“THE GREAT AIRSHIP HOAX OF 1909” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to ““THE GREAT AIRSHIP HOAX OF 1909” and More Strange True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: We’ll meet a cat that must have more than nine lives, as it survived three World War Two shipwrecks and lived to meow about it! (Unsinkable Sam) *** UFO crash stories are somewhat ubiquitous, with most immediately pointing to Roswell, New Mexico… or Aurora, Texas… or even the so-called “Battle Over Los Angeles”. But there are many other stories of flying saucers crashing to Earth – and we’ll look at one that took place in Bolivia, in 1978. (The Bolivia UFO Crash) *** A hidden artifact found in a mysterious hill in Oklahoma reveals a terrifying story! (Oklahoma’s Mysterious Hollow Hill) *** But first, we’ll look at the crazy story of the Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909!
SOURCES AND ESSENTIAL WEB LINKS…
“Oklahoma’s Mysterious Hollow Hill” by Ellen Lloyd for AncientPages.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/44s54rmp,https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p86uyt7
“Unsinkable Sam” by Natasha Ishak for AllThatsInteresting.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2p8j9nkz
“The Bolivia UFO Crash” posted at Anomalien.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/3f4b2rr7
“The Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909” from SlightlyOddFitchburg.com: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/2adehevb,https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/yckp2hh9
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The following story was printed in the Boston Herald, December 13, 1909… “Wallace E. Tillinghast of this city, vice-president of a manufacturing company here, made public a story today [that] he invented, built, and tested an aeroplane capable of carrying three passengers with a weight limit of 600 pounds, a distance of about 300 miles with a stop to replenish the supply of petrol, at a rate of 120 miles an hour. He refuses to say where his flying machine is as he wants to enter into Boston contests next year as a sure winner…” Is it possible someone could’ve created such an advanced plane only six years after the Orville Brothers made their historic flight of only a few feet, barely off the ground?
I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness.
Welcome, Weirdos – I’m Darren Marlar and this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
We’ll meet a cat that must have more than nine lives, as it survived three World War Two shipwrecks and lived to meow about it! (Unsinkable Sam)
UFO crash stories are somewhat ubiquitous, with most immediately pointing to Roswell, New Mexico… or Aurora, Texas… or even the so-called “Battle Over Los Angeles”. But there are many other stories of flying saucers crashing to Earth – and we’ll look at one that took place in Bolivia, in 1978. (The Bolivia UFO Crash)
A hidden artifact found in a mysterious hill in Oklahoma reveals a terrifying story! (Oklahoma’s Mysterious Hollow Hill)
But first, we’ll look at the crazy story of the Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909!
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, my newsletter, enter contests, to connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: THE GREAT WORCESTER AIRSHIP HOAX=====
*****Excerpt from the Boston Herald – December 13, 1909: “WORCESTER, Dec. 12–Wallace E. Tillinghast of this city, vice-president of a manufacturing company here, made public a story today [that] he invented, built, and tested an aeroplane capable of carrying three passengers with a weight limit of 600 pounds, a distance of about 300 miles with a stop to replenish the supply of petrol, at a rate of 120 miles an hour. He refuses to say where his flying machine is as he wants to enter into Boston contests next year as a sure winner…”*****
The late 19th and early 20th centuries were a great time for UFO sightings. Not only was there nothing to do except stare up into the sky until TV was invented, but this was also when this newfangled thing called “aviation” was on everyone’s mind. The Wright brothers, two bicycle men out of Illinois, made their first sustained flight on December 17, 1903. A few years before that, in 1895, a German guy by the name of Count Ferdinand von Zepplin patented his rigid airship, the “Ferdinand”. (Note to self: double check that name.)
With all of this flying around going on, it only stands to reason that a lot of people were going to see a lot of things that they didn’t understand. You have to realize that the W. Bros. and Ferdi were just the guys who succeeded. There were still hundreds or thousands of other people trying to do the same exact things. That meant tons of flying machines in the sky and lots of bored men and women to see them.
The whole thing really starts back in 1896, out in California. That’s the Pacific state that both catches on fire every year and starts shaking like a gogo dancer for no good reason, if you were wondering.
Anyway, the first sighting comes out of Sacramento on November 17th with witnesses reporting a strange light 1,000 feet above the ground. Then there’s another sighting on November 19th with a colonel named H.G. Shaw seeing a metallic object in the sky, over his buggy. Then there are reports from April 10, 1897, April 16, 1897, and April 19, 1897, and they didn’t all stay in California. They actually progressively moved east as they occurred, ending in Kansas.
This isn’t about those sightings, though. That’s just the background to help you understand what this time period was like. It was really a global phenomenon, with airship sightings as far away as the U.K. and New Zealand.
