Maco line / Maco light : LUSENET : ACL and SAL Railroads Historical Society : One Thread

I've heard the Maco light was even stopping SCL trains in the 1970's. Are their anyone who has heard this too or know of a railrod employee who claimed to have seen the ligh

-- Andrew Callo (, April 27, 2001


My father grew up on the Wilmington to Hamlet, NC line which until the merger was SAL. His hometown of Clarkton, NC was only about 30 minutes or so from there. Before he died in 1998, he told me many times of seeing the light himself at Maco. Sometime in the 60's while he was stationed at nearby Fort Bragg, he told me he saw on the news one night a detachment of soldiers from the base went to investigate the light, but did not come back with any explanations, other than it was something beyond anything they have seen before.

Someone above mentioned foxfire as a probable cause. I have heard this theory myself. It is possible this could be the cause of it. In the little town... or wide spot in the road as my Daddy did call it... of Elkton, NC...there is a similar light. Located on the Wilmington to Hamlet main, this town has only a few residents, no post office that I know of, no stoplights or anything... but a swamp that runs from Clarkton, about 3 miles west of there. The story goes as best I have heard, a man named Buie... his first name is probably now known only to God, was working on a MOW track gang sometime in the early half of the 20th century. Something happened, and the poor man was killed in a accident. Just what the cause is I have no clue.

Sometime afterwards a similar light was seen in the area... about a quarter mile or more down the railroad from the nearest crossing, and also right in the middle of the swamp.

My father and a few army buddies walked from Clarkton to Elkton several times in the 60's. A good fishing spot was the trestle which crossed part of the river located near the swamp. He said he saw the light himself a few times.

After several visits with him and a few cousins... I never saw the light, but I did notice one rail would glow brigter than the other. Several minutes later, we noticed the other rail glow.

Getting to my point, though... My cousin and I went to the crossing one night... and We did see a light. It was amber looking, just as if it were a latern, very dim, but then glowing brighter for a few seconds and then fading away to nothing. We went on down the road and then came back and once again we saw it, just for a few seconds and then again it was gone. This is Eastern North Carolina, so Pine trees predominate the landscape. There was no other lights that we could see. Whatever it was, a ghost light or foxfire, I have no idea. If noone believes what we saw that night, that is fine. I do know it was not scary, but sad in a way. VERY interesting in deed.

If anyone wants directions to the crossing where we saw whatever it was.... Please email me. If anyone wants more info please email me

I hope this helps Andrew.

-- Daniel T. Edwards (, December 30, 2001.

There was one south of Joplin, Mo. that used to play havoc with the crews of the KCS and Frisco.

Thanks...that's a neat story.

-- Buck Dean (, May 03, 2001.

The story of Maco light is one of the "major" ghost stories in North Carolina; not just in the railroad circles but in North Carolina ghost stories in general. Yes. the trackage was an old ACL line (the old WC & A which was the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta RR. This line ran from Wilmington south to Florence, SC an on thru Florence. In Wilmington, this line connected with the Wilmington and Weldon. These two lines were the original ACL main line before the Fayettevelle cutoff was built. Anyway, back to the light. Supposedly, the light is the lantern of conductor Joe Baldwin who was killed in a collision which beheaded him and he is looking for his head with his railroad lantern. While there have been many sightings and many theories, one is that the light might be "foxfire" since the old line ran thru some pretty swampy area where phosphorous gas was emitted from the ground. I think that I read somewhere that a train on which president Grover Cleveland was on actually stoppped due to a sighting. This was somewhat of an erie line. It ran straight for many miles, many times not visible for much distance due to heavy fog.

-- raymond smith (, May 02, 2001.

the end of my posting should read: about these encounters during the late ACL and early SCL years

-- Andrew Callo (, May 02, 2001.

The ex-line runs through Maco, NC. It's 14 miles west of Wilmington, NC. This is the alleged "spook" light that was supposedly seen by both the general public and the railroad crews until its abandonment in 1977. I guess it's an old ACL route since its near Wilmington. Anyway, I've heard the spook light was even stopping SCL trains in the late 60's and early 70's. Crews apparently mistook it to be a signal or a headight from another train. I was wondering if anyone else had heard of this or knew anything ab

-- Andrew Callo (, May 02, 2001.

For more info check this site under specific lines. Maco, N.C. what line.

-- Randall Bass (, April 30, 2001.

Is this like the "Spook Light" or ghost light or something? I'm intrigued.


-- Buck Dean (, April 30, 2001.

What is this??? I have no idea what you are talking about...

-- troy nolen (, April 29, 2001.

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