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The Paulding Lights
Upper Peninsula Michigan
It has been years since my trip to the Michigan woods in search of the Paulding Lights. So why am I writing about it now? Well I’m still not sure I should. See, the experiences I and my fellow adventurers had, do not support the mysterious and romantic connection that many…many people have to this phenomenon. But we will get to that.
In only a few days the legend trippers along on this adventure already had several. Richard Hendricks asked for the answers we all wanted surrounding the Hodag monster. Everyone watched on as Kevin Nelson tried to speak to the spirits at Summerwind and found anarchy.
Image: Paranormal Investigator and renowned occult researcher Kevin Lee Nelson
Sean Bindley wrestled with concretions and how best to connect with his ancestors for permissions to seek from their once sacred land. Myself was again behind the steering wheel when not behind the video camera. Into Michigan we drove and arrived in the middle of nowhere as usual.
Difference was this time it was still daylight. All of us seem to find greater comfort exploring under the cover of darkness. Most of the investigations and some of the adventures require a measure of onsite research to take place before the phenomena are reported to occur. Local and state maps, along with recent satellite images guided our way up and down the gravel logging roads. This mysterious light witnessed by thousands upon thousands had been reported for many years. Between radios and cell phones we were able to stay in communication as everyone split up exploring the different theories expounded as explanations. An ancient “Native American spirit dancing on the power lines that cut through his once sacred land" said one witness. The "ghost of a train conductor still trying to warn of impending doom" shared another. While others claimed the Paulding Lights were "connected to UFOs." Some even dismissed the idea out of hand and down their nose with "ignited natural gasses" as the culprit. There were many possible explanations we heard however there was one constant. The viewing location, for whatever the light may be, is always the same.
None of us had ever been witness in person to the Paulding Lights before. As a result we were not exactly sure of where to expect it to materialize later that evening. Immediately we all noted the roadway on the far off hill near the horizon. Sean shared his thoughts “well that didn’t take very long to solve.”
Image: Paranormal Investigator Sean Bindley
I being the bleeding heart romantic remained hopefully full of denial, “it couldn’t be that easy, could it?” Even as we were there during daylight hours conducting our preliminary investigations we were met by curious locals. Interviewing many of the people that passed by including local law enforcement, made everyone’s anticipation grow. This, we all hope might just be our chance at first hand, fully unexplainable phenomena. You see, after decades of research and investigation yielding only circumstantial and many times second hand reports of unexplained phenomena, some part of you starts to loose hope. At best it seems we’ve all had unique subjective experiences that could have been explained away by as many normal explanations as paranormal.
Telescopes trained on the roadway, estimating that it holds the greatest likelihood of causing the lights, nightfall arrives. But so do the crowds.
It was truly a jaw dropping experience. Not the appearance of the Paulding Lights, we’ll get to those. The sheer number of people, the constant flow of new faces all here to see the lights. It was absolutely amazing. They came by the hundreds. The old gravel logging road was lined on both sides for as far as the night would let you see. All sorts of folks. Some there to pray, some to drink. Others brought picnics, some brought mind altering drugs and danced with glow in the dark lights strune about their bodies. Others brought their friends from out of town, and others still came with the whole family. Giving up on maintaining a controlled scientific environment we were barely able to keep up with the new stories, explanations, and first hand accounts that our interviews were turning up.
Not long after day, basically dusk the lights turned up. With the arrival of the Paulding Lights came many a cheer, jeer, and outright fear from the growing crowd. Some caught up in their own reasons for being in attendance barely broke stride. Some kids cried, while others continued playing with friends. Some witnesses compared this Paulding Light showing to exactly what they had watched for years. A few from this category even threw their hands up, palms toward the heavens and with the most sincere enthusiasm prayed for God to help them fully understand. Others beer in hand boasted that this was it, but had watched it get ten times the size and ten times as close. We dutifully followed every lead.
Rick took an incandescent bulb from a light I had and forged forward into the darkness. We quickly lost sight of Rick and was only heard a faint “avenge my death!” carried to us on the wind. We were following up on one account that someone had shared with us that evening. The witness said he and a friend were watching the Paulding Lights awhile back and decided they were going to get closer. Upon walking down the hill now in front of us and into the woods the two reported that their flash lights glowed eerily all by themselves without ever being turned on. "Great" I think, an experience we can attempt to recreate right now.
