Thursday, March 22, 2007

UFOs, Nukes, and a Side of Mayo

UFOs, Nukes, and a Side of Mayo

I grew up in the small town of Galesburg, IL. I went to school, dueled with wooden swords, played war and spaceship, slid down the stairs inside sleeping bags, became a cub-scout, went backyard-camping, played with transformers, and generally hung-out and talked. It was 1986. Sleeping bags and wooden swords were a thing of the past. It was a long, hot summer in Galesburg and I was bored. I was about to get my first taste of urban exploration.

I explored the old elementary school, Hitchcock, which had been closed and abandoned for a few years. One of the boarded-up windows on the first floor had been pried open, affording me easy access to the building. Inside, I found all sorts of things that reminded us of my recent childhood. I found stories I had written. I found the old tape-players that had been used to teach english to the Vietnamese refugee kids in our school. I explored the darkened halls and staircases of this 1920's red-brick schoolhouse edifice with adrenaline-assisted enthusiasm. I had a strange sense of liberation, nostalgia, and excitement. I returned to the school a few times but this location was starting to lose its appeal, plus, the windows had been newly boarded-up-- it seemed my invitation had expired.

So, it was on to my next adventure: "Old Research". The northeast corner of Galesburg was home to a rather unusual institution: a WWII-era Army hospital which later was transformed into a mental research facility. "Research", as we called it, was abandoned in the early '80's, shortly after the Reagan administration cut-off the funds which kept it alive. One sunny day that summer, I rode my bike out to the place. It was dreamlike. The roads were perforated with grass growing between the cracks in the pavement. The old barracks stood with their doors wide open. There were stainless-steel carts, old medical equipment, and lots of old stinky beds inside the myriad single-storey brick buildings, which I enthusiastically explored. It was definitely spookier than Hitchcock. I remember getting "the chills" upon entering one particular building. There was a rumor that there was a secret missile silo out there, somewhere.

I was incredulous. "They probably thought that old water-tower was a missile silo", I thought, looking at the painted-white cylindrical concrete structure in the distance.


In early March of 1967, a phenomenal wave of UFO sightings occurred in the midwest of the United States. One peculiar thing about these sightings is that they were witnessed by police and military personell at nuclear missile bases. Minot. Echo base. An Ajax base in Indiana. Moline, Illinois. According to the testimony of military personell involved in these sightings, a number of minuteman missiles were temporarily deactivated coincidentally with these UFO encounters. With the gradual accumulation of government documents and statements by retrired military personell, this wave of sightings has found its way into the canon of modern UFOlogy. The descriptions of these UFO's were remarkably consistent: by day, a silvery, disk-shaped craft; by night, a pulsating red disk with a bluish-white halo.

There was one location from this 1967 wave of UFO sightings which stood out to me: Galesburg, Illinois. Knox County Sheriff's deputy Frank Courson witnessed a low-flying, red, saucer-shaped craft fly over his squad car while parked near the intersection of I-74 and Henderson road, just north of Galesburg. He did not officially report the sighting until two days later, when he and a Knoxville police officer sighted a similar object in the sky on the east side of Galesburg. News of the incident spread quickly through the community. The local newspaper ran articles about the sightings. A few local college students attempted some opportunistic hoaxes with kites and balloons. These stunts had the general effect of reducing the initial hysteria associated with the sightings. Still, Courson and others who had witnessed the flying saucer maintained that what they had seen was no kite or balloon. This incident found its way into project BLUEBOOK. "Blue book" was a semi-public inquiry into the UFO phenomenon undertaken by the U.S. Air Force. These pervasive aerial phenomena were generally dismissed as "swamp gas", planets, balloons, or something similarly prosaic. A fraction of the cases they investigated remained "unexplained". The Galesburg event was one of those unexplained cases.

Upon researching the wave of UFO's of early March, 1967, I was struck by an anomaly: Nearly all 0f the red saucer-shaped craft seen in the midwest were in the vicinity of nuclear missile sites. As far as I knew, there weren't any nukes around Galesburg... or were there?

I remembered the claims about a secret missile base out by "research". Was it possible that there was some kernel of truth in these rumors? Although it seemed to be a long shot, I decided to look into the idea. My starting point was Mayo General Hospital.


Andrew Farrell said...

Jesus, my man! Are you gonna finish this story or what?! The chime sounds distant, like the ping of tiny explodoing stars. But it's still there, Man. A remnant?

Jen at sacred trees you know org said...

Have to ditto Andrew on that.

All I know is Gburg is a freakazoid of a place. Portal to goddess knows what.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to finish this story? I live in Central Illinois, and I would love to know what you found out about a silo in Galesburg.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he is going to finish the story. Besides, its just a theory.


Anonymous said...

Regarding Officer Courson's sighting in Galesburg in 1967 it was he and myself that were sitting in his squad car in my Drive-In Theatre when we viewed the object Courson decided to chase it and we followed and viewed the object for several minutes before it disapeared at a high rate of speed.

Corey Copeland said...

Interesting new twist on the story. I thought Frank Courson was by himself, and parked in a different location when he witnessed the UFO. Thanks for your comment and for visiting.

zerotensor said...

I am working on a follow-up-- sorry it's taking so long-- still compiling all the information. If the anonymous commenter could contact me re: Officer Courson, I would love to get your take on the whole affair...