Ghostly Orb Caught in Rhyolite

The train depot building, taken immediately after the video.Photo by Osie Turner
The train depot building, taken immediately after the orb video.
Photo by Osie Turner

Sometimes strange anomalies in photos or videos are not immediately noticed. Unlike in the movies, real life paranormal encounters can be so quick or subtle that you don’t even know they happened. While reviewing the footage, however, you may notice something that you didn’t see before, such as a light streak across the frame, a glowing orb drifting into view, or shadow where there shouldn’t be. While not as shocking as what we’ve come to expect, these phenomenon are still unexplained and quite surprising to whoever took the picture.

This exact scenario is how this week’s column came about. At the very end of last December, I took a nighttime trip up to Rhyolite, the striking ghost town we explored in The True Story of Mona Belle. The intention was simply to walk around, take some photos and maybe a video of the post-apocalyptic buildings and see what shows up.

Living in Las Vegas, we tend to forget that not everywhere enjoys the warm winters we get; even a two hour drive north is no exception. While it was chilly here, it well below freezing in Rhyolite at a crisp 20 degrees and extremely windy. It looked like this was going to be a shorter excursion than planned. The moon was full and exceptionally bright that night, so that was a pleasant surprise, however.

Before attaching the camera to the tripod, I decided to do a quick video of the old train depot building at the far end of the ghost town. The wind was just too intense to get quality footage, so I cut it short. I got a few photos of the other buildings and left. I didn’t pay the video much attention as the quality didn’t come out very well and shelved it in a folder on my laptop.

Fast forward to earlier this week when I watched the video again and only then noticed something in it that had gone unnoticed—what looked like a ball of light, or “orb” as they are known in paranormal lingo, flew around the train depot just after a weird sound. Orbs are believed to be a type of spiritual energy, like a ghost in its natural form.

Please excuse the wind interference in the audio. I was planning to remove it and add some atmospheric music originally before I noticed he orb and weird hoot. Here is the video to judge for yourself:

The wind was blowing very strongly from the north to the south; the orb enters the screen heading east and then stops for a split second and takes off heading north, against the strong wind. It covers a considerable distance within a second and a half. It seems too large to be a bug, plus as you can see, there were no other anomalies like this in the video.

The hoot sound could just be the wind or even a coyote in the distance. We do have a variety of owls that are native to southern Nevada as well, so on its own the sound is explainable. The timing is what is most interesting about it as the orb shows up immediately afterwards. In the slowed down replay the hoot is not very distinct and is barely noticeable.

So what was it? It couldn’t be dust or debris and seemed to be moving intelligently. A small bug shouldn’t have been visible that far away after it passes the train depot, and something larger, like a bat, should have been more distinct.

My favorite shot f the night. The full moon through one of the windows of the old Cook Bank.Photo by Osie Turner
My favorite shot of the night. The full moon through one of the windows of the old Cook Bank.
Photo by Osie Turner

Although one would expect there to be ample ghost stories about Rhyolite, there don’t seem to be any legends or rumors of it being haunted. Of course, walking past the forlorn buildings with nothing but the moonlight illuminating them makes it hard to believe there aren’t a few of the boomtown’s past residents still lurking about in the shadows.

What do you think? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section below! If you want to explore Rhyolite yourself, it can be found just outside of Beatty, Nevada near the California border; check out its entry on to find other interesting attractions along the way.


5 responses on “Ghostly Orb Caught in Rhyolite

  1. Mark-
    It does move like an aircraft, but I don’t think it was that far away. It seems to me that it passes by the top arch of the train depot so should be travelling around that height. Unless it was just a reflection in the lens of something passing by overhead out of frame…
    That is interesting that it sounds similar to what you heard in Skidoo. My first impression was that it sounds like a short shout in a man’s voice, but th emore I listened to it the less it sounded like that to me. I don’t remember noticing it while I was filming.

  2. Has anyone thought of reviving Rhyolite?? I mean rebuilding it, bringing people to live there? It will truly be a great feat to bring a ghost town back to life! Unsure if water is still available in that area.

  3. Ray-

    I have to admit I don’t think I’d like to see Rhyolite revived, at least not fully. Maybe more for visitors and preservation work, maybe some more reconstructed buildings would be cool to see it more like it was originally. Ok, maybe if they reconstructed it as close as possible to how it was and the residents were part of it, like running the museums etc, that would I would vote for haha! (Or is that more along the lines of what you meant vs rebuilding it into a modern town?)

  4. I envision something similar to Colonial Williamsburg.. Restore it to the way it will be the best for Wonderful Nevada..Tourism… It will draw crowds to see a revived ghost town to the way it was… To me the main key is water availability… Think about this..a dead town brought back to life like a la Frankenstein…. Priceless!!!

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