Rick returned a full 30 minutes later with a story, but still a lightless light bulb. He had pushed past the bravest of the crowd that also ventured a bit into the woods. As he past the last of the pack, he was met with only admiration from the group. They couldn’t believe he would dare continue on closer and alone. Rick reported no anomalous affects to himself or the light bulb. Five cases of equipment, a large diameter telescope, half a days worth of investigating, interviewing and exploring later we were for once actually closer to answers. So here it is. What we found. Stop reading right here and now if you hold tight to your belief system and understanding of the Paulding Lights.
Alright is anyone still reading? What we were clearly able to see: car headlights and taillights. I’m sorry, I tried to warn you. Now it is entirely possible that the Paulding Lights we experienced were not the only event that has ever taken place there. It very well could be the Paulding Lights that others experienced have been a completely different phenomena. There, better? For example when we perform an investigation of a place for say 10 hours our experience is only proof of what we encountered during that time frame. If we don’t experience what the home owner has been experiencing for 10 years, it might just mean it didn’t happen when we were there. This is a valid reality.
Some Paulding Light reportees stated the light had come right up to their vehicle as they quickly sped away. This was not experienced, though I wonder what they would have experienced if they stayed long enough to verify what the light was. In an attempt to offer other explanations for this, we had one of our vehicles barrow the use of a transmission line maintenance road. They drove from where the Paulding Lights were, towards the viewing area. This garnered an immense response from the crowd. The majority of the people thought this was the Paulding Light growing nearer than it had all evening. In reality it was simply Sean and Rick driving towards the viewing area, headlights on.
We did however speak to many people in the crowd that were in complete belief that what we were witnessing was the famous Paulding Lights. This very same Paulding Light they were experiencing we were able to watch through our telescope as automobiles winding up and down a far off hill.
The different automobiles, trucks, cars, semis, vans, trailers, motorcycles and so on, all have varying degrees of headlight technology between them. Some were coming down the hill towards the viewing area and others moving away. This led to headlights and taillights mixing together in no discernable pattern. Pair that variable with the intermittent canopy provided by the foliage covering some portions of the roadway. These issues alone resulted in an intensely unique light display. One must also consider the road was not straight, but turning gradually in some places and sharper in others. The road also disappeared over the horizon so the appearance of the lights seemed sudden at times and gradual at others. Mix in the high beam function, along with fog lights and even the occasional emergency vehicle full of all sorts of light colors and patterns made for an interesting show. We however never experienced any phenomena that couldn’t be explained by the automobile lights. Everyone present reacted to various degrees of certainty. We never experienced anyone responding to anything other than the automobile lights. Looking through the telescope during the daylight undoubtedly revealed the vehicles on the distant roadway. During twilight, dusk and the eventual dark of night the telescope clearly exposed automobiles moving up and down the road.
I suppose the biggest reason for me to finally sit down and collect my thoughts into words on the Paulding Lights was, I really don’t think many people will be swayed. This may be a good thing because the point of my journal entries is not to persuade as much as it is to entertain and enlighten. Then again, not swaying anyone’s opinion means perhaps my writing is not as good as I would hope, and my investigations not as quality as I aim for. I am still debating whether I should post this entry or not. I receive a few emails each year telling me that I really should make the trip to the Paulding Lights as I would really enjoy it. I get a few other emails asking me if I’ve ever been. I even get the question face to face at my presentations if I’ve ever heard of the Paulding Lights, followed by a synopsis of that persons experiences while visiting them. What I don’t receive are direct inquiries asking me of my opinion on them. The fact that hardly anyone seems interested in my opinion on them may mean numerous things. Foremost it may be an indicator that people are happy and content knowing what they know. I am curious how this journal entry will be received. I make no claim of having solved the entire Paulding Light mystery nor even the first investigator to make the automobile connection. This is simply the condensed documentation of my experiences had at the Paulding Lights. One thing is for certain, it was one hell of an adventure. One I should soon not forget!
Until next time, remember, adventures come to the adventuresome!
Noah Voss (Bio)
But wait there's more!
More than a dozen Legend Trippers Journal entries! Follow the Legend Trippers on such adventures as:
Unexplained Gravity Hills in Pennsylvania
The Mystery of the Michigan Paulding Lights Solved
Lake Monsters of the Mississippi River
Satanic Murderous Murmurs Investigated in the Bridgewater Triangle of Massachusetts
Werewolves in Wisconsin
The Lost Port of Ulao discovered on Lake Michigan
Looking for the Lost in the Bennington Black Hole of Vermont
Phantom Baby's Screams in the night at Cry Baby Bridge of Illinois
West Virginia's Mothman Sightings
and many, many more!
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