The Brown Mountain Lights are one of the most famous of North Carolina legends.
The Brown Mountain Lights appear at irregular intervals over the top of Brown Mountain - a long, low mountain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. They move erratically up and down, visible at a distance, but vanishing as one climbs the mountain. From the Wiseman's View on Linville Mountain the lights can be seen well. They at first appear to be about twice the size of a star as they come over Brown Mountain. Sometimes they have a reddish or blue cast. On dark nights they pop up so thick and fast it's impossible to count them.
The Brown Mountain Lights have been seen from earliest times and reported at least a dozen times in newspaper stories. They have been investigated at least twice by the U.S. Geological Survey. And they have attracted the attention of numerous scientists and historians since the German engineer, Gerard Will de Brahm, recorded the mysterious lights in the North Carolina mountains in 1771.
The early frontiersman believed that the lights were the spirits of Cherokee and Catawba warriors slain in an ancient battle on the mountainside. According to de Brahm "The mountains emit nitrous vapors which are borne by the wind and when laden winds meet each other the niter inflames, sulphurates and deteriorates".