By Rebecca Keith
July 10, 1997
We had been planning the trip for about a year. A group of us, collectively known as SPUFON (which doesn't really stand for anything -- acronymically or otherwise) were going to Roswell for the 50th Anniversary party. We hail from Houston, Texas but we met up with friends from Canada, New Mexico, New York, Las Vegas, Key West and even San Antonio.
One of our core group had been seriously studying Roswell for 3 or 4 years. He personally knew the all the players and even was one of the first UFO researchers to meet Lt. Col. Philip Corso in 1994. Rick had been to all the crash sites and had studied them all very carefully. Our mission once we arrived in Roswell was to get to those crash sites. Fate tried to do us in, but never underestimate the willpower of a Texan!
Nine of us set out in a car and a 4WD Chevy Blazer on July 2. It was early in the morning because we wanted to beat the heat. Four members of our group were from Canada and their mission was to film some segments for television in Canada.
First Stop: The Ragsdale Site in the Capitan Mountains
We took Pine Lodge Road out of Roswell and drove west through some beautiful ranch country. We saw deer and antelope playing and a cowboy or two along the way. It's about 53 miles to the entrance of the National Forest where we would begin the trek up the mountain. It is a slow and tortuous path up the mountain. While the road was passable, I would advise that you not take that for granted if you decide to make this trip yourself, as it was also very rocky and dusty. You follow this mountain road up for a very long 6 miles (approximately) until you get to the satellite tower. That's where you need to determine whether or not you want to risk driving any further (forget it if you are in a car). The road is narrow and nowhere near smooth. The Canadians (who were in the car) decided to walk and I joined them.
It was around 10:30 am or so when we got to the spring-fed well and little creek where Jim Ragsdale and Trudy Truelove camped that fateful night in July of 1947. There is more walking to go (mostly uphill), more rocks, and lots of flies, so this is a nice place to stop and catch your breath and discuss how the UFO would have come over the mountain. You don't have a very good view of the sky here but it's nice to imagine what it was like for those smitten campers in 1947. Once you are rested, you can start the final climb up the mountain road.
At last we reached a summit. [The nearest peak to this site is called Boy Scout Mountain, part of a small range called the Capitan Mountains.] God, what a view! You can see for miles and miles. There is a gentle breeze and even the flies are leaving us alone.
We find THE rock against which Ragsdale says the UFO crashed. It is a big rock with a big crack in it. Some in our party see what might be scorch marks and scarring on the rock. The trees look a little stunted. I can picture a UFO crashing here -- almost. It seems logical. The Brazel debris field is not that far from here [almost due north] and if you know where to look, you can probably see it from this peak. We get out our camcorders, cameras and various other items and begin the process of documenting our triumph of having arrived at the Ragsdale site. We probably spent an hour up there discussing how the event could have happened. It was a lot of fun but noon was nearing and we needed to get moving. Our tummies were growling and the debris field beckoned.
The trip down the mountain is much quicker than the trip up because everyone decided to cram into the Blazer. Nine people can fit in a short-wheelbase Blazer quite nicely -- if you don't mind a little closeness.
Next Stop: The Brazel Debris Field
We make it back to Pine Lodge Road and head on to the Vogel Ranch. The Canadians are following in their car. There are 5 of us in the Blazer (I was sitting in the very back where I could stretch out among the rocks I had picked up along the way). We turned on County Road B007 for the trip to the debris field.
We had been on the road for about 6 miles or so, when I said: "Could we have a flat tire? The right wheel sounds funny to me." The other four somewhat scoffed at my notion, but moments later when we slowed down to allow the picture-taking Canadians to catch up with us, the sound of the tire became the familiar "thunk-a, thunk-a, thunk" that only a flat tire can make. I was vindicated, but I'm not sure that was a good thing at this point. It had to be about 95 degrees, and we were in the middle of nowhere once again, surrounded by the gently rolling hills of South Central New Mexico. Our cell phones (we had two) wouldn't work and everyone was apprehensive about continuing on our journey with only a temporary spare in the right rear position.
