Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A Hallowe'en UFO Case? The Woodridge Spook Light
A persistent and recurring series of sightings in manitoba is Woodridge Spook Light, observed
just southeast of the town, and witnessed by many individuals over the years. The light reached a moderate level of notoriety in the early 1970s, when news of it reached beyond the district to Winnipeg.
On August 13, 1983, I traveled with some of my associates to Woodridge, and we waited on a roadway for the appearance of the light. We were joined by nearly a dozen local residents. A week earlier, on the 6th, a large group of people, perhaps twenty in number, were at the Woodridge site to watch for the lights and
were rewarded for their patience at about 11:45 p.m. "The wind came up," and the "freight train went by" at this time, portents of the light's coming, according to tradition. Shortly thereafter, a bright white glow appeared straight south of their position. The glow seemed to separate into three pieces, and each chunk "pulsated" slowly. The witnesses' dogs remained frightened until the end of the display, about a few minutes later, when the glows faded.
We waited with our posse in the cool night air, and at 11:15 p.m., a white glow appeared somewhere beyond the railroad crossing, one‑quarter mile distant. The glow appeared not unlike that of an automobile's headlights shining into the air as it climbs a hill. In fact, a nearly identical glow was seen north of our position a few minutes earlier, and it eventually became the headlights of an approaching car. The local townspeople point out, however, that the road south ends at the railroad tracks, where a swamp begins. This swamp is about three miles deep at this point. The light, therefore, is not a car light, in their opinion. But a road does exist, running south to north, ending on the opposite side of the swamp, where it makes a 90‑degree turn to the east. It is quite possible that cars travelling on the south side of the swamp shine their lights across the marsh, to be seen on the north side. This could explain the glows seen by some witnesses. (Several people with us reported seeing "ten separate small lights" within the glow. With the aid of binoculars, we were able to resolve this into the effects caused by trees in front of the glow.)
It is worth noting here some of the historical references and traditions of the Woodridge Light. In about 1938, a local resident reportedly named Emil Wischnicki was at a bar in a hotel in the area, drinking with his friends. Somehow, as the story goes, they had a falling‑out, and Emil was left without a ride home. He began walking down the railroad tracks but soon felt weary, and collapsed on the tracks. The train came by, and Emil was decapitated. A few years later, the light was first seen, most often as a bright glow, but sometimes as a ball of light floating around the marsh. Tradition says the light is a lantern held by Emil's ghost as it searches for his head. One person who claims to have seen the Woodridge Light regularly describes it as a ball, 10 to 12 inches in diameter, moving silently down the road from the level crossing to roughly where we were positioned. It is said to disappear suddenly, without a sound, lending an eerie feeling to its passing. In about 1975 or 1976, it was seen by one woman as a "blue ball that hovered on the road." She told us that it was not marsh gas, because it was much larger and brighter than "will‑o'‑the‑wisp."
There also exist stories about car engines that wouldn't start when the light appears, and strange noises, like yells, rumblings, squeakings and hammerings that have been reported. Most of these have been attributed to the existence of bats, cougars and woodpeckers in the area.
One persistent rumour is that the light appears about the time the train goes by, at about 11:45 p.m. daily. Our observations were at 11:15 p.m., a smidge on the early side, and we noted that nothing was seen at 11:45 p.m. This was true on the other occasions when I traveled to the site to watch for the light.
At least one photograph has been taken of the light and appeared in an issue of the Steinbach Carillon on October 27, 1971. Also, local townspeople say than an investigating team from McGill University came to study the light in 1975 or 1976, though I have been unable to verify this. They were said to have taken several photographs, of the light not only appearing, but at one point (so the story goes) perching on the camera itself and burning the film!
While some of the lights observed are probably car lights, the appearance of the smaller balls is a mystery. In 1975, local resident Gary Auch was waiting for the light to appear one night, and happened to look in his read‑view mirror. He was shocked to see it "sitting on the trunk of the car, moving slowly up and down." The light was not bright, but coldly illuminated, like day‑glow paint.
Are "spook lights" related to UFOs? As they are often reported as UFOs and share some of the same characteristics. Or are they a "paranormal" phenomenon (making UFO reports a "normal" phenomenon)?