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The Oviedo Lights

On the road between Chuluota and Snow Hill, at the bridge crossing the Econlockhatchee River you can see a ghost light that some claim has been known to chase cars. This phenomenon has been seen for at least fifty years and is called the Oviedo or Chuluota light, although Oviedo is a good distance away; it’s the largest community in the area. Since the 1950s high school kids from all over the county have driven out to the bridge over the Econ just to check out the lights. The lights are not always seen and seem to favor the warm months. This is one phenomenon that I have seen which to me looked like a very faint glowing ball of fog rising up from the swamp.

Usually there is only a single ball of light, but on rare occasions as many as five lights have been observed at the same time. Some witnesses have reported lights that look like the headlights of a car or lights that come down the road and then just stop and hang in midair. Several people claim that the light will chase after a car. It was thought that the Oviedo Lights were caused by swamp gas. If not for the strange behavior of the lights, the swamp gas theory would seem likely since the lights are seen mainly in the warmer months when vegetation decomposes and releases bio-gasses. These gasses under certain conditions can ignite to produce a glowing effect that rises with the warm air. With all the new development in the area, the lights are now being seen by a brand new audience of newcomers. People are now proposing that something other than decaying bio-mass is causing the strange lights.

A Historian’s Recollection
The Oviedo lights were as famous in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s as Spook Hill was to us teenagers. You had to go sit on the side of the road and wait till the wee hours of the morning…usually it didn’t happen until after midnight. There were always two lights, about 3 to 4 feet off the ground, and they were light green colored. They would come zooming around the curve in the road, just like car lights. Occasionally the two lights would hover in the woods too. I remember a write-up in the newspaper saying it was swamp gas or the two lights were reflections of real car lights, that were way, way down the road and that due to swamp gas and fog, the lights were reflecting nearly a mile away. Whatever it was, it was fun for a bunch of us teenagers who wanted to scare the daylights out of each other. –Christine Kinlaw-Best, Central Florida Historian

That’s My Story and I’m Sticking With It!
The Oviedo Lights have always been an attraction for young people, especially in the 1960s when kids would come from Orlando and Winter Park in long lines of cars right through the center of downtown Oviedo. Usually the first car would stop and ask local boys at the Pure Oil Station “Hey, you know where the Oviedo Lights are?” They would then be given directions to Snow Hill Road and the bridge out there. Then the boys at the station would just roll with laughter and sometimes even help the tale along. Kids would drive to the bridge late at night, turn off their lights and sit and wait. Sometimes they had their dates, who would get scared at every little cricket or frog chirp and scream “What was that?” They were all city kids.

Some nights would be very clear and other nights it would be very foggy and the fog would roll down the Econ and make a sort of swamp gas effect which would give off an eerie sight and with the phosphate in the water it would reflect any kind of light including moon light, car lights, flashlight, etc. Back then you know any armadillo traveling through the palmettos sounded like a bear, and red reflection in raccoon and deer eyes in the darkness all made for interesting sights and sounds. And if you’ve ever heard two coons fighting in the middle of the night, it sounds like somebody is getting killed, or a Florida panther’s scream sounds just like a woman getting murdered. Local young men would help the Oviedo Lights episodes along by making cat calls, owl hoots, or flashes from headlights worn on their heads.

But then the Oviedo Lights caused a terrible accident to happen, this is true. Two boys, who will remain unnamed, were out there driving with their lights off and one killed the other one with the car. Both were from Oviedo High School. It was a terrible accident and after that the Oviedo Lights died down for a long time and started back up again in the 1970s & ‘80s, and has been going on strong ever since. For those of us in the know, we feel sad when the lights are brought up and try to play them down at Halloween. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.” –Karen Jacobs, Oviedo-Chuluota Historian

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