- Ren Gudino
Highway 365: Local Lore Around Woodson, Arkansas' Rural Highway
Some might say that Highway 365, off of I-530, in Arkansas is a bit unlucky--unless you’re a ghost hunter or someone looking for a paranormal experience. This is the case for the area over by Woodson, AR–populated enough to have a name and a census but not enough to be its own town. Woodson is technically a “designated census place” with a population of 403 (according to the 2010 census). It ends up lumped into the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway area: basically, Pulaski County. From mysterious, unexplainable lights to ghostly apparitions, this section of Highway 365 has got it all.
It’s officially October, and we are finally into Spooky Season! For those who don’t believe, the rumor is that Woodson Lateral fulfills all the creepy vibes on its own. Imagine a two-lane winding road with the empty branches from the lush Arkansas woods reaching overhead, forming what looks like a tunnel that could lead somewhere otherworldly. People that have frequented Woodson Lateral have memories of going as teenagers, scaring themselves with just the creepiness of the road alone.
Though there isn’t exact proof of this event, the rumor starts with a motorcyclist rounding a corner on Woodson Lateral too quickly and passing away on the road. If you sit on the side of the road and wait, you might see an unexplainable bright light, like a headlight, rounding a corner and disappearing. Thanks to several other articles about this phenomenon, the only person with an explanation is a Woodson-local called “Uncle John.” He claims that the light was caused by a combination of headlights, swamp gas, and fog–where the fog and swamp gas would somehow reflect other headlights to give the appearance of a light floating without a source–but that sounds like some Men in Black answer if I ever heard one. Witnesses of this event sound unnerved by how bright, real, and unexplainable the light is.
A first-hand account I heard that provides a possible explanation for this anomaly comes from Mitch H.. He shared an anecdote from his teenage years after I asked if anyone on my personal social media page had ever had an experience on Woodson Lateral. Mitch says, "In high school, we would from time to time hang out there on weekends.
The guys would take a carload of people that had never been. A group ahead--I think they got a pager alert--would fly a mile or so down the road at or toward the oncoming newbies with a spotlight, [then] about 1/2 a mile out would cut the light, and turn off into a side road. There were absolutely no street lights at the time, so on a cloudy night it would scare the crap outta them." Maybe the Woodson Lateral Lights have always been the product of pranksters, but personally, a group of pranking teenagers is scarier than a sourceless light.
Another haunting experience that occurs near Woodson, Arkansas, and off Highway 365 is either about a hitchhiker. These stories vary from people seeing a little girl to a young woman along the side of the road, seemingly distressed and needing a ride. Though this would be heartbreaking to see in real life, the idea of a little girl or even a teenager distressed alongside the road and trying to hitchhike seems terrifying enough–without being a ghostly apparition. In these stories, the driver picks up the hitchhiker and returns her to her home, where she’s directed, with a mother or a father telling the driver about his/her daughter’s death in a car accident a year (or more) prior. When the driver returns to the car to let the girl out, she has already disappeared. There is, again, no confirmed family from Woodson that takes ownership of this story, though I imagine being interviewed for haunted sensationalism would warrant a desire for privacy.
Though there isn’t documented proof of this young girl dying in a car crash or the motorcyclist that crashed along the curve, both incidents aren’t too outlandish to have occurred along Highway 365. There are also too many different renditions from witnesses who claim to have picked up a mysterious and disappearing young girl or seen this strange light along Highway 365 for it to be only a rumor–right? Maybe some ghost hunters can head over to that Highway 365/I-530 area next to Woodson, Arkansas, to give curious minds some definable proof.