In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains there is mystery. It’s more than just beauty that only the isolation of the forest can provide. There are whispers and tales of the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights rooted deep in the Pisgah National Forest dating back as far as humans have walked through the area. On Brown Mountain in Burke County, it is a phenomenon that can only be described as truly otherworldly. The proof is in photos, videos, and for anyone brave enough to venture to the place of mystery located on Brown Mountain.

The earliest reports of the lights came from the Cherokee and Catawba natives. Settlers and later Civil War soldiers also recounted their experience with the lights. To date, thousands of people have witnessed this ongoing phenomenon and numerous investigations including three by the United States government have been conducted to explain what is happening within the heart of the mountains.

Some of you may even be familiar with the tale as it was featured on an episode of The X-Files in 1999. It’s one of the most haunted sites with no known explanation in modern times and it’s mystery is what keeps those of us curious enough to brave the dark and quiet of the majestic mountains in the middle of the night.


It started in 1913 when the Charlotte Daily Observer reported that a fisherman had seen “mysterious lights just above the horizon every night.” They were described as circular in shape and red in color. A United States Geological Survey employee, D.B. Stewart, debunked the claim stating that the witness had mistaken the lights from the train in the area as a mysterious phenomenon. More official studies of the area were launched and concurred with D.B Stewart’s original findings that the lights witnessed were the result of the train and local automobiles.

The rumors of the Brown Mountain lights were thought to be put to rest until two Category 4 hurricanes struck the Blue Ridge in succession. Remembered for their path of destruction and devastation, the super storms resulted in the biggest flood in historic times along the Catawba Basin. With more than 50 people dead, the hurricanes had left a path of debris, ripping away roads, bridges, and railways, the area was left with nothing of the modern world. In the wake of the destruction, with no power source to supply the explanation of the lights thousands of people had witnessed, they continued. Leaving no possibility of a train or car as the reason for the mysterious lights, skeptics were forced to acknowledge that whatever was causing the Brown Mountain lights wasn’t caused by people mistaking vehicular lights for the phenomenon.

To this day, the Brown Mountain lights can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway located at mile posts 310 and 301 from the Brown Mountain Overlook on NC Highway 181 between Morganton, NC and Linville, NC. One of the best viewing spots is the vantage point known as Wiseman’s View located about 4 miles from Linville Falls, NC. The best time of the year to witness the lights is rumored to be from September to November. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and take a look. Who knows? Maybe you just might catch a glimpse of the mysterious Brown Mountain Lights.