The Chapel Hill Light

S. has the most intriguing theory for the Chapel Hill Light, one which I thought we, as a group of semi-nerdy, semi-scientific types, could weigh in on. S.’s theory is that the Chapel Hill Light is a real, physical phenomenon that occurs along the train tracks with a ghostly legend attached, not an actual ghost. So, her question then was–what kind of physical phenomenon could cause someone to see a light?

Her theory is that it may be some kind of infrasonic noise, that something sets the tracks to vibrating at just the right sequence and it causes people near the tracks to mildly hallucinate. We wondered if there might be another set of tracks crossing the “haunted” tracks and if the passing of a train across the “haunted” tracks even five miles away or something could set the “haunted” tracks vibrating in a way that effects humans.

I don’t see any cross-tracks on the map, though, but the “haunted” tracks do cross the Duck river south of town. If one of the trestles for the bridge had a little too much give to it, could the rushing of the water set the tracks to vibrating?

As a second theory, I will note that the autokinetic effect is also real–stationary lights look like they’re moving in the dark. Any crossing you stand at in Chapel Hill looking either direction will have you looking toward where someone lives.  All it takes is one porch light.

Still, I prefer the theory that the tracks are causing a generations’ old hallucination.


2 thoughts on “The Chapel Hill Light

  1. I don;t know, but if you identify a scientific way to make somebody see the light, please let me know. There are a number of people in these parts who could use it.

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