Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Actual photo of the Gurdon Light

Case File: Gurdon Light
Location: Gurdon, Arkansas
Date: 1931 to present
Description: The Gurdon Light is described as a mysterious glowing light that floats above the railroad tracks in Gurdon, Arkansas.


History: In December of 1931, a railroad section foreman named Will McClain fired one of his workers, Louis McBride, because he apparently sabotaged a section of a track that caused a freight train derailment. In retaliation, McBride then beat McClain and killed him with a pick-ax. McClain's body was later found by a search party along the side of the tracks. McBride confessed to the murder and was later executed for the crime.
Not long after the murder, people began seeing a mysterious phenomenon named the "Gurdon Light," a strange glowing light that floats along the railroad tracks. Many believe that the light is the spirit of Will McClain haunting the tracks; specifically, they believe that the light comes from his lantern which he carried while working along the tracks.
One of the first sightings was by a conductor named John. While driving a train, he saw a light on the back platform and observed that this light was following the train before it shot up into the air. It continued to follow the train for over a mile and then shot into a local cemetery.
Since then, thousands of people have gone to the train tracks in hopes of seeing the Gurdon Light. Several eyewitnesses say that the light flashes slowly, floats about one to three feet in the air, and then veers off and vanishes. To this day, there has been no complete explanation for what the Gurdon Light might be.
In November of 1994, an Unsolved Mysteries photographer took the first known photograph of the "Gurdon Light" (as seen above). The same photographer later captured a video of the light moving along the tracks.
Background: The town of Gurdon is located in Arkansas and has a population of 2700. The town's most famous attraction is the Gurdon Light.
Investigations: Dr. Charles Leming investigated several theories as to what the Gurdon Light may be. One theory is that the lights may come from headlights on the interstate. However, Charles was able to find several eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen the light before the interstate was opened. Another possible explanation for the Gurdon Light is swamp gas, created by decomposing vegetation which spontaneously combusts. However, many eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the light when it was windy, so it could not be swamp gas on those occasions.
Another theory is that the light is the piezoelectric effect, which occurs when quartz crystals, under immense pressure, emit an electric current. Gurdon sits above large amounts of quartz crystals and a fault line, which supports this theory. Also, many people claimed that the Gurdon Light was seen after the murder of Will McClain, which was around the same time that a major earthquake occurred on the fault. However, what cannot be explained is how the current migrates above the surface and into a ball-like shape.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the December 16, 1994 episode.
Results: Unsolved