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Mystery Solved: Paulding Light


I can't beleive they actually put this up!

This page is divided into a few sections and you can navigate it by scrolling down. First, a litte background information, then explanation, map, comment forms, Video of the light, pictures, and more comments and FAQ. Thanks for visiting, your eyes will soon be open!

If you have a question, story, explanation, or think I am full of it, use the form at the bottom and tell me all about it after you have read everything on this page!!

First, the legend:(one of many descriptions, use the search engine provided below to find more)
Nearly every clear evening, strange circular spheres of light dance on the horizon of the tiny community, and at one point seem to follow the pathway of electrical lines.

The lights have been captured on film by Michigan Magazine and Channel  Six News out of Marquette. Experts from Ripley's have been to the location to examine the phenomenon.

At the location of the Paulding lights, the Michigan Forest service has put up signs which indicate the best area from which the lights can be seen. So far, no logical conclusions have been reached. The lights have been witnessed as being red, white and green. These lights are not to be confused with the Northern Lights. They are a phenomenon that is unique to Paulding, Michigan.

Locals say the lights have been viewed for a long time. Eye witnesses claim to have seen the lights way back at the turn of the century, while on their way to the train depot at Watersmeet.

Various legends have developed concerning the lights. One myth explains the lights as the ghost of a railroad brakeman, while other say it is the ghost of an Indian dancing on the power lines. Some locals attest to the fact that the lights start over Lake Superior and make their way inland. The public is welcome to view the strange lights.
Directions to the Paulding Light!

Take State Highway 45 north out of Watersmeet Michigan. About 5 miles out of Watersmeet, the road will begin a slow bend to the right. Watch for a road on the left side of 45 named
"Robbins Pond Road" (old state hwy 45), there is usually a brown park sign right before, turn left on Robbins Pond Road. 
Follow the gravel road down about 3/8 mile until you see the dead end 
barricade shown above. 
During the summer months you will also see the sign put up by the 
National Park Service.

This is the spot from where the lights seem to appear.

Menendez has an idea of what it is!

My Original 2002 Paulding Light can comment on the video on how pretty the car headlights are.

Here's the real deal: (also see FAQ below)
I first came across this phenomenon in the Summer of 2002. It was the first time I have ever seen something that I could not readily explain. I shot some video of it which you can download. I visited the place four times over the next few years, and started making interesting observations.
Upon internet research, I saw that the best way to look at this was through a good telescope on a clear night. Binoculars had no effect when I tried those. People on other sites have claimed that it is car headlights in the distance.
In July of 2004, we made another expedition. As twilight came, I set up my Meade 6'' ETX scope. I was surprised and dissapointed as I zeroed in on the spot where the lights come from. Very clearly, you can see car headlights moving up and down the grade. it takes the average car a little over a minute to travel the hill. I noticed that late at night this was true. Most likely this is because of the few cars on the road. If there are more cars traveling together, then the light may be brighter or longer.
The red lights are easily explained. If there is no oncoming traffic and a car is heading away from you, you will see its faint red light. Now because the cars are so far away, all the light seems to becoming from a single point, which cannot be resolved with out high grade precision optics becuase of the distance. A car suddenly leaving view that was oncoming while there is another car heading the opposite direction will create that dramtic white to red and vice versa effect. It is a very unique phenomenon but relatively simple. My only question is why Ripleys or unsoled Mysteries couldnt figure out something this simple. (more about this in the faq section)

Still don't beleive? Check this out: A great site for a technical explantion of distance and timing. Confirms all you will see on this page! This guy solved it in 1986!!


