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On The Devil's Promenade, Searching For The Spook Light

Lara Shipley and Antone Dolezal

In a certain region of the Missouri Ozarks called Devil's Promenade, there are tales of a "spook light." According to local accounts, it's a mysterious orb-like light that appears in the woods — but only on chance nights. And, as many local legends are, this one is shrouded in mystery: Is the spook light real? What is it? Is it evil? Is it good?

Photographer Lara Shipley says there's no consensus — and that's what drew her to the spook light. She and her collaborator, Antone Dolezal, have been to the region — right where Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas meet — twice. Their photos don't literally show the light (which, Shipley says, they may or may not have seen at one point), but they convey "a feeling of what this place is like."

Shipley, now a lecturer at the University of Kansas, is originally from the Ozarks and describes it as "a place that's hidden — and a place where people like to be hidden."

That makes looking for the spook light even more intriguing — but "not in a ghost-hunter kind of way," she says.

"We don't want any kind of explanation. We like that there's stuff out there that people believe in. And I think photography is a really good excuse to get immersed in other worlds — other ways of thinking."

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Claire O'Neill

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