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In 1907 a young railway worker died on the job going above and beyond the call of duty trying to stop a runaway train with his bare hands he was flung to ground critically injured. His family erected a stone cross monument made of Balmoral Granite in the local Lismore cemetery. Prophetically according to its inscription eleven years later the Cross began to glow...
The gravestone of William Steenson reportedly began to glow around 1918. It shone so brightly on some nights that it bathed the surrounding ground and graves in an arc of white light. Overtime the cemetery fell into disrepair and the legend of the glowing cross became part of the local folklore it became known as the "Ghost on the Hill". The local children would dare one another to run into the graveyard go up to the monument and read the name on the inscription. Many were scared stiff by their ordeal.
Yet on the other hand many believed that the glowing cross was a positive phenomena created either by god himself or some kind of manifestation of the heroic spirit of William Steenson.
In 1978 a local woman visited the gravesite and described her experience to a local reporter for the Northern Star Newspaper, he published in his human interest column a story on theories as to why the cross glowed. This inturn gathered the attention of Sydney newspapers which resulted in a media frenzy over the story. Reporters, Photographers, TV crews, Religious devotees came pouring into town. Not long after that experts arrived, geologists, stonemasons, physicists, light refraction experts etc. All tried to explain what caused the cross to glow, theories ranged from, phosphorescence, radioactivity, extreme light refraction from the highly polished granite, and even petrified glow worms.
Of all the theories none of them had a concrete conclusion, if it was simply light refraction why did the base which was made of the same material not glow, and also the cross glowed on night where the moon and other light sources were missing. Albeit not as brightly. The photographer from the Northern Star never believed the supposed "paranormal" explanations of why the cross glowed he maintained that the glow was caused by the fact that the Balmoral Granite was extremely well polished and was simply light reflecting off nearby sources.
After the cross had become an international phenomenon publicity died down and the cross fell back into obscurity until 1986 when a renewed media frenzy began. Unfortunately with many cases like these the cross was a victim of vandalism on more than one occasion and at one point the cross was pushed off its base fortunately it was not damaged and was put back in place.
Later the same year the cross disappeared, some blamed vandals, others religious fanatics, some the church, others believed it was dumped up river. Whatever the case Lismore' Famous Glowing Cross has disappeared seemingly for good. The Steenson family we donated $2000 dollars by someone in Sydney to pay for a new cross to sit above the grave of their ancestor. Even though this cross was made from the same Balmoral Granite and was exactly the same dimensions as the original cross it has never glowed. The replica cross still sits today upon the original base of William Steensons grave in the Lismore pioneer cemetery
On the 30th of September, 1907, William Thomas Thurling Steenson died in Lismore, Northern NSW, Australia, after trying to stop a runaway train carriage in the line of duty at nearby Mullumbimby. Seventy years later his gravestone provoked worldwide interest after it was found to be inexplicably glowing. This is the true story of Lismore's Glowing Cross.
In early 1978 a strange happening occurred in the small Australian city of Lismore, as reports started to circulate about a mysterious 'glowing' or 'fiery' cross on the outskirts of town.
The North Lismore cemetery had long since ceased to take new burials, with the majority of those at rest coming from the town's pioneer cedar-getting and farming days, but the headstone in question belonged to the grave of Steenson, a railway worker killed in a "shunting accident" at Mullumbimby in 1907.
For months the local press ran front page stories, and people gathered in their 'hundreds' at night to witness with their own eyes the strange phenomenon. From near and far they came as the press whipped up a storm of controversy, with faith healers, physicists, religious 'pilgrims' and the just plain curious pouring into town.
It emerged that some locals had been aware of the existence of the glowing cross for over 60 years, and the Steenson family themselves expressed their displeasure at the publicity and vandalism it attracted to the resting place they believed should be left in peace..
Debate raged in the community about what made the granite cross glow. While some claimed it was reflected light, others thought it was the properties of the stone itself, or even the supernatural at work.
However no consensus emerged, and the cross eventually returned to the weed-covered obscurity it had come from before being 'rediscovered' in the mid-1980's.
These days the whole affair is actually a mystery within a mystery as in 1986, at the height of a period of renewed media interest, the Glowing Cross disappeared.
It has not been heard from since.