THE AZTEC INCIDENT -RECOVERY AT HART CANYON
BY SCOTT AND SUZANNE RAMSEY, DR. FRANK THAYER AND FRANK WARREN
In his forward to this book, Stanton Friedman states “In this outstanding new book, Scott and Suzanne Ramsey have done an incredible job of really digging the evidence…and that none of the objections made to the reality of the Aztec Crash story stand up to careful scrutiny”. He concludes by saying “This is a very important book setting new standards for investigation, persistence and the casting of a very wide net to locate witnesses.”. On the contrary, my review of this book has found numerous errors, dubious conclusions and improbable events.
I can find no evidence to support is Mr. Ramsey’s statement on page 27 of -Behind the Flying Saucers - Updated Edition published by Conspiracy Journal in which he states “…Hart Canyon Road used to be the best way to get to Durango, by stage coach….” My research found the following:
William S. Wallace’s “Stage Coaching in Territorial New Mexico” quoting from the New Mexico Historical Review 32 (1957): 207 “1882 - Aztec, S.E. of Durango, Co. 42 Miles by stage.” I seriously doubt if you could reach Aztec in 42 miles by using Hart Canyon.
“San Juan County, New Mexico - A Photographic History: Volume II” on page 33: “…The normal route for supplies took about a month. The route was from Farmington to Aztec, up the river to Animas City, CO…Arrington started the first daily four-horse mail stage between Durango and Farmington on July 1, 1890.…”
Aztec: A Story of Old Aztec from the Anasazi to Statehood by C.V. Koogler and Virginia Koogler Whitney: page 66: Circa 1892 in one of the first meetings of the San Juan County Commission “…The first road matter was the presentation of a petition for a county road leading down the Animas River beginning at the Colorado line and running on the west side of the river to Aztec….” I know that road as the “Ruins Road” and it joins U.S. 550 at Cedar Hill. The book is also full of numerous references of the early settlers going up the Animas River to Animas City, CO for supplies and how one had to cross the Animas River 9 times between Aztec and Trimble Springs, CO.
Report of the Territorial Governor of New Mexico to the Secretary of the Interior (1902), page 580: “…At present, a daily stage line to Durango…place the people of the county in connection with the railroads. Durango, Colorado…is the nearest station on the north, a distance of 38 miles from Aztec…”
The following are either small errors or large errors depending upon your point of view:
Page 18: “…drove 148 miles from Albuquerque airport to Aztec…” Actually, the distance from the airport to Aztec in more like 180 miles or so.
Page 23: “…the Highway Grill was one of the only restaurants in Aztec in 1948...” I thought it was called the Highway Lounge in 1948, but in the July 1-15, 2011 copy of the Talon, Janelle Osburn remembers it being called George’s Bar in 1948 and was owned by George and Thelma Derby. That now sounds correct to me. Sometime later, I believe the bar was purchased by Bill Faverino and Jack Vescovi and the name was probably changed to the Highway Lounge at that time. According to Betty Lawson Waggoner, they didn’t start serving food there until the mid-1990’s.
Page 143: “…in 1945 New Mexico was the fifth largest state by area…” Actually, it was the fourth largest state by area until Alaska was admitted to the Union in 1959.
Page 143: “Kirtland Army Air Field was a large fighter base as well as home of the Eighth Air Force”. I can find no record of the Headquarters of the Eighth Air Force ever having been anywhere in New Mexico.
Page 147: Johnny Hernandez was driving from Regina, NM to Cuba with a truck load of logs and turned onto Highway 44 for “the LONG AND DESOLATE RIDE BACK TO CUBA (emphasis added).” It’s about 3 miles from where the Regina road (NM State Road 96) hits Highway 44 into Cuba. That may be a long and desolate 3 mile ride in North Carolina but it sure isn’t in New Mexico. I should note that it is only about 12 miles from Regina to Highway 44.
