Brown mountain lights

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I pulled our truck into an overlook off of highway 181 at mile marker 20 in Burke County. It was a clear and cold night in late fall, a cold front had just passed through earlier that evening. There were a few more cars pulled into the overlook, all the vehicles had their lights off, and a few people were standing outside.
One man had a camera set up on a tripod and as folks would come and go, many of them would go over and talk to him. My wife, daughter and myself got out and walked over to a small group of five or six talking. About a quarter way down a long ridge across the valley, a light slowly and steadily made its way across the length of the mountain. One of us gathered there said, “Is that it (the light) right there ?” The seemingly knowledgeable man with the camera said “No, that’s either a four wheeler or hunters”.
After about 10 minutes the light that moved slowly cross the ridge suddenly darted up and down the mountain, what I would guess several hundred yards in just a few seconds. I said something to the “man with the camera” about it and he shrugged me off, but my wife Amanda noticed he was rapidly firing his camera with a remote control.
Was it the Brown mountain lights? Well, from the video clips, pictures and eye witness accounts I’d say no, but then I had never seen them before so how would I know.
The Brown mountain lights phenomenon has been quite the mystery for many years, with sightings going back several hundred years by the Cherokee and Catawba Native Americans.
There has been a lot of speculation on the source of the lights: trains, airplanes, hunters, ball lightning, aliens, imaginations, the list is a long one. And the lure of the unknown lights has captured the interest of many folks. Some people venture there regularly, some have cameras set up to monitor the mountain; it has been featured on TV shows such as the X-Files, and National Geographic’s Paranatural. It has reportedly been studied by the U.S. government and many scientists.
The lights “might” be viewed from several locations, but the overlook at mile marker 20 on highway 181 north of Morganton seems to be the best. If you decide to give it a go, don’t get your hopes too high, some of the dedicated regular seekers have never seen the lights in years of searching. You can also view a video feed nightly at:
If you go, you gotta take a camera. With something as controversial as this, you’ll need all the evidence you can get. But even if you don’t see the lights, it’s nice to get outside and enjoy a quite night under the stars.
– Rob McComas

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