First Published Article on the BMLS
The R.T. Claywell story
Winston-Salem Journal, September 14, 1913
Re-typed by E. Speer January 2, 2014 from copy of original article
(Uncertain words indicated by underline)
Strange Light in Mountains Still Alarming
Remarkable Phenomenon can be seen in Burke County
Spectator gives Vivid Description
George H. Manning
Washington, Sept. 13---The strange white light which has greatly excited the people in Burke county, N. C. since it was first seen about four months ago, may still be observed almost nightly and is gaining materially in brilliance, according to R. T. Claywell, of Morganton, who is in Washington in the interests of Maply McDowell’s candidacy for the United States Marshal-ship in the Western District. Mr. Claywell says he last saw the light about a month ago when he and a number of friends were spending a night at Cold Spring Hotel. That Mr. Claywell is extremely excited over the appearance of the light is evident by his manner when he vividly described the awe-inspiring light he and his friends witnessed.
“There’s something ghostly and uncanny about that light that I and the folks up in the neighborhood can’t fathom and we want to get a government scientist down there to discover just what it is and the causes and effect,” said Mr. Claywell.
“The night that I and a number of friends saw this strange phenomenon, I was up there with George Patterson and wife, of Concord, Miss Bell Means, niece of Colonel Paul Means, and Mr. Honeycutt of Concord, Miss Sallie Hogan, Miss Fannie Roundtree, Miss Sarah Claywell, all of Morganton, and Robert Lovin, of Cold Spring.
“It was the last Thursday in July, July 31st,” continued Claywell. “We were all sitting on the cottage porch in conversation, on Rattlesnake Knob, about 150 yards from the Cold Spring Hotel, at exactly 10:05 o’clock.
“The first thing unusual that attracted our attention was a hazy kind of a light across the valley on Brown Mountain in two places. We all watched it intently with mixed feeling of awe and wonder, while shivers ran up and down the spine of everyone present. In a few minutes while we all directed our gaze intently on the two hazy spots, just off to the right of the light in the direction of a Morganton, we saw this brighter light appear at the foot of Brown Mountain where Upper Creek cuts it at Joy. It appeared to be swinging to and fro, pendulum like, and then went upward about a distance of 200 feet. When it first appeared it seemed to be round and yellow, and gained steadily in brightness, becoming redder and redder as it went upward. When it reached its greatest height, it appeared like a flaming red ball, but the strange thing about it was that it did not cast off a particle of light. All the air around it seemed to be as dark as ever, and that added to its ghostly appearance.
“It was across the valley from us at a distance of about 12 miles. It had rained in Morganton that day and there were a few clouds still hanging about. When the light started rising again and reached a height of what seen from our distance to be about 1200 feet, it went behind one of these clouds and we did not see it any more that night.
“It was one of the strangest experiences I believe I ever had, and many of the folks were near fainting. In fact it was with difficulty that Mrs. Patterson was revived from a faint. We had been at the cottage three days previously and every evening had gone to bed about nine o’clock but this Thursday night we stayed up later. We would probably have witnessed it the other evening had we stayed on the porch a little later.”
Mr. Claywell with Congressman Webb, called at the Geological Survey today to urge them to hurry the arrangements being made to send a scientist to fathom the mystery.