The usual story is that the Maco Light vanished around 1977, with the Seaboard Coast Line pulled up the old Wilmington & Manchester railroad tracks in the vicinity of the intersection of U.S. 76/76 and N.C. 87 in Brunswick County.
The light (originally two lights) had been seen since at least the 1880s. Traditionally, it was supposed to be the ghost of railway brakeman Joe Baldwin, beheaded in a railroad accident, out looking for his head.
Even before 1977, some people claim the light had been fading. (John Harden, in “Tar Heel Ghosts,” claimed it was about the brightness of a 25-watt bulb — which is still pretty considerable in an area that’s otherwise nearly totally dark.)
In January 2009, however, Doug E. Anderson of the volunteer psychic research team Port City Paranormal, took a photograph of the old rail bed near Maco at night. Nothing was visible to the naked eye. With a Canon XTI, however, Anderson obtained images of a reddish orb that seemed to be swinging slowly back and forth — very close to traditional descriptions of the Maco Light. Anderson said the group was careful to photograph 150 yards from the highway, so traffic lights or reflections could not have caused the image.
To see the image, and Anderson’s account, click here.
More on the Maco Light: click here.
Note: We polled longtime Wilmington residents on Facebook and found some fond memories. Driving out to see the Maco Light was a regular pastime for area teenagers in the 1950s and ’60s, and may have served as a local substitute for the “submarine races.”
Date posted: February 1, 2017
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