Now, at first, everyone was happy to attribute these sightings to aliens from another world. There were even witnesses who claimed to see actual Martians in the windows of these things.
How they knew they were from Mars and not anywhere else is beyond me, but that’s what they said. Way to assume someone’s species, bro.
Anyway, all of that little green man talk went right out the window when, at the end of 1909, both national and international headlines were stating that the whole damned epicenter of this airship hullabaloo was… wait for it…. Worcester, Massachusetts!
That’s right! Everyone in the world was looking to Worcester and trying to figure out what in the hell was going on with that place. It seemed that so much of the activity was centered on the city that it had to know something no one else did.
It also didn’t help that there was a massive sighting there on December 15, 1909. Crowds of… Worcesterites?… Worcesterins?… Wocresterrieans? were all doing their Christmas shopping and flooding the city streets. That was when a light appeared in the sky and started silently moving over the area.
This was followed by an even bigger sighting the next night. A similar light was seen over the communities of Marlborough, Natick, Groton, South Framingham, Ashland, Grafton, North Grafton, Hopedale, Upton, Northborough, and Fitchburg. (Woo!! Fitchburg!!)
In fact, it was even reported in the Christmas Eve edition of the Fitchburg Sentinel: “Over the peak of Rollstone Hill, a wonderfully bright light glowed, and hundreds watch it with wonder, not unmixed with awe.” That all set the stage for some tomfoolery, and boy was there some tomfoolin’ about to be afoot!
So, now we start to get into the real meat of the story. Wallace E. Tillinghast was a well-liked fellow out of Worcester. He was also the vice president of the Sure Seal Manufacturing Company, and the only guy to come forward and claim responsibility for the whole airship thing.
In fact, he actually held a press conference about it back in September of 1909. It took place in Worcester and he claimed to have designed and built a “heavier than air ship” that was capable of carrying 600 pounds worth of personage… Okay that was a weird way for me to word that. Let’s just go with three people, each weighing up to 200 pounds each, not like, a vat of people or something.
Anywho, Wallace E. Tillinghast also said that his machine could fly a distance of 300 miles without having to stop to refuel. On top of that, T-dawg claimed that it could reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.
Keep in mind that this was back when scientists thought that you would literally melt if you went faster than 60 miles per hour. This Tillinghast fellow sure was a gas!
There’s just one problem with all of this, though. Wallace never actually produced this flying machine. He had a whole press conference for it, but didn’t even bring the damned thing with him, and it didn’t go unnoticed.
One of the reporters actually asked him why in the hell he dragged everyone out to see him without having a big reveal or something. Tillinghast just shrugged off the question and responded with something to the effect of “I totally have the machine, but it’s not here right now. It’s… uhm… being flown by someone else right now. Who? Oh, you wouldn’t know her… She’s… totally my girlfriend… but you’ve never met her… because she… ah… goes to a different school… in Canada… Yeah, that’s it.”
Okay, that’s not the actual quote, obviously, but it’s so stupidly close to the real thing that it probably caused the reporter to face palm. The guy actually tried to convince everyone that he let another person fly this marvel of technology and the indomitable human spirit somewhere else while he had his press conference. If nothing else, that’s ballsy as hell!
It was after this press conference that the whole thing really exploded big. People from all over the country started seeing Wallace Tillinghast’s mysterious airship after it hit the national papers. There were sightings in Arkansas, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and many other places. Some of the reports were as simple as seeing a light high up in the sky, while others were about as detailed as they can get.
One guy, an Alex Randell of Revere, gave the most remarkable report. He told a reporter. “I saw not only the lights of the airship, but I saw the frame quite plainly, and it seems to be of unusual size. I should say the wings have a sweep of seventy feet and the tail and propeller seemed about forty-five feet in length. I could plainly hear the engines whirr and from the explosions of the motor I should say it was either a six or eight-cylinder.”
What’s amazing there is that this man was considered an expert in aeronautics and motors and not just some guy off the street. He not only knew what he was talking about, but also claimed to have never heard about Tillinghast or his flying machine before he talked to reporters.
The coolest sighting had to have taken place in Rhode Island, though. The streets of Providence were flooded with people pointing up to the night sky and claiming to see the mystery airship of Wallace Tillinghast flying high in the sky! It took the clear thinking of none other than H.P. Lovecraft to debunk it, though. He easily identified the light as the planet Venus. Then he probably scoffed a little bit before heading home to survive on his diet of nothing but candy and throw the wrappers into his bathtub because he never bathed. (True story, look it up.) So, the guy who came up with Cthulhu and popularized Eldritch Horror had to step in and tell everyone to chill the hell out. That’s fun.
So, there were a lot of sightings. If you’re an astute listener then you no doubt noticed that the title of this whole thing is The Great Airship HOAX of 1909. How could there have been so many sightings if the whole thing was faked?
