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.

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3 responses

  1. John

    I first came across this whilst chatting to a good friend from Virginia (she’s close to the North Carolina boarder) over skype. She opened a window and could hear this distant rumbling, at times so loud I could here it over skype. We searched on line but found no explanation. We forgot all about it until recently I watched a documentary on TV which mentioned it.

    However, I live in Northern England and similar sounds have been heard here for many years. Mostly off the North Eastern coastline, however, like other places, there have been many suggestions, such as military, earthquakes, thunderstorms and even mining operations but none of the sounds have coincided with any of the suggested possibilities.

    September 20, 2013 at 1:06 pm

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