Mysterious orbs confound NC county for decades

TOM BREEN Associated Press Published:

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Just about the only certain thing when it comes to the Brown Mountain Lights is that interest in the phenomena is impossible to extinguish.

People in the Burke County area have reported sightings of the lights for at least 100 years, and now tourism officials hope to use the mystery to their advantage.

A symposium on the lights this month drew a sellout crowd of 120 to Morganton City Hall. There are plans for regular bus trips to sites where people have reported seeing the lights.

Burke County tourism director Ed Phillips says there are even T-shirts and refrigerator magnets for sale now.

Researchers differ on the lights. Appalachian State University professor Daniel Caton (CAY'-tun) says it might be a form of lightning, but doubts that all the eyewitness accounts are accurate.