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.
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.
Perhaps it’s a strange curiosity you see along a new route you travel, or maybe you’ve passed it many times, but never enough for your brain to quite reconcile the utter oddness of those pieces left behind in such strange ways.
I can’t say that it is only one place that has me thinking of this topic. There are a few places I know well enough that it caused me to take a little more notice of lonely chimneys and a random houseless stoop that borders a sidewalk. It’s also not uncommon, here in the South at least, to see the side of an old barn or even an old house peeking through trees, the structures left to fall apart on their own. They usually do, if they aren’t simply torn down by the owner.
The latter do not concern me all that much.
What really gets me interested are the places such as I’ve seen near South Hill, VA. There is one spot I’ve passed there before where there are two chimneys (or perhaps one) and no house beside. In another town, quite literally, there are three steps leading into an empty lot. A place once dwelt in. I believe (and I may be getting the exact location wrong, though I have seen this) that on the road between Wilson NC and Raleigh NC, if you go through Knightdale, there is a single, small stone structure that appears to have been a fireplace.
What are these places? Of course, they were once homes, but why was so much erased, only for tiny pieces to be left? Were they actually erased? Might something truly strange have happened there? Logic asks us to simply believe that a wooden wall is simply more easily conquered than stone.
Perhaps it is as easy.
But first, consider any exception to how we believe the universe behaves. What about the vanishing house in Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery? The strange noises and unsettling frequencies that mimic hauntings? Or perhaps the disappearances of whole people groups?
There might be a mundane explanation for each and every example.
But what if there wasn’t? What if the universe utterly refused to play by the rules that we decided must apply?
It’s a truly interesting question, indeed.
Glowing eyes piercing through the dim haze of a foggy night….
Is is paranormal activity, or is the explanaton even stranger?
Urban legends can begin as truth or nightmare. They may either grow from an actual occurrence and become more nightmarish, or begin themselves as nightmares made up to scare friends or explain away impropriety. Regardless of their origin, the most memorable stories make deep roots and stick around until they become an ingrained part of our culture, a source of paranoia about government activity or the guarded glances you cast over your shoulder on a night-darkened street.
They are fuel for our imaginations. But what if everything you ever heard about the Mothman was true…in a way?
The story of the Mothman is arguably one of the most famous tales to come from the state of West Virginia, and its details are simple. The story begins in 1966, in a graveyard. The harsh truth of life is that sometimes, there are graves to be dug, and someone has to dig them. This particular grave was being worked on by five people who were much surprised to see a giant man lift off and fly away. It most definitely was not the last time that anyone would see the Mothman, and for the next year, more sightings would come, all centered around the town of Point Pleasant.
They were always much the same. A large winged humanoid flying through the night sky, eyes aglow, often red, and terrifying. Some dismissed it as a bird, while others embraced it as a sign of something supernatural, or alien.
The sightings ended, apparently, when the Silver Bridge collapsed a little over a year after the first time the Mothman made his appearance. It was December 15, 1967, and a total of 46 people died. After that, no one said much more about the Mothman, for good reason. John Keel wrote a book about it, 1975’s The Mothman Prophecies. A connection was established between the bridge’s collapse and the appearance of this creature. Perhaps he was a warning?
Another famous figure with glowing eyes is Spring-heeled Jack. Jack first appeared in London in 1837, amid already existing stories of street hauntings there. The first time he showed up, he jumped out of an alley and attacked a girl by the name of Mary Stevens. The next time, he ran in front of a carriage, caused it to crash, and jumped away, over a wall, laughing. He was said to have claws, the jumping gave him his nickname, and later accounts would give him glowing red eyes.
Though he is linked so firmly with England, Spring Heeled Jack has been spotted in New Mexico. Some versions of him breathe fire, and he still attacks people, and still jumps away, scaling seemingly impossible heights very quickly.
He was last seen in 2012.
The last on our list of strange-eyed folk are the Loveland Frogmen. It was the middle of the night, summer 1955. The person who first saw the creatures is to this day unknown. As the story goes, he was driving along this particularly dark stretch of road when he saw, off to the side, a few creatures, roughly 3 or 4 feet tall, standing. Watching. The creatures are described as having skin like a frog, big eyes, wide faces, and, instead of hair, scalp wrinkles. I imagine they must have looked eerie, because a human’s eyes don’t reflect light like an animal’s.
So who were these guys? The Mothman, Spring-heeled Jack, and the Frogmen? Just stories, embellishments on real people with a little shared nightmare thrown in?
The eyes are the key.
