The 1947 Snake River Canyon UFO Incident

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
April 15, 2019
Last Updated
October 24, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Sightings

Anyone with an interest in UFO history will know that 1947, at least officially, marks the beginnings of the “modern era” of the UFO timeline, primarily due to the Roswell Crash and the apparent cover-up that took place in the months and years after.

However, the spring and summer of 1947 were seemingly awash with such sightings of strange discs, near misses, and high-speed aerial chases. Whether there is a connection between them all or not remains open to debate.

A superimposed UFO over Snake Canyon

A superimposed UFO over Snake Canyon

The incident we will examine here took place around six weeks after the Roswell incident in the state of Idaho. Remember, given that there was no Internet or even televisions (at least in most homes) at this stage, news didn’t travel nearly as fast as it does today. And in many rural farming locations, even daily newspapers were not part of many people’s lives, certainly not on a national level.

In short, given that the military had already pulled back from the media, who themselves had moved on to other things, there is little chance that what the witness, in this case, was influenced by the events in New Mexico, which for all intents and purposes was another world away from the farmlands of Idaho.

Given the similarities of the crafts involved, both in description and in maneuverability, the tight window in which these incidents played out, as well as the surge of similar sightings and conspiracy claims that would follow, it would appear that something of significance was certainly unfolding over the United States during this time, as well as other parts of the planet. And what’s more, the consequences of those actions in the years following the Second World War would appear to be so far-reaching we are still making sense of them today.

A Shining Disc Under A “Control Faster Than The Reflexes Of Man!”

On the afternoon of 13th August 1947 trout farmer, A.C. Urie, along with his two young sons, 10-year-old Billy, and 8-year-old Keith, would witness an event unlike any other before or since.

Urie operated the Auger Falls Trout Farm whose waters ran through the Snake River Canyon. On this summer’s day, at around 1 pm, Urie’s two sons were crossing the water in a small boat from the north side of the river. He couldn’t understand what was keeping them as both of them were experienced enough to control the vessel. He made his way to the river bank, looking down on the water.

Sketch of UFO witnessed in 1947

Sketch of UFO witnessed in 1947

From there, he had a “close-up view of the flying saucer” as it zipped past him going around 100 miles per hour and at an altitude of around 75 feet from the surface of the Canyon. Urie would elaborate that both he and his sons watched the disc-like craft from their differing angles.

He would state that it moved in sympathy with the surface below it:

…up and down over the hills and hollows at a speed indicating some type of control faster than the reflexes of man! [1]

He would further state that it would use “atomic energy” and, perhaps importantly, would make a “swishing” sound. The exact words that Urie would use to describe the shape of the craft was like “an inverted pie-plate” or a “compressed straw hat” which was around 20 feet in length, as well as around 10 feet each in height and width.

He continued to watch the shining otherworldly craft as it quickly moved out of his, and his sons’ line of sight.

Involved In A “Flying Saucer” Situation!

Not at all sure what he had seen, Urie was more than aware that something different had taken place. In fact, even at that point, he believed he was involved in one of those “flying saucer” situations.

Newspaper clipping of the incident

Newspaper clipping of the incident

When he was later pressed if he really believed he had seen a “flying saucer” he would state bluntly:

I know a number of people who have seen them. And I know that they’re not just imagining seeing these things or trying to get their names in the paper!

While he wasn’t a “believer” in such things before, the fact he had seen such a craft with his own eyes had changed his mind completely. Of his two young sons, he would claim they were “scared and uneasy” during the incident, although they remained calm throughout, each providing their own detailed report.

Ultimately, over three decades after the sighting, J. Allen Hynek would write that it was almost certain that the Uries were truthful in their account. And what’s more, as we will examine shortly, the number of sightings at the time of a very similar nature is just a further testament to this.

Further still, while there were already three witnesses to this sighting, nearby were several other witnesses who would, circumstantially at least, corroborate the sighting.

“…There’s Something In The Air!”

