern Alabama (Lauderdale County) near the small town of Cloverdale. Based on historical data as well as contemporary sightings the over all size of this area where this phenomenon has been seen appears to be about fifteen miles long and three miles wide. This area begins outside of Lexington and extends to a short distance west of Cloverdale. Inside this area appears to be a few very specific “paths” or corridors where the vast majority of the Spooklights are seen. The “path” that appears to be the most active extends from St. Florian to Cloverdale which is less than ten miles long and one mile wide. And the part of the “path” near Cloverdale is very active. It is rare (but has happened) for a CLS to be seen other than on its “path.”

The available evidence seems to suggest this is one of the “best” places in the US to observe these wondrous balls of bright yellowish-orange pulsating light. One reason this area may be unique is that these luminous orbs are seen with much frequency. While an observer may spend an evening in one of these pockets” and not witness a Spooklight, on another night at the same place the observer may view three or four of these bright orbs.

In one case, two men observed eight Spooklights in one night. Some were in sight for just a few seconds and three of them were in plain sight for a total of about ten minutes.

Another reason this is an excellent place is the size of the Spooklights. Hundreds of witnesses who have reported observing these large of yellowish-orange balls of pulsating light typically describe them to be very bright and about eight feet in diameter. Most Spooklights reported in different locations are of lesser diameter. This is one reason why they were years ago called “Lantern Lights” because they were about the size and brightness of a lit oil lamp seen outside in the dark.

The first documented report of one of these CSLs occurred in early 1973 when northern Alabama was experiencing a major UFO flap . On the night of February 16, Raleigh and Phil Nix with several friends reported observing a very bright and large ball of orange light at 110:30 p.m. sitting on the ground in a large grassy field near his house while they were outside in his front yard. The ball of light which was less than a thousand feet away had suddenly appeared “as if a light had been turned on” and began moving very slowly across the field. Just a few seconds before it suddenly “went out” the mysterious orb began to move about in a “jerky” fashion. The Spooklight was in view for about four minutes. According to the Nixes, this was their fourth time to have observed one of these large balls of light. Since then, various witnesses have reported observing these large mysterious orbs in an areas extending from Lexington westward to Cloverdale.

In September of 1978 two young men were in a large field east of Cloverdale and within view of some local railroad tracks at 10:30 p.m. when they spotted a large and very bright Spooklight hovering about thirty feet directly above the railroad tracks. The witnesses could see the CSL very clearly and could discern that it was not near the tracks but directly above them. The very bright orb was not seen to float to this position from another location; it just suddenly appeared. One moment there was but darkness surrounding the tracks and then suddenly “there it was.”

The CSL was completely silent and unaffected by a slight breeze which came from the south. Both witnesses had an excellent view of the area including the tracks because they were situated at a higher elevation in a large grassy field adjacent to the railroad tracks. On the other side of the tracks was a parcel of land that was fenced in and at one time years ago was used as a minimum security prison facility.

The large orb was very bright, about eight feet in diameter and about 1500 feet from the witnesses. As they studied the ball of light hovering directly above the tracks, they were amazed of its brightness. After about a full two minutes, they became aware that a train was approaching in the distance for they heard the distant sound of its air horn. After a few moments, the train came into view as its powerful headlight pierced the darkness and was seen moving down the tracks toward the CLS. The train’s engine was pulling several cars and was traveling at an estimated speed of 25-25 MPH. As the train’s engine went directly beneath the motionless Spooklight, the large ball of pulsating light immediately began to move at the same speed and direction of the train. The speed of the orb was instantly in perfect synchronization to that of the train. Yet its distance above the ground never changed. Also, its brightness and color remained the same. The Spooklight and train began to move toward the southwest and the orb was in sight for a total of eight minutes for it eventually traveled too far away for the two men to observe.

The two witnesses also reported that the train continued on its way in a normal fashion (no change in speed) which could mean that no one on the train was aware of the Spooklight’s presence and that these phenomena had no noticeable affect on the trains’ electrical system. After reflecting on this amazing experience, both witnesses came to the conclusion that this CSL did not appear where (and when) it did by coincidence. They felt it had been there hovering in position and then became visible a few moments before the train arrived.

An other excellent sighting occurred on the night of 16 February, 2006 when a very bright CSL was seen crossing the Cloverdale Highway. The orb appeared at 10:00 p.m. and was typical in size and color and moved slowly in an east to west direction at an estimated altitude of 500 feet. Fortunately one of the two witnesses had a video camera and was able to video the orb for about two minutes before it moved too far away.

This video revealed new and important information about these Spooklights. Even though the video was not made using a professional type camera, what was seen on the video clearly revealed there was a smaller and much dimmer orb connected to the main body by what may have been some kind of “umbilical cord.” There was definitely a faint yet discernable “connection” between the two bodies. The smaller Spooklight appeared to be about 2-3 feet in diameter.

While this is the first time this much detail about a secondary light being present it is not the first time a smaller secondary orb has been observed associated with a Spooklight. In one case it was reported that a small reddish colored orb broke off and fell from a yellowish-orange Spooklight. Very little is known about this amazing aspect even though it may occur frequently but without using adequate visual aids, it can not be verified. But these two sightings do not appear to be unique to the Cloverdale Spooklight phenomena.

For instance, there was a report of a large and bright ball of orange light seen with two smaller red lights in July, 1888 near St. Petersburg, Russia. A website with an artist’s version of this sighting can be found at

A thirty second time exposure of a large Spooklight seen a east of Cloverdale. The photograph was made by a Pentax 35 mm camera mounted on a tripod.

