Location: Big Piney Creek near Dover, Arkansas
Appearance: Flickering and swaying lights in many colors that appear in the valley below an overlook.
- The valley is an Indian burial ground and the lights are the spirits of Native Americans.
- The lights are the spirits of miners who were killed in a mining accident in the hills.
- The lights are the ghosts of Spanish Conquistadors searching for treasure in the valley.
- Long ago, a doctor helped the sick wife of an old couple. The couple gave him silver bullets as payment. Later, after the couple died, the doctor went back to their house to try to steal their cache of silver. The lights are the couple protecting their treasure.
Other explanations: None.
Additional notes: One must shout, “I have your treasure (or gold or silver)” from the valley overlook to call the lights.
The Dover Lights are located in a valley around Big Piney Creek near Dover, Arkansas in the Ozarks. The valley is rural and unpopulated, but the lights are viewable from an easily accessible overlook. The lights that appear in the valley have been described by viewers as flickering and swaying, and they shine in many different colors. They seem to remain within the confines of the valley and do not approach observers on the overlook.
There are four legends associated with the lights. One claims the valley is an Indian burial ground and the lights are the spirits of the Native Americans. Another folktale explains the lights as the spirits of miners who were involved in a mining accident in the hills. The third and fourth tales involve lost treasure and have become somewhat conflated. The third story tells of Spanish Conquistadores searching for treasure in the valley. The fourth is described in detail in one of the reader experiences below. It concerns a doctor trying to steal a cache of silver from the estate of a recently deceased elderly couple. The lights are supposed to be the spirits of this couple. Both the third and fourth versions end with instructions; one must shout, “I have your treasure (or gold or silver)” from the valley overlook to call the lights.
Popular non-folkloric explanations for the lights include water shining off the creek at the bottom of the valley, ignited swamp gas, campfires from nearby campgrounds, and flashlights of people hiking in the dark forest. Attempts to debunk the phenomenon have not been very successful, likely because the remoteness of the area and the difficulty of getting in and out of the terrain makes any type of study difficult. The lights are apparently still active, although I found written accounts from the last decade somewhat difficult to track down. There are several YouTube videos that purport to have captured the lights.
(1) Date received: Tue, 15 Jun 1999
I live in Russellville, Arkansas and about nine miles north is the town of Dover, where the lights get their name. About ten miles north of that is an overlook called “The Dover Lights.” Everyone in the area knows about them and it is a popular hang-out spot. The overlook looks out over a valley in the Ozarks.
I have seen the lights myself many times, having been there well over 200 times. The lights appear in the valley and flicker and sway most of the time. On one active occasion I saw them move about three miles in around 10-15 seconds. They appear all colors and can even light up the whole valley. I have been meaning to take a telescope up there and find out what they are for sure. I also plan to get some pictures of them. I hope you find this interesting.
(2) Date received: Mon, 22 Nov 1999
I have seen these ghost lights. They appear a few miles north of Dover, Arkansas.
I’ve seen them more than once. There is a lookout on the side of the road looking down in a valley. Below is the Piney Creek. They are most often seen on the steep mountainside across the river. They are no houses, no roads, or anything else there. Just a forest-covered mountainside. Sometimes there is just one. Sometimes there are more. I’ve seen them move. I’ve seen them get bright then dim. It looks like there are people down there with a flashlight going through the woods. It looks like their light disappears behind trees and then reappears.
People who have not seen them say that it’s probably light reflecting off the creek. I don’t think so. What is it? I don’t have a clue.
(3) Date received: Fri, 12 May 2000
Some friends and I went to see the Dover lights on May 10, 2000 and had quite an experience. We got there a little after midnight. It was very dark because there was a lot of cloud cover. We looked over the valley and waited but didn’t really see anything. There were some faint lights but they were hard to see and didn’t really convince us that anything strange was going on.
Since the legend has to do with Spanish conquistadors looking for their lost treasure, one my friends told me to yell, “I have your treasure.” He said that when you yell that the lights are supposed to move toward your direction and seem to be coming after you. Well, since nothing was happening and we were getting bored, I decided to yell it. As soon as I did, this bright white light appeared in the valley and lasted for several seconds. It was as if it directly responded to my statement. We all got pretty scared after that.
Soon after we saw several other lights appear on and off. Some flickered, some were red, and they did actually seem to be coming our way, slowly but surely. We stayed around for a while longer and left because we were pretty freaked out.
(4) Date received: Sun, 24 Nov 2002
Hello, although I don’t know for sure if this story is fact, I do know there were supposed to be silver mines somewhere in or around the Dover area, so it would make the most sense to me. I am a former resident of Dover, and have myself seen things I couldn’t quite explain.
Anyway, the story I heard about the lights was that around the Great Depression time, there was an elderly couple who lived “out in the boonies.” At one time, the elderly lady became very ill, and her husband sent for a doctor. He gave the husband medicine to give to his wife, but the old man did not have any money. Instead, he made a deal with the doctor. He was very skilled at making his own hunting equipment, and assured the doctor that in payment for saving his wife, he would make him anything he needed, and handed him a bag of bullets.
As time went on, both the old man and his wife passed away, and years later the doctor was going through some of his old belongings. He looked at the bullets the old man had given him, and remembered their deal, and polished them to display in his home. While polishing, he realized the bullets were made from silver. So the story after that is that the doctor sacrificed everything, his home, family, fortune, and spent his remaining days searching for the lost silver mine, and that the light seen on occasion to this day is the light from his lamp. That is the story I heard; believe it if you wish.
(5) Date received: Sun, 30 Jan 2005
My family is from around Dover. Someone submitted a story concerning the Dover lights and I have a few things to add to it. My grandma used to live nearby and she has said that the lights occurred way before electricity. There are no trails leading to the area and it is very remote. There are stories of people who have wandered around there and heard chanting and other unusual things. We have brought binoculars to observe the lights and they seem to reflect off of water. I would like to explore the area someday, but it’s so remote it would be a hard and long trip.