THE BROWN MOUNTAIN LIGHTS
The Brown Mountain Lights are one of the Western North Carolina's most enduring mysteries. Although there are multiple places to look for the lights, two of the most popular places are the Wiseman's View overlook near the Linville Falls community and at a designated overlook off Hwy 181 between Linville Falls and Morganton.
The Brown Mountain Lights are the stuff of legends. A U.S. Geologial Survey circular from 1971 recounted a claim from a Charlotte newspaper editor that "there is a record that it (the light) has puzzled the people since and before the days of the Civil War."
The lights have drawn attention from tourists, skeptics and even governmental agencies over the years. The legend has inspired songs, books, references in the X-Files television show and even a feature film in 2014.
Just what are the lights? The answer is no one really knows for sure. Theories include swamp gas, ball lightning, lights from campers or cars, pranks and the paranormal. Although some of the "lights" are probably of human origin and simply misidentified, others are not so easy to explain.
I heard about one of the latter encounters an a recent trip to look for the lights myself at Wiseman's View. While watching the sky, I spoke with a man and his wife who were also sky gazing. He described an earlier encounter when he saw a mysterious light just below the viewing area. He described the light in great detail, noting that it, "looked like the entire tree was one fire." He said the light then slowly faded back toward the Linville Gorge below. Other witnesses have described similar encounters.
You can look for the lights on any given night and do not need a clear sky to look for yourself. The Wiseman's View area requires an adventurous drives on a bumpy, gravel road. Trucks or four wheel drives are recommended. Once you reach the Wiseman's View parking area, you will take a short walk through the woods to get to the viewing area.
If visiting at night, flashlights or headlamps are a must. Small children should be kept close as the viewing area is steep and dangerous if you leave the designated viewing areas. Even adults should use extreme caution, especially if you are visiting the area at night.
You can also make your way from Linville Falls and drive down Hwy 181 to look for the Brown Mountain Lights from an overlook. Although your view of the Linville Gorge is not as dramatic, it is much easier area to reach.
Although opinions abound on the Brown Mountain Lights, you may want to look for yourself if you are in the area. If you do visit, let us know what you see and what you think the Brown Mountain Lights are all about.