Thursday, November 30, 2006

More of the Best UFO Photographs

Although the reliability isn’t quite as high as the pictures taken in McMinnville, two shots taken in Phoenix do rank right up there. William A. Rhodes, a self-employed scientist living in Phoenix, reported that he had taken what might be considered the first good photographs of one of the flying discs. Rhodes said he had been on his way to his workshop at the rear of his house at the rear of his house when he heard a distinctive "whoosh" that he believed to be from a P-80 "Shooting Star" fighter jet. He grabbed his camera from the workshop bench and hurried to a small mount in his backyard. The object was circling in the east about a thousand feet in the air.

Rhodes sighted along the side of his camera and took his first photograph. He advanced the film, and then hesitated, thinking that he would wait for the object to get closer. Then, worried that it would disappear without coming closer, snapped the second picture, finishing the role.

Rhodes’ story, along with the pictures, appeared in the Phoenix newspaper, The Arizona Republic. In the article, reporter Robert C. Hanika, wrote, "Men long experienced in aircraft recognition studied both the print and the negative from which they were made, and declined to make a guess on what the flying object might be."

He also wrote, "The marked interest Rhodes has for all aircraft has led most persons who have been in contact with other observers of the 'flying discs' to believe the photographs are the first authentic photographs of the missiles, since Rhodes easily can identify practically any aircraft."
Rhodes said that the object appeared to be elliptical in shape and have a diameter of twenty to thirty feet. It appeared to be at 5000 feet when first seen and was traveling, according to Rhodes, at 400 to 600 miles an hour. It was gray which tended to blend with the overcast background of the sky.

The object had, according to Rhodes and a confidential report from the Project Blue Book files, "what appeared to be a cockpit canopy in the center which extended toward the back and beneath the object. The 'cockpit did not protrude from the surface but was clearly visible with the naked eye." There were no propellers or landing gear, but there did seem to be trails of turbulent air behind the trailing points of the object. Speculation was that there were jet engines of some kind located there. The craft moved silently, although Rhodes had said that a jet-like roar was what called his attention to it.

The news stories apparently alerted the military to Rhodes' sighting. Various investigations were launched. On July 14, 1947, Lynn C. Aldrich, a special agent for the Army's counterintelligence corps (CIC) in a memo for the record available in the Project Blue Book files wrote, "On 8 July 1947, this Agent obtained pictures of unidentifiable objects (Exhibits 1 and 2) from the managing editor of the Arizona Republic newspaper. The pictures were taken by Mr. William A. Rhodes... [of] Phoenix, Arizona, at sunset, on 7 July 1947."

Then, on August 29, according to a "Memorandum for the Officer in Charge," George Fugate, Jr., a special agent of the CIC and stationed at Fourth Air Force Headquarters, interviewed Rhodes in person. Fugate was accompanied by Special Agent Brower of the Phoenix FBI Office. This interview is important because of some of the confusion about location of the negatives and prints of the photographs that would develop later.

During the interview, Rhodes again told the story, suggesting that he thought, at first, it might have been the Navy's "Flying Flapjack" (seen at the left) which had been featured on the May 1947 cover of Mechanix Illustrated. He rejected the idea because he saw no propellers or landing gear. Research shows that the Navy built a single "Flapjack" and that it never flew outside the Bridgeport, Connecticut area.

At the end of Fugate's report, he wrote, "Mr. Rhodes stated that he developed the negatives himself. He still had the negative of the first photograph (Exhibit III), but he could not find the negative for the second photograph."

On February 19, 1948, Lewis C. Gust, the chief, Technical Project Officer, Intelligence Department (though the Project Blue Book files fail to identify the man or his organization beyond that), wrote what might be considered a preliminary report on the analysis of the photographs. "It is concluded that the image is of true photographic nature, and is not due to imperfections in the emulsion, or lack of development in the section in question. The image exhibits a 'tail' indicating the proper type of distortion due to the type of shutter used, the speed of the object and the fixed speed of the shutter. This trailing off conforms to the general information given in the report."

