Brown Mountain Lights

Posted by junketseo in Asheville Ghost Tours
Brown Mountain Lights - Photo

The mysterious Brown Mountain Lights of Linville Gorge, North Carolina, have captivated onlookers for centuries. These lights, along the southern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, draw thousands of spectators every year and are only an hour’s drive from scenic Asheville. Scientific minds and paranormal enthusiasts debate the lights’ origins to this day. However, with none coming to any proper conclusion, they remain an enigma for curious travelers. 

Appearing in various shapes, sizes, and configurations, there has yet to be a proper explanation for the Brown Mountain Lights. A geological survey was conducted in 1922, and reprinted in 1971, stating that these lights were created naturally and artificially. Yet many rebuke this claim, pointing to otherworldly origins. 

Theories on the Brown Mountain Lights

  • Natural Gas
  • Locomotive or Automobil headlights
  • Spiritual Activity
  • Extraterrestrial Activity
  • Moonshining Activity
  • Light Refractions

Whatever the reason, the Brown Mountain Lights have not ceased or relented and continue to dazzle onlookers. They have permeated pop culture, appearing in television shows such as The X-Files, Ancient Aliens, Mystery Hunters, and Weird or What? 

Check our blog and continue reading to learn more about the Brown Mountain Lights and discover more of Ashveille’s secret horrors. 

Brown Mountain Light Sightings

The Brown Mountain Lights have been sighted for centuries, with reports spiking in the early 20th century. While some decry modern sightings as simple reflections of electricity or rising gas, it does not explain reports that reach back to the 18th century. 

Timeline of Brown Mountain Light Reports

  • 1771 – German Scientist claims they are escaping nitrous gas
  • 1858 – Local Fate Wiseman sees lights while camping
  • 1913 – US Department of the Interior Geological Survey 
  • 1965 – Ralph Leal publishes a book claiming alien abduction 
  • 1982 – Tommie Hunter claims he touched the lights 

The sightings increased between the 1890s and 1910s but were quickly dismissed. The Linville Gorge had recently been illuminated by the modern wonders of electricity and the invention of the automobile. The lights were chalked up to automotive and locomotive headlights by the US Department of the Interior. However, the train tracks and roads were washed out during immense flooding in 1916, and the lights continued. 

During the 1950s, as the world began spotting unidentified flying objects in the sky, many suspected the luminous wonders to be of extraterrestrial origin. Brown Mountain became a hot spot for UFO hunters. It was featured in the popular American pulp magazine The Argosy as one of the best places to witness these visitors from another world. 

Are the Brown Mountain Lights Alien Lifeforms or other supernatural beings?

In 1965 a former furniture salesman named Ralph Leal published a book called The Brown Mountain Lights, chronicling his experiences during a visit to Linville Gorge. He states that he got up close and personal with one of the lights. It appeared to him as an orb and hovered ten feet away from him. The luminous ball appeared to be scanning him and was very much alive. 

“It is ten to twelve feet across, almost a perfect circle. It has a brown center that does not look solid. The shape of the brown center is like a tumble bug but without a head standing on its back end. Not touching the ground but suspended in the center of the glowing ball. It seems to have three hands or feelers protruding out from each side.”

The magnificent orbed creature told Leal that he and his kind were from Venus and had come to Earth to protect the human race from utter destruction. Leal was taken to Venus and brought back to Earth eight hours later to spread his newfound knowledge. 

In 1982 a man named Tommie Hunter claimed he touched one of the lights. They have been known to hover significantly closer to curious star gazers. Seeing a ball of light over the edge of Highway 181 overlook, he courageously reached out to it and was promptly electrocuted. He walked away shocked yet unscratched, and six eyewitnesses have corroborated his story. 

Many locals tell stories of fairies in the Blue Ridge Mountains and attribute the lights to them. Others claim they are the lanterns of long-dead miners roaming the valley. Native American legends speak of a great battle that occurred about 1200 AD between the Cherokee and Catawba. Their wives continue to search for their dead husbands in the form of these lights. 

What Do The Brown Mountain Lights Look Like?

It is much easier to describe what the Brown Mountain Lights look like than to describe what they are. The odd thing about them is that they have taken many shapes and sizes. They range from orbs and beams of light to firecracker-shaped flashes. 

The first photo of the lights was captured in 1929, and the first decent video was recorded in 2000. The lights can be hard to capture as they are often fast-moving but have been known to operate at various speeds. 

While they often appear as orbs, they range in size from the tiny flicker of a candle to large balls of fire floating in the night air. Sometimes they hover in the air, and other times they rise from the bottom of the gorge to the sky. 

Their colors and hues have varied over the years. Appearing in white, orange, yellow, red, blue, and even white shades. 

The Brown Mountain Lights in Pop Culture

The Brown Mountain Lights are an electrifying phenomenon and have infiltrated pop culture. Escaping the confines of The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Pisgah National Forest, they have claimed a space in modern society. 

Brown Mountain Lights in Magazines

Their first appearance in any media was in the Pulp, as mentioned earlier magazine The Argosy, touted as one of the best places to see UFOs. Since then, they have moved up in the magazine world. National Geographic lists Brown Mountain as one of the best places to see a natural wonder.

Brown Mountain Lights in Television and Film

The Brown Mountain Lights have been the subject of many sci-fi and alien-based television shows. Ancient Aliens, Mystery Hunters, and “Weird or What?” have all featured the infamous site in their search for the truth. The hugely popular 90’s show The X-Files dedicated a whole episode to the bewildering phenomenon in 1999. 

Alien Abduction, a 2014 found footage film, centers around the lights and mysterious disappearances in the mountains of North Carolina. The isolation and remoteness of the Blue Ridge Mountains can often play tricks on the minds of campers. This film explores this terrifying thought through the lens of the Brown Mountain Lights. 

Brown Mountain Lights in Song

In 1962 bluegrass musicians Lulu Belle and Scotty released “The Legend of The Brown Mountain Lights.” Paying homage to the legend of the lights through Appalachia’s unique style of endearing folk music. 

Where is The Best Place to See the Brown Mountain Lights? 

If you would like to see the Brown Mountain Lights, there are several vantage points where they are commonly spotted. The most well-known is the Brown Mountain Overlook off Highway 181. Situate yourself between mile markers 20 and 21 and look out over the valley.

Other popular locations include the Lost Cove Overlook in the Pisgah National Forest and Wiseman’s View on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Your best shot at seeing the lights are at night time. They are often spotted after it rains and are most commonly seen in October and November. 

To learn more about the dark side of Asheville, NC, and its surrounding areas, visit our blog. Next time you find yourself in Asheville, take a tour with US Ghost Adventures to get the full experience!