<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> The Brown Mountain Light in North Carolina - USGS Report
Drs. w. J. Humphreys and Herbert
Lyman and Mr. C. F. Talman, of the
U.S. Weather Bureau, obligingly fur-
nished correspondence and unpublished
manuscript relating to the Brown
Mountain light, and W. W. Scott, of
Washington, kindly lent a scrapbook
containing copies of his own and
other published articles relating to
Brown Mountain.

The writer is also indebted to his
colleagues of the Geological Survey
for helpful suggestions and discus-
sions, particularly to Arthur Keith
for information about the geology of
the Brown Mountain region and to R. H.
Sargent. J. B. Mertie, Jr., and A. C.
Spencer for aid in the interpretation
of instrumental observations.


The shape and general elevation of
Brown Mountain are shown on the ac-
companying map. Its eastern ridge
forms part of the boundary between
Burke and Caldwell Counties. Its top
is plateaulike and reaches a maximum
elevation of about 2,600 feet. It is
partly cut away by southward-flowing
branches of Johns River and is sep-
arated from more intricately carved
uplands on the northwest, north, and
northeast by Upper and Wilson Creeks
and their tributaries. Seen from a
distance from almost any direction.
Brown Mountain appears as a ridge
having a nearly even skyline. (See
map. fig. 1.)


The geologic features of the Brown
Mountain region are the southward
extension of the features seen far-
ther north, which are described and
mapped in the Cranberry folio, No.90
of the series of folios of the Geo-
logic Atlas of the United States.
There is nothing unique or unusual in
the geology of Brown Mountain. Most

of the mountain is composed of the
Cranberry Granite, a rock which also
underlies many square miles on the
north side of the Blue Ridge.

The Caldwell Power Co. has drilled
a series of holes, 50 to nearly 100
feet deep, along the lower part of
the east slope of Brown Mountain pre-
liminary to the location of a tunnel.
Through the kindness of H. L. Millner,
an officer of the company, the writer
was permitted to examine the cores
taken from these holes. Most of them
consisted of ordinary granite, though
a few included masses of rock of
other kinds. The men who surveyed the
line for the tunnel reported local
magnetic attraction amounting to a
deflection of about 6°, but though
representative pieces of all the dif-
ferent kinds of cores were presented
to the compass needle, they produced
no noticeable effect. Dip-needle
tests made to determine magnetic con-
ditions at Brown Mountain gave read-
ings of 41-1/2°, which is slightly
greater than those made at Loven's or
at Gingercake Mountain (40°) but less
than those made at Blowing Rock (43°)
and at the Perkins place, near Adako


So far as the writer is aware the
first published account of the light
was given in a dispatch from Linville
Falls to the Charlotte Daily Observer,
dated September 23, 1913, in which
its discovery is credited to members
of the Morganton Fishing Club. who
saw it "more than two years ago" but
who were "laughed at and accused of
seeing things at night." This account
is quoted in part below:

"The mysterious light that is seen
just above the horizon almost every
night from Rattlesnake Knob, near
Cold Spring, on the Morganton road
* * * is still baffling all investi-
gators * * *. With punctual regular-

Next Page Table of Contents References BML Home