On May 11, 1948, Rhodes was again interviewed but this time by high-ranking people. Lieutenant Colonel James C. Beam, who worked with the head of intelligence at Wright field Colonel Howard McCoy, and Alfred C. Loedding, who was a civilian employee at AMC and part of Project Sign, traveled to Phoenix. In their official report of their trip, they wrote, "Although Mr. Rhodes is currently employed as a piano player in a night club, his primary interest is in a small but quite complete laboratory behind his home. According to his business card, this laboratory is called "Panoramic Research Laboratory and Mr. Rhodes is referred to as the 'Chief of Staff.' Mr. Rhodes appeared to be completely sincere and apparently is quite interested in scientific experiments."

During the interview with Beam and Loedding, Rhodes mentioned that he did not believe that what he had seen was wind blown debris. This is an obvious reference to Dr. Irving Langmuir's conclusion published in the "Project Grudge Report," that the object in the photographs could be "merely paper swept up by the winds."

In fact, that same Grudge Report noted, "In subsequent correspondence to the reporter of this incident, the observer refers to himself as Chief of Staff of Panoramic Research Laboratory, the letterhead of which lists photography among its specialities. Yet, the negative was carelessly cut and faultily developed. It is covered with streaks and over a period of six months, has faded very noticeably."

The AMC opinion in the Project Grudge report, which followed Langmuir's statement about the possibility of wind blown debris, was, "In view of the apparent character of the witness, the conclusion of Dr. Langmuir [that the photographs be discounted as paper swept up by the wind] seems entirely probably (sic)."

On June 5, 1952, now nearly five years after the pictures were taken, and before the massive publicity about UFOs was about to burst on the public consciousness, Colonel Arno H. Luehman, Deputy Director of Public Information wrote about "Declassifying Photographs of Unidentified Flying Objects." In the first paragraph of his letter, he wrote, "This office understands that two photographs were taken by Mr. William A. Rhodes of Phoenix, Arizona, and that these photographs were turned over to Fourth Air Force Intelligence in July of 1947. This office has been contacted by Mr. Rhodes who is requesting return of his original negatives."

The letter continued, "The two photographs were copied by the Photographic Records and Services Division of the Air Adjutant General's Office at this headquarters and are in a confidential file of Unidentified Missiles as A-34921AC and 34921AC."

But the important part of the document comes at the end. Aldrich wrote, "...On the morning of August 30, 1947, when Mr. Rhodes called at the Phoenix office [of the FBI] to deliver the negatives, they were accepted only after he was advised that they were being given to Mr. FUGATE, a representative of the Army Air Force Intelligence, United States Army, and that there was little, if any chance of his getting the negatives back. Mr. Rhodes turned them over to this office with the full understanding that they were being given to the Army and that he would not get them back."

On July 14, 1952, in still another letter, we learn that the pictures and negatives were turned over to Air Force intelligence representatives at Hamilton Field on August 30, 1947. In that document, they are attempting to trace the course of the pictures from Rhodes to the FBI to Army intelligence. What this suggests is that the Air Force wasn't sure of where the pictures and negatives were. They were attempting to shift the blame to others for the apparent loss of those pictures, including Rhodes himself.

That same July 14 document, written by Gilbert R. Levy, noted, "A background investigation was run on Rhodes, by OSI, for the benefit of AMC, which reflected Rhodes had created the name PANORAMIC RESEARCH LABORATORY, to impress people with his importance. He was reported to be a musician by trade, but had no steady job. Neighbors considered him to be an excellent neighbor, who caused no trouble, but judged him to be emotionally high strung, egotistical, and a genius in fundamentals of radio. He conducts no business through his ‘Laboratory,’ but reportedly devotes all his time to research."

What all this means is that Rhodes had surrendered his photographs and negatives to the government. And, although there is a suggestion that he knew where they were, that simply isn't borne out in the documents. Even the Air Force officers didn't know where the photographs were. That was why there were letters written from one office to another.

But, more importantly, there has been no real discussion about why the Air Force investigators labeled the case as a probable hoax. The discussion seemed to center around Rhodes' lifestyle. He didn't have a "real" job and had letterhead that labeled him as the chief of staff of his laboratory. None of that is a good reason for labeling the case a hoax. If that was all their evidence, then it is fairly weak.

There is, however, one page of analysis of the photographs offered by John A. Clinton. There is no clue, in the files, about Clinton. The analysis is not on a letterhead and there is nothing in the signature block to tell us anything about Clinton, his expertise, or why he was consulted about this particular case.

