It was a ground-shaking event but not an earthquake.
SOME explain away the phenomenon as jets breaking
the sound barrier. North Carolina is home to a strong
military presence. But Seneca guns were heard long
before supersonic jets existed — in fact, they were
heard decades before the Wright Brothers ever flew their first
James Fenimore Cooper, author of “The Last of the Mohicans,”
wrote a short story in 1850 called “The Lake Guns” that included
a description of loud exploding sounds coming from Seneca
Lake, New York, with no reasonable explanation. The sounds
still occur there and, to this day, no scientific explanation has
While the skyquakes can also be heard in other parts of the
United States and around the world with various names in each
locale, they are prevalent here in the Carolinas and are known
as the Seneca guns.
People have searched for a valid, irrefutable explanation for
the booms for years. In addition to the sonic boom theory, a
number of other theories have been discussed — from offshore
earthquakes to aliens.
On the internet you can read that the native Iroquois told
early white settlers that the booms were “the sound of the
Great Spirit continuing his work of shaping the earth.”
A similar modern-day explanation claims that the continental
shelf is shifting with parts falling off into the abyss. Others claim
that underground earthquakes, or the earth burping are the
cause. But scholars, geologists, and seismologists do not agree
over those theories.
More than one Eastern North Carolinian has claimed to see
strange orange balls hovering just above the ocean at the same
time that the booms have been heard at night. They wonder
aloud if the sounds are made by alien spacecraft entering the
earth’s atmosphere. But what about when the sounds are heard
during daylight? Are the aliens still there and just invisible?
Many articles have been written and many documentaries
made to try and explain the Seneca guns. Myths and legend
Oak Island resident Mariah Brazil may have the best explana-tion
of all: one great love.
Brazil remembers as a very young girl being out with her
PEOPLE | CULTURE | HAPPENINGS
The Mystery of the Seneca Guns
BY CINDY RAMSEY
On a calm, warm, sunny afternoon in mid-March 2019 — from Ocean
Isle Beach to Southport and as far inland as Bolivia and Boiling Spring
Lakes, the windows rattled, houses shook, and people were startled by
two extremely loud booms that sound like cannon fire or bombs.
Social media blew up with comments and questions.
Locals smiled to themselves and responded,
“Welcome to the East Coast. Those were the Seneca guns.”
WBM june 2019