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The early history of slightings of the lights is somewhat unclear, at least to these investigators. There are some web sites and other writings that claim that they were seen by Native Americans, perhaps several hundred years ago. So far, we have located only one reference that may associate the lights with a Cherokee myth. See the Legends section for what we know and interpret of that potential myth. However, the description is not exactly like the reports of the lights, and if it were real, we have to ask why this story is a real while the other 500 recorded myths, about flying horses, etc., are discounted. What, in fact is a myth?

More recent than the Indian legends is the apparent claim of sightings by the early surveyor Gerard William de Brahm, who surveyed the region in the 1770s. Our research group has found that De Brahm never actually got into North Carolina, only getting as close as South Carolina. The one reference to some kind of luminous vapors thus could not have anything to do with the Brown Mountain Lights. Thus, this is a modern myth that lives on, on the Internet.

The lights were reported seen by members of the Morganton Fishing Club, as publshed in an article in the Charlotte Obsever. That article is found in our References section.

Modern investigations started at the request of some US Congressmen to the U.S. Geologic Survey. Two investigations were made, the first in 1913 and the second in 1922. The latter was a more comprehensive study that included the collection of witnesses sightings and opinions, as well as original observations from several viewing points in the regions. That survey concluded that they lights were attributed to locomotive and car lights, and to fires. The entire USGS report in found posted in our References section.

The increase in the number of sightings seems to be proportional to the growth of electric lighting in the region, which started in the late 1800s. We can not find any references that clearly predate electricity

Other investigations have been made by other groups with little known today about their results.

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