Brown Mountains Big Problems

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Brown Mountains Big Problems

Brown Mountains Big Problems
Brown Mountains Big Problems

(images:flickr/cwaldron)

The Brown Mountains are located in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.  Many people travel to the area to visit the beautiful park and the other amazing scenery seen along the route.  Many hikers and campers enjoy spending time in the mountains, especially in the lovely fall.  What brings other visitors to the area is not the lovely foliage or wildlife, or even the camping or hiking.  Another big draw to beautiful North Carolina is the Brown Mountain Lights.

Story goes that on September 24, 1913, an old fisherman began to complain of mysterious lights that hovered above the earth every night.  He described them as vivid red circles.  They hovered for a few moments and then promptly disappeared.  As with many stories of this type, residents laughed the story off or tried to debunk his seemingly farfetched account, saying he was drunk or tired.  Others reasoned the old man was seeing the reflection of train lights, since autos were not around during that time.

The stories continued however, becoming more and more common over the years.  Everyone seemed to have a theory, but that did not stop tons of visitors from frequenting the many access points along the Brown Mountain’s route.  The most common were the Blue Ridge Parkway on mile marker 310 from Blue Mountain Overlook, mile marker 301 for Green Mountain Overlook, Lost Cove Overlook, or Wiseman’s View Overlook.  Most of the reports are made in September through early November.

Brown Mountains Big Problems

(images/flicker: 23160212@N07)

The theory that the reflection occurred as a result of train or auto lights was quickly debunked in 1922 when a great flood swept all electrical power sources, train tracks, and automobile bridges from the immediate area.  Despite none of the sources being available, the lights were still seen.  The Brown Mountain lights were the subject of books, shows, and songs.  The mysterious orbs that rose, hovered off the ground about fifteen feet and then promptly disappeared could just not be explained.

The Cherokee people had another explanation.  They reasoned that the hovering lights were the souls of mourning women, searching for their lost loves when the men of their village were involved in a great battle.  The Cherokee and Catawba tribes had a great fight on Brown Mountain and many lives were lost.  Cherokee legend has it that the women were so faithful they vowed to spend eternity searching for their lost soldiers.

Other stories are less romantic.  One is that the lights are the ghostly echoes of lights that appear, reenacting the search for a woman who was likely murdered in the nineteenth century.  It seems her search party continues to search, long after their own lives and deaths.  Similarly, others speculate the lights are another searcher.  This time, a man was hunting in the mountains with his faithful servant.  He was lost as he took off after a great animal.  When the servant could not keep up, he raised up his lantern to search for his master, again, cursed to spend all eternity searching for someone who would never be found.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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