In the undated analysis of the photographs, Clinton wrote, "Preliminary analysis of the negative and prints leads me to doubt the story told by Mr. William A. Rhodes. Judging from the dimensions, the negative was exposed in a simple camera of the box type, which usually has a fixed focus (about ten feet), fixed shutter speed (about 1/25 of a second) and a simple lens of the Meniscus type. Because of the above mentioned facts, it is unreasonable to assume that sharp outlines such as appears on the negative, could be secured from an object at 2,000 feet, traveling 400 to 600 mph. Furthermore, according to the story the object (flying craft) was painted gray to blend in with the clouds. But, even if the object would be painted jet black, under the circumstances described, to obtain a contrast such as appears on the negative is also very doubtful. On all the prints, excepting the print marked "exhibit A", judging from the outlines, the object has a rotating motion (revolves around its center) instead of a forward motion, contracting the version stated by Mr. Rhodes."

And that's all of the negative analysis of the photograph. Clinton, whoever he is, claimed the story told by Rhodes to be in conflict with that shown on the photographs. He assumed that the object is rotating based on something he saw on the prints. Besides, Rhodes talked of the craft circling east of his house, moving north to south when he first saw it. This seemed to be an explanation for the conclusion drawn by Clinton that might suggest the object is rotating.

More important are the suggestions about the limitations of the camera used and the sharpness of the photographs obtained. Of course, if Rhodes, for whatever reason, overestimated the distance and the speed, then those problems might be resolved.

By 1952, when Rhodes was trying to get the pictures back, Air Force investigators, including the then Captain Dewey Fournet suggested in a telephone conversation with the then Lieutenant Ed Ruppelt, that "There is no information available as to whether or not Rhodes ever sent his negatives to the Air Force or whether he just sent prints. We do have some rather poor quality prints of the object. As you know, we have concluded that these photos were probably not authentic. If seems as if Mr. Rhodes attempted to get on the 'picture selling bandwagon' and if he can prove he sent the negatives to ATIC or to the Air Force and they were never returned, it may lead to a touchy situation."

So now, after all this, Rhodes' photographs are going to be rejected because he wanted to sell them. Five years after the fact, without a single clue that such was the case, the Air Force rejected the photographs because Rhodes "may" want to sell them. There is no evidence anywhere that Rhodes ever sold the photographs nor is there any information in the Project Blue Book files to confirmed he made a dime from the pictures.

There is one disturbing thing about the case but is not evident in the Blue Book file. In the mid-1960s, Dr. James E. McDonald corresponded with Rhodes about his case. McDonald wrote to Richard Hall, of NICAP (and later of the Fund for UFO Research), on February 18, 1967 that "I did a lot of checking on Rhodes degrees, because there seemed something odd about an honorary Ph D based on the kind of work I could imagine him doing. Columbia said no record of any such degree. Geo. Washington said no record of a BA ever given to Rhodes in the period I specified. So I made a trip up there in December and spent an hour or so with him. Devoted most of my querying to the matter of the degree and his associations with inventory (sic), Lee DeForrest... He [Rhodes] showed me a photo-miniature in plastic of the alleged Columbia degree, and he said he had the original somewhere in his files but did not show it to me... As I kept going over the thing he finally volunteered the remark that he, himself, had checked with Columbia about a year after DeForrest presented him with the certificate, found no record of it, confronted DeForrest with the information, and was non-plussed by D F putting his arm over his shoulder and saying something to the effect, that, 'Well, my boy that's the way those things happen sometimes,' and saying no more about it... But the fact that he lists himself in the Phoenix phonebook as Dr. Wm Rhodes in the face of that history constitues (sic) a cloud that would be impossible to overlook. Everything else checks out solidly in his story."

There isn't much else to be said about the case. The Air Force eventually removed the possible from in front of hoax and listed it as "Other (Hoax)." They had no other explanation for it and too often, when they could find no plausible explanation, especially in cases of physical evidence such as this, they labeled it as a hoax. As we've seen, there simply is no justification for the label. Rhodes just fit no easy profiles so it was easy to label him an eccentric and his case as a hoax.

