I’ve been mining the old ghost stories of North Carolina for ideas (there are tons of them!) and ran across the Brown Mountain Lights. This one is personal for me, because growing up, my family had a cabin at Brown Mountain Beach and spent so many wonderful times there. Full disclosure – I was never able to see them but lots of others did.
Brown Mountain is a low ridge in Burke County and host to a real and long-lived mystery. When conditions are right, mysterious glowing orbs can be seen to rise up off the mountain, hover and wobble about fifteen feet up in the air, and then disappear. There’s no denying that the lights are real. They have been observed by countless witnesses and photographed on many occasions. But what they are has still never been identified.
The Brown Mountain Lights have been observed for centuries, and multiple legends have arisen around the phenomenon. The Cherokee were aware of the lights, and according to some accounts claimed that they were the souls of Cherokee women searching for their men who had died in a great battle between the Cherokee and the Catawba that took place on Brown Mountain. Another legend says that the lights are the ghostly echoes of lights that appeared during a search for a murdered woman in the 19th century.
As for the lights themselves, many different possible scientific explanations have been offered, from swamp gas to the reflections of automobile headlights from the valley below. But every explanation so far has been easily disproved. The lights have been observed since long before automobiles existed, so headlights don’t work, and the lights were even observed during the 1916 flood that shut down all automobile and railway traffic in the valley below. The swamp gas theory fizzles out by the complete absence of a swamp on Brown Mountain. The X-Files even did an episode on the phenomena (very unsatisfying for those of us who spent so much time on that mountain as kids).
Appalachian State finally caught them on video in January of this year and you can watch it here – Brown Mountain Lights
Whatever their cause, people still flock to see the Brown Mountain Lights, but spotting them is never guaranteed. Reportedly, your best chance to see the lights comes on a dry, clear night in October or November, after all the leaves are off the trees.
Love to have you check out some of my paranormals anytime and I’ll keep checking out those NC legends.