Earlier the same morning, at around 9:30 am, the county commissioner of nearby Twin Falls, L.W. Hawkins, witnessed two “circular objects” skimming the surface over the Salmon Dam. Interestingly, and similarly to the description issued by Urie of a “swishing” noise, Hawkins claimed that what first alerted him to something out of the ordinary taking place that morning was a motor-like sound from above.

It appeared that the two objects were made of something extremely shiny, possibly metal, by the way they reflected the early morning sun. They also traveled at a speed faster than any plane he had ever witnessed before.

It was, however, his response when asked to elaborate on what he had witnessed that is perhaps most telling. He would refuse to do so, other than to say:

…There’s something in air!

It would certainly seem there was. And while we know that UFO sightings were beginning to happen all across the United States from the early-summer of 1947 where they would explode into arguably the first UFO wave of the modern UFO era following the Mantell Incident in January 1948, only several weeks earlier, on Independence Day evening, no less, another sightings would unfold in the Idaho skies. And what’s more, it would happen only a week after the Kenneth Arnold Sighting.

Independence Day, 1947

On the evening of 4th July 1947 at Boise Airport, Captain Emil Smith prepared United Flight 105 [2] for take-off on its way to Seattle, Washington. The plane left the runway at precisely 9:04 pm. Eight minutes later at 9:12 pm, the plane made its way over the town of Emmett. A strange glowing object then came into the co-pilot, Ralph Stevens’ view.

The two men watched this strange craft – five of them in total – from the relative safety of the cockpit. They soon realized that they had no wings or tail. And as they were most definitely not helicopters, they were at a loss as to what these strange and intriguing crafts might be.

Newspaper clipping from the Idaho UFO incident in 1947

Newspaper clipping from the Idaho UFO incident in 1947

The men would ask one of the air stewardesses to come into the cockpit. So she might give a third opinion. The three of them would watch the objects for several more minutes. Then they made contact with their nearest control tower for any more information. As they did so, the five objects suddenly sped off and vanished into the night sky.

The sky itself was perfectly clear, offering no clouds or such formations that might have been confused for solid objects. The fact they had watched them for several minutes only confirmed to them that what they were seeing were solid objects and not some strange optical illusion.

A Disc-Shape Craft With A “Roughness” To The Exterior!

In fact, perhaps because of the several moments the pilots and the air stewardess took to watch the objects, they were able to give a relatively detailed description of them, despite the darkness of the night sky.

For example, there was a very distinct “roughness” to the exterior of the craft. The overall shape, however, most definitely was not one of a “conventional aircraft”. According to the report, the crafts were “flat on the bottom and rounded on the top”, much like many other disc-shaped crafts that were sighted and reported during the late-1940s.

Superimposed UFO emerging from the clouds over Snake River

Superimposed UFO emerging from the clouds over Snake River

Furthermore, although it was hard to get an exact idea of the distance of the craft (so as to estimate its actual size), the overall impression was that each of them was “much larger” than any of the aircraft available to the American government, military, or public.

Even more bizarre, however, was the fact that a second formation of these strange crafts would come into view almost immediately after the first group had vanished, as if out of nowhere. This time, however, there were four objects. Three of them together as before, while the fourth one was off to one side. They would move, with this single craft maintaining its distance from the group. This appeared as though it was the leader.

Unlike the first group, these crafts simply passed the United plane at breakneck speed. And vanished as fast as they had arrived.

“I’ll Believe In Those Discs When I See Them!”

There was something that made the sighting even more poignant. At least to Captain Smith and the crew. Beforehand, they had talked about the Arnold sighting which was national news the week previously. According to the stories in the newspapers of which Smith himself was now the witness, the captain was claimed to have said to his crew members that he would “believe in those discs” when he “see them”.

However, by his own admission, he was much more open and interested in the subject following the encounter. He would not “publicly speculate” on what the objects might have been. Or where they may have come from.

Superimposed UFO over the mountains at night

Superimposed UFO over the mountains at night

The amount of detail that resonates in sympathy with the previous account, however, certainly leaps out. It would certainly not be that much of a stretch of the imagination to think the intelligence behind the sightings were the same.

