Archive for August, 2012

Seneca Guns

We’re under attack!

Or are we?

This week, we go all around the weird world and back home to North Carolina to explore the ever strange phenomenon of the Seneca Guns

If you’re not familiar with the term, as I wasn’t until I did some research on our state, Seneca guns refer to a specific sound. According to those who have heard it, it’s a lot like a sonic boom and will shake a house. You’re probably thinking “earthquake!” right now. The biggest difference is that a Seneca gun sound, or mistpouffer, does not shake the ground.

And it happens all over the world. Credited to the Wikipedia page, here are the names for this happening.

    Bangladesh: Barisal Guns
    Italy: “brontidi” or “marinas”
    Japan: “uminari”
    Netherlands and Belgium: “mistpoeffers”
    Philippines: “retumbos”
    United States: “Guns of the Seneca” around Seneca Lake & Cayuga Lake, Seneca guns in the Southeast US, and “Moodus noises” in lower Connecticut valley.
    elsewhere: “fog guns”

I picked this particular topic because it’s not just a spooky local legend; it apparently is known to occur all over the world. James Fennimore Cooper even wrote about it. Sources do differ as to the true source of the American name for it; they’re either named for Cooper’s story The Lake Gun or Seneca, South Carolina. Connecticut seems to have latched onto “Moodus noises,” since the place they occur is near the town of Moodus.

Attibute them to aircraft if you’d like.

But the sounds are old, perhaps ancient. According to the News & Observer, Raleigh NC’s local paper, North Carolinians have been hearing them since at least halfway through the 1800s.

I have no real explanation for the Seneca guns. I personally do not believe that the sounds are earthquakes. I have experienced what might have been a sonic boom, when I was about 14. It sounded like something hit a window in my house.

I’m not so sure it was just a sonic boom anymore.


Seven Bridges Road

Check your eyes and count again if you can. We’re keeping it east this week in Nash and Edgecombe counties.

You may have heard of Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It’s a good sized town, with a population well above 50,000.

I can pretty much guarantee you’ve never heard of Leggett, NC.

Leggett is a truly tiny little town, with population that hovers around 70. There literally isn’t much there. It’s what’s between Rocky Mount and Leggett that catches my attention.

Welcome to the anomaly of Seven Bridges Road.

A Google search of “seven bridges road nc” will mostly bring up business addresses and a gruesome criminal case that plagues Nash and Edgecome. Over the past six or seven years, ten women have disappeared in the area. Nine bodies have been found, the tenth still missing. They’ve arrested one man for one of the murders and there’s suspicion he may actually be involved in the rest of them. Many of the bodies were found dumped along Seven Bridges Road, in the woods. The victims were women of all ages, many involved in drugs, and most of them in prostitution. It’s a tragic case that casts a shadow over a relatively peaceful part of the state.

But amongst the crime articles, the talk of a serial killer, the innocuous business addresses, is a truly unique bit of information that I can’t seem to track down much further. I first ran across this legend in Weird Carolinas a few years ago.

The story is short and simple. Seven Bridges Road is named for the seven bridges that lie along its route. You start in Rocky Mount and drive toward Leggett, and while you go, you count the bridges until you reach your destination. There are seven.

That’s when it gets spooky.

Drive back towards Rocky Mount and count the bridges again.

According to the story, you’ll only count six.

I couldn’t find anything more regarding this tale, as far as how old it was, or what the source is, or even any theories as to why one of the bridges disappears.

Definitely one of the weirdest corners of North Carolina.


Westerly Weird: The Music of Roan Mountain

I’m finally back, and keeping it western again this week. I present, for your consideration, the strange tale of Roan Mountain.

Right on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee lies Roan Mountain, a part of the Appalachian chain that doesn’t seem to get near as much mention as some of the more notable mountains in the general area. It’s covered with rhododendron and is the home to my personal favorite type of Christmas tree, the fraser fir. The Catawba and the Cherokee were also said to have a fierce battle there, sometime in the past. The only remnant of that battle, for which there is little proof, is the red color of the rhododendron flowers. Roan Mountain is a truly beautiful place, alluring in itself without any mysterious happenings.

But an old and often overlooked legend tells of an odd occurrence for visitors who stand atop Roan Mountain.

Once someone is at the top, after a few minutes, the show begins. From seemingly nowhere comes a music that is either terrifying or beautiful, depending on who you ask. I first heard of Roan Mountain in the book Ghosts and Legends of North Carolina. The story I read said that the music started out quiet and swelled to a crescendo before going quiet again, and changed the life of the one-man audience.

There are three version of an explanation for the music. One is that the devil himself has a choir of lost souls or even demons singing away, making the most awful, unholy noise that no man can bear to hear. Another is that God has sent his angels to practice their song for the Day of Judgement. In this version, the music is unsettling, but gifted with a beauty not of this earth, rather than horror. The third version is told in another part of the world, Ireland, whenever similar phenomena appear. Western North Carolina is not without its Old World influences, especially of the Celtic variety. The Irish explanation is that the Unseelie Court, that evil group of the fae peoples, fly about at night, to generally disturb and bother mankind. As far as I can tell, the music has only been heard during the day, but even that may owe to the lack of hiking at night, due to the dangers of that activity.

So what might this music be? Is it devils, or angels, or fairies?

Or is it something else?

Back up just a bit. Remember, this music, as it appears to be, is also heard in Ireland, supposedly. More collective memory?

Maybe.

Remember the potential of the dread-inducing frequencies at the Beaufort cemetery? Or the Moon-eyed People? What about the weird connection between the Devil’s Tramping Ground and Roanoke Island?

In more than one post on this site, I’ve shared the possibility and belief in one of the stranger theories about our universe. The thought, though rare and unfounded by science, that there are places, holes in the walls of the world, maybe forgotten, but still there. Maybe the music is just the wind, moving across these spots, and making such a clamor that even the most rational among us are struck with fear.

Where would these doors lead? And more importantly, what would we do with that knowledge?

Maybe the music of Roan Mountain is more otherwordly than we might think.