Well, according to The New England Skeptical Society, it can all be attributed to a collective delusion and collective wish-fulfillment. You see, it turns out that when you read the same thing in the paper every single day, you start to get conditioned to think in a certain way. As they put it:
“Collective wish-fulfillment involves similar processes that give rise to community threats and moral panics, except the object of interest is esteemed and satisfies psychological needs. Episodes often involve the subconscious desire for the existence of an agent that can perform extraordinary feats, such as Virgin Mary appearances,’ reports of fairies in Europe and England prior to the twentieth century, and “UFO” sightings worldwide since 1947. In the case of UFO’s, many people hope that aliens are visiting earth because if they are real, their advanced technology may eradicate disease or make us immortal. In this regard, the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung has referred to flying saucer sightings since 1947 as ‘technological angels.’”
It’s the same exact thing as seeing the same Facebook meme over and over again until you just start to believe it, no matter how stupid it really is. You just WANT it to be true, so you make it true in your perception of the world around you. It’s pretty much what modern politics is based on.
Simply put, the good people of the world just wanted Tillinghast’s flying machine to be so real that they perceived it in any way that they could. They would read about it in the daily newspaper, then mistake common occurrences as the thing they wanted to see.
Just look at what happened with H.P. Lovecraft, a few paragraphs ago and you get the idea. Maybe that’s what happened in all of the instances of sightings. Maybe it only happened in a few of them. Or, maybe, just maybe, Wallace Tillinghast was just one part of a much bigger conspiracy.
We’ll look a bit more closely at the Tillinghast conspiracy theory, coming up. Plus, we’ll meet “Unsinkable Sam” – a cat that survived three World War Two shipwrecks and lived to meow about it! These stories and more when Weird Darkness returns!
So, we have the world going crazy for flying machines and Wallace Tillinghast was the only person claiming responsibility. When the newspapers finally started looking for legitimate answers that didn’t involve Martians, guess who they contacted.
Reporters showed up at Wallace’s door, only to be turned away by his wife. She just told them all that “[Wallace] knows his business. He will talk when the proper time comes.”
She also may or may not have called them all idiots under her breath while they walked away because the fact is that Wally T was really about to jump the shark with his claims. It’s never mentioned if his wife had any real idea of what was going on, though. She was never forthcoming either way, so she may have just thought it was hilarious the whole time.
It was soon after people started seeking him out for answers that Wallace Tillinghast gave his most extravagant retelling of a flight. He claimed to have flown from Worcester to New York City, circled the Statue of Liberty for a full hour, flown back to Boston and finally home to Worcester. On top of that, he also said that his great airship lost power while it was doing its statue circling. His story was that a crew of mechanics got the engine working again while he just calmly flew around Lady Liberty.
Now you really have to understand the state of aviation at this time. Remember that the Wright brothers had just maintained the very first powered flight in 1903. That was only six years earlier and people in Europe were still calling them filthy liars in 1906.
Just think about that for a second. The idea of flying was so crazy to everyone back then that European newspapers were openly printing “Nah-Ah!” and calling them “bluffers” three full years after they flew! That’s how slowly technology used to progress.
Keep in mind that their first flight went for a total 852 feet! That’s a little over three football fields’ worth of flying and Wallace Tillinghast was claiming to have flown almost 500 miles! That’s 8,800 fields against the brothers’ three, so someone has to be lying here.
In fact, if you look at a photo of New York Harbor in 1909 you’ll see a lot – and I mean a LOT – of buildings. Those buildings were filled with people and they all had a very clear view of the Statue of Liberty.
If something in the sky did in fact fly right over their heads and circle the statue for a full hour, I’m positive that someone would have seen it. Not only that, but I’d be willing to bet that the shore would be flooded with onlookers just staring at them the entire time. Can you guess what absolutely did not happen?
New Yorkers may like to say that they never look up, but come on. It would have been a freaking airship flying around for an hour.
Anyway, the last big sighting happened on December 23rd, 1909, and was reported in the Providence Journal on Christmas Eve the next day. This one started off in Marlborough and then flew over Westborough and Worcester. Then it disappeared and reappeared in Natick. Once again, it flew out of sight and got reported one last time from the Boston Common.
This was when Tillinghast started to get a little cagier about his statements. The final one to come from him stated that: “I was out of Worcester last night. Where I was is my own business. It may be that I flew over the city, but that’s my own business, too. When I said recently that I had flown from Boston to New York and returned, I said nothing but what was true. I have an airship which will carry three or four persons and will make the speed I claimed for it – that is, about one hundred miles an hour. When I get ready, I will speak fully and not until then.”