On the same trip, Mr. Hernandez saw a bright green light passing over his truck at a tremendous speed and then headed north toward Taylor Mountain. In Herbert E. Ungnade’s 1965 book Guide to New Mexico Mountains, he does not list a “Taylor Mountain”. Perhaps Mr. Ramsey meant Mount Taylor, but that is 80-90 miles southwest of Cuba, not north and Mr. Hernandez certainly would have known where Mount Taylor was located. More about the green lights later.
Page 194 - In 1946, a radar site was built near El Vado Lake. “The lake was built for Los Alamos as a power plant with one single General Electric Hydro Generator to supply power to Los Alamos.” Not true about the dam. Actually, the dam impounding the lake was built in1934-35 and is used for flood control purposes and as storage for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. The Los Alamos Utility Department built, owns and operates the 8 MW hydroelectric facility at the dam but it was not put into service until 1988.
Page 199 - In 1948 “... the site was owned by H. D. Dunning or Harold Dunning, as the locals called him….” I never heard anyone, including my Dad, call him anything but “Hy” Dunning. I’m not sure of the spelling of “Hy,” and I didn’t know his first name was Harold until I read it in this book.
Pages 154-5: Five-mile crossing bridge. In checking out the route through Largo Canyon, Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Bill Metzger found a railroad bridge at five-mile crossing that would not have been wide enough to transport the disc. However, during a walking survey of the bridge, they found a nameplate “…showing it to be manufactured long before the flying saucer incident,…” But “Bill’s encyclopedic knowledge of the railroad industry quickly came into play as he realized this was a narrow gauge railroad bridge…Bill had to explain that…the bridge was probably moved from a dismantled rail line and installed across the dry wash…”. Mr. Ramsey then states “To our surprise, we learned through research that, indeed, the old bridge was in fact a frontier narrow gauge railroad bridge from the Bloomfield area that was moved to Largo Canyon in the 1960’s to aid oil field development.”
How good was this “research ” (emphasis added)? It is not very good in my opinion. Here is what the New Mexico State Highway Department has to say about the bridge.
New Mexico Historical Bridge Survey
New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department
Federal Highway Administration Region 6
Largo Canyon Bridge No. 8118 County Road A-80 near Blanco.
“This bridge was originally constructed in 1928 over the San Juan River at Blanco by the Pueblo Bridge and Construction Company. In 1966 it was relocated about five miles east over Largo Arroyo on a county Road. The Largo Canyon Bridge is a steel through truss and has a total length of 254 feet. Its roadway is only 13 feet wide. A Warren Truss consisting of seven triangular panels was used in its design. The Largo Canyon Bridge is one of the longest truss spans constructed in New Mexico”.
A NARROW GAUGE RAILROAD BRIDGE, INDEED!!!!!!
When the new highway bridge was built over the San Juan River in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, the old bridge described above was moved a short distance from the new bridge. A high school friend of mine, Bruce Hare, told me that San Juan County hired his two brothers in 1966 to move the old bridge to five-mile crossing. On page 101 of Marilu Waybourn’s book “Images of America - Aztec”, you will find a picture of the old two-way bridge over the Animas River at Aztec noting that in 1929, it too was built by the Pueblo Bridge and Construction Company.
On June 30, 2012, my wife and I visited the bridge and found the following nameplate on it.
INSTALLED AND DEDICATED
SAN JUAN COUNTY COMMISSION
JAMES M. DURRETT - DISTRICT 1
BERT BARNES CHAIRMAN - DISTRICT 2
LELAND T. SEIDEL - DISTRICT 3
A. L. PRUITT
HIGHWAY ROUTES TO AZTEC
Before I discuss finding the disc, I need to discuss why Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Metzger were in Largo Canyon in the first place. To quote again from Dr. Friedman in the Foreword to the book “Using old maps and their consultant’s expertise, they were able to show…transport of three large segments (of the UFO) was feasible using…existing roads, appropriate maps etc…This was truly research by investigation rather than using the debunker approach of research by proclamation.”
