Darrell J. Pursiful

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Uncanny Georgia: The Screven Spook Light

We’ve now covered much of Georgia and many of its monstrous and supernatural creatures. Now, we’ll take a trip down the Altamaha River to the Atlantic Ocean, ending our tour next week in the Sea Islands.

Today, we’ll look at the “Screven spook light,” a phenomenon found in Screven, Georgia. Here’s the low-down from The Haunted Highway:

Arnold Böcklin, Das Irrlicht, 1862

Arnold Böcklin, Das Irrlicht, 1862

Nestled between the small town of Jesup, and the even smaller town of Screven, is a long, curvy dirt road, GA 38, better known to locals as Bennett Road.  The reason that this dirt road is significant to others is the fact that if you follow it deep into the woods, you will eventually arrive at Milligan’s Crossing.  A quaint little railroad crossing with no lights or crossing arms. This stretch of track is part of the old Seaboard Coast Line.   The impressive characteristic of this small crossing in the middle of the woods is the fact that for over a century, it has been haunted by none other that what the locals in this area call the “Spook Light”.  There are many stories that accompany the light’s existence, but the most popular is the one told of a flagman who was hit and decapitated by an oncoming train as he was walking along the tracks with his lantern.  He is said to walk the tracks to this day, swinging his lantern from side to side, in search of his lost head.  Although this is just a theory, there has never been a scientific explanation for this eerie light, which predates the Civil War.  It is usually seen near, or after midnight, coming from the direction of Jesup, sometimes after a rainstorm.  It appears as a big bright ball of light that hovers just over the tracks and floats from side to side getting brighter then dim then bright again, and sometimes disappearing and reappearing again.  From personal experience, I can attest that it does favor the motion of a swinging lantern, and the light is almost so bright, that it surpasses description.  It is truly a sight that one must see for himself in order to appreciate.

Screven is located in Wayne County, Georgia. That gives it a fond place in my heart. I grew up in Wayne County, Michigan, while my wife is from Wayne County, Kentucky. When we were dating and first married, we liked to play “My Wayne County,” in which we noted all the ways that the Detroit area was different from rural Kentucky. Neither of us ever mentioned eerie swamp lights, however.


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