So the attention is clearly getting to him now. He’s been trying to one-up the sightings with even more impressive stories that no one else seems to notice. He says that he flies over New York City but no one backs him up. Then you have people in Natick, which I believe may have slightly fewer people than NYC, claiming to actually see an airship and he happily takes credit for it, but with more of a shrug. He suddenly doesn’t want to go into the kind of detail that he used to because he’s just getting tired of the game.
This was also the very last time he gave a statement on his own. Everything after this would come from a spokesperson and that’s just too damned bad. If left unsupervised, he may have just started claiming to have flown to the moon.
After all of this, the Worcester Business Commission decided to step in on December 30th. They had had enough of all this airship business and called Tillinghast out. They pretty much ordered him to put up or shut up. If he had an airship then he had to show it to them.
Unsurprisingly Wallace Tillinghast decided to shut up. He released a statement through his spokesperson, William Hunt, that his airship would be displayed in Boston on the week of February 16th, 1910, and not one damned second earlier. The Business Commission had no other option but to accept his statement and move on with their lives.
And that was pretty much that. There were no new sightings after that and Wallace never actually showed off his great airship. It all kind of went out with a whimper rather than a roar.
Well, there was one thing that happened, actually. The people who were still all hopped up on Airship Uppers still needed some closure. They decided to find his damn ship if it was the last thing they did!
It turned out that a little desperate searching uncovered a mysterious shed on the property of one John G. Gough. It was a few miles outside of Worcester in West Boylston and just happened to be about 100 feet long, about the size that everyone imagined for the airship.
It was also thought that John G. Gough was friends with Tillinghast. That made this shed the perfect place for him to be hiding his flying machine, and boy howdy, it sure sounded good to get a photo of it!
That’s when a reporter decided to do just that. He secreted himself onto the property to break into the shed. Luckily for the owner, but unluckily for everyone else, the reporter got caught and was just, like, super arrested. No one ever got a look at what was inside, but it didn’t really matter. Tillinghast never showed up to the big Boston reveal and he just kind of disappeared from the public eye. That was all there was to the Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909!
Well, maybe not. Think back to all of those airship sightings that happened before the 1900s that started out west in California in 1896. One year before those sightings took place, a man walked into a lawyer’s office in San Francisco and handed him drawings of a machine that could fly through the air. This lawyer’s name was George D. Collins and the man handing him the papers was in need of patents to secure his invention, but he also wanted something else. He needed the lawyer to pretend to be the inventor of the flying machine to the public! Sound a tiny bit familiar?
What really stands out is the fact that one of those sightings in 1896 had a very detailed description of the view inside the airship. The person who saw it claimed that he could see right inside and watched three men moving around the thing. One of those men was the spitting image of the guy who wanted to hire the lawyer as the face of his flying machine invention.
As those early sightings moved east, so did the mystery man and his drawings. Author and noted UFOlogist, John A. Keel, did a ton of research on this story and he has a theory. He thinks that this mystery guy went from California to Worcester, working on his real airship the entire way. That explains why the sightings migrated the way that they did.
Once he got to Massachusetts, he needed someone local that the community trusted to once again be the face of his invention. That’s where Tillinghast comes in!
This guy did a little looking and Wallace E. Tillinghast was a well-liked man of the people. He was also something of an inventor, so he was the perfect patsy. He would be the person to give statements and go on record about all of the fun that he was having with his flying machine. Then, when it was all said and done, and the airship was finally revealed to the public, he’d get to keep all of the money that got thrown at it from investors.
There was only one problem, though. Even if this mystery guy did actually have a working airship, it wasn’t very good. Maybe he could get it up in the air for a little bit, but that was it. He was unable to perfect it. That’s why it was never fully revealed. It just plain didn’t work the way that it was supposed to.
That left Tillinghast twitching in the wind like some kind of fool. He had been the one to take all of the frenzied reporter questions and he really put himself on the line for it. Then, when the week of February 16th, 1910 came and went and the mystery guy never came back with his airship, that was it. Wally’s reputation was ruined and no one ever knew that it was all really masterminded by someone that history will never remember. The end.
The guy who was actually responsible for the airship hoax got away scot free and left Tillinghast to clean up the mess behind him. Wallace passed away on November 24, 1930 at the age of 58. He was forever connected to the Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909 and was buried at the Rhode Island Hist. Cemetery in East Greenwich.
We’ll never know what happened to other guy, but you can ask Wallace all about it if you manage to channel him with an Ouija Board!
STORY: UNSINKABLE SAM=====
According to lore, Unsinkable Sam started his “career” aboard a Nazi battleship. But after that ship was torpedoed, he was rescued by the British and changed sides.
