The Paulding Light (also called the Lights of Paulding or the Dog Meadow Light) is a light that appears in a valley outside Paulding, Michigan. Reports of the light have appeared since the 1960s, with popular folklore providing such explanations as ghosts, geologic activity, or swamp gas.
In 2010, Syfy Channel's Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files conducted a paranormal investigation and concluded that the Paulding Light was unexplained. Michigan Tech students conducting a scientific investigation of the light in 2010 were able to see automobile headlights and tail lights when viewing the light through a telescope. They recreated the effect of the light by driving a car through a specific stretch of US Highway 45 (US 45).
The viewing location for the Paulding Light is located at approximately.
The first recorded sighting of the Paulding Light was in 1966 when a group of teenagers reported the light to a local sheriff. Since then, a number of other individuals have reported seeing the mysterious light, which is said to appear nearly every night at the site.
Although stories related to the light vary, the most popular legend involves the death of a railroad brakeman. The legend states that the valley once contained railroad tracks and the light is the lantern of the brakeman who was killed while attempting to stop an oncoming train from colliding with railway cars stopped on the tracks. Another story claims the light is the ghost of a slain mail courier, while another says that it is the ghost of an Indian dancing on the power lines that run through the valley.
While popular folklore attributes paranormal or supernatural explanations for the light, scientific investigations show that it is due to car headlights on the north–south stretch of US 45, approximately five miles (8.0 km) north of the observation area.
In October 1990, a group of investigators using telescopic, spectroscopic, and travel time analysis identified the Paulding Lights as the head and tail lights of vehicles traveling on US 45 north of the observation site.
In 2010, students from the Michigan Tech chapter of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) used a telescope to examine the light, and were able to see vehicles and stationary objects on a highway, including a specific Adopt a Highway sign. They were reportedly able to recreate the Paulding Light by driving a car through a specific location on US 45. They also recreated other observations related to the light, such as multicolored patterns (police flashers) and variations in intensity (high and low beams). They hypothesized that the stability of an inversion layer allowed the lights to be visible from the stretch of highway 4.5 miles (7.2 km) away.
In 2010, the Paulding Light was featured on the SyFy television show Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files. The investigators were depicted trying several experiments in an unsuccessful attempt to recreate the light, including using car headlights from a north-south section of US 45 and a flyover by an airplane with a spotlight. According to SyFy.com, "After conducting an EVP session, they finally decide that the phenomenon is unexplainable."
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- Goodrich, Marcia (October 28, 2010). "Just in Time for Halloween: Michigan Tech Students Solve the Mystery of the Paulding Light". Michigan Tech News. Houghton: Michigan Technological University. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
- "The Paulding Light: A Backwoods Phenomenon". Backwoods Wisconsin. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
- United States Forest Service (n.d.). Paulding Light (Information sign). Paulding, MI: United States Forest Service. Archived from the original (JPG) on July 22, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2010 – via Backwoods Wisconsin.
- Seal, James; Lombardi-Rice, Lisa; Rice, William P. (Spring 1994). "The Mystery of the Paulding Lights". Wisconsin Academy Review. Vol. 40 no. 2. pp. 2–9. Retrieved November 23, 2014 – via State of Wisconsin Collection.
- "Unraveling the Paulding Light Mystery". Michigan Technological University. Archived from the original on October 25, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- "Season 1, Episode 105". Fact or Faked Paranormal Files. SyFy. Retrieved October 17, 2012.