But the real facts that remain is that no one ever showed that Rhodes tale of seeing the craft was not as he described it. Analysis of the photographs left a great deal to be desired but there was nothing in the photos that suggested hoax.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Among the Best of the UFO Photographs

Let’s take care of a little business here. In the past I have been asked some questions and I think it’s time to deal with, at the very least, one of them. Paul Kimball, among others, wanted to know if there were any UFO photographs that I accepted as authentic. The answer should have been clear because I had posted an article that dealt with the pictures taken in Lubbock, Texas, in 1951 by Carl Hart, Jr. I thought I had made it clear that I believed the pictures showed something anomalous. There are but two answers for the Hart photographs. They are either genuine or they are faked. I don’t believe them to be faked.

Before I go further, I will say one thing. In today’s world it is so easy to fake photographs and video. There are so many programs available that allow for the manipulation of photographs and video tape and so few that allow us to spot th fakes, that nearly anyone can create a realistic picture. And that means that the pictures I’m going to point to were taken before the coming of computers, photoshop, digital cameras and digital recorders.

I believe that the best of the pictures (and this is my own opinion and not meant to be taken as the gospel) are the ones taken in McMinnville, Oregon in 1950. Paul Trent and his wife spotted an object in the evening, ran inside to get their camera and took two pictures of the UFO. Skeptics will tell you that the pictures were not taken in the evening as the Trents claimed, but in the morning and if they lied about that, what else have they lied about?

But the truth is that the Trents were not overly sophisticated people, they were using a rather basic camera, and no real evidence of a hoax has been found. The argument about the time of day is based on shadows under the eves on the garage which suggests a sun angle consistent with a morning picture. Bruce Maccabbe, a Navy physicist, said that the shadow is the result of "random light scattering" and is not consistent with a sun produce shadow. He believes the Trents on this and I confess I find no real reason to fault their story or Maccabee’s analysis.

If the object on the pictures is what it looks like, there really is no explanation for the pictures. A large circular object hovering over the ground suggests a foreign technology superior to ours, or, in other words, something extraterrestrial. It looks like nothing in the aviation inventory in the 1950s and you’d be hard pressed to find anything like it today. Those who had performed computer analysis on the pictures have failed to find evidence of a hoax, such as string holding up the craft.

The only place that th photographs are called a hoax is in the debunker camp and they do that because they have no other explanation. While the pictures do not prove the extraterrestrial case, they certainly can lead in that direction.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Colonel Steve Wilson

There have been so many people coming forward with claims of inside knowledge about UFOs that it is becoming difficult to separate the truth from the fiction. When we find someone whose claims do not match the documented background, we are told that the person’s records have been changed or erased to invalidate their claims. I always find this silly because there is no way the government, no matter how they tried, could get all the records altered and the files lost on the scale claimed.

For example, there are some out there in Cyberspace who have been suggesting that my claims of a recent tour in Iraq and claim of being a member of the U.S. Army now (meaning the National Guard) are some of the same sort of embellishment. They have no proof that I have made up these facts, but they don’t like some of the conclusions I have drawn about their favorite cases or witnesses. They speculate without foundation.

While I refuse to place, on the Internet, documents that would prove my point, I have no real trouble putting up pictures (as seen on the left). Sure, I know that pictures can be easily faked in today’s world, and I’m sure that some of these critics will delight in pointing out how these pictures have been faked, but the truth is, I spent about 11 months in the Iraqi Theater, I have a couple of a thousand pictures I took and there are several hundred soldiers who saw me there. Dozens saw me on a daily basis.

In fact, for those interested, I suggest looking at the February 2005 issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine for some confirmation of my tour in Iraq.

The point here is that the critics can say what they want and rather than say I don’t care what they say and ignore the criticism, I offer some evidence to the contrary. There are others whose stories simply don’t check out. Just recently I came across the story of Colonel Steve Wilson who had an interesting story about his insider status. He seemed to know who made up the Majestic-12 committee in the 1990s, he was the commander of Project Pounce, which had the mission of recovering UFO crash debris, and he had a long, impressive military career. Wilson died of cancer in 1997. Some have suggested his death was mysterious and have hinted that we know that cancer is one of the ways "THEY" get rid of those who are causing them trouble.

According to Dr. Richard Boylan as reprinted on a couple of different web sites, "Steve Wilson was born in the 1930s and spent five years in a state orphanage. In order to escape the savage beatings there, he ran away. He always dreamed of being a pilot. Befriend by a prostitute with the proverbial ‘heart of gold’, this tall 13-year-old was accepted into the Air Force, when his newfound mother stated he was 16 and signed for him to enlist."

