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The Mysterious Ghost Lights of Hansell Road

Darkened roads through the woods have long drawn tales of the supernatural. Every town seems to have its own local story about its own creepy, haunted road, and out in a rural area of Buck’s County, Pennsylvania there is a road to which many strange stories have long gravitated. Although in recent years the area has seen a bit of development, with the road being widened and paved over, the place called Rt. 413, or more commonly known locally as Hansell Road, was one nothing more than a gravel track that meandered through two cornfields in more or less the middle of nowhere. At the time there was very little traffic, the area thick with twisted trees, and night time brought inky blackness and the kind of still sense of foreboding that only a remote road in the woods can manage. It was a prime location for the paranormal, and it sure delivered. In those days, if one were to take a trip down this road, they were liable to see a range of strange phenomena that has still not really been explained, and chief among these are its mysterious ghost lights.

One of the main attractions here were the different supernatural light phenomena that were said to appear through the gnarled branches of the trees. Bobbing along through the murk with no discernible cause, these lights would take a variety of forms and colors, and could appear as either solitary or in pairs or even threes. One of the most commonly seen took the form of what have been described as a red orb, or sometimes a pair of what looked like glowing red eyes. A fairly frightening account of this was featured in Weird Pennsylvania, and comes from a witness named Jim Bechtel. He says that on this evening he had gone with some friends to the road, as a popular pastime with locals was to stop the car and wait to see the lights. This was a calm, overcast, and moonless evening, and they parked their car in an area where the looming trees arched over the road like a canopy. After about 20 minutes of nothing but darkness they were bored and getting ready to leave, and that was when they would have their brush with the strange. The witness says:

The rest of the gang (one guy and three ladies) were sitting or leaning on the front of the car. I was strolling up the road slowly and was about fifty feet from them in the wooded section of the road, when a red glowing orb began coming out of the woods from the left side of the road. It was small and bobbing slightly up and down and was about fifty feet ahead of me, so about a hundred feet more or less from them. It was bright enough that they could see it from the car. The girls started yelling, “What the hell is that?” I shushed them and watched as it neared the road, as if it were going to cross the road from left to right. Then when it exited the woods onto the road it became two red glowing orbs that floated about six feet from the ground. They bobbed until they stopped directly in front of me, then just stayed there stationary. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

 

The girls were yelling for me to come back and my buddy was asking what the hell it was. Now, bear this in mind; we were not drinking, smoking or doing any kind of drugs or taking medication. The sky was overcast and it was extremely dark under the tree-lined road. There were no lights at all, anywhere. So the deer-eye reflection theory doesn’t hold up and besides, I never saw an animal with bright red eyes. I took two steps forward and the “eyes” started to move off the road into the woods then disappeared. I heard no foot or hoof on the gravel road or in the woods.

Another very commonly witnessed phenomenon is some sort of green light disturbance that can take a variety of forms. On is that the light will appear as what looks like a lantern being held by someone walking through the woods, and one might be inclined to think that this is probably exactly what it is, but if some reports are to be believed, this is far stranger than any lantern. One poster on True Ghost Tales gives his own weird report on the road as follows:

Although I’ve never seen anything, I have a close friend and a few aquaintences that have experienced the “haunting” first hand. One of the stories I hear is that a glowing green light can be seen in the woods next to the road, swinging as if it were a lantern being held by someone. That sounds fairly inconclusive, until you hear what it does next. A close friend of mine visited the road with some of her friends one night and saw the same light working its way through the woods towards their pickup truck. My friend tells me that the light was growing larger and larger and when it reached the road, it hovered for a few seconds; then proceeded to “drop” straight down and splatter on the road, resembling the same effect as a drop of water falling into a puddle. This was all scary enough until the light came back up to the surface of the road closer to the truck and started rolling towards them. My friend convinced the driver to get a move on, and the ball of green light rolled off into the woods. I’ve heard the same story from a number of poeple who have witnessed this thing, and according to everyone I’ve talked to they were skeptics until it happened to themselves.

