Brown Mountain Lights - Burke County, North Carolina

mountain at twilight In the western hills of Burke County, North Carolina, stands a mountain that plays host to perhaps the strangest mystery in the state. Brown Mountain is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and, for many years, it has attracted the attention of people all over the nation. Even the government's interest was piqued, and it conducted a U.S. Geological Survey of the strange anomolies of the mountain. The unusual events are called the Brown Mountain Lights, and they appear along the ridges of the mountain on almost any clear night.

The best place to view the lights is at Wiseman's View on Highway 105 near Morgantown. Curiosity-seekers are rarely disappointed. By looking to the southeast, watchers will suddenly see a light that appears to be about the size of a basketball. The reddish light will hover in the air for a moment and then disappear. In a few minutes it will appear again, but in another location, and then all through the night the lights will come and go, appearing and vanashing against the night sky.

Almost every person sees the lights in a different way; some see them as white and bobbing, others as pale and stationary, while yet others see them coming and going quite rapidly.

the mountain lights Many have tried to explain the lights. Some have suggested will-o'-the-wisp, that elusive gas that resides in swamps. Yet no swamps are in the area. Others have suggested fox fire or some sort of phosphorus, radium rays, strange gases, or geoloical anomolies with the rocks. Some have even suggested that the lights could be from the firing of moonshine stills by liqour makers on the mountain. However, it has been quite some time since moonshine was made there. Always popular is the explanation that the lights are simply headlight reflections, but this ignores the fact that they were reported well before automobiles were even invented.

A spooky legend explains the source. This story dates back to a night in 1850 when a woman disappeared in the area. Suspicion fell on the woman's husband, and everyone in the community helped search for her body. During the search, strange lights appeared over Brown Mountain, and many believed they where the spirit of the dead woman, coming back to haunt her killer. The search ended without success—and the lights ended with it. Shortly after, the husband disappeared. A number of years later, a woman's skeleton was found on Brown Mountain and the lights started to appear again. Brown Mountain is located between Morgantown and Lenoir, in the western part of the state.