On the evening of January 8, 1959 a tragedy occurred on Holston Mountain on The edge of the Virginia and Tennessee border. A plane carrying ten people crashed into the mountain killing all on board. But the question remains: If everyone on board was dead, who was shining the light that brought the rescuers?
At 8:32pm the pilot of the DC-3 had radioed that he was circling the Tri-cities airport preparing to land. That was the last thing anyone heard from the plane. Other airports were asked if the plane had been heard from, after all, it had been a stormy night and there was four inches of snow on the ground, but the runways had been cleared and the storm had eased off. Although it was still hazy and visibility was low, it was still possible to make a landing.
By 2am the next morning the fuel on the plane would have run out, so a search party was formed. Before daylight a volunteer on US Route 421 reported they were seeing a light on the mountain and the light seemed to “answer” the signal of the searchers. A group of highway patrolmen were sent and confirmed the story. On the mountain was a “bright, steady light that shone continuously”. They reported that when they waved their light back and forth, the light on the mountain would echo the movements. When the patrolmen shined their light up and down, again, the mysterious light on the mountain mimicked the search light.
Thinking someone was still alive but not able to reach the area easily, a plane was dispatched to fly over the area. While the haze prevented anything from being seen from the plane, they folks on Route 421 said the light shook vigorously in all directions when the plane flew over. What else could it be? The searchers talked with a local resident familiar with the area and he confirmed there were no houses or campsites in the area the light was coming from. The light continued until daylight, then disappeared.
By noon that day, the rescuers had reached the crash site. It seemed the DC-3 had hit the face of the mountain. All on board were killed immediately. There were no footprints around the bodies nor was there a flashlight found anywhere in the area.
The mystery of what caused the light on Holston Mountain that early morning has never been explained. In the years prior to this crash, there was a crash of a Navy aircraft that, due to the harsh terrain, took twelve days to reach. Because of the Holston Mountain light, this crash was located the next day.