In Chapter Nine, “Moving the Craft”, Mr. Ramsey maintains that his research revealed that today’s Highway 550, old NM 44, is a far different route today that it was in 1948 when the old road turned hard right (north) at Counselors eventually entering Largo Canyon and reaching the Blanco area. He maintains that “When the Chaco Canyon ruins were excavated in the early 1950’s, the State Highway and Transportation Department decided to re-route U.S. Highway 44 so that it would pass close to the ruins…”(Emphasis added.) This re-route and excavation must come as a surprise to both the National Park Service and the New Mexico Highway Department.
My research shows that Mr. Ramsey is dead wrong in his conclusions about the road from Bernalillo through Cuba to Aztec. My conclusion is based on my own personal knowledge having traveled all or part of the road since 1940, discussions with Gerald Williams who traveled the road in 1946 and my review of the Official Road Map of New Mexico issued by the New Mexico State Highway Department for the years 1923, 1925, 1936, 1940 and 1947-1951. The 1936 map shows the road in the same basic configuration as it is today(contrary to Mr. Ramsey’s assertion) with the only major differences being road surface and highway number designation as follows:
1936: The road was designated a primary State Route from Bernalillo to Aztec. It was State Road(SR)44 from Bernalillo to Cuba and SR 55 from Cuba to Aztec. The road was gravel from Bernalillo to about 10 miles south of La Ventana and then was classified as graded the rest of the way to Aztec except for small sections of gravel around Lybrooks and Bloomfield. Interestingly enough, it shows Chaco Canyon National Monument about 25 miles S/SE of the highway just as it is today. I could not find any maps between 1925 and 1936, so I don’t know how long before 1936 the road assumed its present configuration. Also, I think it is worth noting that in the 1936 map, SR 44 reappears as a 3rd class route (the lowest state category) from around Counselors apparently down Largo Canyon to just east of Blanco. This designation and road disappears from all the subsequent maps that I found.
1940: SR 44 is now paved all the way from Bernalillo to Cuba. SR 55 is gravel from Cuba to Bloomfield and graded from Bloomfield to Aztec.
1947: The road is now designated SR 44 all the way from Bernalillo to Aztec and is paved all the way except where it is gravel from about 10 miles south of Bloomfield to Aztec.
1948: The road is now paved all the way to Aztec. At page 152, the Ramsey book states “The 1948 road was improved road for the most part, meaning paved or at least gravel packed with heavy sand”. Of course, he had the road going down Largo Canyon from Counselors.
I hope the history of the Bernalillo-Aztec road will dispel the assertion that in 1948 the main road was down Largo Canyon from Counselors to Blanco. I should note that the 1925 Road Map shows the Haynes Trading Post 37 miles NW of Cuba with two roads going northwest, one apparently down Largo to Aztec and the other to Farmington. As best I can tell from the Legend on the map these two unnumbered roads were classified by the New Mexico Highway Department as “Second Class - Under maintenance and all year roads except after continuous rains.” According to the 1954 book Wild, Woolly and Wonderful by Jim and Ann Counselor, the Hayne’s Trading Post was closed sometime in the late 1920’s -- before the Counselor’s built their trading post (circa 1930) where it is located today. I stopped at the trading post recently and they have early pictures of the post taken in either the 1930’s or 1940’s.
According to the Photographic History of San Juan County - Volume II on page 33 “A trip to Albuquerque meant wagon roads either to Blanco, through Largo Canyon and Wash to the settlement of Haynes, to Cuba and beyond or all the way to Shiprock through Gallup and then to Albuquerque”. On page 25, there is a 1927 picture of the ferry across the San Juan River at Blanco looking east, 1927 and page 24 notes “The main route from Albuquerque was following Largo Canyon to the river, taking the ferry, and proceeding to Blanco and beyond…”. The ferry was obviously replaced by the bridge which was built in 1928. No later than 1936, SR 44 replaced this route as the road was moved to the west to its present configuration, now designated U.S. 550.
