<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> The Brown Mountain Light in North Carolina - USGS Report
Brown Mountain early in the winter of
1915. and in the spring of 1916 and
attempted to determine the character
and source of the lights. The members
of these expeditions made some inter-
esting observations but did not sat-
isfactorily achieve their object.

Mr. H. C. Martin. of Lenoir. states
that on April 11, 1916, he and Dr.
L. H. Coffey organized an expedition
to study the Brown Mountain light.
Mr. Martin's party went to Adams
Mountain. Dr. Coffey's party went to
Brown Mountain. Each party subdivided
into several groups and signals were
arranged that whichever group first
saw the light should fire a pistol.
Dr. Coffey's party saw the light over
the summit of Adams Mountain at 8:10
and again at 9:45. over a point some-
what farther south. About 5:10 a.m.
they saw the light again over the
south end of Adams Mountain. None of
these appearances was seen by Mr.
Martin's party, but about 11:52 his
party saw two lights (floating
globes) , "apparently about the size
of ordinary street lamps of Lenoir
seen from the distance of about 1
mile," flash out among the trees on
the east side of Brown Mountain about
one-eighth of the distance down from
the summit. These lights moved hori-
zontally southeastward, floating in
and out of the ravines, along the
mountainside past a dead pine tree in
Mr. Martin's line of sight for a dis-
tance estimated at 2 miles. Then they
returned northwestward about half
that distance, again passing the line
of the dead tree. At 12:13 the lights
disappeared as sudderily as they came.
These lights were not seen by Dr.
Coffey's party.

In the summer of 1916, a great
flood swept down the valley of
Catawba River, washing out bridges
and railroad tracks and suspending
all railroad traffic in and about
Morganton, so that for several weeks
no trains came within 40 or 50 miles

of Rattlesnake Knob, yet during that
period the lights were reported to be
seen as usual. This fact showed that
the Brown Mountain lights could not
be ascribed solely to locomotive

Late in 1919 the question of the
origin of the Brown Mountain light
was brought to the attention of the
Smithsonian Institution and referred
to the U.S. Weather Bureau. Descrip-
tions given in letters from trust-
worthy observers led Dr. W. J.
Humphreys, of that Bureau, to decide
that the light was an electrical dis-
charge analogous to the "Andes light"
of South America. This Andes light
and its possible relation to the
Brown Mountain light became the sub-
ject of a paper presented by Dr.
Herbert Lyman before a meeting of the
American Meteorological Society held
at the Weather Bureau in Washington
in April l921. Soon thereafter the
suggestions of the physicists of the
Weather Bureau were embodied in a
bulletin on the Brown Mountain light
issued by the National Geographic
Society, in which this light was rep-
resented as a manifestation of the
Andes light. Neither the Weather
Bureau nor the National Geographic
Society, however, had sent an inves-
tigator to Brown Mountain to observe
the lights.


Those who have-seen the lights from
the south or east may with justice
contend that no locomotive headlights
can be seen to the north and north-
west. A good topographic map, however,
shows many roads on which an auto-
mobile headlight might intervene
between an observer and Brown Moun-
tain in such a way as to give much
the same effect that one would get in
viewing it over the mountain from
Loven's or Blowing Rock
There are two buildings on the sum-
mit of Brown Mountain. One of these

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