First, to nitpick, it would have been the Army Air Forces in 1946 when Wilson joined. I have heard of cases of boys 15 or 16 joining the Army by using the birth certificate of a brother or a cousin, but I know of no cases of a 13-year-old being able to join the Army. In 1946, with the war ended, there was no longer the tremendous need for soldiers and someone who didn’t have the proper documentation wouldn’t have been allowed to join. He would have needed, not only a parental signature, he would have needed the proper documents. This idea is just not quite believable.

Boylan then wrote, "Starting out as a private, he worked hard to advance. He took U.S. Armed Forces Institute courses, earned his high school diploma and then the equivalent of a two-year college degree. Simultaneously he studied at Aircraft Mechanic School and became a certified mechanic.

"Finally getting his chance, Wilson went to flight school, emerged as a fighter pilot and eventually found his way to Korea. He saw a fellow pilot shot down. Searching for him, Wilson heard a telepathic cry for help. He spotted a clearing with enough room to land and set his plane down. He taxied to where the other pilot’s lane was ‘wedged under some trees.’ Wilson jumped out, pulled the injured pilot from the wreckage and dragged him back to the aircraft."

According to Wilson (as filtered through Boylan), "I threw the radio gear out to make room for him. With me sitting on his lap, I taxied out and to the end of the clearing. Swinging around, I was there was very little room for a take-off . . . I held the brakes, gunned the engine to the breaking point, let go of the brakes and rocketed across the clearing. The minute I felt myself off the ground, I began to raise the wheels. The enemy broke cover ahead of me and began firing. I passed overhead, and heard the crunch and ripping of metal as I left me wheels in the trees. My plane became hard to manage with the undercarriage ripped away . . . I finally made it back to base . . . I felt a jolt as my plane skidded down the side of the runway and came to a halt . . . "

I’m not sure where to begin with this story. There is a Medal of Honor winner, Major Bernard Fisher, who rescued a downed fellow flyer in a similar fashion, but he landed on a shot up air strip next to a Special Forces camp and was flying an A-1E Skyraider. Wilson suggested he landed in an open field in a Sabre jet and I just don’t believe there would have been room in the cockpit for two and I don’t know what radio equipment he could have jettisoned to make room. I also believe that if he had caught his wheels in the trees on take off he would have crashed the aircraft. This story just doesn’t make any sense the way it is told, and, of course, there is no record of it anywhere.

Boylan notes that he was given the Distinguished Service Award for gallantry . . . but there is no such award and if we believe Boylan just botched the name of the award, then it means he received the Distinguished Service Cross (which, had he done what he said, wouldn’t have been much of a stretch). But there is no record of the award on the web sites that track that sort of thing. On the site I checked, they make it clear they are fairly certain they have all the awards of the Distinguished Service Cross, but it is possible they might have missed one, especially those late in the war. The real point is that there is no Distinguished Service Award for gallantry and no one who won the Distinguished Service Cross doing what Wilson claimed in Korea . . . Just a note for those who will complain, there apparently was no Air Force Cross during the Korean War and no indication that anyone has ever been awarded one for Korea.

Boyan, and other web sites provided "Data from Col Wilson’s DoD 214 discharge papers."

Which in the 1960s, 70s and 80s were easy to forge with a typewriter, a bottle of white out, and a copy machine. I have seen no copies of his DD 214, so I don’t know what it does and doesn’t say. In fact, there are many who claim to have seen it and who have said they were obligated to keep it to themselves while Wilson was alive. Now that he is dead, it’s time to put the document out so that it can be properly examined.

These documents give his date of birth as April 5, 1933 and even have an Air Force serial number. According to Boylan and others, Wilson served for 40 years and 19 days. They claim that he had seven re-enlistments.

This isn’t quite right. Very few people remain on active duty for forty years. Some generals, such as MacArthur have served longer, and many officers were recalled for World War II, but rarely anyone below brigadier general have served that long.

The regulation as it reads today for colonels says, "Each officer in the grade of colonel shall be retired on the fifth university of the date of his or her appointment in that grade or on the 30th day after completion of 30 years of service, whichever is later."

This seems to close the door for forty years of service. The regulation says thirty years of service, not necessarily as an officer, so that time as an enlisted man would count against him, in this case. He would have had to be promoted to colonel in his 35th year of service, but he would have been mandatorily retired prior to that because, for lieutenant colonel, the regulation kicks in at 28 years of service. So, Wilson couldn’t, under normal circumstances, have remained in the military for forty years and nineteen days.