In all the years I have traveled the road, I can recall only three road relocations. The road immediately south of Bloomfield used to run slightly west of where it is today. I suspect it was moved to its present location when the road was paved in 1948. The next relocation was from Cuba to La Ventana where the road was moved west out of the foothills to where it is today. As one drives north from La Ventana today, the old road is visible coming down the hill on the right. The next relocation was about 10 miles south of La Ventana where the road was moved slightly east for a few miles. I hope some of my classmates from the class of 1952 can help my memory in this regard.
I was stunned to hear the allegation that the road had been re-routed because of excavations at Chaco. During 1940-41, my Dad accompanied by me would haul coal from Durango, Colorado to Chaco for the National Park Service. We would take the road from Bloomfield to Huerfano Trading Post (now abandoned), turn to the SW and go by the Otis Trading Post(shown on the 1947 and 1948 maps) and then drive 25 miles to Chaco. In 1961 or 1962, my wife and I turned off SR 44 at Blanco Trading Post en route to Crownpoint via Chaco. We never went in through Nageezi because it was past Blanco Trading Post. The Nageezi and Blanco Trading Post entrances are now closed so you must enter about 5 miles SE of the old Nageezi entrance. The archaeologist at Chaco Canyon National Monument told me that there had been no reroute of SR44 in the 1950’s because of excavations at Chaco. In fact, the 1936 official state road map and all subsequent road maps show the Monument to be approximately 25 miles S/SW of SR 44, now US 550.
What is really important to note here is that in 1948 NM 44 (now U.S. 550) was not just the way from Cuba to Aztec. Rather, it was the main route to the San Juan Basin from Albuquerque, Santa Fe and the Rio Grande Valley down to El Paso not mention most of eastern New Mexico. NM 17 (now U.S. 64) was considered a third class route (dirt) from Dulce to a few miles east of Blanco where it became a secondary state route on into Bloomfield. The only other paved route from the south was from Gallup to Shiprock to Farmington and Aztec but that route would normally only be used by people from the far western side of the state.
FINDING THE DISC
In reading the Ramsey book, I got the impression that most of his direct information about the crash and the crash site came from Doug Noland and Ken Farley. However, at page 200, Mr. Ramsey states that “The story was told to me directly by oilfield workers, particularly Doug Noland…”. I can’t find anywhere in his book where he named any oilfield workers other that Doug Noland.
As related in Chapter One, “Eight Months After Roswell”, there is a summary of the story told to Mr. Ramsey some 50 years after fact by Doug Noland, a 19 year-old man working for the El Paso Oil Company (I wonder if he means El Paso Natural Gas Company?). The time line of events really seems questionable to me. Doug arrives in the predawn hours. (Sunrise was
6:08 a.m. local time.) He arrived at the home of his supervisor, Bill Ferguson at 5:00 a.m.. Unfortunately, we have no idea where Bill Ferguson lived, but for Doug to drive from Mancos, Colorado must have taken at least an hour which means he left his home around 4:00 a.m. I would think that would mean that Doug had to be up by at least 3:30 a.m. To work this schedule five days a week seems a little fishy to me. I base my hour estimate of Doug’s travel time on the fact that during the summer of 1956, I was a tool dresser for John Pool and we were drilling a top-to-bottom hole near the old Fort Lewis College at Hesperus, CO. It took us at least an hour to get from Aztec to the rig.
Bill tells Doug that a brush fire is burning in Hart Canyon near one of the company’s drip tanks and that they had to get out there fast (There is no mention of how or when Ferguson was notified, how far they had to travel or how long it took them to get there). Upon arrival, they found oil field workers (never identified) already there who told them that the fire was on top of the mesa and that something strange was sitting on top of the hill. I found nothing to indicate the fire was started by the craft. This means someone saw the fire on the mesa around 4:00 a.m. The Dunnings apparently didn’t know about the fire and 4:00 a.m. is a bit too early for oilfield workers to go to work since it is still dark. And, it would have to have been one hell of fire if it was seen from Highway 550! I think the illogical time sequences puts the whole story in doubt.