Incidentally, Captain Smith is universally a very credible witness and not someone prone to exaggeration. Might it have been that the sighting of the crew of United Flight 105 was the same as the object witnessed by the Urie family?

What’s more, there were several other sightings from the Gem State in the summer of 1947.

Daily UFO Sightings In Idaho!

For example, the previous evening on 3rd July in the town of Dishman, Mrs. Johnson, along with nine other people, would report eight objects descending from the sky [3] and landing on a mountainside near the St. Joe River.

According to the witness statements, the crafts were initially traveling extremely fast. It would then come to a sudden halt at the desired landing destination. When they descended, they did so in a fashion similar to a falling leaf.

Superimposed UFO over the mountains at night

Superimposed UFO over the mountains at night

Interestingly, a report of the sighting would go to the nearby Spokane Army Air Base. This would result in the scrambling of several military jets. However, no further sightings or interceptions would occur. Even stranger, there were no follow-up interviews with the witnesses by anyone from the military base.

Several nights earlier came another such sighting.

On the afternoon of 30th June 1947 just after 1:30 pm, in the small town of Moscow, Idaho, seven different people witnessed a “flat, shining disc”. It would move across the clear, blue sky. One of the witnesses, Frank Lark, would claim he clearly saw the craft moving extremely quickly “above cloud level”. Another witness, a neighbor, Mrs. Hellman, would state:

It wasn’t a plane! We know what a plane looks like! [4]

The following day, yet another sighting would find its way into the Idaho newspapers.

Just What Was Happening In America In The Summer Of 1947?

On the 1st July in Twin Falls, around ten “flying discs” would move across the sky in a tight V-formation. Two people would witness the surreal incident, forest rangers, Hunter Nelson and Walter Nicholson.

The men were marking trees ready for the crews who would follow them. They would notice a “buzzing” sound coming from above them. As both men turned their attention upward, they could see the shiny objects. They remained in sight for around a minute before disappearing into the distance.

Each of the men had experience in the area. And so were used to the ample amounts of aircraft that would regularly fly over the woodland. They would dismiss the notion that the objects were a squadron of fighter jets. Or some other conventional aircraft.

In total, over 80 UFO sightings would feature in newspapers throughout the state of Idaho during the summer of 1947. We have to ask how many more reports received no publicity? And further still, how many sightings would not even have reports? And ultimately, did the plethora of UFO sightings in the Gem State share a connection to the abundance of sightings happening all over the United States?

The video below looks at UFO sightings during this period in history.


1 Snake River, August 13, 1947, Ufologie
2 UAL Flight 105 – July 4, 1947, Project 1947
3 Eight Saucers Land In Idaho?, Fran Ridge, NICAP
4 The Eddy-fication of a.c. urie, Saturday Night Uforia

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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1 Comment

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  • Adrien Nash` says:

    Some text of this paragraph must have digitally vanished:
    “On this summer’s day, at around 1 pm, Urie’s two sons were crossing the water in a small boat from the north side of the river. Wondering what was keeping them, [???] both of whom were experienced enough to control the vessel,

    Thanks for an excellent and necessary compilation of sightings of a most seminal year.

    It needs to be pointed out that there is a similarity to two sightings which were unique except in relation to each other. Here’s the case that brought to mind the experience of Kenneth Arnold. He saw nine craft flying in a V-formation (one at the front and four on each side)

    “On the 1st July in Twin Falls, around ten “flying discs” would move across the sky. And in a tight V-formation to boot. ”

    There has never been another such sighting. It’s not a great mystery though because as Arnold described their motion (a saucer skipping over water) the only such motion ever known was that of craft using engines that the 3rd Reich invented; namely; Pulse Detonation.
    So…we can assume that both sightings were of the same craft, -secret craft that the US acquired from the fallen Nazi government.

    Only man-made craft would have ever used Pulse Detonation as a propulsion system. And we know that it was not adequate in certain ways since it’s never been seen since, …until they incorporated it into the most high-speed experimental secret craft which produce the donut shaped exhaust clouds.

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