My informant for this piece grew up in rural, northern Wisconsin. I know from personal experience that living in an isolated area such as this one can cause serious boredom, especially during adolescence. Because of this, people who grow up away from the city often make their own fun, creating games and exploring the landscape. Occasionally, in the dark of night, strange things tend to occur.
As a teenager, looking for “the Blue Light” was both an exciting pastime and rite of passage in my informant’s hometown; everyone knew about it. On late nights, those individuals who thought themselves daring enough would go out in an attempt to experience the lore themselves. Luckily–although I may never get to experience it myself–I was able to live this tradition vicariously while he told me about it during an over-the-phone interview for the USC folklore archives.
“When we were in high school… It was called the blue light. And there was a bridge on a country road, and you would go park on the bridge at night and people would go there all the time. And if you look out off the bridge sometimes people would see a blue light moving through the woods, and I saw it once, and my friends did too. The rumor was that there was an old farmer who hung himself off the bridge and his ghost haunted those woods.”
A few years ago, I remember hearing about some kind of phenomenon similar to the Blue Light that was supposedly proven false. Instead, these strange colors that people were seeing in the woods at night were reasoned to be the release of natural gas from a swamp, which would have a luminescent glow for a few seconds before dissipating. While this seems a more likely explanation, it hasn’t stopped the legend hunters who, apparently, continue to go out in search of the Blue Light even to this day. Though I would like to believe in the story and to pursue the Blue Light for myself, this continued interest in the phenomenon as the embodiment of a ghost is probably due to the human tendency of belief perseverance. In other words, teens in that region may have been given the information to know that the Blue light is probably just swamp gas, but they continue to believe in the story because it’s what they’ve always known.
For a Similar Narrative, See:
Carlisle, John. “Mysterious Light Draws Thrill Seekers to a U.P. Forest.” Detroit Free Press, 9 July 2018, eu.freep.com/story/news/columnists/john-carlisle/2016/09/04/mysterious-paulding-light-upper-peninsula-michigan/89275134.