Q: I've seen blue and green lights too, how do you explain that?
A: Coming over a far distance so close to the horizon, the light waves will be distorted by air. Many colors are possible because of this. If you look at the moon, it is orange as it rises and sets due to atmospheric distortion. This is also true with stars, which are a better example. A star twinkles many different colors the closer it gets to the horizon.
Q: This was around before cars were invented!
A: Was it? I have heard that it was not until the 60's that this was discovered. Also many origin theories are out there on this, I don't think they are true
Q: Were railroad tracks there at one time?
A: Also debatable, I have not seen any hard evidence of this, not that it makes much difference. The road is supposedly dating back to the 1800's and was authorized by Abraham Linkin during the civil war to prevent a British invasion
Q: I have seen big white lights in videos, how do you explain that?
A: This is due to the autofocus problems on the cameras. A great still of this can be seen of the Paulding Light video that Lionstar put out.
Q: Why are there no trespassing signs all over?
A: If I owned land there I would not want drunken teenagers or anyone else snooping around on my property waking me up and stuff
Q: The light moves back and forth, explain
A: Does it? not really. If you had a few cars going down the hill at once, the light would look much much brighter. Its this bright/dim effect that causes that. The wavy appearence is also because of atmoshperic distortions.
Q: Why couldn't Ripleys solve it?
A: I don't know. Frankly I beleive the story that they were there was just a rumor. I have not see hard proof. If it is true that they offered $100,000 to solve it and someone from Ripley's is reading this, use the paypal button below to make your reward.
Q: What about unsolved mysteries? Same deal?
A: I think this is a rumor too, if anyone knows where i cna get a copy or see this episode, let me know
Q: Why would the Forestry department put a sign up?
A: They probably dont have the time or desire to investigate it, and hell it brings tourists there, cant complain about that
Q: I've seen shadows..ghosts...
A: This site is designed only to explain the light itself. It is a creepy and remote area, but only because we naturally perceive it that way. Shadows could be many of things, I have never seen them myself and I'd investigate if I did.
Q: Friends of ours in the valley couldnt see the light and it looked like it was right above them.
A: Light itself is hard to judge by distance. All you can do to judge distance is brightness. This can be manipulative, because some brighter stars are further away than dimmer stars. But anyways, the people in the valley are to low to see over the ridges where the light comes from. You can only see on the top of the hill.
Q: What road are we looking at then?
A: Believe it or not, but its 45 a few miles away! You never rrealize it and I didnt for awhile, but youre actually facing towards north at the end of robbins pond road! Those power lines you see hook up with 45 if you ever want to take that far of a walk.
Q: Car lights cannot be that bright over a distance
A: Under clear skies, easily, especially with brights. Also in the dark, your eyes are much more sensitive.
Q: I've heard sounds!
A: It's a ridiculously big woods, who knows whats out there, and dont for get their is a stream a few hundred yards away from the top of the hill. Also, Im dealing only with the light itself.
Q: The paulding lights seem intellignet/sensitive?
A: Because a car is only in view or for about a minute, it can seem like it is reacting to things around you. The time varies with the number of cars. This is all coincidence.
Q: Ya. its lights, but thats not the real paulding light!
A: I have heard this a few times, that there is some other Paulding light that is real that comes around once every few years. Lets think of this by the odds. The Paulding light area is a very rare and unique situation. To have this enviroment exist is incredible. It is interesting that these cars seem to be from only one point. Now there is another "light" that just happens to be in this already unique spot? I think this is BS by the locals, also seems to be told more lately because of the fact people like me are figuring it out. Once again, I wouldn't want to lose the legend and mystery if I lived in the area.
Q: I've seen 2 sets of lights, how is this possible if it looks like it comes from only one point?
A: Also, in cameras this is because of the lensing/autofocus. Also, atmospheric distortions or fog can cause this. The lights may be split by trees or other objects between you and the cars many miles away. Also, check to see if you are sober.
Q: (my favorite) Some lady told me that there are other lights or that these are real and she's lived here forever........
A: If I lived there I'd make it a point to freak people out, it would be fun, and once again, bringing in the tourists is good for business and gives watersmeet something to be famous for

Camera efffect, the light does not look like this
From the Pualding Light Page