Unsinkable Sam was either incredibly lucky or an omen of death. For five years, the black and white cat escorted U.S. Navy men bound for combat in the Atlantic during World War II. According to legend, while at sea, Unsinkable Sam managed to escape three different attacks totally unscathed.
Unbelievable though the story is, there were felines who bravely took to the seas, but was Unsinkable Sam one of them — or a heartening tall tale from the high seas?
The Kriegsmarine, or the Nazis’ Navy, launched the battleship Bismarck in 1939, mere months before the Reich invaded Poland and kicked off World War II. By 1941, the ship had reached the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to sabotage the naval envoys carrying supplies between Canada and the U.K.
Aboard the Bismarck was a crew of about 2,200 members, and it is said that among them was Unsinkable Sam, a black-and-white-colored cat.
The Bismarck was destroyed following an intense three-day battle against the British Royal Navy on May 27, 1941. As it sunk, only 114 of the ship’s passengers survived — one of them Unsinkable Sam.
As the legend goes, another British battleship, the HMS Cossack, began attempting to rescue survivors of the sunken Bismarck in the open sea. Crew members spotted the lucky cat as it was seeking refuge on a floating plank. The feline then was brought aboard Cossack and given the name Oscar, which is also sometimes spelled Oskar because of his German origins.
But several months later, Cossack suffered a disaster of its own when it was sunk by a German torpedo. But yet again, Oscar was rescued by crew of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. It was while aboard this ship that Oscar is said to have received his infamous nickname, “Unsinkable Sam.”
And as fate would have it, that nickname would once again prove true, when on Nov. 14, 1941, about a month after he was reportedly rescued, Ark Royalwas torpedoed. The ship was decimated, but Unsinkable Sam went unscathed. He was allegedly rescued for a third by the HMS Legion, another ship under the British Royal Navy’s fleet.
Perhaps Unsinkable Sam truly had nine lives to spare.
So, whatever happened to Unsinkable Sam after surviving his third shipwreck? According to Britain’s Royal Museums Greenwich, the cat retiredto land, where he was placed in the offices of the Governor of Gibraltar. He was later adopted by a seaman who lived in Belfast, and that is where he died in 1955.
But like most apocryphal tales, the story of the cat who repeatedly escaped death at sea is full of gaps. For one, there are no records of a cat having been brought aboard the Bismarck, at least according to the ship’s survivors.
There’s also the issue of Oscar’s supposed appearance. There are two different portraits that are suspected to be of Oscar, both showing him as a black-and-white tuxedo cat. One is a pastel drawing made by an unknown artist, in which he is sitting on a piece of floating wood.
Another portrait some have claimed to be Unsinkable Sam is a photograph of a tuxedo cat wearing a collar that is clearly inscribed, “HMS Amethyst 1949.” It is more likely that this portrait is of another wartime ship cat named Simon, who was aboard the Amethyst. There is also a third photo featuring a tabby cat that has been claimed to be Oscar as well.
One explanation of these discrepancies within the legend of Unsinkable Sam is that the cat could have been a stowaway instead of an official animal mascot of the Bismarck, which would allow for the cat not having been officially registered on the ship’s passenger list.
As for the pastel drawing, there is also no reason why the drawing of Unsinkable Sam would have been created if he did not really exist. However, these are speculations and possibilities that can’t necessarily be proven.
Although there is reason to be skeptical of the tale of Sam the unsinkable cat, there is also reason to believe in it.
Bringing cats aboard ships was an old-timey sailors trick to keep rats at bay. But wartime animals were no novelty, either. Animals, particularly domesticated ones like dogs and cats, showed up in warzones long before World War II, mostly as a way to keep the morale of fighting troops intact while they faced extreme challenges during drawn out battles.
Sometimes these wartime animals also helped in battle. Dogs and pigeons were commonly deployed at the front lines and even became frequent comrades in arms on naval ships, just as Oscar the cat may have been.
Unsinkable Sam was hardly the only cat at sea. There was also a tiger-striped tabby named Mrs. Chippy who accompanied Ernest Shackleton on his imperial trans-Antarctic expedition in the early 20th century.
There was also Convoy, the lovable feline aboard the British Royal cruiser the HMS Hermione; and Blackie, the shipmate aboard the HMS Prince of Wales, which famously carried British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to a secret meeting with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Dogs were also popular companions on the warfront. In the First World War, the 102nd Infantry of the U.S. Army had Stubby, a cheery Boston terrier who had been smuggled onto a deploying boat by one of the unit’s members. Stubby became the squad’s mascot and earned his stripes by warning troops of an impending attack and aiding in rescue efforts using his keen sense of smell.
There were also wild animals like bears, chickens, mice, and monkeys that were reportedly brought along by troops. No matter what their purpose, these animals provided battling soldiers with a sense of comfort and moral support just by being present.
