The low point along the foreground ridge is the gap north of Chestnut Mountain
Monday, December 31, 2012
The low point along the foreground ridge is the gap north of Chestnut Mountain
Saturday, December 29, 2012
At least fourteen separate scientific, or somewhat scientific, investigations over the past 100 years have near-unanimously concluded that the observed BMLs are manmade electric lights. Only the 1921 U.S. Weather Bureau (Brush Lighting) and a 1977 Geologist (uranium ore) concluded otherwise---but neither actually visited Brown Mountain. Although highly unpopular with the local residents, the manmade electric light explanation has withstood the test of time and the repeated review of scientific investigators. These studies include the following:
1921 Nat’l Geographic Soc & US Weather Bureau---Brush Lighting (St. Elmo’s fire/Andes Lighting)
1922 US Geological Survey R.G. Mansfield---90% Refracted Manmade Lights & 10% Brush Fires
1928 NC State College Physics professors---Binoculars & Transit Surveys---Hudson town lights
1929 E.M. Bell---First BML Photo---City Lights
1940 H.A. Whitman---Transit Triangulation Survey---BML photo---Refracted City Lights
1958 B. Brown---BML photos---Refracted City Lights
1962 S. Rowe & C. Holler, Jr.---Transit Surveys & site visits---Reflected City Lights
1977 Geologist Francois Schumacher---Uranium ore may the source of the lights
1977-81 ORION---Staged Lenoir Spotlight & Explosives on BM---Refracted Manmade Lights
1978 Enigma Project---Refracted Manmade Lights
2005 Astrophysicist Daniel B. Caton---Camera, Binoculars, Telescope---Refracted City Lights
2012-13 BML Research Team---BMLCam1; Staged Light Tests; Telephoto Photography
Extended horizontal or vertical movement of the lights, which is often reported by distant observers, is due to the tiring of one’s eye muscles while focusing on individual bright lights in a dark setting. This lack of movement is easily demonstrated by viewing the suspected light through the viewfinder of a stationary tripod-mounted camera, binoculars, or telescope and was first reported by J.B. Derieux and A.A. Dixon in 1928. Likewise repeated photography of the lights by tripod-mounted cameras re-set in the same spot hours, days or even weeks later also shows that the lights are stationary and do not change location (Brown Mountain Lights Research Team, 2012).
The report of mystery lights appearing immediately after the July 1916 flood that destroyed the Catawba Valley railroads is often quoted as proof that the lights were not locomotive headlights as previously proposed by U.S. Geological Survey Geologist D.B. Sterrett in 1913. In his August 29, 1916 letter to the Lenoir News (September 8), G.A. Loven, owner of Loven’s Hotel in Cold Springs states:
It was supposed by some that it was a train headlight; the recent floods stopped the trains from running, but it did not stop the
light from showing. We watched close and it showed every night just the same.
Note that Loven refers to a single light and fails to mention the presence of the numerous city lights which were reported to be visible from his hotel the previous year by Dr. C.L. Wilson (1915). And based on 1922 interviews with eyewitnesses, U.S. Geological Survey Geologist G.R. Mansfield reported that moving lights seen from Cold Springs immediately after the 1916 flood were automobile headlights on the roadways not washed away by the flood. Presumably these and other car headlights were also visible before the flood. If so many lights were visible from Cold Springs both before and after the flood, why did Loven mention only one? As revealed by other newspaper articles of the time, Loven’s Hotel was experiencing increased visitation due to patrons wishing to see the BMLs; thus Loven may have been simply perpetuating the legend of the lights to enrich his income.
Slowly at first, and then with ever increasing certainty, manmade electric lights were reported to be visible over the top of Brown Mountain. In 1915, Dr. C.L. Wilson, identified the community lights of Joy, Lenoir, Connelly Springs, and Rutherford College while observing from Loven’s Hotel at Cold Springs. Oddly enough, no one else of this early-BML era mentioned being able to see city lights over the top of Brown Mountain; instead they apparently interpreted all of the visible lights to be the mysterious BMLs.
“In summary it may be said that the Brown Mountain lights are clearly not of unusual nature or origin. About 47 percent of the lights that the writer was able to study instrumentally were due to automobile headlights, 33 percent to locomotive headlights, 10 percent to stationary lights, and 10 percent to brush fires.”
In his 1923 report, F.J. Haskin wrote: “Somewhere in the broad Catawba valley or beyond was the origin of the light.” In the same year, the Statesville Landmark reported a light (presumably a town light) visible to the east from Brown Mountain itself and located midway between the towns of Drexel and Lenoir. In 1928, Professors J.B. Derieaux & A.A. Dixon, using survey equipment, identified the town lights of Hudson in the Catawba Valley visible directly over the top of Brown Mountain. E.M. Bell’s 1929 ‘first ever’ photograph of BMLs resembles today’s photographs and highly suggests city lights in the valley beyond Brown Mountain. In 1932, F.D. Ruggles reported seeing hundreds of city street lights along a 35-mile length, but concluded they were burning gases instead. H.A. Whitman’s 1940 transit triangulation survey concluded that the lights were refracted city lights. And so it goes right on through all subsequent scientific surveys.
Over time, as the increasingly electrically-lit population (i.e., light pollution) increased in the Catawba and Yadkin Valleys south and east of Brown Mountain, the realization began to set in that the BMLs were simply manmade lights. In the early days of the BML legends (c1854-c1920), these distant lights were a new and mysterious phenomenon that sparked the imagination of the residents in the mountains to the east and north of Brown Mountain who probably lagged behind the town and city residents in the use and understanding of electric lights. While today the manmade lights are obvious to most observers, some still mistake them for mystery or spook lights.