Description of the CLS

The general description of a CSL has remained consistent since the first documented sighting. Over the years, especially since 1973 hundreds of witnesses in the Cloverdale to Lexington area have reported observing large “balls of light” which are usually described as being from 6-10 eight feet in diameter and are usually a bright orange or yellowish-orange color. The eight foot diameter description appears to be fairly accurate because many witnesses have been close enough to the luminous phenomena to accurately estimate their diameter. They suddenly appear and disappear and are in sight from a few seconds to several minutes. Their movement is normally in east to west or west to east direction. Very few have been reported to fly in a north to south or south to north direction.

They are completely silent and their movement (speed and direction) is independent of any wind currents. Several have been observed moving opposite of a brisk breeze. Some CSLs have been observed moving across large fields 2-3 feet from the ground. Others are seen at an estimated altitude of up to or possibly more than 500 feet. Their movement is not always “smooth” but at times erratic. Several have been seen to move in a spiraling fashion (there have been some good time-exposure photos taken which shows this very clearly).

Using various optical aids (binoculars, telephoto camera lenses, video cameras, etc.) several observers have noticed the CLS actually pulsates and is not a steady ball of light. There have been on one occasion, a ‘piece” of the CSL fell away from the main body and quickly disappeared.

A time exposure photograph of a Spooklight moving toward the east just north of Cloverdale.

The camera was using 400 speed film and was mounted on a tripod.


Basic Analysis of the CSLs

Hundreds of CSLs have been seen by credible witnesses. Many photos have been taken as well. They are not misidentified manmade aircraft and they are always described as a “ball of light.”

Upon closer examination it would appear they may be some type of “cold” luminous plasma type phenomena. There has never been any report or evidence suggesting these Spooklights produced any significant amounts of thermal energy. As with the Raleigh Nix sighting where the Spooklight was according him “landed on the ground” when it was first sighted there was no damaged grass found in the field. And since they are “balls of light” it would appear to be plasmodial in nature.

Witnesses who have been either physically close enough to CSL or have used binoculars, reports the Spooklights emit its light using slow pulses and were not a steady light. With many sightings the observers are from 1,000 to 4,500 feet from the CSL. If witnesses have experienced “close encounters” with these phenomena they have gone unreported. Some parts of this large orb would briefly glow more intense than other parts. Some times the Spooklight would disappear and then a few seconds later would reappear. What has been determined that is when a Spooklight “disappears” it may be that it is for a few moments not producing visible light yet is actually still “there” for it may reappear a short time later, either in the same place of a short distance away.

The speed of the CSL is usually estimated to be from 20-30 MPH. This has also been one their consistent characteristics. The duration of a sighting varies with the length being from a few seconds up to nine minutes. Some are seen near the ground while the altitude of some may be as much as 500 feet or more. In one case while four adults observed a typical CSL moving slowly at an estimated altitude of about 500 feet in a west to east direction near the edge of a large field near some railroad tracks. After viewing the bright orb for about two minutes, it suddenly and without obvious reason began to increase speed and quickly decreased altitude and after a few moments the bright light (two of the witnesses claimed the Spooklight’s color took on a slight reddish tint as it lost altitude) had descended to tree top level and then appeared to have “crashed” in a nearby wooded area.

When the light “crashed” the four witnesses armed only with excitement and flashlights quickly entered the pitch dark woods to locate the mysterious orb. After a limited investigation no evidence was located which indicated anything had impacted the area. There was no sign of the Spooklight. There were no broken tree limbs, smell of smoke, etc. Two days later two of the witnesses returned to the “crash site” and examined the area in the day time and found nothing suspicious or unusual.

Above left photo:  Is an area near St. Florian where Several Spooklights have been seen the late 1970s. 

Above right photo :A time exposure photo of a bright  Spooklight moving west towards the Cloverdale area.

The Spooklight’s Paths

These Spooklights are not seen floating or hovering randomly in a large undefined area. A hopeful observer does not need to be uncertain as to where they will be seen. There are certain areas where they may be seen and certain areas where they will not be seen. Rather they appear to be seen floating in very specific “paths” which do not relocate. It is rare for one to be seen traveling outside of its path. Even the way they ambulate is unique. They do not always float in a slow steady movement. Some will begin to transverse in a spiraling manner and this is reported by the witnesses and has been verified by photographs. In one case a Spooklight was observed and photographed moving in a “step” motion – moving vertically a short distance then horizontally and repeating the sequence several times before it began moving in a more typical fashion.

One of the more “high yield” places to observe a Spooklight is an area just south of Cloverdale where road 272 intersects Cloverdale road which it extends from Florence to the Tennessee State line. These Spooklights normally will be seen traveling in an east to west direction regardless of altitude. This sighting area is at least three miles long and about one half mile wide.

While very few have been seen during daylight hours, several have been seen at dusk. It is curious that most of the CSL sightings that occur at dusk are seen during October through February. Most CSL are seen from an hour after sunset to about midnight. Of all the known Spooklight sightings reported in the area, none have been seen after 1:00 a.m.

It is as thought this magnetic path only exists intermittently and predicting when it will exist has proven difficult.

Time exposure of a Spooklight behind some trees. Notice the smaller blinking lights below made by a distant airplane.

Article continues on May 3, 2013! Click here!


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