So determined was I to continue that I convinced everyone that this was an adventure. "We will make it. We have beer. We have people with another car and there are hours upon hours of daylight left. Let's go for it!" I really wanted to see the debris field and I wanted my friends from Canada to see it as well. Apprehensively, we continued.
It was Rick's intention to stop at the Vogel Ranch house to ask permission to go on their property to see the place where something definitely came down in 1947. Whether it was MOGUL, an alien spacecraft, or something else, the debris field is the only place we KNOW that something happened.
Since there was some disagreement in our car on whether we should continue or not, Rick didn't stop for permission. He just assumed we would all be happy if we made it to the little house where it is said that Major Jesse Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt spent the night after arriving at the debris field too late to make it back to Roswell. I was pleading that we must continue on to the debris field but we did enjoy the time we spent at this little house, which is right next to a public road.
To continue on to the debris site, you must know where you are going because it requires cutting through rancher Vogel's property and finding a windmill, a land survey marker, and a sinkhole. Once you have the proper maps, you can get to the spot.
I won out and convinced Rick that we should continue on. He told us the car would not make it through the rough terrain and it was decided that we would go up in shifts in the Blazer. We were concerned about the temporary spare and the other tires holding up but decided that, since we were so close, we should march on.
The debris field is really nothing spectacular and we didn't see any fragments of anything unusual, but I'm glad I went. You could see the Capitan Mountain and the spot where we had been hours before and it all began to make sense to me. If it was the crash of an alien spacecraft, the Ragsdale site for its final resting place makes sense. I don't know how they got all those military trucks for the recovery operation up that mountain, but otherwise it make sense.
But we hadn't yet been to Hub Corn's site yet either.
By the time we finished getting everyone over to the debris field it was late in the afternoon. We were hot, tired, hungry, and sweaty. We decided it would be best if we went to the town of Capitan and tried to find a tire place, and some food. We found food but no place to buy the proper tire, so we began the long trek back to Roswell. My suggestion of going to the Hub Corn site was only a joke that the others didn't find funny. But as luck would have it, we made it to Corn's site the next day.
Final Stop: Hub Corn's Crash Site
Karl Pflock joined our little group that evening and told us that he would be appearing with Lt. Col. Philip Corso on CNN's "Talk Back Live" being filmed at the Corn site the next day. He asked some of us to join him out there. So, on July 3 around noon, we set out for the Corn site, heading north out of Roswell on Highway 285.
Once you turn off the main highway about 19 miles north of town and head west to the Corn site, the road is once again dusty and bumpy, but nothing like what we had done the day before. We were allowed to drive all the way to site, unlike most others who had to come on school buses. I can't even imagine how awful that must be.
Finally arriving at the site, we were greeted with vendors selling "roast corn on the cob," t-shirts, alien agua (water), and port-a-cans. It's a short hike to the crash site from the vendor area. An anonymous benefactor had donated some nice stone pillars to mark the trail to the site, as well as an engraved stone marker.
I was immediately put off by the commercialization of this site. It's certainly Mr. Corn's right to do what he wishes, but this just seemed like too much!
The actual place where the UFO is alleged to have come down is against a rock cliff. The cliff has a little dip in the middle and I'm not sure whether or not it is claimed that this dip was caused by the UFO, but it looked like a natural geological formation to my untrained eye. On the side of the cliff there were American flags and flowers placed in different spots. This was to signify where the aliens lost their lives.
This was completely hokey to me. Call me whatever you like, but I questioned my motivations and the reasons why I am even interested in this field after seeing that. I learned at a press briefing that someone sent a $100 spray of flowers out there and that a memorial service was held.
Maybe this IS where aliens crashed and burned. I don't know. But the Corn site just north of Roswell seems a little too convenient.
If you have the opportunity, the time, the proper vehicle, and the appropriate maps, I urge you to make a visit to all of these places and decide for yourself.
Now that I have returned home and have had the opportunity to reflect, I am pretty ambivalent about Roswell. I have no better understanding of what happened or where it happened than I did before -- but now I can say I've been there.
Original file name: CNI - Crash sites
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.