North Carolina’s Brown Mountain Lights
Every cryptid article I have written to date is about something alive. Whether it be animal or humanoid, but this article is about mysterious lights. It is about The Brown Mountain Lights near Morganton, North Carolina.
What are the Brown Mountain Lights? That is the million-dollar question, because nobody knows.
If you brave venturing into the Brown Mountains to discover the answer for yourself? You will find this sign greeting you: “The Brown Mountain Lights: “Weird, wavering lights rise above this mountain.” The US Forest Service put up the poster.
You admit that it is unusual for a government office to post a sign talking about weird lights.
Even weirder? The Cherokee have passed down stories of these strange lights for hundreds of years. Then when the early settlers arrived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, they told stories themselves. Stories about multi-colored lights that danced and swayed in the mountains at night.
Legend has it that in the 12th century, the Cherokee and Catawba were at war. The human cost of the war was horrible. They fought for three days and nights, decimating each other. On the 4thd day, the chiefs met in private to agree to stop the war. The losses suffered by each side made them nervous. The leaders were worried there would be no survivors if they didn’t stop.
At long last, the fighting stopped, but there were still so many casualties. The wives of these warriors made torches and went into the mountains. They searched for their dead husbands, brothers, fathers’ bodies. Legend says that it is the women’s torches that witnesses see in the mountains.
That might explain why October is the only time these lights appear. That was the month, according to legend, that the killing happened.
Imagine the sight that these poor women came upon after the savagery of the battle. The number of dead bodies that littered the blood-soaked earth will never go home. It had to be heart wrenching, but to think that the lights belong to these women? I would think it would be the spirits of the dead warriors. Warriors that are continuing the battle instead of wives still looking for their spouses in the afterlife.
Many Native American stories are so sad, and this one is no different. Whether or not the legend is true, the Brown Mountain Lights is a mystery to everyone stumped. Scientists, paranormal researchers, and even UFO theorists. Government agencies like the US Weather Service and the US Geological Survey investigated too. The same result, no one knows how or why the lights exist.
They appear at night, and they flicker and dance like the Will-o’-the-wisp of English lore. Many thought that the strange wispy will-o’-the-wisp were fairies or spirits. Travelers become enchanted with the lights and would follow them to their deaths at sea.
In 1812, South Uist, a witness, reported seeing the will-o’-the-wisp. Locals believe it is the spirit of a girl from Benbecula haunting the machair. The machair is the sandy plain near the sea, and she was searching for this rare dye. Legend says that she was greedy and wanted more than her fair share.
Will-o’-the-wisps sightings are hundreds of years old, like the Brown Mountain Lights. Scientists have tried to convince the Scots; the lights are an atmospheric electrical phenomenon.
Scientists try to explain away the strange ghostly lights seen around the world. They result from gas buildups in swamps and bogs. Yet, not one scientist has proved this theory.
Interestingly, the same atmospheric electrical phenomenon is happening in North Carolina. I wonder what North Carolina and the highlands of Scotland have in common? Most of the North Carolina sightings are in the mountains near Morganton. The last I have heard, there are no bogs or swamps in the mountains.
Whatever the cause of these lights, scientists, researchers want to solve their mystery. In 1771, a German scientist said the lights were inflamed nitrous vapors. I’m not sure why he would think it was inflamed nitrous vapors. Is he saying that people were breathing in gases and seeing things?
In 1913, A US Geological Survey debunked that theory by saying they were train headlights. That is a little more feasible and believable. Except, three years later, the track was washed away by a massive storm. The mystery lights still appear, even though there is no track.
So much for that theory.
In the early 1900s, the popular theory was the lights were of alien origin. An American magazine, The Argosy, ran with that theory and told its readers to go see the UFOs of Brown Mountains. The mystery lights or will-o’-the-wisps aren’t limited to one color either. Witnesses report red, white, yellow, blue, and orange colors. They come in different sizes too, from little small candle lights to huge meteor size lights. Witnesses have seen them floating just above the ground to high up in the sky.
When you think about the different colors and sizes, they can seem to be like UFOs.
Daniel B. Caton is a professor at the Appalachian State University and teaches physics and astronomy. He is also a director of observatories and is a skeptic of the lights. To discover the truth, he formed a group of like-minded scientists.
The group Western Carolina Lights Experimental Advanced Researchers (WCLEAR) look for answers. Caton’s team has ruled out most of the theories, such as St. Elmo’s fire and ball lighting. An unexplained atmospheric electrical phenomenon is still a possibility.
The thing is, the lights are unknown, and if they are atmospheric electrical phenomena? What is the connection between the lights reported from North Carolina, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland?
Whether you believe the lights are UFOs or the torches of Cherokee maidens searching for their loved ones. There is a Brown Mountain overlook off Highway 181. Twenty miles north of Morganton, you can park your car there. Then wait to see if the lights appear and decide for yourself if they’re real.
Featured Image selected from Pixabay.