Posts tagged “Eastern NC

Black Creek and the Mysterious Light

A light on the tracks, where there shouldn’t be one…

Staying local this week with a tale straight from the town of Black Creek, North Carolina.

When I was a child, my dad told me the spooky story of a mysterious light that seemed to haunt the train tracks in the small town of Black Creek, in Wilson County. As the story goes, a man met with an unfortunate end on those tracks. The culprit?

A train, of course.

In the story my dad told me, the owner of the head still wanders the tracks, looking for his lost head, armed with a lantern, the only evidence that observers can see. I’ve never seen the sight myself.

The Maco Light in Wilmington is another tale of a tragic railroad death, and the never-ending unrest of the victim. I first read of the Maco Light in a book by Nancy Roberts, but the location was wrong. The Black Creek version, of course, had to come from somewhere. Recently, an article appeared in the Wilson Times (the Wilson NC newspaper) featuring some residents recounting the legend.

Are there really ghosts? I’ve shared some of my thoughts on haunted places before, more than once. I still hold that view.

I think that for every ghost light we see, there are many perfectly logical explanations. Of course, logical does not have to mean anything less than extraordinary. There are reasons for things, but those reasons might catch us off guard. How much of the unexplained is just stuff that’s always been there, just without us knowing?

What would happen if we got a full explanation that we weren’t prepared for?

Certainly something to think about.


Our Weird World: They Hid Their Secrets Here

Is there a mystery? What’s going on?

I’ll stay online this time, with a look at a strange Tumblr I’ve discovered.

The title of this Tumblr is “They Hid Their Secrets Here.” It first came to my attention some months ago, and I shared it on my Facebook page in May. It’s not updated very often, but it caught my attention simply because its method of update seems a little out of place on Tumblr. It has few photographs, save for a couple that were reblogged from other Tumblrs. About half of the material is made up of short, enigmatic posts, some of which play off the post titles. The rest of the posts are longer, with personal anecdotes and what seems like it might be a transcript. Two of the stories reference a location in North Carolina, one of them being so specific as to mention Wilson County.

Whoever is writing this, it looks like they are willing to publicly answer questions submitted to them. It’s something I might try. The only thing is, I can’t figure out how the information on the site fits together. Is it an art project? Something more? It could be a community forum, but of what, I don’t know.

If anyone has any ideas, leave them in the comments. Also, it looks like it might not hurt to ask questions of the person or people who are writing They Hid Their Secrets Here.

Again, below is the link for the Tumblr. I look forward to your ideas!

China, Mud, and the Great Dismal Swamp

Deep shadows, sticky water, and the sense you’re never alone will haunt you in the Great Dismal Swamp.

Growing up in the typical American elementary school brought with both study and celebration of the origins of the United States as a nation. When I was a kid, back in the 90s, that meant memorizing the names of Christopher Columbus’ ships and wearing a paper grocery store bag at school on the day before Thanksgiving (or a black construction paper hat if you were supposed to be a Pilgrim.) Columbus didn’t even land on what we now know as the United States, and he certainly didn’t set out to discover a whole other continent. Yet on Monday, October 14, we’ll observe Columbus Day. It’s a wonder more children don’t grow up more interested in this continent and who might have gotten here first. It’s them that all the little kid history books tend to ignore, and you could just grow up tending to assume that the first people on the North American continent just sort of appeared here one day. Of course, it’s much much more interesting than that. What I find funny is the tendency to assume that people living in Europe, Africa, and Asia basically never went anywhere and ignored the rest of the planet, while North America remained serene and mostly unpopulated. We now know that at least the Norse were here, at some point, in Canada.

That brings us back to the Great Dismal Swamp, and its role in a weird story about the possibility that Chinese explorers also set foot here, based on an old sighting of a junk, under the command of Zheng He, that might as well have been a ghost ship, buried in the mud off the coasts of North Carolina, and seen only a tiny handful of times. It’s elusive and the last time anyone recorded seeing it was some time in the 1920s. The Great Dismal Swamp isn’t the easiest waterway to navigate. You could imagine that someone could get lost.

Or leave their boat behind.

And head inland.

Possibly meet early Americans and establish a settlement in Appalachia.

Maybe they met up with the Moon-eyed People?

This isn’t to say that Gavin Menzies is a great historian or even right for that matter. A simple Google search doesn’t turn up much about this story. After all, there are much weirder and more accessible theories and legends about pre-Columbian American history that tend to overshadow the simple curiosity of other people we weren’t expecting to have been here.

And knowing what we do about the history of this continent, like how much of the past has been lost, buried under other old things in our race to build a nation, makes us all to aware of how much we aren’t able to know.

We can only see the shadows left behind, footsteps on the surface. We make up tales and imagine aliens and underground people to fill the quiet void of an empty continent. And without even a nod to all our stories, indifferent to the questions we ask, North America resolutely keeps its secrets  buried in rock, clay, and mud.

Help Out a Small Local Museum

No weirdness today, folks, just a little about a local museum that would love your help with some funding needs.

I’ve written some about Wilson North Carolina here before, when I discussed the Whirligigs. It’s a pretty small town, with about 50,000 residents, and honestly, there’s not much to do there. Thankfully, they have the Imagination Station. Here’s their website

Right now it’s a hands-on science museum focused mostly towards kids elementary through middle school aged students. They offer programs in the old courtroom on the second floor (the building was once a post office and a federal court house) and the rest of the museum is exhibits. Third floor is dedicated to Coastal Plains history. Lots of schools come through this museum during the school year, and families traveling I-95 during the summers often make a point to stop in the museum on their way north or south. It’s a fun, busy, bustling museum that would very much love to grow into something even better with the help of a permanent exhibit that they want to install. They want to offer area schools even better programs, and they want to provide something amazing to the people of Wilson.

Enter Science on a Sphere. ( It’s a really really great kind of exhibit that can afford all kinds of neat opportunities to museums and organizations that have it. In short, it’s a 68 inch diameter globe, four projectors, Ubuntu, iOS, and dozens of free-for-use programs about everything from space to geology to weather. Here’s a pic, courtesy NOAA.


In many ways, Science on a Sphere is a reverse planetarium, and the Imagination Station would love to install one. The only problem is that Science on a Sphere is expensive. Imagination Station needs to raise $100,000 to match a grant in the same amount.

Are you local, or from the area originally? Maybe you want to make sure kids have a great science education. Maybe you’d like to help inspire the first man or woman who stands on Mars. Maybe you just want to give back to your community, and help small towns grow.

The Imagination Station is a great museum, and what they’re trying to do is really awesome. I’ve posted a link to their information page regarding the Science Rediscovered Campaign. Eventually, they’d like to make the entire museum really fantastic, so take a look at the PDf of their plans. I’ve also put a link to their contributions page on

Please consider giving to this museum. If everyone gives $5, think what could happen.

Science Rediscovered Blog Page for Science Rediscovered Contributions

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.