Ghost Stories

Maco Ghost Light

A North Carolina Ghost Story 

retold by S.E. Schlosser 

      There was once a railroad conductor named Joe Baldwin who was working for the newly rebuilt Atlantic Coast line.  The year was 1867, and the railroad had expanded to include a small station in Maco, North Carolina.  Joe was assigned to the very last car in the train, and he executed his conductor duties to the best of his abilities aboard his assigned car.  Then one night, something went wrong.  Terribly wrong.  The train was heading down the line toward the tiny Maco station when Joe’s car started to slow down dramatically.  Worried, Joe went forward to see what was happening, and realized that his car had come decoupled from the rest of the train.  Joe’s heart leapt into his throat when he saw the  retreating lights of the train disappearing into the distance.  His car was stuck on the tracks, and another train was following close behind them! 
      With a shout of dismay, Joe grabbed his signal lantern and frantically ran the length of the car.  Bursting out of the back door, he ran out on the rear platform.  Yes, he could see the next train speeding toward them down the track.  By the look of it, the engineer had not realized the danger!  Joe leaned over the rail, desperately signaling for the engineer in the following train to stop.  But the train barreled forward, speed unabated.  Joe realized that the engineer must not have seen his signal light – or perhaps had not realized its significance.  He kept waving the  lantern frantically from side to side, shouting in vain over the huge rumbling force of the oncoming train.  The engine grew larger and larger, and Joe’s heart was in his throat as he realized the train was not going to stop. 
       With a thunderous roar  and the great shriek of massive metal hitting massive metal, the engine struck the helpless car.  Joe, still at his post, was smashed between the two trains; his head was severed from his body.  The  signal lantern flew wildly out of his hand, rolling along beside the tangled metal of the two trains and miraculously flipping upright, still alight.  Joe’s was the only fatality in the railway accident that night.  The railroad officials never located his head. 
       Shortly after the train accident, the Maco Light began to appear on the tracks near the station.  People traveling on the train, or crossing the tracks at Maco, would report a light shining  in the distance when no train was due.  The light would appear as a small ball, far down the tracks, and then would come closer and closer to the observer until it was the size of a lantern.  People  reported that the light moved back and forth frantically, as if it were signaling a train to stop, just as Joe Baldwin had done the night of the accident. 
       The phenomenon became so common that the Atlantic Coat Line Railroad ordered their engineers not to stop for the light if they saw it as they were approaching Maco.  Folks believed it was the spirit of Joe Baldwin the conductor, desperately replaying his final moments over and over again, trying to get the following train to stop before it hit his helpless car. 


i like

poor guy

Good Day. A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a mountain top .
I am from Cape and learning to write in English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: "Robin hood: prince of moments was frustrated against an vocally nice police of the able base."

With best wishes :), Hadrian.

i feel sorry 4 him.

Excellent storie bit stupid but i liked it

i feel really bad for him

aww thts so sad



this is a good story, but not very scary.

dumba** conductor

awwwww that was a good short storie but that was sad!!!!

poor pop

i'm meen it can't be will-o-wisp cause the light dissapeared after the train tracks were pulled up.

Very well done, not that scary but well done.

i lived there and remember this story being told. Like a lot of areas of the country, folks don't speak of such to outsiders, ie; internet. When you hear it from someone who has seen the swinging light, DIFFERENT MATTER ALTOGETHER! Especially those who live(d) nearby.......

I,m scared



some story!!!!!!!!! it is just a little old it is not very scary 2 some people!! :)

poor guy

I've always wanted to travel to the the spot where the Maco Light was spotted, so I can have the experience for myself.

heyyy. this story is funny. ps he was my great great great great great uncle.

its kinda scary

I've heard about Joe Baldwin's ghost in a book about ghosts.

This story is actually true, I'm not sure about names and dates though. My mother, sister and I have been on the ghost tours throughout NC and you can park at the railroad station and stay on the tracks and even see the light, its very eerie and thrilling.

my mom told me about this story when i was little

So cool and creepy!

very sad

I have personally walked the tracks and seen the light. I would see it every other night.

I heard about this story when I went to Wilmington with my cousin. I never saw it, but she did.

was there a swamp near the station?

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Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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