Under the heading of medals, we see a number of awards to him. According to Boylan and others, it says he received two distinguished flying medals. I confess that I don’t know what these are . . . Boylan, at one point in his listing mentions two Distinguished Flying Crosses and a Distinguished Service Medal. I suppose that those writing the lists could have confused the two decorations.

The list says he had 13 Good Conduct Medals. Here is a major error which suggests that whoever created the original story (in this case Wilson himself) didn’t know that the Good Conduct Medal is NOT awarded to officers. Yes, I know that some officers have them. I have one myself, but I received for service in the enlisted grades and not as an officer. For Wilson to have thirteen, he would have had to have 39 years of service . . . which seems to corroborate his story of forty years. Someone knew that the Good Conduct Medal is given for three years of service, so that simply calculated the number. They didn’t know that as an officer, Wilson was ineligible.

The list also gives him one National Defense Service Medal (which, BTW, is the correct name of the award) but he should have had two, one for Korea and one for Vietnam. These are given to anyone serving during a specific period (like 1 Jan 61 to 14 Aug 74 for Vietnam).

They also claim he was a POW from 12/07/50 to 01/08/51, or just a little more than a month. He escaped, killing two guards and was on the run for 23 days before he managed to get back to friendly lines.

Great story except, I found a couple of comprehensive listings of POWs from the Korean War and Wilson’s name does not appear. Once again, there is a chance that he was somehow overlooked, but given everything I know about this, I doubt it.

Now I know that records are sometimes incomplete. I have spent years trying to get my records up to date and have failed. There are things missing from them so that a discrepancy between what someone says and the record isn’t, necessarily, a make or break deal. With Wilson, however, it’s not only that records don’t exist, but that some of the things he claimed were contradicted by the records, regulations and rules. He just couldn’t have joined the Air Force (okay, Army Air Forces) at 13 and he couldn’t have served for more than 40 years. He took stories from science fiction movies and from the exploits of others and used them as his own. If you are among those who believe that MJ-12 is a hoax, then his claim of working with them is another indication of his fraud.

So, once again, we had an "insider" blowing the whistle on the great UFO cover up, but we have nothing in the way of records, documents or corroboration for this tale. I believe that we must reject it, as we do so many others in a similar circumstance . . . at least until someone can provide some proof these stories are true.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


I am always surprised when what I write, which I believe to be clear and unmistakable is misunderstood. For example, I was not suggesting that the Masons were running around the world planting OOPARTs (see the following article) but that they might have planted this particular article, or they inserted Tubal Cain’s name into it for some private reason.

I also understood who Tubal Cain was, or was supposed to be. I’d read the various articles on the Internet. It was quite clear to me that Tubal Cain was not an early resident of Dorchester county, but an ancient blacksmith.

And thinking about it, maybe the misplaced "L" was not the letter slipping out of alignment, but was purposefully put there as just one more way of "hiding" the true name so that it looked like Tuba Cain rather than Tubal Cain.

And for those of you keeping score at home, I too have had a long interest in OOPARTs, or the name that I prefer, OOPTHs for Out Of Place Things. I did not invent the term. I think Ivan Sanderson came up with it three or four decades ago.

But, since this article struck a chord, let’s take a look at some other examples. In an account given before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Sir David Brewster said that a nail had been found embedded in solid rock. About an inch of the nail was protruding and the rest was lying along the stone and projecting into a layer of ground, where it had rusted. The report suggests that the nail was partially in the stone but had not been driven into it. In other words, the nail was part of the sedimentary material that had congealed into granite so that it was part of the rock. That would mean that the nail had been manufactured millions of years earlier if all aspects of the report were true and the observations about it accurate.

Many more such objects seem to have been found in coal. Brad Steiger, in Mysteries of Time & Space reported that Wilbert H. Rusch, Sr., Professor of Biology, Concordia College, Ann Arbor, Michigan, quoted a letter from a friend had received from Frank J. Kenwood (yes, this sounds like the old friend of a friend), who said that he had been a fireman at the Municipal Electric Plant in Thomas, Oklahoma in 1912 when he split a large piece of coal and found an iron pot encased inside.

