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The Mysterious Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina

The Mysterious Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina

The Brown Mountain Lights of North Carolina have been reported since the early 1900s, and some reports even sooner. Depending on who you speak with and what stories have been passed down throughout the generations.

For years the lights have been seen around different locations within Pisgah National Forest. Some of the earliest reports of the lights came from the Cherokee and Catawba Indians, early settlers, and Civil War Soldiers.

However, the earliest published reports of the lights are from 1912, in Jules Verne’s 1906 book, Master of the World. The book mentions a mad scientist constructing an airship inside his secret lair in Table Rock near Morganton, North Carolina.

An activity that causes strange lights to appear on the top of the mountain. Yet there are reports from locals and folklore from those who lived in the mountains as far back as the 1700s.

Some refer to the lights as ¨ghost lights, ¨ and some say they look like stars, and some even state they look like glowing orbs that move and float above the ridge and can appear in any color. However, they have been described as an unexplained phenomenon, appear low in the air under favorable atmospheric conditions, and can grow in size, linger, and then fade away.

According to Cherokee folklore, there are tribal myths about the lights that are hundreds of years old, and another report is that John William Geraud de Brahm first spotted them in 1771. Brahm was a German Scientist who explained the lights as inflamed nitrous vapors; this information was disputed.

The lights are such a strange phenomenon that the government sent research at one point to investigate the reports being made. There was a newspaper article in 1913 about the lights. It was reported in the Charlotte Daily Observer, and the lights were described as:

“mysterious lights are seen just above the horizon every night,” red in color, appearing “punctually” at 7:30 PM and again at 10 PM; attributing the information to Anderson Loven, “an old and reliable resident

Between the novel that mentioned the lights and the newspaper article, the government was now interested in what was happening in North Carolina and sent D. B. Sterrett to investigate.

According to his reports, he stated that it was from the headlights of trains headed south. However, during the time of his investigation, a flood caused the trains to stop, and then he reported that it was possibly car headlights, but many failed to believe his conclusion. Another official was sent because his investigation still did not solve the problem in 1922.

This time, from the US Geological Survey, a man named Mansfield, to investigate further, set up a telescope and reportedly reported several nighttime lights. However, he also said they were lights from train headlights or newly electrified homes on the ridge. Others suggested brushfires or bioluminescence.

Yet those who questioned what are the lights were not satisfied with these answers, especially since, according to some legends, the lights go back before trains and electricity. Folklore and stories about what the lights are and represent also remain.

The Cherokee legend states that around 1200 AD, a great battle was fought between the Cherokee and Catawba Indians at Brown Mountain. It is believed that the lights are from the Indian maidens searching for their men who died in that battle.

A local legend

Before the Civil War, Jim and Belinda moved to the mountains near Linville Gorge. Jim was hardworking and wanted a space for him and Belinda to live. He cleaned his land, and shortly after moving there, Belinda became pregnant.

Everyone was happy for Belinda except for Jim. He began drinking heavily and visiting one of the local girls across the mountain. The townspeople started whispering about Jim and looking at Belinda with sadness. However, Jim did not feel guilty; instead, he was angry.

He blamed Belinda for the rumors and, during his drunken nights, terrorized Belinda. Belinda eventually stopped attending church, and everyone in the town was concerned for her well-being. When her neighbors went to check on Belinda, she was not there, and Jim stated she ran off and went back to her family.

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