Every wonder how Will O’the Wisp got such an unusual name? It’s a story of magic, lake lights, and Deep Creek History.

Fairy lights, spectral and still, float along the furthest reaches of the water. From them, mystery and legend spring to life. Stories are told, whispers inspired, and rumors passed through generations to explain their ghostly origin. These lights bare a name now synonymous with Deep Creek Lake: Will O’ the Wisp.

Folk lore tells of lake spirits and scores of magical, mystical creatures that dwell along the water’s edge, lighting embers and projecting lights to twinkle far into the distance, all the better to lure weary travelers into the water’s depths. Their intent, it is told, is dark.

The name we share with you- Will O’ the Wisp- comes from Irish and Scottish roots, although variations of the tale have been told for centuries among families in Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sweden, and more. There is hardly a corner of our globe untouched by rumors of these mystical lights. Elsewhere, they are called min min lights, pixy-lights, chir batti, and hitodama, among other names. And, yet, even as the name varies and the details shift, the message remains the same: be wary of the might of spirits and don’t stray from the path. It’s a lesson on practicality at its core, but the details sure are fantastical.

The Will O’ the Wisp Prestige Condominiums in Deep Creek Lake, easily seen along the main road, maintains an old-world charm that feels quite at odds with the centuries old legacy of its name. An institution at the lake, our local Will O’ the Wisp is a traditional lake hotel with a sincerely nostalgic appeal—a “bright light” on the lake, for certain, but hardly a spooky setting.

The name was undoubtedly chosen as a nod to nearby Wisp Resort, and of course to the stunning lake waters that surround this resort-style hotel. And in that regard it certainly succeeds, evoking the spirit of Deep Creek Lake and highlighting the nearby attractions that make this place so wonderful. But as you peer out onto the waters and enjoy the twinkle of night, maybe look a little closer into the dark of the water. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a light.