Hey legend trippers,
One of the neatest legends out there is the famous spook lights, sometimes called ghost lights. They are defined as mysterious lights, that appear at locations without any explanation has to what the cause is or source of the light. Another neat thing is that there is locations all over the United States where these unexplained lights are seen and they are seen all the time. And the most awesome thing is that is that they are free to go see. Most of these lights have been seen for centuries, first being reported by the Native Americans in the region. There are some really cool legends that go with each spook lights. In this post I’m going to go some of the most famous of the spook lights and their legends.
Probably the most famous of the spook light is the Marfa lights which are seen from route 67, near the town of Marfa in Texas. Nobody in the Marfa seems to know for sure what the lights are — or if they really even exist at all. There seems to be no way to predict when the lights will appear; they're seen in various weather conditions, but only a dozen or so nights a year. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the first mention of the lights comes from 1883, when cowhand Robert Reed Ellison claimed to have seen flickering lights one evening while driving a herd of cattle near Mitchell Flat. He assumed the lights were from Apache campfires. On the flip side, The Native Americans, who also saw the mysterious lights thought they were fallen stars. Ellison was told by area settlers that they often saw the lights, too, but upon investigation, they found no ashes or other evidence of a campfire.
During World War II, pilots from nearby Midland Army Air Field tried to locate the source of the mysterious lights, but were unable to discover anything.
There is even an observation area where you can stop and watch for the lights. There have been a lot of studies on these lights and most conclude that it is nothing more than a mirage of lights from other vehicles in the area. In 1987, when I was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, I journeyed to Marfa to see the lights. When I got to the observation area, there was other people already seating on their vehicles waiting for the show to begin. As the sun went down behind the mountains, I look toward the base of the mountains. At first I didn't see anything, but then I could see the lights appear. In Fact, I was the first to see them. I pointed and said to my friend who went with me “There they are”. He had been there and seen them before and responded “Yeap, that's the lights”. It was a really neat experience.
There are two famous ghosts lights coming from North Carolina. The first is the Maco Light. It has been seen between the late 19th century and 1977 along a section of railroad tracks outside of Maco, North Carolina. The light is said to resemble the glow from a railroad lantern and is associated with a legend describing a fatal accident, which may have inspired tales of a similar type around the country.
The legend goes that a train conductor by the name of Joe Baldwin was the sole occupant of the rear car of a train on a rainy night in 1867. As the train neared Maco, Baldwin realized the car had become detached from the rest of the train. He knew another train was following, so he ran to the rear platform and frantically waved his lantern in attempt to signal the oncoming train. The engineer failed to see the stranded railroad car in time, and Baldwin was decapitated in the collision. Shorty after the residents of Maco and railroad employees reported sightings of a white light along a section of railroad track through swamps west of Maco station, and word spread that Joe Baldwin had returned to search for his missing head. The light was said to appear in the distance, before approaching along the tracks facing East, bobbing at a height of about 5 feet, and either flying to the side of the track in an arc or receding from the viewer. Similar "headless brakeman" stories have been found associated with other "ghost lights" in the United States.
The next North Carolina spook light I want to talk about is the Brown Mountain lights. These mysterious orbs of light are reported near Brown Mountain in North Carolina. Brown Mountain is a long, low-lying ridge on the border of Burke and Caldwell counties in Western North Carolina and is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of it belongs to the Pisgah National Forest. For perhaps 800 years or more, ghostly lights have been seen flaring and creeping along, and below, the ridge at night. Cherokee and Catawba Indians are said to have reports dating back to 1200 for the lights. There is a story that is handed down telling of a fierce battle between the two tribes. That night after the battle, the maidens lit torches and search the mountain for their slain warriors. Legend has it that mournful scene was so tragic and intense that it can still be seen to this day. There are also stories of UFO's being seen near Brown Mountain as well as sightings of Bigfoot like creatures, fairies and other strange beings.
Author Manly Wade Wellman grew up hearing these strange tales and wrote about his fictional hero Silver John's travels and frequent encounters with strange creatures and superstitions from the legends and superstitions of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The first documented report of these lights was in September 1913 when a fisherman claimed to have seen “mysterious lights seen just above the horizon every night,” red in color, with a pronounced circular shape. From that time on people have been reportedly seeing these strange lights.