Even though it’s difficult to know what’s true and what’s not in the story of Unsinkable Sam, the thought of an innocent cat miraculously surviving the devastation of war sparks hope in an otherwise bleak period of history.
When Weird Darkness returns, a hidden artifact found in a mysterious hill in Oklahoma reveals a terrifying story!
STORY: OKLAHOMA’S MYSTERIOUS HOLLOW HILL=====
There are many reports of strange sightings of unknown beings and mysterious lights around certain mountains and unusual hills. The most famous ones are Mount Shasta and Mount Kailash. There are also several lesser-known mountains and hills that are shrouded in a veil of mystery, and they are equally interesting to all truth seekers. Researchers who are interested in secrets underground worlds have come to believe there is a vast, unknown underground world beneath our feet. Can some underground worlds be inhabited by creatures that are deliberately hiding from humans? The unknown subterranean world is a frequent subject in many myths and legends, but there are also modern sightings of peculiar beings who are said to be living underground.
It has been proposed that a long time ago, a horrible catastrophe almost ended all life on our planet, and a highly advanced civilization sought refuge in a network of secret tunnels. In time, they constructed marvelous underground cities on different continents. They are said to still inhabit these unknown subterranean realms.
Today we explore another underground mystery… this one dealing with Oklahoma’s mysterious hollow hill. If you have never heard of this place before, rest assured there is nothing wrong with your knowledge of physical geography. Oklahoma’s artificial hill is virtually unheard of, and it seems there is a reason why only a few can find it.
Truth to be told, we would never have been able to discuss this strange sighting if it hadn’t been for a woman who accidentally stumbled upon a newspaper clipping that featured a fascinating story that remains an unexplained mystery to this day.
It all started when someone became curious and discovered a hidden artifact that revealed a scary story about what had happened in the past.
The incident occurred in the 1930s when a newspaper reporter was invited to Binger, a town in Caddo County, Oklahoma.
Before traveling to California, the reporter decided to visit Pat and Louis, some friends who lived on the outskirts of the town. It seemed like a nice idea to relax a little before taking on the next assignment, but it turned the flat prairie land that she was admiring from the window had more to offer than a calming scenery.
This story was related in detail, in an old newspaper clipping found by Mrs. Cos- sette Willoughby of San Jose, California.
While reading the newspaper article, Mrs. Cos- sette Willoughby learned about how the reporter experienced something that gives us reason to ponder whether some hills have been deliberately raised to hide great secrets.
It was late in the evening. The reporter was sitting with her friends, admiring the landscape when she noticed a large mound about half a mile from the house. She asked Pat and Louis about it but they were reluctant to discuss it.
Finally, Pat said that the “mound had been there for a long time, even before the white man came to this country. It was said to be haunted. Nobody wanted to stay there for a long time, for there seemed to be a strange atmosphere of foreboding, or impending evil about the place.
Everyone who was brave enough to venture near the place left as quickly as he had come. Pat also stated that there were some who claimed to have seen two phantoms who haunted the place—one by day, and the other by night. The one by day was a woman, and the one by night was a headless man.”
Reporters are curious by nature. That’s part of their job and it helps them to investigate even the most remarkable cases. This reporter found the story she had been told very strange and decided to learn more about the alleged hauntings. The best way was to visit the mound and see if there was any truth to these claims. Was the mound surrounded by some unknown energy?
Could it really be haunted or were these just old, superstitious tales, or simply urban legends?
The next morning the reporter visited the mound taking with her some tools necessary to investigate the area around the mound.
The reporter recalls. “I rose at dawn the next morning, gathered together the few things I planned to take along and set out for the Mound. I arrived just as the sun began to tint the east with a faint glow. I took my small spade out of my pack and began to dig.
It wasn’t long before I had unearthed a silver cylinder containing some papers written in Spanish. (Luckily I could read that language. I took the papers out of the cylinder and began to read.)”
The old account did indeed shed light on the strange and scary history of Oklahoma’s mysterious hollow hill, and the reporter became frightened when she read what had happened.
The artifact discovered in the vicinity of Oklahoma’s hollow hill revealed a gruesome story. Could such an event really have taken place in the past? If it did, how could this horror explain what had been reported in modern days? Why are so few aware of where this artificial hill is located? Can there be another reason why people avoid this place and are reluctant to discuss the hill’s frightening history?
As mentioned earlier, the reporter discovered a silver cylinder. Inside were old papers written in Spanish. She was able to translate them and learned how the Spanish explorer Francisco Vázques de Coronado and his men were on an expedition looking for the Seven Cities of Gold in 1541. The expedition team had heard many persistent stories of the fantastic wealth in the Seven Cities of Gold and they were determined to find the hidden treasures. Coronado and his men never succeeded in locating the mythical golden cities, and the whole expedition turned out to be a ruinous misadventure for those involved.
This is what we know from our history books. What we do not know is what some of these Spanish explorers experienced in Oklahoma. The reporter read the old papers and learned about the fate of a man called Alfonzo. Apparently, he and three others had followed a different path and got lost from the rest of Coronado’s men. Hungry, thirsty, and tired they kept wandering for some days until they came across a large cave.
According to Timothy Green Beckley, who has written many very interesting books about secret underground worlds, including the book Subterranean Worlds Inside Earth where this fascinating account is related, these curious explorers entered the cave and found themselves in the great unknown.
In his book, Beckley writes that “the passageway was very winding, and there were many side passages, and as they wandered farther and farther into the dark they realized that they were hopelessly lost and their two meager candles were burning quite low. Soon they would be in total darkness. There was nothing to do but to walk on—and on—and on, hoping they would at least find drinking water.
After a while, which seemed like an eternity to them, they began to sense the passage beginning to slant more steeply downward, and at times they had an eerie feeling that they were being watched, at times even sensing a strange musty animal odor.
The darkness began to become less dense and far ahead they began to see a faint blue glow. As they came nearer, they found the passage suddenly opened upon a strange landscape. There was grass growing, and in the distance, they could faintly see some kind of buildings.
The musty animal odor grew stronger so they approached the nearest building. It seemed to be some kind of a temple, for there were rough hewn benches, and altar vessels of pure gold. Suddenly there was a commotion outside the temple. Upon looking outside they saw a group of tall, strange Indian-like people and also several strange repulsive-looking animals which gave off the musty animal odor.
These weird beasts had pinkish-white, hairless, skin, and walked on all fours— like a dog would. The Indian people were rather “normal” in appearance, except that they had rather long heads which extended high above the ears.”
What were these Indians doing in this cave? Were they living or hiding there? The three Spanish explorers did not have to ponder these questions because one of the Indians approached them and explained where they were.
Speaking in pure Castilian Spanish, he said: “Welcome to the blue little land of Kenyan. You will be allowed to live here, but you may never leave. For this is a secret place, never to be known to the outside world.”
The aged papers continued with the following weird account supplied by one of those lost souls: “We were allotted comfortable houses to live in and women for our wives. My wife was named Teen. She was a pleasant and loving mate, and for a time I was contented and happy in my life deep underground.
But gradually I began to yearn for the outside world. I longed to see the sun again, and feel the rain, and walk in the beautiful moonlight. I spent many monotonous hours telling Teen of the outside world until she became as anxious as I to escape.
One time while listening to one of my many stories, she said, ‘There is a way out of this land, but it will not be easy. We will have to leave while all are gathered for evening vespers.’ (This was a brief ritual that was held at the close of every day). “Quickly we loaded our meager belongings on the back of one of the strange beasts, waited till the time seemed right, and started off down one of the remote side passages on the edge of Kenyan.
“We must have walked for a very long while, when we decided to take a little rest. We must have been more fatigued than I thought, for we both soon fell into a sound sleep and didn’t awaken until quite some time later. When we did, we found our pack animal was gone.
What we neglected to remember was that these strange repulsive animals could communicate with their masters. During the night (I should say our long sleep) the animal we had brought with us went back to the underground city of Kenyan and told what we had done. “Hurriedly we gathered together our belongings and set forth once again, but all was in vain, for we were soon overtaken and the penalty for our crime was death. But this is not all they plan to do to us. They have a way of preserving our dead bodies, and mine will walk by night and poor Teen’s will walk by day, to keep away the curious outsiders who might find their way into the passage that leads to Kenyan. “I beg of you, do not try!”
The reporter said: “As I finished reading the old papers I seemed to awaken out of a dream. Hurriedly I buried them where I had found them, grabbed up my pack, and left the mound. For I had no wish to see more, and it was time for poor Teen’s body to take its vigil walk by day.”
Does this story sound too fantastic to be true? Some will say it does, and they could be right. There are some aspects of this story that may question the authenticity of this event. For example, why did the Indian man who approached the lost Spaniards speak in pure Castilian Spanish? Where and how had he learned the language?
Where is Oklahoma’s hollow hill located? It seems very few know anything about its existence.
Timothy Green Beckley has an intriguing theory. He says there can be a number of hollow hills around us, but we simply do not see them because they have been deliberately constructed to look like cliffs, Indian mesa homes, or huge mounds of earth. Beckley suggests these artificial hills have been covered with mud that due to its extremely old age eventually turned into rock.