Anyway, they found the disc in the pre-dawn light and when the sun came up they were able to see inside the disc. Soon “others” started arriving on the Mesa including local ranchers. No mention of how all these other people heard about the disc. After the ranchers arrived, a law enforcement office from Cuba arrived stating that he had followed the disc from Cuba (more about this improbable happening to follow). Now, even more people show up including a law enforcement officer from Aztec whose name Doug had forgotten.
At page 4 of Chapter 1, Mr. Ramsey states that “Doug was living in Mancos, Colorado at the time and was familiar with all the Aztec people, as well as county law enforcement, being that the town is also the San Juan County seat.” I find this comment hard to believe. I grew up in Aztec and other than Mims Lane, I didn’t know any of the county law enforcement except for the name of the sheriff. How would a young man, living in Mancos, Colorado who drove 50 miles one-way just to reach his supervisor’s house in the pre-dawn hours and worked in the oil patch all day ever have the opportunity to be “familiar with all the Aztec people as well as county law enforcement”? Mr. Ramsey also states at page 201 that Doug Noland “...lived in Mancos, CO before making Aztec his home, where he worked day and night in the oil patch as well as for the community of Aztec (emphasis added).” On June 29-30, 2012 I attended my 60th high school reunion in Aztec along with the class of 1951. Almost all of the attendees spent their entire lives in Aztec. Some of them spent their careers with El Paso Natural Gas Company and some were in business there. Not a single person I talked to remembered a Doug Noland ever living in Aztec, much less working for the community of Aztec.
It is impossible to determine who the local law enforcement officer mentioned was. In 1948, I believe J. C. McKinsie was the Aztec Town Marshall. I remember him walking around the downtown area with his flashlight checking businesses at night. Gerald Williams remembers him patrolling the alleys at night in his Studebaker car. Since he worked at night, I doubt if he would have visited the site. Who would have notified him? State Policeman Andy Andrews lived in Farmington so his presence is doubtful. That would leave the Sheriff’s office in Aztec but in Steinman’s book on page 213 in apparently reprinting an article by Mike McClellan, it was reported by Sheriff Dan Sullivan that “His own father was sheriff at the time and had no recollection of a crash, aircraft being in the area or anything that would support Carr’s claims.”
Next we have Ken Farley who was driving to Cedar Hill, New Mexico from Durango, Colorado to pick up a friend (unidentified) and drive to San Diego, California. Before I go further, I need to give you, dear reader, some distances. It is 4.4 miles from Aztec to the Hart Canyon entrance and 5.7 miles from the old store in Cedar Hill to the Hart Canyon entrance. Due to the nature of the terrain, it is impossible to see the entrance to Hart Canyon from either Cedar Hill or Aztec until you are effectively at the entrance to the Canyon. With that in mind, let’s go back to Ken Farley. Upon arriving to pick his friend up at Cedar Hill ( we have no idea what time he arrived to pickup his friend), Ken is told “…there was a lot of activity just south of their pick-up point near an old dirt road…” There is no mention of how his friend knew this. He would have to have been at the entrance to Hart Canyon to see the activity. But the story gets better. The friend then tells Ken that “..there had been some vehicles, including a police car going in that direction…”. And by the time they got to the entrance to Hart Canyon, they were able to follow the dirt and dust clouds the other cars and trucks were making to arrive at the crash site. It must have been quite a caravan charging up Hart Canyon. Anyone having any doubts about the sequence of events yet?
Well, here is one more event for you to ponder. A preacher, living in Aztec, on his way to his new church in Mancos, also saw the commotion and headed up the canyon. One would have to conclude that with all the commotion and dust and vehicles going up Hart Canyon, half of Aztec must have been there. Why didn’t people in Aztec know about this event? I think there are two possibilities: 1) The story is true and the government people on site swore everyone to secrecy and told them never to reveal the event to anyone, or 2) It never happened and the secrecy story makes good cover as to why no one knew about it.