Quoting from the letter, Steiger wrote, "This iron pot fell from the center leaving the impression or mold of the pot in this piece of coal. I traced the source of the coal and found that it came from the Wilburton, Oklahoma, mines."

Others have made similar discoveries in lumps of coal. Mrs. S. W. Culp, according to the Morrisonville, Illinois Times, published on June 11, 1891, found an artifact when she broke a lump of coal as she was preparing to toss it in a stove. According to the story, "Mrs. Culp thought the chain had been dropped accidentally in the coal, but as she undertook to lift the chain up, the idea of its having been recently dropped was at once fallacious, for as the lump of coal broke, the middle of the chain became loosened while each end remained fastened to the coal."

The coal was identified as coming from mines in southern Illinois. Steiger suggests that the coal is from the Carboniferous era.

I queried the Smithsonian about this and several other like reports a number of years ago. They suggested, "… manufactured items… would not normally be found in rocks or coal since the latter were formed before the advent of man. The only such inclusion would be the rock material had been broken, and the artifacts had gotten lost among it and then moss had recemented it by sedimentary action."

This is certainly a conventional explanation and is, of course, possible. It is also possible, as in the case of the metal vessel from Dorchester (see the following article) that it had not been embedded in the rock, but was associated with material around the rock. That means, simply, that it could have been something buried in softer ground that was uprooted by the explosion and fell in among the debris of the quarry where it was found giving the impression that it was blown out of solid rock.

Some support for that conclusion comes from the study of the history of OOPARTs. Info Journal, #59 reported that about 1900 an Englishman found a coin embedded in a lump of coal. The coin was clearly dated 1397. So, we have an artifact that was found in coal that was clearly dated long after the coal was formed unless we are willing to believe that some ancient, unknown or alien civilization used a numbering system just like ours. We have seen, since the beginning of written history a variety of numbering systems so why believe the ancients would use the same system we do. Why wouldn’t they have invented their own? And would they have a base ten?

There is further information that sheds additional light on this and we don’t need philosophic discussions of numbering systems to understand it. After Mount St. Helens blew up a group of scientists discovered that peat deposits had developed in an unexpectedly short time at the bottom of a lake. It suggested that some coal beds could theoretically form in far less time than conventionally believed.

What all this tells us is that there are some interesting enigmas out there and that there seem to be some rational explanations for some of these strange finds. But, and this is critical, those explanations rely partly on speculation. Further study is required on this before we can either accept the data as proved, or reject it as flawed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

OOPARTS and Tubal Cain

There is a class of ancient artifacts such as iron nails found in solid rock, a delicate gold chain found in a lump of coal in the 1890s, or an ornate bell-shaped vessel inlaid with silver blasted from rock in a Massachusetts that are called Out Of Place Artifacts, known popularly as OOPARTs. They seem to suggest that someone had been manufacturing objects millions of years before the human race was capable of such fine and precise work or even before humans existed on this planet. These artifacts are, in essence, a form of proof that another intelligence had once walked the Earth, maybe before the dinosaurs disappeared and that those sophisticated beings probably originated in outer space given the fossil and geological records relied on by our modern day scientists. It is circumstantial evidence that, if accurate, provides us with the proof that some ancient sightings were of alien spacecraft.

One of the first of the Out of Place Artifacts (OOPARTs) I came across was a reference in several UFO books to some sort of "bell-shaped vessel" discovered during blasting in a quarry in Massachusetts in the mid-19th century. For some reason I have always envisioned this as a "gravy boat."

According to those UFO books, the original source was the Scientific American in 1851. The story was headlined "A relic of a by-gone age" although some suggested it was labeled as "A Curiosity."

The story, as reported in those other UFO books, was that the blasting in the quarry "threw an immense mass of rock… in all directions." Among the shattered debris, the workmen found a small metallic vessel in two pieces that when reassembled formed a "bell shape" about four and a quarter inches high and about six inches wide at the top. The whole thing was something like an eighth of an inch thick.

The report continued, saying that it was made of zinc with "a considerable portion of silver." The sides were inlaid with silver and the carving was "exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman." The magazine concluded, again according to all those other UFO books, that the find was worthy of additional investigation because the vessel was extremely old, pre-dating the first inhabitants of the continent.

