Curt Rowlett  The Rowlett Report

The Surrency Spook Light

by Curt Rowlett

The Surrency spook light is a classic example of the ghost light phenomena in the best tradition of some of the more famous ones already familiar to most Forteans, such as the Marfa Light in Texas and the Brown Mountain Light in North Carolina.

Theories as to the causes of ghost lights include the usual explanations such as ball lightening, car headlights reflections seen through fog, seismic activity, mirages and the ever popular "swamp gas."

For the greater part, ghost lights seem to appear mostly in and around mountainous areas, in swamps and along train tracks.

The site of the Surrency light (called the "spook light" by locals) is centralized along a stretch of the Macon/Brunswick railway that runs through the small town of Surrency, Georgia.

This Surrency light was first brought to my attention in 1989 by an acquaintance who is a resident of nearby Baxley, Georgia and whom I'll refer to here as "James Joyner."

Throughout his life, Mr. Joyner has lived in Baxley and has witnessed the Surrency light on several occasions, encountering the phenomenon for the first time as a teenager.

He described to me how one night he and some friends went out to the local railway area where others claimed the light could be seen. He was standing on the train track when the light appeared several hundred yards in front of him, hovering silently over the railway. Mr. Joyner's description of the light was "a very bright, golden-yellow light, about the size and shape of a grapefruit." When he tried to approach the light, it began to move toward him until it finally blinked out, only to then reappear behind him! (He describes his other experience as being quite similar to the first).

The Surrency Light has been an observable phenomena since the turn of the century.

Explanations for the causes of the light vary from the local belief that it is somehow connected to the famous Surrency ghost that haunted the hotel/home of a Mr. A. P. Surrency (for whom the town is named) to the discovery of a mysterious geological formation underneath the ground in Surrency, as theorized by Cornell University professor Larry Brown.

The Surrency hauntings were first written about in the Savannah Morning News after the paper received a letter from A. P. Surrency describing what he claimed were supernatural occurrences taking place in his home. (1)

Personal accounts from diaries, as well as from books and magazines, have described instances in the Surrency house where, allegedly, tables flew through the air, mirrors exploded in hallways, clocks began spinning crazily after witnesses reported hearing a mysterious "buzzing" noise, hot bricks fell from the sky, lights flickered in the dark and voices were heard screaming, crying or laughing in and around the premises. The hauntings reportedly continued until the house burned down in 1925. (2)

There may be a more earthly explanation, however.

Geological professor Larry Brown was part of a scientific team that discovered what may be an ancient reservoir of water or other fluid lying nine miles beneath a pine forest in Surrency. Dr. Brown is a director of the Cornell University-based Consortium for Continental Reflective Profiling (COCORP) which developed a detailed picture of the Earth's mantle. Dr. Brown describes this reservoir as "about two miles in diameter and apparently shaped like a contact lens." He also states that "we really don't have a good idea what the formation is composed of. If it is water, it would upset a lot of scientific theories as it is theoretically impossible for water or other fluids to exist at such a great depth due to the intense heat and pressure."

After Surrency Mayor Stanford Tillman was informed of the geologic discovery, he was quoted as saying, "A lot of us suspect that the [Surrency House hauntings] had something to do with the unusual magnetic activities in our area. The discovery of this object formation is very exciting to me." (4)

My investigation into the Surrency spook light is an ongoing one and will be reported on here when new data comes to light.


  1. Savannah Morning News, Oct. 23, 1872 edition.
  2. Footprints in Appling County, Ruth T. Barron, Dallas, Ga., Taylor Publishing, 1981.
  3. Surrency Bright Spot, Old IllumiNet computer file: Rbbs/dl bright txt, May, 24, 1987
  4. Surrency Bright Spot Under Georgia's Piney Woods, April 2, 2005,,

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