Author: Rhett Barnard
Near the coastal areas of North Carolina, nestled in swampland, is the small town of Maco. In this quaint little town lies a legend, one of tragedy and searching from beyond the grave. That is the legend of the Maco light. In the years after the Civil War, the railroad was king. Joe Baldwin, a flagman for the trains out of Maco Depot Station, was asleep in the back of the caboose. He was awoken by a loud noise and a violent shake. The caboose had become unhinged.
Joe ran to the back to the train to alert another train, which was traveling nearly top speed towards the caboose. Unfortunately, the conductor didn’t see Joe through the mist, and hit the caboose at full speed. He was decapitated, and after much searching for his head with no luck, he was buried without it. After his death, many sightings of a mysterious light were reported. It was said to be Joe with his lantern, looking for his head. Many people, including President Grover Cleveland, claimed to see this light. That is until 1977, when the railroad was torn up. The sightings stopped after this. The legend of Joe Baldwin has inspired legends, skeptics, even videos about the subject.
The story of Joe Baldwin is a tragic one. It is said that after his death, he was viewed as a hero for giving his life trying to prevent a collision. Of course, as with most legends, the lines between what really happened and what people perceived became blurred. In this particular legend, even details about the ghost became skewed. There are variations of this story that say Joe’s ghost can be seen carrying a two light, one red and one green, to warn an oncoming train. This is a stark contrast to the most widely believed accounts of him carrying one lantern in search of his severed head.
In a short documentary, those who claim to see it claimed that the light began to slowly recede as they moved closer. The legend, however, states that the light will suddenly disappear upon looking at it for more than a few seconds. As the years go by, and the legend diminishes, the crazy claims are sure to outweigh the long standing legend.
Though there will always be skeptics, the legend of the Maco Light will live on in the hearts of the people of Maco. The light is not predicted to ever be seen again, due to the railroad being pulled up. There are, however, those who remain loyal to the legend of Joe Baldwin. With the lack of reported sightings, it is a very large possibility that this legend may disappear in areas far from this sight. But this small town will surely never forget.
Steelman, Ben. “
“The Maco Light.” Northcarolinaghosts.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
Will Davis. “