Sunday, August 18, 2013

What Have We Learned So Far about the Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights?

In spite of numerous published, but never referenced, and thus unconfirmed, stories to the contrary, the Brown Mountain Lights (BMLs) were not seen by native Americans, or anyone else before the days of electricity in the area.  Instead, the original Legend of the BMLs first arose in the 10-30 years immediately after residential electricity first arrived and then quickly spread throughout the populated valley communities to the south of Brown Mountain.  Electricity first arrived in Hickory in 1888 and spread throughtout the surrounding communities by 1900, while the Legend itself actually originated between 1900 & 1922.  Seems the unsuspecting mountain residents, who did not yet have electricity, simply were unaware of just how far electric lights could be seen at night and misintrepreted the distant manmade lights for mysterious supernatural lights.  Over the next 100 years, the Legend has morphed several times as it slowly became obvious to everyone that manmade lights in Catawba Valley were highly visible at night from the higher mountains west and northwest of Brown Mountain.  Today the Legend no longer focuses on distant lights seen over the top of Brown Mountain (town and city lights of Catawba Valley), but instead focuses on less easily identified lights in areas surrounding Brown Mountain, such as those seen in Linville Gorge.  These newer unknown lights are probably due to back-country users such as campers, hikers, rock climbers, hunters, fishermen, forest rangers and maintenance personnel, sightseers, and pranksters.

 Over the last 100 years, many different theories have been proposed to explain the BMLs

However, after 18 months of serious investigations, I've found only a few phenomenon that actually produce nighttime lights in the area;
however, these probably explain the all of the reported mysterious BMLs
IMHO, the vast majority of mysterious lights seen since 1900 are manmade lights, specifically electric lights.  While a tiny percentage of mistaken lights might be due to Blue Ghost Fireflies, celestial bodies (sun, planets, stars, etc), lighting (ball lightning &/or heat lightning), and possibly swamp gas (not yet confirmed on Brown Mountain).  Of course a tiny percentage of unexplained lights also exists---mainly due to the lack of sufficient factual details recorded by overly-excited observers.

The Legend of the Brown Mountain Lights will continue to exist as long as people cling to unfounded supernatural beliefs and ignore factual evidence to the contrary. 
Additional morphs of the Legend are to be expected.


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