Might they have something to do with the mysterious Moon-eyed people? This group was said to see better at night. It might follow, then, that their eyes were reflective.
We still have no idea where they might have come from.
But the Mothman, Spring-heeled Jack, and the Frogmen might have an origin even odder than any of us can imagine.
Screams echo, distant memories etched in time, voices left behind by speakers long-dead…or are they something else?
Man first stepped on the moon on July 20, 1969. We would only go a handful more times before keeping ourselves fully grounded on Earth.
As with most great accomplishments, we tend to see the results as a much bigger thing than the work put in before. The guts, blood, sweat, and sacrifice.
January 27, Launch Complex 34, Cape Canaveral. The crew of Apollo 1 were engaged in a test for the mission, not due to launch until February 21. In a tragic moment, something (and they really don’t know what) ignited inside the cabin. The craft was quickly and violently consumed in flame. Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White were unable to escape, and died inside. Launch Complex 34 was used until 1968 and then decommissioned.
Today, you can visit LC-34 on one of the tours and see the part of the structure that’s still there. It serves as a memorial to the men who were lost as the human race pushed to stand on other worlds.
Of course, because of the deaths, it’s not without its ghost stories.
The stories are much the same as any other. Screams of the dying. Weird happenings, and the rumor that NASA closed it because of strange things going on, horrors too great for the general public. The last bit seems to be unfounded, and I couldn’t find any reason for it to have been closed other than the recent government shutdown.
But suppose there are screams at Launch Complex 34, just not from the dying. Not echoes, but a real true sound with a mysterious source. A source as real as you and me, as physical as we are, but not something we can see so obviously. Like the Seneca Guns, there aren’t many answers.
If we could find where the noises are coming from, look through a gap, imagine what we’d find there. Who we’d find there, staring back at us.
What might be hiding at Launch Complex 34?
Is the creaking of the floor a haunting by a mournful soul, or is our universe just something much more odd?
With the exception of one of my early posts about the USS North Carolina, you may have noticed that this blog doesn’t cover hauntings very much. It’s not that North Carolina has a lack of spooky ghost stories; quite the opposite. You know all those “mysterious hitchhiking girl” stories? The ones where the guy takes her home, she’s suddenly gone, and he walks up to the door, only to find that she died ten years earlier? North Carolina has one, and the girl’s name is Lydia.
We have plenty of ghost stories, but I am not one to believe that mysterious noises from abandoned homes mean that there are ghosts hanging around. My upbringing leads me to believe that the world, the universe, is a much stranger place than we can imagine, and that there are reasons for the weirdness that are much more complex than a ghost.
Maybe there are other dimensions. Books have these, with the multiple worlds that brush against each other. Maybe there’s a wood somewhere, with little pools that lead other universes. C.S. Lewis wrote this version of a multiverse into his Narnia series.
It could be that the universe as we understand it is not terribly understandable at all. Science is constantly being surprised. Imagination is the key to investigation into our universe. Calling this blog Weirdly Awesome has little to do with the paranormal and everything to do with how our world is full of secrets that are only secrets because we haven’t discovered them yet.
I’m not interested in ghosts. I’m just interested in answers.
I take a skeptic’s view of haunted places. I think there is always an explanation for the creaks and moans and sounds that occur in old buildings. I sure don’t believe that it has anything to do with unfinished business.
That said, North Carolina is full of places that are said to be haunted. You’ve seen my theories about any explanations in a post about Beaufort, one about the Devil’s Tramping Ground, a post featuring The Moon-eyed People, and the story of Roan Mountain.
In Wilson, North Carolina, a small town just west of Greenville (the home of East Carolina University), there are a couple of places said to be haunted, other than the Whirligigs. One is Montrose Hanger Company. It’s an old building, in a rough part of town. The company itself still exists; they make clothing hangars, but they’ve long since moved out of the building. There are of course the usual account of noises and seeing people who aren’t there when you follow them and just basic spookiness. The building has also been used in the past for some geocaching. It’s creepy, that’s for sure.
Another is old Springfield Middle School, more accurately in Lucama NC. I actually know a group of kids who enjoy “ghost hunting,” as they call it. They’ve been to the haunted old Springfield in the past. There were creaks and noises and bumps. I have no idea if the old school is still there; they built a new one recently.
My personal opinion is that hauntings have nothing to do with the past or any sort of ghosts or unfinished business or what have you.
I think they noises are from people. I don’t know how, or why. But lately, in doing research for this site, I’ve encountered some pretty interesting information. Once I have enough that I feel comfortable with posting it completely, I will.
Until then, stay weird!