UFO incident has a life of its own
The story won't go away, so maybe we should capitalize on it.
Roswell, N. M., home of a famous UFO incident in 1947 that officially was attributed to a radar experiment, is home to a yearly UFO festival and numerous other activities.
But Southwest Nebraska was the site of a similar incident more than a half-century earlier -- the first recorded "UFO crash" in modern history.
In case you're not familiar with the Dundy County incident of June 6, 1884, as reported the next day in the Nebraska State Journal, here are the highlights:
It seems rancher John W. Ellis, three of his cowboys and several others were rounding up cattle when "they heard a terrific rushing, roaring sound overhead and, looking up, saw what appeared to be a blazing meteor of immense size falling at an an angle to the earth. A moment later, it struck the ground out of sight over the bank. Scrambling up the steep hill, they saw the object bounding along half a mile away and disappear in another draw."
Galloping to the scene, they found scorched grass for yards around, and dazzling light so bright that it burned the face of one of the cowboys, singed his hair and blinded him, at least temporarily.
After the object cooled somewhat the next day, a party including E.W. Rawlins, a brand inspector, reported finding scattered machinery including what looked like the blade of a propeller screw that looked like brass but was extremely light in weight; as well as a fragment of a wheel with a milled rim.
"The aerolite, or whatever it is, seems to be about 50 or 60 feet long, cylindrical, and about ten or twelve feet in diameter. Great excitement exists in the vicinity and the round-up is suspended while the cowboys wait for the wonderful find to cool off so they can examine it."
In a follow up article, not so commonly cited, the State Journal reported on June 9, 1884, that a tremendous rainstorm fell, dissolving remains of the UFO into "small, jelly-like pools (that) stood here and there on the ground, but under the eyes of the observers, these grew thinner and thinner till they were but muddy water joining the rills that led to the current a few feet away. The air was filled with a faint, sweetish smell."
It's not unusual for researchers to contact this newspaper seeking information about the 1884 UFO incident, which was reported to have occurred 35 miles northwest of Benkelman.
When they do, we usually tell them it was probably written for entertainment purposes, which was not uncommon in those days. The follow-up article, with all of the evidence dissolving, seems a little too convenient as an ending for a story that might not stand up to close scrutiny.
But it's certainly an intriguing tale, and the fact that it was the first of its type ought to be enough to put us on the map.
The original articles are available on many Internet sites. Among them are: