The “Forgotten” UFO Incidents Of The Loch Raven Dam

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
January 3, 2019
Last Updated
October 25, 2021
Estimated Reading Time
7 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Sightings

The Loch Raven Reservoir just north of the city of Baltimore in Maryland is one of the most well-known and vital locations for the city. As well as providing residents with somewhere to fish, practice water sports, or simply walk around and enjoy the views, it is also the city’s main source of drinking water. Furthermore, as we have examined with other areas near vast supplies of water, it is a quiet “hot-bed” of UFO activity. And it has been since the 1950s.

A depiction of a UFO blended into an image of Loch Raven Dam

What happened at Loch Raven Dam

Although largely forgotten by most outside of UFO circles and residents of Maryland itself, the 1958 Loch Raven Dam Incident is the one that captured the interest of the outside world. Not only was the incident investigated as part of Project Blue Book, it would continue to fall under the scrutiny of UFO investigators for years after. In fact, it is rather discreetly one of the best-documented cases in UFO history. Strange, then, that it is all but forgotten by most. When we factor in that sightings have continued in the area right into the contemporary era, not to mention apparent connections to surrounding nuclear facilities and test ranges, perhaps we should wonder why that might be.

However, before we delve into the 1958 encounter, an incident over five years earlier in May 1953 is perhaps the best place for us to examine what could be a long and quiet history of UFO activity in Baltimore, as well as the wider state of Maryland itself.

The 1953 Incident – A Syphoning Of Water Supplies?

On an evening in early-May 1953, a little before 8 pm, two young men were driving to pick up two young college women for a prearranged date in Baltimore. [1] It would be a journey like no other.  They were approaching one of the bridges across the Loch Raven Reservoir when their vehicle came to a sudden stop of its own accord. A second later the radio went silent, quickly followed by the failing of the headlights. The two young men began to jibe each other for not making sure the tank was full of gas. Then, they saw the “orange glowing object” approximately 300 feet in front of them over the bridge.

The object had the appearance of two saucers facing each other with “an ultraviolet band” dividing them. The light from the object shining off the surface of the water below. The two young men watched the object from their car for several moments before each left the vehicle looking for safety. The driver found refuge in an area of woodland at the top of a small embankment. The passenger, meanwhile, would hide in a small ditch in the opposite direction.

They would estimate the object to be between 200 to 300 feet above the water.  Underneath the object, was a strange “conical shape”, like a “column of fog or haze or mist” [2] which stretched down to the water. At the same time was a “mum-mum-mum” sound. This continued for around ten minutes before the object disappeared. Although the sighting remains without explanation, the sound and location would suggest a “siphoning”. Or, even more alarming, a contaminating of the water supply.

A “Large, Flat, And Sort Of Egg-Shaped Object” Over the Loch

The 1958 Loch Raven Dam Incident occurred on the evening of the 26th October. [3] In a similar build-up to the encounter five years previously, two men, Philip Small and Alvin Cohen, were traveling in a car towards the bridge over the loch. It was around 10:30 pm (some sources claim the time to be an hour later) when the two friends witnessed a “large, flat and sort of egg-shaped object hanging” in the air. They would estimate the altitude to be no more than 150 feet from the ground and its length to be around 100 feet. It glowed brightly in the night sky as they brought the car to a creeping pace to observe it in more detail.

Then, the car engine suddenly stopped dead. Small would later state, “It seemed as though the electrical system was affected. The dash lights went out, the headlights went out, the motor went dead”. Small would try the ignition several times but each time it failed to catch.

Each of the men was scared at this point. Even more so when a “brilliant flash of white light” filled their vision for a moment. This was followed by “heat on both our faces”. As this was taking place, an extremely loud noise would ring out which the pair assumed was an explosion. An explosion they were a part of. However, as they opened their eyes, they could see the object rising directly upwards. As it rose, it appeared to glow increasingly. Within ten seconds it had completely disappeared from view.

The whole incident appeared to last between 30 to 45 seconds. As soon as the object was out of view the car came back to life. After several attempts, Small was able to restart it. They rushed to the nearest phone booth.

A page from the official report of the UFO sighting

A page from the official report of the UFO sighting

Unexplained But Not A Security Threat!

The pair would contact the Ground Observer Corps with their report of the incident. However, there was obviously no intention of the organization treating the matter at all seriously. Not interested in whether or not the person on the phone “believed him or not”, Small would plead that he wished to know if anyone in the area had reported a similar object. After the insistence that the object was likely “a Navy blimp” the two young men gave up on this first report.

Desperate to have the incident placed on record in case others had witnessed the same thing, they would contact the nearby Towson Police Department. Shortly after, two police officers arrived at the scene of the sighting. Although the two witnesses were happy to tell all they knew, after all, they had contacted the police, they were eager for assurance that the information would only go to the US Air Force for investigation. Following their initial interview with the two officers, the men realized each had an intense burning on their faces. In particular Cohen.

This burning sensation continued into the following day making each man wonder if it was, in fact, some kind of radiation poisoning. Each would receive a further examination at a Baltimore hospital, eventually recovering. Unbeknown to the pair at the time, a corroborating witness, known only as “Mr. M” – claimed to be a credible witness – said he saw a “luminous white object” [4] rising into the air which then disappeared shortly after.

The case, at least officially, remains unexplained. And perhaps even stranger, given the nature of the report, was determined not to be a security threat. There were many sightings and incidents in the years following the 1958 incident. However, several stand out more than the rest.

Further Incidents And The Sighting Of Sharif Jameel

In 1978, for example, over two decades since the first reported sighting of strange aerial activity around the Loch Raven Reservoir area, came a report from a local fisherman by the name of “Mitchell”. He would claim to see a “bright round light” rising out of the waters. It would climb to a height of around 500 feet. It hovered there for several seconds before plummeting back into the lake below. An almost identical account occurred several years later in 1983, witnessed by several Baltimore City Water Department workers.

In April 1996, local writer and musician Sharif Jameel, had his own encounter with strange aerial objects near the Loch Raven Reservoir. Jameel, along with two college friends, was at the dam one Friday evening. Walking around the edge of the dam for nothing more than “fun”, the three young men suddenly heard a “subtle humming noise” overhead. As Jameel turned his attention upwards, he noticed a “glowing oval-shaped object” hovering directly over them. He would describe the glow as the color of a “natural gas flame”. A second later, Jameel followed his two friends running back to the embankment and off the dam itself.

By the time the young men had made it back to the safety of the ground, the object was no longer there. The whole incident lasted no longer than forty seconds. They would speculate between them that their presence on the dam had “tripped” some kind of security measure. However, years later as Jameel stumbled on to the 1958 incident he came to realize just what it was he and his two friends had witnessed that evening.

Loch Raven Bridge

Loch Raven Bridge

A Strange Craft “Like Green Fire!”

Perhaps one of the more recent sightings occurred in January 2000. While driving home from work, an administrative worker at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center claimed to witness a disk-shaped object over the dam. Furthermore, the strange craft “looked like green fire” as it zipped across the night sky.

The witness would later recall the snow and icy conditions. Because of them, the whole area lit up clearly by the glow of the object. With no fear at all, the witness would step from his vehicle to get a better look. However, as he did so, he would claim to notice a “sickening odor” that almost literally made him vomit. Before long, he returned to his vehicle. However, the tale would take a drastic and tragic twist.

The witness would begin to experience severe problems with his eyes. So severe, in fact, that he was unable to drive for around a month following the encounter. Even more bizarre, he would suddenly develop a “mystery illness”. One that would leave him in agony with extreme back pain and pain of the joints. For reasons not fully known, he would take his own life around a year following his sighting.

Was this drastic, not to mention tragically permanent course of action influenced by his encounter? Had it affected his mind somehow? Or was his final act the result of a year of non-stop pain in his very bones and joints? Regardless, it adds another layer, albeit a dark, gritty one, to an already intriguing set of sightings.

Strange There Is Such A Lack Of Information?

Whether the sightings in the modern age and the ones from back in the 1950s are of the same source or not is perhaps up for debate. That something strange appears attracted to the Loch Raven Reservoir is surely beyond doubt. What is also surprising, given the number of witnesses and the fact that many of the sightings have been experienced in their full duration. Particularly the 1958 incident that would receive such wide publicity. In the words of NICAP UFO investigator, Fran Ridge, it is hard to believe “the lack of good source information for such a good case”. Given the US Air Force’s going-out-of-their-way insistence that “there was no security threat” perhaps it is even more suspicious? Certainly that there is no further discussion on the incident, at least officially.

Might the connection to water be something of more importance than we might think? Even for those that realize that a majority of UFO sightings occur near to mass amounts or supplies of water. Might such notions of this most essential property of our planet being stripped by intelligence from elsewhere be less outlandish than most of us would think? Or might this apparent theft be one of simple utilization, with the water supply “recycled” elsewhere on the planet? All completely speculative notions. But there is perhaps something of quiet importance of the UFO encounters over waters to the north of Baltimore. Just what is the reason for the interest in this region of whatever intelligence lays behind these mysterious crafts?

Check out the short video below. It is one of many UFO sightings over the Baltimore area.


1 UFO Sighting, Baltimore Bridge at the Loch Raven Reservoir, NICAP
2 UFO Has A Column Of Fog Or Water Under It, Water UFO
3 Loch Raven Dam UFO Incident, NICAP
4 Loch Raven Dam Incident, UFO Weekly News

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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  • Mike Kilo says:

    When I was a ******* in the early seventies I witnessed a luminous, slow moving, egg shaped object crossing an azimuth that – yay, Google Earth! – I recently determined would have put it directly over the Loch Raven Dam depending upon its distance from me at the time.

    We lived in a subdivision not far from the dam. Other residents reporting seeing and hearing strange things in the area. I witnesses other anomalies as well.

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