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Aug. 3, 2021

Mysterious North Carolina: The Brown Mountain Lights and Other Strange Phenomena

Mysterious North Carolina: The Brown Mountain Lights and Other Strange Phenomena

My special guest tonight is researcher Joshua Warren who's here to discuss all kinds of strange phenomena occurring in the state of North Carolina.

The earliest published mentions of the lights begin in 1912, on the heels of the first publication of Jules Verne's 1906 novel Master of the World in English in 1911. An important plot point in the novel consists of a mad scientist constructing an airship inside his secret lair in Table Rock, near Morganton, North Carolina, activities which cause strange lights to appear on the summit of the mountain. The rapidly expanding electrification of the Linville Gorge area from the 1890s through the 1910s, seems to be the origin of the Brown Mountain lights legend, possibly helped by Verne's novel.[1]: loc 281  A number of travelogues, including accounts of mysterious happenings and ghost stories, were published about the region prior to 1900; but there is no mention of unexplained lights in any of these historical sources.[1] Mansfield's investigation found many locals were unaware of any strange lights until 1910 or later. Joseph Loven, who lived next to Loven's Hotel, said he had first noticed the lights in 1897, but took no interest in them, and didn't hear anyone else talking about them, until his neighbor, C. E. Gregory, began trying to draw public attention to them around 1910.[2]: p. 4  Also, Southern Railways had begun upgrading their locomotive headlamps to 600,000 candlepower systems in 1909, rendering their trains' light output greater than that of some lighthouses that were in operation at the time.[2]: pp. 16-18 

One early account of the lights dates from September 24, 1913, as reported in the Charlotte Daily Observer. It described “mysterious lights seen just above the horizon every night,” red in color, appearing “punctually” at 7:30 PM and again at 10 PM; attributing the information to Anderson Loven, “an old and reliable resident”.[2]: p. 4 

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