Brown Lights in Brown Mountain

Brown Lights in Brown Mountain

Brown Mountain Lights of the Blue Ridge Parkway

Shaka Guide



Now, over the next couple of miles, the views are gonna vanish. And the trees are gonna close in. And if you like bizarre stories of the paranormal, well Lost Cove Cliffs Overlook is the place for you.

The Brown Mountain Lights

You see, people don't stop at this particular overlook for the view. Oh no, they come to see the Brown Mountain Lights.

Picture this, on fall evenings, people have claimed to see mysterious circle-shaped lights hovering around Brown Mountain.

They've been described as strange star-like lights that twinkle low in the sky, or pale orange lights that move around and fade. Holy moly! So, uh, what are they?

Um, well, no one really knows. In fact, this strange phenomenon goes back hundreds of years to when the Cherokee and Catawba first roamed these mountains. Both tribes have a similar story to explain these otherworldly lights.

According to legend, a great battle between the Cherokee and the Catawba killed many warriors at Brown Mountain. In the evening hours after the battle, the women came to the mountain searching for their lost loved ones. The Brown Mountain Lights, they say, are the spirits of these maidens, who continue to search for their beloved men who died in battle.

Settlers' Stories

Later, settlers too claimed to see lights on Brown Mountain, and they came up with their own folklore to explain the ghostly spectacle. Some thought it was the spirit of a murdered woman coming back to haunt her unfaithful husband. Others imagined it was the torchlight of a slave searching for a lost master.

Scientific Investigations

While many believe in the folklore or made-up even more fanciful versions of the story, others dismiss the far-fetched tales as nothing but utter hogwash. In fact, scientists have tried to explain the lights since the 18th century, for over 200 years! An early theory was that the lights were vapors from nitrous gases emanating from the mountain.

Wild Theories

Others have said they were from lightning strikes or gases from a marsh that spontaneously combusted. Finally, the U.S. Geological Survey dispatched experts to the area to get to the bottom of this wild mystery. Their conclusion?

The lights were either from brush fires or, get this, just headlights from passing trains or cars. But each explanation seems to have holes, right? The lights were shaped like balls.

That seems to rule out lightning. There are no marshes in the area, so there goes the combustion gas idea. Train or car headlights do make sense, except the Cherokee, Catawba, and early pioneers saw the lights way before trains and cars were even a thing.

So, every scientific explanation comes up short. Still, people keep coming up with their own theories. Aliens?

Flying saucers? Giant lightning bugs? Who knows?

But there's one rumor that just so happens to be my favorite. The legend of Posey Slewfoot. According to this legend, the brown mountain lights come out when a mythical moonshiner named Posey Slewfoot cooks up a batch of his incandescent brew.

A Legacy of Imagination

Well, that theory might be a little hard to, uh, swallow, but you gotta give it extra points for creativity. You know, we may never know the reason behind the lights, but one thing is certain. Over the years, all these colorful ideas have only added to the region's vast collection of imaginative storytelling.

Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's Blue Ridge Parkway Tours!

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