"The Mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights " is an episode of Carl White's Life in the Carolinas, which first aired in syndication March 21, 2015. 

In this episode we travel with Carl to Burke County NC to explore the famous Mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights. These lights have been the subject of songs, folk tales, speculation, and investigation for over one hundred years.

At the 20 mile marker off Highway 181 near Morganton is an overlook that provides an extraordinary view. Strange lights have been reported from this site and others nearby since at least the end of the 19th century.

A September 1913 article appearing in the Charlotte Observer reported members of the Morganton Fishing Club seeing strange lights near the mountain. Soon afterwards, Congressman E. Y. Webb requested that the US Geological Survey investigate; they concluded that the lights were train lights. Later, Senators F. M. Simmons and L. S. Overman requested another more extensive investigation and George Rogers Mansfield was commissioned to conduct the survey. He attributed the lights to headlights, stationary lights, and brush fires.

C. W. Smith and Les Burril, Retired, US Forest Service both report that they have seen the lights. According to Les, they looked like candles, then diminished. He reports that he has seen the lights numerous times. C. W. says he's seen them twice.

Daniel B. Caton, PhD, professor, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, Appalachian State University and Joshua P. Warren, an author and paranormal investigator who has spent 20 years investigating the lights since he saw the lights as a child, agree on at least two things: we must separate fact from fiction, and at least a small percentage of the Brown Mountain Lights are authentic.

Theories about what causes the Brown Mountain Lights range from the paranormal to the scientific, and everything in between: gasses, electrical fields, spirits walking, underground military installations, headlights from trains, planes, or automobiles, and even aliens.

According to paranormal theorists as well as scientists, the lights are similar to ball lightening and they are extremely rare. But as one visitor says, "No one knows for sure."

What causes these strange lights? According to Josh Warren, Brown Mountain is a geological conduit for massive amounts of electricity that can trigger paranormal activities. At the end of the day, though, people base their theories about the cause of the lights on their own areas of interest.

Charles Braswell, Jr. is an author and professional photographer. He has invested twelve years investigating the lights, often setting still and video cameras on tripods throughout the night. On October 15, 2001, Charles captured one of the best known photos of the Brown Mountain Lights. He later wrote the book Are Those the Brown Mountain Lights?

Dr. Caton and his team have installed two cameras overlooking the Brown Mountain to provide a constant view of the lights. By sequencing digital images taken across the gorge, the individual frames are built into time lapse videos. Dr. Caton's team rules out possible misidentifications such as ATM's, military aircraft, or other manmade sources of the lights, and posts them on YouTube.

What can you do to help? If you happen to be looking across the Linville Gorge toward Brown Mountain and see some unusual lights, contact Dr. Caton with the following information: date, time, weather, behavior (what did the light do?), color of the lights, and the exact location where you saw them.

Who knows? Perhaps YOU will help solve the mystery of the Brown Mountain Lights!

Carl White’s Life In The Carolinas is an Emmy nominated TV and award winning show in its sixth season. It airs throughout the Carolinas. Check guide listings for air times. For more on the show visit www.lifeinthecarolinas.com