Thousands have witnessed the spectacle, which is ongoing to this day. The lights have been investigated three times by the United States government, and countless times by private groups. You can view this lights from different locations which are all marked with signs for you convince: Blue Ridge Parkway at mile posts 310, 301 NC Highway 181 between Morganton, NC and Linville, NC. Additionally, good sightings of the Lights have been reported from the top of Table Rock, outside of Morganton, NC. One of the best vantage points, Wiseman's View, is about 4 miles from Linville Falls, NC. The city of Morganton recently improved a Brown Mountain Overlook on Highway 181 for the purpose of attracting those who visit the area to see the lights. The best time of year to see them is reportedly September through early November.
I had the opportunity to visit the Brown Mountain during a trip to Kentucky. I had heard about the lights and decided to go check them out with my family. I stopped at one of the signs on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That was the easiest one to find and waited for the lights. My son Sean was the first to see them. The lights seem to almost dance around. I thought they were pretty much white in color. We watched them for about an hour and then my family got tired of watching them, so we departed.
The next spook light is the Hornet Spook light. Also called the Hollis light and the Joplin Spook light. It appears in an area known as the Devil's Promenade on the border between southwestern Missouri and Oklahoma. This mysterious ball of fire has been seen for almost one hundred and forty years. The first report have it been seen twelve miles outside the town of Hornet, around 1866. In 1946, the Army Corps of Engineers conducted an investigation into the mystery and concluded that is was “a light of unknown origin”. It is reported to spin down the center of a gravel road at great speed and then rise up, bobs around and weaves from right to left. The light seems to retreat when it is pursued, never allowing anyone to get to close to it.
A number of legends have sprung up around the place. One legend tells of the spirit of two young Quapaw Indian warriors and another legend relates that the light is from a headless Osage Indian chief searching for his missing head with a torch. Another legend tells that the light is a lantern of a miner whose children were abducted by Indians.
The next mysterious light is called the Gurdon Spook light and is located near railroad tracks near the town of Gurdon, Arkansas. The location is still in use by the railroad and is a popular Halloween attraction in the area. Like other lights is have been described appearing in various colors and has been reported to bob up and down and around. According to legend, the light is said to be of William McClain, a railroad worker who was killed when he fell into the path of a train. His head was separated from his body and was never found and the light is from his lantern and he searches for it.
The spook light is the Paulding Light (also called the Lights of Paulding or the Dog Meadow Light) is a light that appears in a valley that lies outside of Paulding, Michigan. Reports of the light have appeared since the 1960s, with popular folklore providing such explanations as the paranormal, geologic activity, swamp gas, or optical illusions. The first recorded sighting of the Paulding Light came in 1966 when a group of teenagers reported the light to a local sheriff. Since then, a number of other individuals have reported seeing the mysterious light that is said to appear nearly every night at the site.
Although stories of the light vary, the most popular legend involves the death of a railroad brakeman. The legend states that the valley once contained railroad tracks and the light is the lantern of the brakeman who was killed while attempting to stop an oncoming train from colliding with railway cars stopped on the tracks. Another story claims the light is the ghost of a slain mail courier, while another says that it is the ghost of an Indian dancing on the power lines that run through the valley. In 2010, the Paulding Light was featured on the SyFy television show “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files”. The investigators were depicted trying several experiments in an unsuccessful attempt to recreate the light, including using car headlights from a north-south section of US 45 and a flyover by an airplane with a spotlight. After failing to copy the lights, the investigators concluded that the phenomenon is unexplainable.
The last light I want to talk about is the St Louis light that appears in Canada. This mysterious phenomenon entails a strange light moving up and down along an old abandon rail line at night, changes colors and brightness. It is reported to be seen south of Prince Abler and north of St. Louis. Even when the track were remove the lights were still being seen. Legends about the lights relate that it is from a ghost train or again the ghost of a headless railroad worker looking for his head. In 2014 Canada Post issued a stamp depicting the St. Louis ghost train, one of a series of five depicting Canadian ghost tales.
As you can see there are numerous areas around the United States and Canada that have this strange phenomenon of lights. Is it ghosts, extraterrestrials, or just simply car lights. One thing is for sure, and that the lights still appear to this very day. You can go to one these places and watch them and the best part is that it's free. You just got to know where to view them. So if you're out and about and you find yourself close to one of these mysterious lights, take a legend trip and go check them out. I promise you enjoy it.