Curiosity grows for UFOs

Roswell’s UFO Museum and Research Center is one the town’s most popular attractions. ​Photo by Joshua McKenna

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ANSWERED QUESTION

Roswell’s peculiar past draws attention

New Mexicans can ask us anything as part of our Curious New Mexico project. The history of Roswell and aliens was a popular theme for community questions, and UNM multimedia journalism student Cassandra Scott looked into the history behind the lore of the UFO crash. 

The UFO Museum and Research Center features an “alien autopsy scene” as one of the exhibits. Photo by Rob Sheridan
The UFO Museum and Research Center features an “alien autopsy scene” as one of the exhibits.
Photo by Rob Sheridan

A town in southern New Mexico is well known around the globe for something green other than its Hatch chile.
Along with its dairy industry, Roswell is on the map for the lore of a crash landing in July of 1947.

The incident

Tom Carey, a Roswell researcher, author, and lecturer said rancher W.W. Mac Brazel in early July of 1947 noticed debris that covered a sheep pasture at his ranch northwest of town.

He (Brazel) described it, “…like something had been blown to smithereens,” Carey said.

“He didn’t know what to make out of it.” Brazel’s discovery would come to be known as the “Roswell Incident”.

 The investigation

Brazel reported the crash to Chaves County sheriff, George Wilcox, a few days later. Wilcox then reported it to the 509th Bombardment Group stationed at the Roswell Army Airfield, which led an investigation of the site. “…they investigated it and then on Tuesday, July 8,  they put out that very famous press release where they actually claimed they had captured a flying saucer,” said Donald Schmitt, a Roswell researcher and author.

The following day, a headline said that the wreckage found was that of a weather balloon.

“I travel and I lecture all over the world and in every country, and the moment you mention Roswell, I can assure you that they don’t think of a weather balloon, they think of the flying saucer crash,”  Schmitt said.

“That was the end of the Roswell story until 1978 when Jesse Marcel, the first military fellow out there, started talking on his ham radio network that he had handled pieces of a crashed flying saucer,” Carey said.

Stanton Freedman, a UFO researcher, heard of Marcel’s story and his interest launched a civilian investigation that is still continued today by researchers like Schmitt and Carey.

 

Why Roswell, NM?

As well as its alien tourism, Roswell is known for its dairy production.Photo by Jimmy Emerson
As well as its alien tourism, Roswell is known for its dairy production.Photo by Jimmy Emerson

The military research that takes place in New Mexico is one of the possible theories behind the reasoning for this state being the location of the crash.

“When you consider that first flash at Trinity, the first detonation of the atomic bomb, that is still, as of today, traveling out through our galaxy as an intelligent signal,”  Schmitt said.

People from all over the world today continue to report sightings of UFOs. “…New Mexico has always had more than its share of UFO activity, but unfortunately, in recent years, because its such a highly active military state, more times than not, its just our own aircraft,”  Schmitt said.

 

Tourism in Roswell

Roswell’s UFO Museum and Research Center is one the town’s most popular attractions. ​Photo by Joshua McKenna
Roswell’s UFO Museum and Research Center is one the town’s most popular attractions.
​Photo by Joshua McKenna

The incident of 1947 inspired the “alien” theme of the town of Roswell which also holds an annual UFO Festival for which people come from all over the world to attend.

“You can go almost anywhere and you say “Roswell” and people know where you’re talking about, which is amazing,” said Roswell mayor Dennis Kintigh.

The UFO Museum and Research Center in downtown Roswell is visited by about 180,000 people each year to learn more about the town’s “alien history”. “We have a tourism industry here that is probably unlike any other anywhere else,” Kintigh said. “We have a brand that other communities would probably kill for.”

Another point of interest in the town is the workshop of Robert Goddard, who is considered to be the father of modern rocketry. Goddard conducted his flight testing in the town of Roswell, and his laboratory may be found at the Roswell Museum and Art Center.

“The alien concept is linked to space, and space is linked to science, and science is something we want to encourage,” Kintigh said.

Whether it really was aliens that crashed landed in Roswell in 1947 or not, the spirit of Roswell will always be out of this world. “I really don’t know anybody else that has a claim on the public’s heart like Roswell does,” Kintigh said. “I think we’re unique.”[/text_output][share title=”Share this post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row]