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Halloween Countdown, Day 3

I have a spooky tale for you today, straight from my own backyard!

Brown Mountain, which is found in the county next to ours in the Blue Ridge Mountains, has long been the home of ghostly lights. Called the "Brown Mountain Lights," these mysterious glowing lights - most prevalent in September, October, and November - have been the source of government and private investigations, news reports, folklore, and music, television, and film. The first documented sighting took place on September 24, 1913, as reported in the Charlotte Daily Observer, but anecdotal accounts and oral history predate this report by many years.

The lights remain unexplained.

Brown Mountain

Here are some sources about the Brown Mountain Lights:

* Faculty and students from Appalachia State University maintain this website about the Brown Mountain Lights.

* This YouTube clip includes footage from Charlotte TV and National Geographic TV of and about the lights.

* This YouTube clip includes footage of the lights shot with night vision for the National Geographic TV program Paranatural.

Brown Mountain

Here are some of the fictional works inspired by the Brown Mountain Lights:

* The X-Files episode "Field Trip" has Mulder and Scully investigating the case of missing hikers who were found dead in the vicinity of Brown Mountain. Mulder, of course, immediately makes the connection to the Brown Mountain Lights.
ETA: The two-part story "Night Lights" by John Rozum in issues 18 and 19 of The X-Files comics is also about the Brown Mountain Lights.

* Scotty Wiseman's song "Brown Mountain Lights" attributes the lights to the lantern of a ghostly slave searching for his long-lost owner. Hear it performed by Tony Rice on YouTube. (Note: Another local folktale claims the lights are a Cherokee woman searching for her dead lover.)

* ETA: travels_in_time pointed out that the 1968 novel Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander H. Key (which has inspired several movie adaptations) mentions the Blue Ridge Mountains specifically and tells of mysterious lights and music coming from a particular mountain. Further research confirms that Key did, in fact, base Witch Mountain on Brown Mountain! How cool is that?

* The 2014 film Alien Abduction - which is very much worth watching if you like such movies - credits aliens with the lights. It was filmed in and around this area. Here's a Dread Central interview with director Matty Beckerman, who claims to have seen the lights himself.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:27 am (UTC)
Oooh! Sounds like the excellent book "Escape to Witch Mountain" by Alexander H. Key (not the reasonable-ish 70s Disney movie, not the in-name-only 1995 movie, and certainly not the awful 2009 movie starring The Rock). The lights and the music that come from the mountain are never explained--well, they are, but only in the broadest of terms--which is slightly disappointing, but works to give a sense that there is a whole area of mystery there that most of us aren't privy to.

ETA: I just went and looked on Wikipedia, and the Blue Ridge mountain area is specifically mentioned in the book, so I'm thinking it is related. I'm going to go look at all the links you've posted now, as this was one of my favorite books back in the day, so I'm going to go pretend that it's all true. :D

Edited at 2014-10-03 11:35 am (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:48 am (UTC)
Oh WOW - I hadn't made this connection at all, but now that you say it, I can see it! I'm sorry to say I've never read the book (though it sounds like I really need to do so), but I did see the '70s Disney movie when I was little, and I really enjoyed it. It stuck in my mind. I'm so tickled to hear that the book mentions the Blue Ridge Mountains specifically. Thank you for connecting the dots! This is such a fascinating (and cool) link!

Edited at 2014-10-03 11:48 am (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:56 am (UTC)
PS. I just looked up Alexander Key and the Brown Mountain Lights, and several sources argue that he intentionally made Brown Mountain the original "Witch Mountain." This is so cool! Thanks again for pointing this out to me. This makes my day!

Edited at 2014-10-03 12:24 pm (UTC)
Oct. 3rd, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
Now that I'm back home, I'm going to do some reading up on it! Nobody in my family had TV or went to movies when I was a kid, so the first movie I ever saw was this one, in a library, when I was six years old. I came upstairs in a complete daze and tried to tell my mom ALLLLLLL about it, and of course made no sense at all. I found the book a couple of years later, and spent the next several years hoping that some other library or school would show that film. I bought it on DVD the moment it came out. :D I definitely think the story was instrumental in the development of my deep interest in fantasy/sci-fi.
Oct. 16th, 2014 11:48 pm (UTC)
Aw, I love this! That is brilliant! :D

I'll have you know that, thanks to you, I got and read the novel over the last few days. I loved it! And I can totally see how this would spark a lifelong love of SF/F.

Father O'Day rocks. I may have punched my fist into the air in triumph with this: "Do you think the Lord on high is so frail that this little planet, with it's greedy little people, is all that He can do? Bah!... Go tell the rest of your kind there are marvels in Creation far beyond their narrow dreaming." Awesome!

It was also great fun seeing local names (like Winston-Salem) show up in the text. :) Thank you again for making this connection for me and inspiring me to get to know the story better.

Edited at 2014-10-16 11:49 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, Father O'Day was lost in translation to the screen, and it's a shame, because he is awesome. Those lines that you pointed out, those definitely influenced the type of sci-fi that resonates the most with me. I'mma shut up now before I start rambling on about Zenna Henderson and Diane Duane. :D
Oct. 3rd, 2014 02:08 pm (UTC)
Charles Fort approves this post!
Oct. 3rd, 2014 09:03 pm (UTC)
Brilliant! :D I'm doing the Fortean dance now!

Edited at 2014-10-03 09:03 pm (UTC)
Abbie Culbertson
Oct. 3rd, 2014 08:29 pm (UTC)
So, uh... will Dr. Amy be investigating then??
Oct. 3rd, 2014 09:06 pm (UTC)
Ha! The hubby and I made a daytime trip to the three most (in)famous viewing sites (the photos above are some of the ones I took) to get a sense of the area. We intend to go back at night - though we may wait until my parents come and visit, because they would hate to miss an x-file! ;)

Edited at 2014-10-03 09:06 pm (UTC)
Oct. 4th, 2014 02:06 am (UTC)
The Brown Mountain lights sound intriguing.
Abbie Culbertson
Oct. 4th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
I just have to tell you that I love your icon! I have that on a shirt!
Oct. 5th, 2014 12:14 am (UTC)
Oct. 5th, 2014 12:37 am (UTC)
Yes! The more we hear about them, the more fascinated we are.

Edited at 2014-10-05 12:38 am (UTC)
Oct. 6th, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
I wrote a different story about the Brown Mountain lights for The X-Files comic book series. It was under the title "Night Lights" and was in issues # 18 and #19 for anyone interested in checking it out.

-- John Rozum
Oct. 6th, 2014 02:47 pm (UTC)
Fantastic! I must read these now. Thanks so much for the heads up!

Edited at 2014-10-06 02:47 pm (UTC)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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