I discovered that the University of Iowa library, (Pat Williams looks through the 1852 Scientific American in the bound periodicals) in it’s bound periodically section, held the entire run of Scientific American. It would be easy enough to check the primary source of the story. So I did. To my disappointment, but not great surprise, there was nothing in the 1851 issues about anything like the metal vessel being found. True, there were a number of things labeled as "curiosities" but nothing that told of manufactured items coming out of a quarry.

But research isn’t always that simple, and there is always the chance that someone had written down a date wrong and it was then copied by all those others who failed to do primary research but who believed the others had. So, I decided to look in both 1850 and 1852, and being somewhat compulsive about such things, I quite naturally started in 1850 because it came before 1852.

The article appeared in the June 5, 1852 edition of the Scientific American, on page 298. The details as listed in most of the UFO books were substantially correct. There was some additional information in that article, including that "On the sides there are six figures of a flower or bouquet, beautifully inlaid with pure silver, and around the lower part of the vessel a vine, or wreath, inlaid also with silver. The chasing, carving, and inlaying are exquisitely done by the art of some cunning workman."

The entry continues, noting "There is no doubt that this curiosity was blown out of the rock… but will … some other scientific man please to tell us how it came there?"

While I had been at the mercy of those other writers in the past, until I began to roam the stacks in the bound periodicals section of the University of Iowa library, researchers today aren’t so restricted (and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of them have never seen the inside of a library). I typed "Scientific American 1852" into a search engine and in seconds was looking at a complete listing for Scientific American available on-line. Since I already knew the date, I could easily pull up what I wanted. Anyone with access to a computer and an on-line service could do the same (and therefore stay out of the library).

Like so much else in the UFO field, there is always something left out of the stories in all those UFO books. What is rarely mentioned is a paragraph at the end of the article in which it is suggested that Tuba Cain, one of the first residents of the area, meaning from the 17th century, had made the vessel.

But sometimes UFO research takes off on strange tangents. On closer examination of the Scientific American, it begins to look as if the mark at the end of the sentence that I thought originally was an artifact caused by the microfilm process, and right after the word Tuba, is an "L" that slipped out of alignment and into the margin. This means the name is a reference to Tubal Cain and Tubal Cain probably wasn’t an early reference to one of the first residents of Dorchester County, but was a descendent of Adam and Eve. Tubal Cain refers to blacksmiths from antiquity and the original Tubal Cain supposedly worked with bronze and iron in the far distant past and no where near the New World.

Here is something else from outside the UFO field (and that I wouldn’t have known if it hadn’t been for access to the Internet), Tubal Cain is a secret Masonic phrase, and something that certainly wasn’t well known in 1852. So now the question becomes is this tale of a metallic vessel found in solid rock true or does it have some significance to the Masons and the use of Tubal Cain is the clue. I confess that I don’t know. I am more than a little disturbed to learn of the history of Tubal Cain and the reference to it, or him, in this particular article. There is no reason for those other writers to have made anything out of the reference, unless they themselves were Masons and knew the code. Without the Internet, I certainly would not have made the connection, nor would I have been able to ask the question.

Ignoring that little bit of diversion, we find that if we are going to look at the rest of the case with a scientific detachment, we must ask a couple of other questions. First, did they find anything to suggest the vessel had been embedded in the rock? Did they find bits of rock that matched the contours of the vessel? If we were to date the "vessel" according to standard archaeological methodology we would be forced to conclude that the vessel was millions of years old because that was the age of the material in which it was found.

Second, they suggest that a scientific man should take a look at the vessel and named Professor Agassiz, as someone to study the find. The Scientific American wondered what Agassiz’s credentials were to make any sort of study. I confess that in today’s world, I’m a little curious about the man’s credentials as well, though there is nothing to suggest that he ever looked at the vessel or rendered an opinion about it so this is really a dead issue.

In the end, we’re left with many unanswered questions, including that of the placement of the vessel and if it was actually embedded in the stone as originally suggested. It is always possible that it was not embedded in the stone but was associated with it. That means, simply, that the vessel was in the ground on top of the stone maybe lost in it, but had not been embedded in the stone.

And we now wonder if there was a hidden meaning in this article that was meant for the Masons because of the use of Tubal Cain. In a world filled with speculations about a da Vinci code, Templars, and a bloodline related to Christ, it is not difficult to believe that the Mason of the 19th Century planted the article for some, probably trivial reason.