Brown Mountain has always been a place of mystery. The local native tribes consider the mountain a sacred place. They tell stories about how in ancient times there had been a great battle between two tribes. At the end of the battle many braves had been killed, and how the Indian Maidens had set out in the darkness with torches to try and find their braves. Since that time mysterious lights have appeared on certain nights and weave their way to the top of the mountain.
By the mid 1700's the old Indian trails had become a rough dirt track that led from the small settlements in the Western North Carolina mountain's to the more civilized areas near the coast. The journey would take several weeks and was filled with danger. The first of which was crossing Brown Mountain.
Sam was driving his team of mules up Brown Mountain. The mules pulled the wagon slowly, but deliberately up the Mountain side. The wagon was laden with large barrels of apples and other goods that he and his family spent all summer preparing. He looked forward to being Moses to sell them in the local villages, and picking up supplies that would keep him and his extended family fed though the winter. With him was Moses, one of his slaves. Moses and Sam were more than just Slave and Master, they were friends. Both of them were 50 years old..an old age by mountain standards. Although they had made this trip many times, this trip was different. They would try to cross the mountain at night.
Even in the best of weather the trail over Brown Mountain was dangerous, but with the clouds gathering near the summit, the thought of descending the mountain's rain soaked roads in the dark was not something Sam looked forward to. He figured that if pushed through the night he might beat the storm. If he waited it might be days before he could cross the mountain.
Around midnight the team reached the summit. Clouds were swirling close overhead, and as lightning stabbed at the darkness a mist began to settle on the trail below them. Sam and Moses gently began to guide the team down the trail their way lit by torches and the lightning. As they descended they had to look hard to see the edge of the trail in the darkness. Though the lightning did provide some light the mist was growing thicker, and the trail was becoming slick with mud as a light rain began to fall.
It is said that when catastrophe hits..time seems to slow down..this was certainly the case for Sam and Moses. The rear wheel of the wagon had slipped ever so slightly off the trail..the mules feeling the weight of the wagon pulling them backwards panicked and began clawing at the trail to gain a foot hold. For the slightest of moments it appeared the mules would win..then the wagon tumbled off the trail.
Moses was thrown clear of the wagon in those first moments..and he watched as the wagon careened tail first off the trail dragging the terrified mules..and his master with it. Sam clung to the buckboard and tried to apply the brake with no effect. He watched as the mules were slammed against trees as the wagon towed them down the mountain side.
The mules were the first casualties as they were dashed against rocks and trees..miraculously the wagon had missed the first dozen obstacles before finally slamming into a tree throwing Sam down the side of the mountain. Sam slid for what seemed an eternity before coming to rest hard against a rock.
Moses found himself just a few feet off the trail. At first he found breathing very painful..but in a few moments that passed and he was able to stand. He walked up to the trail and began looking for some sign of the wagon. Through the mist, as the lightning flashed, he could see a swath of mule and wagon parts littering the slope down the mountain.
Sam slowly opened his eyes..his back was the first thing he noticed..because it felt like someone had lit a fire there..the pain was excruciating. He tried to move, but couldn't. All he could see at first was the mist and from time to time the lightning revealed that he was under a very large oak tree. He tried to call out, but the pain was too great, and he found himself struggling to remain conscious.
Moses began picking his way down the debris filled slope. The mist was growing thicker, and the rain was picking up a bit. He was able to find a torch that had been on the wagon. Using a flint he kept for his rifle he lit the torch and used it to aid him as he began searching for Sam.
Sam was not sure how long he had been lying there, he figured he had passed out for some time, since the mist was thicker than before, and the rain had lightened up some. He tested his back and found that it no longer hurt. This was good since he had to get up and start trying to find Moses. He rose slowly and began looking around him. He looked first up..then down the slope. He knew there was no way he could climb the slope, his best bet was to find the trail and follow it back up to where the accident all started. When the lightning flashed he could see the trail just a few yards below him. He began making his way down to the trail.
Moses had gone 50 yards or so, half sliding, half falling down the slope. Every few yards he would see parts of the mules and wagon intermingled with mud, roots, and trees. He began to call out for Sam, and slowly waved his torch in hopes of catching Sam's attention. He noticed that the mist was getting thicker..but at least the rain had slackened.
Sam had made it to the trail. He was surprised to find that it was not as slick as he thought it should be. He also was surprised to find that after such a terrible fall he was in no pain at all. He hoped that Moses had also been so lucky. That is when he saw it. Just ahead in the mist something was glowing and slowly waving back and forth. It looked like a torch. It was a bit too far to call out, so he quickened his pace to try and catch up to it.
Moses continued down the slope, waving his torch side to side. He began coming upon larger parts of the wagon. Their cargo was broken open along the slope. He realized that he had been lucky to have been thrown free of the wagon when he did. He could not imagine that his master had survived, but he held out hope. That is when he saw it...a faint glow along the trail just below him. Could it be Sam? He quickened his pace to try and catch up.
Sam was catching up to the light. That is when he saw there was another light just ahead of the one he was closing in on. Could it be that there were others on the trail tonight? Something caught his attention and he turned and looked down the trail. What he saw sent a chill up his spine.
The mist had grown so thick that Moses's torch had taken on an unearthly glow. Much like the light he saw on the trail. As he got closer something didn't seem right about the light. It did not move like it was being carried..it sort of floated. Moses made it to the trail and was just a few yards from the light, that is when he realized he was not alone.
Sam stood frozen as the first Indian Maiden passed. The glow of her torch illuminated her face, the face was that of extreme sorrow as she looked left and right..then slowly passed by him without a word. The trail was filled with a long line of glowing torches, each one carried by an Indian Maiden mourning her lost brave.
Moses stood and watched as each solemn figure passed by him. Each with tears streaming silently down their faces. Each looked right though him, searching for their lost loved one, existing in that place between here and the here-after.
Sam felt a force urging him to walk up the trail, back to the crest where everything had gone so horribly wrong. The mist was growing thicker as he climbed, but he felt no pain as he climbed that mountain in search of Moses.
Moses joined the procession of Maidens as they moved up the mountain, he had no fear of these ghostly creatures as he climbed the mountain in search of his master.
It is said that today, when the mist forms in the valley and begins to enshroud Brown Mountain, the souls of the searchers can be seen proceeding up the mountain in search of their loved ones. Scientists have said that it is an optical illusion caused by the headlights of cars and trucks on the nearby highway, but that does not explain the first recorded sighting of the lights in 1765 by a German surveyor of the area.
There are a great many things on this Earth that do not have explanations..this is one of them.