166 Years ago a train crashed near Wilmington, but a legend remained.

The origin of the legend of Joe Baldwin and the Maco Light.


Listen to Holli Saperstein, director of the Wilmington Railroad Museum, tell the legendary and haunting story of Joe Baldwin and the Maco Light.

On January 4th 1856, a train wrecked eight miles outside of Wilmington. In the darkest of night a locomotive found itself in a precarious situation as the train was using steam faster than water could be replaced. The crew uncoupled the engine from the heavy train so that they could get the mechanical pump working properly. While trying to attach the engine back to the cabin cars the two collided and the force of the collision flung the conductor out of an open door. The conductor suffered a severe head injury during the crash, and unfortunately passed three days later.

The legend of the Maco Light originated from this accident. A tale of Conductor, who is decapitated in this incident was said to appear as a light along the tracks in search for his missing head. The legend says that anytime someone would see the unknown light at a distance it would disappear when anyone would get near it. Inevitably the railroad tracks in the area were removed, and the strange puzzling light was never seen again.

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Kolby Bass

Kolby Bass

Lifestyle | Gratitude | Dachshunds

Kristin Crawford

Kristin Crawford joined WECT as a Digital Video Content Producer in August 2016 after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She studied Communication Studies with a focus in TV Production and Media.