Other reports of the green illumination are just as odd, and seem to point to almost some sort of apparition, taking other forms other that just a ball of light. In another report from Weird Pennsylvania, the witness says:

We parked up next to a field facing the woods, turned off the lights, and waited, telling each other scary stories. Then a green light made its way through the woods, smoothly, like a flashlight across the surface of water. It’s hard to imagine what could cause that slithering motion in a wood, but not as hard as figuring out what happened next. At the edge of the road, the light kind of stood up in the shape of a large cylinder about the size of a man and began to make its way up the road. What happened next nobody knows because the driver slammed the car into reverse and we got out of there. I don’t think anybody in the car had any problem with his decision!

A very similar report was given on True Ghost Stories, also describing this same sort of cylindrical shape. The poster, a John A. Moon, claims that this happened one evening as he, a friend, and his girlfriend were in a car in a wooded area by the creek that flows through. He says:

We were there about a half hour when all of a sudden there was this beam of green light standing about 50 feet to the front/left of the car. It looked like a car’s headlight bouncing off a puddle, but there was no car or puddle. The green light took the form of a 6-foot-tall cylinder. Then proceeded to move onto the road where it started to move away from us at a walking pace. just as fast as it appeared it disappeared but on a slant from the bottom up. The Green Ghost was only there for about 3 to 5 seconds, too short to register in my mind until it was gone. I then asked if anybody else saw something strange (not telling what I saw) and my girlfriend said “What the green thing?” and I said yes. So I know I was not the only one to see it.

We also have another report from True Ghost Stories, who said this happened to a friend, Susan, who had been very skeptical of the lights and thought it was all an urban legend. That is, until she witnessed it for herself. The poster writes:

Susan was a bit skeptical of Hansell Road, she thought the person who told her what he knew was “putting her on”. She decided to check it out for herself one night, and what she told me sends chills up my spine. The two found the road, and found the spot where they thought they should be sitting to witness the green lights. Apparently they were either dead on or close enough to the spot, because they witnessed what made her and her friend believers in this phenomena. As the two were waiting for something to happen, Sue spotted a green light “slithering” through the woods towards the front of the car. When the light had reached the road, Sue and her friend confirmed with each other what they were seeing; and as they were confirming seeing the light slither to the road, the light suddenly”stood up” and made a sizable presence before them. She said it was about the size of a man, but had no features of a human. They were quite spooked at this point and before finding out what else it did they decided to leave. I don’t blame them.

Besides these red lights and green apparitions, there is also a green glowing fog that is supposed to permeate the area from time to time, the ghost of a woman who lurks about an area called “the mother’s chair,” a haunted church with pentagrams on its door that are only visible in the full moon, shadow figures, and it is hard to know what to make of it all. One of the most popular ideas are that the light phenomena are the ghosts of people who have died in the woods, with one local story being that a car full of teenagers once crashed and died here back in the 1970s and another that speaks of a group who were shot and killed by an insane caretaker. An intriguing theory is that it could have been caused by a phenomenon known as “ball lightning,” and of course UFOs have been mentioned. More mundane explanations include that it is just the glowing eyes of animals, fireflies, marsh gas, or even Venus refracted through fog, but none of these really seems to fully encompass the strangeness of it all. Some have said it might be caused by green tinted mirrors on the road, of which one skeptic named Michael Galbraith has said:

I can fully explain all the other stories. the reason why nothing happens anymore is someone at some point in time put up a series of mirrors, like the circular ones people use to back out of drive ways. Well they were all tinted green and placed thru out the woods with one of them pointing at rte413 whenever a car would pass the lights would run off the mirrors and thus give the illusion of a ghost. When the new homes were built the mirrors where discovered by the construction crews.

Others have pointed out that most sightings happen far off the road, where there would be no mirrors, and that in order for the mirror explanation to work there would have to be something to reflect off of them in the first place, not to mention the fact that there are those who claim that these mirrors don’t exist. Whatever the case may be, it is true that the phenomena mostly stopped when development picked up in the area. In the 1990s the road was paved over, the woods thinned out, and there are now quite a few new houses in the area, turning it into more of a suburb than the spooky, desolate place it once was. There is apparently a house built right on top of one of the green ghost’s favorite haunts. The road itself also has plenty of traffic on it now, and it seems the days of hunkering down to wait in the darkness for spook lights to appear are long gone. Indeed, since the road has been paved and the forest largely cut down there have supposedly been almost no sightings of the lights at all. What is going on at this place? Is this all urban legend or something more? Unfortunately, since the phenomena seem to have stopped we might never know, and the ghost lights of Hansell Road remain just another and local legend and oddity.