The enigmatic light phenomenon that regularly appears above the horizon near Rattlesnake Knob, in the vicinity of Cold Spring on the Morganton road, approximately seven miles from Linville Falls, continues to confound investigators. Despite their efforts, all proposed theories regarding the origin or nature of this mysterious light have either been disproven or have crumbled due to a lack of supporting evidence.
This peculiar light exhibits remarkable consistency, rising in a southeasterly direction from the observation point just over the lower slope of Brown Mountain. It appears with punctuality, typically first around 7:30 p.m., followed by another appearance about 20 to 30 minutes later, and finally reemerging at 10 o’clock. Its appearance resembles that of a miniature fire balloon, displaying a distinct spherical shape with no visible “atmosphere” surrounding it. To the average observer, its size is estimated to be roughly equivalent to that of a toy balloon. Although smaller than the full moon, it surpasses the size of any star and emits a fiery red hue. After ascending a short distance from beyond Brown Mountain, approximately six miles from Rattlesnake Knob, it flickers and extinguishes within a minute. It demands vigilant sky-watching at the precise moments or risks missing its brief presence. Although it does not manifest consistently in the same location, it varies its position, spanning what appears to be several miles in distance. Notably, this light remains visible throughout the year, according to the testimony of an esteemed resident, Mr. Anderson Loven. In winter, it shifts further south from its usual summer location, disappearing from the sight of Rattlesnake Knob but becoming visible from a spot further down the turnpike, due to the intervening point or ridge.
Initially, many dismissed this peculiar phenomenon as a product of overactive imagination, ridiculing members of the Morganton Fishing Club who were among the first to witness it over two years ago. Yet as more individuals have experienced this phenomenon, various attempts have been made to unravel its mystery. The hypothesis of it being a mere reflection of another light source has been debunked. Some proposed that it could be a prankster sending up a light to mystify people, but this explanation does not account for its persistence over several years, nor does it explain its sudden appearances at varying locations. It is clear that the light ascends from a point in the expansive, level region between Brown Mountain and the South Mountains, a span of approximately 12 miles. There remains the possibility that it ascends from an even greater distance.”