The North Carolina
Among the most fascinating natural wonders of the High Country are the Brown Mountain Lights. The mysterious lights appear and disappear, seeming to move over the ridge of
1771, German scientist, Gerard Will de Brahm, viewed the lights and
reported, “The mountains emit nitrous vapors which are borne by the
wind and when laden winds meet each other the niter inflames,
sulphurates and deteriorates.” The US Geological Survey, however, put forth another explanation in 1913: headlights lights from a train in the
No one knows the true cause of the Brown Mountain Lights. This mystery engenders a delightful sense of whimsy and wonder, making the tales of the supernatural preferable as an explanation.
Cherokee legends credit the lights as the ghosts of Cherokee and Catawba Indian warriors who fought a battle on the mountain centuries ago.
Another legend tells that a woman was killed by her husband on
World-renowned storyteller, Ray Hicks, said that the Brown Mountain Lights were “jack-o-lanterns”, which he described as disembodied lights that traveled through the mountains by night doing the work of witches.
The most famous legend of the
Way out on the old
Where the bear and the catamount reign;
There’s a strange ghostly light, can be seen every night,
Which no scientist nor hunter can explain.
High, high on the mountain, and down in the canyon below
It shines like the crown of an angel, and fades as the mists come and go.
'Way, 'way over yonder, Night after night until dawn,
A faithful old slave, come back from the grave,
Is searching, searching, for his master who's long, long gone.
In the days of the old covered wagons,
When they camped on the flat for the night;
With the stars growing dim on the high gorge rim,
They would watch for the
Long years ago a southern planter
Came hunting in this wild land alone;
And here, so they say, the hunter lost his way,
And never returned to his home.
His trusty old slave brought a lantern
And searched, but in vain, day and night;
Now the old slave is gone, but his spirit wanders on,
And the old lantern still casts its light.
Among the best spots to view the Brown Mountain Lights is Wiseman’s View at
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