1961, April 12-----------First man in Earth Orbit---Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin
1961, May 5-------------First American in Space (Sub-Orbital)---Alan Shepard
1962, February 20------First American in Earth Orbit---John Glenn
1962, April 26-----------First American Spacecraft on Moon---Ranger IV
1965, June 3-------------First American Space Walk---Ed White in Gemini 4
1969, July 20------------First Manned Moon Landing---US's Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin in Apollo 11
Saturday, December 22, 2012
“Brown Mountain was named after a Brown family, who owned a lot of land during the 19th century
that included this mountain. The family owned slaves, and enjoyed the reputation of treating
“Shortly after the colonel and Jim disappeared, bobbing lights appeared on the mountain. The lights had never been seen before, and the family believed the lights were from the lanterns the colonel and Jim carried. They are trying to find their way home.”
“A family settled in the Brown Mountain area in the 1700s. When the Revolutionary War began, the father enlisted, leaving behind his wife and three children. The war over, he returned home to find his homestead in ruins. Desperately he took to the nearby mountain range searching for his missing loved ones. Finally, he died alone and in despair atop Brown Mountain, and today his spirit continues the search.”
Thursday, December 20, 2012
According to the 2002 article, Amanda lived on Brown Mountain with her widowed father about 1775. She fell in love with young Caleb who lived in a nearby valley. On the evening he was to come and take her away to marry, she lit a pine torch to signal him, but he never came. Her spirit still searches Brown Mountain for him.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
This is one of my favorite BML myths!
The first reference to De Brahm’s 1771 report can be found in R.K. Babington's 1927 article in The Gastonia Daily Gazette; however Babington failed to reference his source--so it is unclear if he was quoting someone else or if he had actually read De Brahm's report, which in 1927 was still a very-difficult to read hand-written document. It also appears that many later authors picked up the story without properly checking their references either.
Refreshingly, Brian Dunning, in his 2010 podcast on Skeptoid.com comments:
"Taken in context, it's clear that de Brahm's quote has nothing wahtsoever to do with the Brown Mountain Lights. This leaves us with no documentary evidence that the Lights existed prior to the arrival of electric lights and people in the area in the early 1900's."
Indeed, on page 629 of the most definitive and authoritanian collection of information on North Carolina Folklore ever published (1964), Dr. F.C. Brown makes the following comment concerning the BMLs:
".....there has been adduced no legend dealing with these lights prior to the twentieth century, and no evidence that the lights themselves had appeared before that time. The lights seem to have been noticed only after the neighboring towns had developed to a certain size with a certain amount of electric illumination."
"The thing that makes the Brown Mountain Lights so great is that it is a blank slate upon which you can project your imagination, your dreams, your visions." Joshua Warren, 2012.
Exhaustive literature review finds gross inaccuracies in the currently popular stories of the Brown Mountain Lights. For instance, we find no authentic written reference to BMLs before 1900, except in the BML literature itself; thus many of the numerous references in the BML literature to pre-20th century sightings appear to be unsupported legends, myths and folklore. These are 'Campfire Stories’ because the details of each story vary greatly according to who is telling the story. The variations in the details of each story are amazing and no one references where they got their information. This lack of references is a clear sign that campfire stories are being told and adherence to the facts takes back seat to spinning a good tale.
These stories include:
Revolutionary War Soldier Looking for Missing Family
Civil War Soldiers
Slave Protecting Buried Treasure
Murdered Wife & Baby
Faithful Slave Searching for Lost Master
Miners Killed in Mine Collapse
Abnormal Earth Processes
De Brahm’s 1771 ‘Sublimating Mountain Peaks’
Weather Phenomena (Andes Light, St Elmo’s fire, etc)
Glimpses of Other Universes/Dimensions
Each of these legends and myths will be covered in seperate posts.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Last night, December 1, 2012, from Wiseman's View in Linville Gorge, I photographed some staged camper lights. Our campers were on Shortoff Mountain, 4.8 miles away. A campfire and four headlamps were visible!
Saturday, December 1, 2012
OK, actually Google has nothing to do with the Brown Mountain Lights! But I did use Google Earth to positively identify the Google Data Center! The line of sight bearing to this building, plotted on Google Earth, was instrumental in proving it's true location---19.2 miles away!
Identifying this permenant landmark clearly shows that man-made structures and their associated electric lights, which are located in the valley beyond Brown Mountain, can appear as optical illusions located on the top of the mountain itself. This is especially true of night time observations when one's normal distance perception is unreliable. Having this known landmark will also greatly facilitates our BML research since it will allow us to better pinpoint any future mystery light locations.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Those of you who have have been following this blog are probably asking: "Where's the Brown Mountain Lights?" It should be obvious by now that I'm having trouble finding them! In fact, our research team has probably put in over 1,000 man-hours already this year---but we have yet to find any mystery lights. We've seen 100's and 100's of lights, but they were all man-made electric lights as shown in the many photos posted on this blog.
However, we do have dozens of intriguing eye witness reports of mystery lights observed by other people, and several members of our group report observing mystery lights in the past. While we all have some ideas about what those lights might have been, we don't yet have any definitive evidence leading us in one direction or the other. So the search goes on.
We plan to continue photographing and documenting the man-made lights, conducting staged light tests, and keeping a close watch for anything mysterious. If you have observations to share, we'd love to hear from you! Just leave a comment on any blog post.
Our efforts also include camping, hiking, and biking on and around Brown Mountain and Linville Gorge. And now that we have the BML Cam up and running, we hope to see and record even more lights, including natural, man-made, or otherwise!
Stay tuned as the adventure continues!
The Department of Physics & Astronomy at Appalachian State University, Boone, NC has just installed a full time camera aimed at Brown Mountain! The purpose is to capture real time images of night time lights near Brown Mountain. Hopefully the camera will soon be streaming live online.
Here's the first two images captured last night: