UFO Activity Over The American Midwest

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
October 13, 2018
Last Updated
September 8, 2020
Estimated Reading Time
8 min read
Posted in

The American Midwest, or “Middle America”, is perhaps not the first place we would think of when thinking of UFO sightings and strange aerial activity. There is an abundance of sightings in sunny California, for example, and just as many in and around the famous states of New York and Florida. However, UFO sightings in such states as Nebraska, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Kansas, and Missouri are just as high, if not more so. And what’s more, in some cases, these sightings date back to before the start of the twentieth century. They don’t, however, always get the widespread attention they deserve.

A depiction of a UFO over a wheat field

A depiction of a UFO over a wheat field

We have, for example, previously examined another of those midwestern states, Illinois, and the plethora of sightings and activity that has and still does occur there each year. While such locations as Chicago often receive top-billing when such sightings take place, this aerial activity is replicated across all the midwestern states of America.

We will start, though, with an incident perhaps on par with the alleged Roswell crash. Except this occurred in 1884, near the little-known town of Max just outside of Dundy County, Nebraska.

The 1884 Nebraska Crash

On the 6th June 1884, John W. Ellis, along with several hired hands (cowboys) were rounding up cattle on the open plains near Dundy County, Nebraska. It was coming to the end of the day, with the last of the light about to be swallowed by the oncoming night. Suddenly, an object, glowing brightly, flashed across the skies above them. With it came a “terrific whirring” sound. Each of the men stopped what they were doing and followed the object, watching it crash to the ground somewhere in the distance.

According to a subsequent report in ‘The Daily Nebraskan’, the men would approach this crippled craft. This would result in one of them, Alf Williamson, suffering severe burns for which he was taken to Ellis’ house to receive medical attention.

‘The Nebraska State Journal’ would also report on the incident three years later in 1887. They would state that when the men did manage to examine the object more closely, it very much had the appearance of some kind of “nuts-and-bolts” craft. It would report the presence of what “looked like the blade of a propeller screw” made from “metal of an appearance like brass”. The report would also tell how the piece of recovered craft weighed “no more than five pounds but appeared as strong and compact as any known metal”. Another recovered section of the object had the same “remarkable lightness”.

Despite the newspaper recordings of the account, some skeptics, including many Nebraskans insist the incident was “a hoax” of some sort. According to further records, on 10th June, following a huge and unusual rainstorm, the remains of the craft simply “melted”. Some UFO researchers have suggested that this “unusual storm” was perhaps a cover of sorts to retrieve their crippled vehicle.

A depiction of a UFO over farm house

A depiction of a UFO over farm house

Landing On The River Bank, Iowa, 1920

Although we will come back to Nebraska and some of its more contemporary sightings shortly, another pre-Roswell sighting took place in nearby Iowa, on the morning of 3rd June 1920. It was a little after 10 am when Clark Linch was at his father’s farm, around six miles out of Mount Pleasant.

According to Linch, he was fishing at the time when a strange egg-shaped object appeared out of nowhere from above and silently landed on the river bank. The object was around fifteen-feet away from him and simply remained motionless.

Linch would recall it was around fifteen minutes later when he began to think about walking over to the craft. Just as he did so, however, it burst into life. Although still completely silent, it quickly rose into the air, eventually disappearing out of sight. When Linch did walk over to the spot where the strange, oval object had landed, there was a clear impression left on the grass. There were, however, no burn or scorch marks.

Although Linch wouldn’t speak of the encounter for another three-and-a-half decades, when he did the details were intriguing. He would claim that the object had a “blue and translucent” color to it. So much so that it “would have been camouflaged in the sky”. This is an interesting observation and certainly makes one wonder at how often such objects might be moving around the skies above us today. He would also estimate that although it moved with precision, its speed was only around five miles per hour. Ultimately, he would conclude “that it wasn’t anything from Earth”.

The Diamond Island Sighting, Illinois, 1888

Over thirty years previously, in September 1888 in the Illinois River at a destination with much mystery to its name, Diamond Island, another apparently cosmic encounter unfolded. Rumors had swirled for years of an apparently ghostly presence on the island. This particular evening a group of local residents, intrigued and intent and getting to the bottom of this mysterious apparition, sailed towards the island in their small rowing boat. The most persistent rumors were of a strange “ball of fire” that would appear at the foot of the island. Usually late at night, around midnight.

They brought their small vessel to a stop on the island shortly after setting off. After securing it at the coast, they set foot on Diamond Island and began to position themselves in various discreet locations on the shore. Then, they waited. Their wait, though, would not be a long one.

All of a sudden, a bright red object cast its considerable light over the entire island from above. It had risen out of the previously quiet waters and then hovered at a height of around forty yards. All of the men were in awe as they then watched the red object fade and disappear. They headed to their boat looking to board and set off for home. However, it was no longer there. It was, in fact, drifting out on the water at a considerable distance. It appeared the red object was inside the boat. Then, the men witnessed the red object “take the form of a man”. They could even see the movement of the figure rowing. Then, the figure turned once again to a red orb, before rising upwards and eventually disappearing.

A woken fisherman would rescue the small group. Sightings of the mysterious red “spook” continue today.

A depiction of an orb over a river

A depiction of an orb over a river

More Occupant Sightings!

Over half a century later Illinois was host to another bizarre UFO encounter. This time in Prospect Heights in May 1952 at just before 11 pm, Ann Sohn just happened to look out of her window. In front of her was a “luminous disc-shaped object”. It simply hovered over a vacant patch of land. Ann could see there was a “row of square windows” while on the objects upper half was a “transparent dome”. The main exterior of the craft was of a “white luminous” material. Emerging from the underside was a mist of “green glowing vapor”.

As she moved her focus back to the windows she noticed all of them were black. Except, that is, for three consecutive ones. To her amazement, in each of these illuminated windows was “a man”. Two of them were facing towards Ann, while the other was sideways on. They appeared to don “parka-like coveralls” and some type of headpiece. The two sides watched each other for about five minutes. Then Ann saw the occupants manipulate what looked to be levers. In response, the craft suddenly took on a deep red glow. Then, it vanished at a breakneck speed.

Several months later in the early hours of 25th August 1952 in Pittsburg, Kansas, came a similar encounter. KOAM Radio staff member, William Squyres witnessed a low-hovering object near a wooded area of Kansas, at around 5:30 am while driving from his home to work. The more he looked at this hovering disc-like object, he could make out “windows” along the edge of it. They had a blue glow to them. However, they appeared somewhat shaded. Squyres could see “figures behind it”.  After several moments, a “throbbing” sound was physically palpable in the air. Then, the strange craft rose quickly and vanished.

Circles Of “Solid Light”

Another strange incident occurred sometime in 1954 in Osceola, Iowa, a young boy, Michael Kelly, would tell of a strange memory of waking up in a field surrounded by “boy scouts”. He couldn’t recall why he was there, or how he had arrived there. He recognized the area, however, and realized he was near home. Michael noticed that the scouts had some kind of uniform on, although none wore their trademark hats. When he asked out loud where their hats were, one of them replied simply that “they didn’t wear hats”.

Suddenly, he found himself in a “circle of beaming light” that had a “solid” feel to it. This is a particularly interesting description which often comes up in other accounts. When he turned his attention upwards he could see a large round object above them with multiple lights of differing colors around its edge. Once again, he asked out loud, what the object was. The reply was that it was a “helicopter”. Michael would respond that he didn’t believe them. That it didn’t look like a helicopter. Then his mind went blank. He has no other memory of the incident, nor exactly when it took place.

Another encounter involving an apparent beaming of light took place in Merom, Indiana on the evening of 6th November 1957. That evening, Rene Gilham would notice a strange light in the sky from his farm-home. When he went outside to investigate he could see the light was a “brightly luminous object”, approximately forty feet across and at a distance of around 1,000 feet from the ground. As he watched this strange and mysterious glowing object, he noticed something “beam out” from underneath that “bathed his farm with an eerie, penetrating light”.

A depiction of a UFO shining a light on a person

A depiction of a UFO shining a light on a person

What Happened To Rene Gilham?

Gilham remained motionless watching the object for ten minutes. At one point, a smaller craft appeared and hovered alongside the much larger object. Then, the larger object suddenly “went straight up and headed west”. At the same time, the light increased in intensity. And a “whirring noise like a high-speed electric motor gaining revolutions” was audible. The sighting was also witnessed, in part, by Gilham’s wife, children, and his father-in-law.

The following day, however, the farm owner began to experience intense itching of his face. It also became increasingly red, as if he was severely sunburnt. The pain would eventually become so intense that he would seek medical attention. Investigation would suggest that the rash was not a response to something such as poison ivy or an allergic reaction. According to Dr. Joseph Drake, the reddening was “similar to burns that are inflicted on the face and eyes when working near an arc welder without a face mask”.

The condition would continue to worsen, and he was eventually admitted to Mary Sherman Hospital. By this time, rumors were circulating with alacrity. And reporters would loiter at the reception of the hospital, eager to speak with staff or family members about Gilham’s condition.

Perhaps strangely, the case would suddenly disappear from public view. As would Gilham himself. Nothing much is on record following the declaration on the 11th November that his condition had improved. And that he was to be released from hospital the following day. Where he went, or if he even left the facility, is strangely still open to debate.

Sightings Remain Consistent

Heading back to Nebraska, and in more contemporary times, UFO activity has always remained consistent. For example, on the evening that (then) Governor of California, Ronald Reagan was giving his acceptance speech as the nominee for the Republican party for the 1980 US election, 17th July 1980 in North Platte, two unnamed witnesses saw “several rock-shaped objects” flying purposely across the sky. The two witnesses were at an ice-rink party when they happened to look upwards a little after 10 pm. After ten seconds or so they “vanished into a puffy white cloud”. Interestingly, the following year on 19th October 1981, in the same location, three objects were tracked by radar moving across the sky. Multi-colored discs were also reported by five separate witnesses.

In Sutherland on 15th November 1983, while approaching a group of youths who were obviously trying to stash away the beer they were drinking, a police officer, and the group themselves, witnessed a “dark metallic craft” moving across the sky at an altitude of around 2,000 feet. The witnesses would report that the strange craft had what appeared to be rows of windows along the middle of it. As the group watched events unfold in awe, three circles suddenly “flashed a bright white light” and the mysterious object sped away into the night sky.

Even more recently on 22nd July 2000 in Ogallala, three friends witnessed a huge craft with equally large panels making up its exterior. These panels flashed both colors and shapes “unlike anything they had ever see”. On 29th June 2007, an anonymous truck driver would report three bright lights, in a triangular formation. They moved across the sky as he walked to his truck shortly before midnight. After several minutes it vanished vertically in a flash.

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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