Legend of the Maco Light
Mysterious Light that Resembled the Glow from a Lantern



 
Legend of the Maco Light
Mysterious Light that Resembled the Glow from a Lantern

The Maco Light was a mysterious light that resembled the glow from a lantern and was seen along a section of railroad track near Maco, North Carolina.

Legend associates the story with Joe Baldwin, a train conductor who is said to have been decapitated in a collision between a runaway passenger car and a locomotive at Maco along the Wilmington-Manchester Railroad in the late 1800s.

According to legend, Joe Baldwin was the sole occupant of the rear car of a Wilmington-bound train on a rainy night in 1867.


As the train neared Maco, Baldwin realized the car had become detached from the rest of the train. He knew another train was following, so he ran to the rear platform and frantically waved a lantern to signal the oncoming train.

The engineer failed to see the stranded railroad car in time, and Baldwin supposedly was decapitated in the collision.

Shortly afterward, residents of Maco reported sightings of a mysterious light along the railroad track. Word spread that Joe Baldwin had returned to search for his missing head.

The legend became widely known across the region, and the site was frequented by curiosity seekers.

A 1965 investigation by paranormal investigator Hans Holzer concluded that Baldwin did not realize he was dead, and was still warning oncoming trains of disconnected rail cars.


The light distracted engineers to the point that the railroad adapted a special signaling system used only at the Maco station.

President Grover Cleveland is said to have inquired about the reason for Maco's unique red-and-green signal lights when the presidential train stopped at Maco during a tour of the coastal Carolinas.

 
Legend of the 'Maco Light' associates the story with Joe Baldwin, a train conductor who is said to have been decapitated in a collision between a runaway passenger car and a locomotive at Maco along the Wilmington-Manchester Railroad in the late 1800s.



Searching for the Maco Light

The legend of a train conductor who is said to have been decapitated.

The railroad removed the track in 1977. That marked the end of reported sightings of the light. The trestle bridge that was a part of the legend has rotted away/been destroyed.

Stumps of the pilings may still be visible in the stream bed. The old railway grade parallel to U.S. Highway 74/76 is still evident, but requires some trailblazing to manage, and has been partly developed for housing and business.

Maco is now a busy crossroads. A street in a nearby subdivision bears the name Joe Baldwin Drive. The old railway grade is just behind the Mobil gas station at the junction of U.S.74/76 and N.C. 87.

Trespassing has become an issue, so people on the land without permission are prosecuted. The last known sighting was in spring 2009 by Wilmington based paranormal group, Port City Paranormal, who have a photo of the light anomaly.

Various videos of the light are also found on youtube by NC H.A.G.S. (Haints, Apparitions, Ghosts, Spirits), a Raleigh NC based paranormal investigation group.

As it turns out, Joe Baldwin was a nickname given to him. His actual name in the Wilmington, NC papers is Charles Baldwin.

He died days after the wreck and was interred in St. James Cemetery in Wilmington, NC. Shortly thereafter Baldwin was moved to another location and his plot was lost when the workers went to move his headstone... leaving Baldwin in an unmarked grave somewhere in Wilmington.