Since the story was written by a reporter one cannot help wondering if it was invented to gain publicity and fame. This may have been the intention but if this was the case, the results were not speaking in her favor. No newspaper seems to have published the story expect one and the case is virtually unheard of to the outside world. If the reporter really needed a scoop, she should have not hidden the cylinder with the old papers and left the mysterious hill in a hurry. She had an excellent occasion to show what she had found and gain peoples’ interest in this discovery.
Considering how reluctant the reporter’s friends were and tried to avoid discussing this place, it seems logical to assume there must be some truth to this story.
If you are in the vicinity of Binger, look around and maybe you can find this unusual artificial hill.
Unless more information about Oklahoma’s mysterious hollow hill emerges in the near future, we are currently forced to conclude this is yet one of many underground mysteries that remains unexplained for now. Truth to be told, we really have no idea what or who could be hiding below our feet.
UFO crash stories are somewhat ubiquitous, with most immediately pointing to Roswell, New Mexico… or Aurora, Texas… or even the so-called “Battle Over Los Angeles”. But there are many other stories of flying saucers crashing to Earth – and we’ll look at one that took place in Bolivia, in 1978 up next on Weird Darkness.
STORY: THE BOLIVIA UFO CRASH=====
On May 6, 1978, at about 4:15 p.m., something crashed into a mountain near El Taire on the Bermejo River, the border between the Bolivian province of Tarija and Argentina.
Thousands of people saw this happening and later described the object as being cylindrical in shape with a flaming tail. It had caused a supersonic bang that was heard up to 150 miles away and that cracked windowpanes as far away as 30 miles in every direction.
The next day, the papers were speculating on what had come down in that godforsaken place. The explanations ranged from meteorites to UFOs and belated reentry of some Apollo capsule. All of them referred to statements of eye witnesses.
Then it was announced that the Argentinian authorities had sent the 20th unit of the border police to the area in question to look for wreckage on their side of the border.
The search in that mountainous country could last for weeks, so swarms of reporters went to the nearest big town, Aguas Blancas, to take up quarters there and await further developments, as well as to interview eyewitnesses in the town. And in fact, there were a number of witnesses who claimed to have seen the object.
Most of them described it as oval or cylindrical and metallic. The army, too, seemed to be convinced that it was a UFO.
Corporal Natalio Farfan Ruiz, the commandant of a small border police unit at the little village of La Marmora (800 inhabitants), confirmed the crash to Argentinian reporters saying: “It was about 4:30 p.m. when a cylindrical object made the earth tremble. Just imagine what would have happened if the UFO had fallen on the houses!”
Policeman Juan Hurtado had also seen what had happened: “It looked like a gigantic wine container emitting a trace of white smoke. I saw it clearly. It flew directly above my head.
“I was on duty and at that moment was talking with three engineers from the mine in La Paz, when we saw the object crashing into the El Taire mountain. The impact was so strong that it threw me to the ground. The earth trembled at that moment.”
Finally, the Bolivian Air Force sent three single-motored AT6 airplanes—a model from World War II—to the area and discovered the crash site on the southern slope of the El Taire mountain.
Whereas the pilots found it impossible to land anywhere near it, the newspaper Clarin of Buenos Aires announced on May 14, that the object had been found. As proof, they quoted the police chief of Tarija: “Our men have discovered the object and inspected it, but have received no instructions for further action.
It is a dull metallic cylinder twelve feet long with a few dents. No one knows what is inside it, and we are awaiting the arrival of various technical commissions. A NASA expert is also expected to arrive tomorrow morning.”
As a matter of fact, no NASA expert came at Tarija.-Instead, two U.S. Air Force officers, Col. Robert Simmons and Maj. John Heise arrived.
According to a newspaper, although these officers were officially on leave, they had been instructed to take the object to the United States in a Hercules C-130 transport machine, which was waiting for them at La Paz.
When other newspapers made inquiries at the American Embassy regarding this secret mission of Simmons and Heise they were met with a denial.
Only two years later, 5 relevant documents were released by the U.S. State Department: they revealed that Simmons and Heise had been assigned to the military attache of the U.S. Embassy in La Paz and did, in fact, fly to Tarija accompanied by an officer of the Bolivian Air Force, in connection with Project Moon Dust.
Regrettably, no further reports concerning the Simmons-Heise expedition were released and, to get a picture of what happened, we are forced to rely on reports in the Argentinian press.
Apparently, however, nobody came to the conclusion that a meteorite had hit the earth. At the world-famous Smithsonian Institution there is a data bank of scientific occurrences, or an “alarm network,” that keeps track of every volcanic eruption, every earthquake and every meteorite collision since 1973 with painstaking accuracy.
The data bank reveals no mention of a meteorite falling during May 1978 at the Bolivian-Argentinian border.
The Air Force documents reveal that the 1127th field activities group, which coordinated Project Moon Dust, was interested in another task besides the recovery of UFO wrecks and other space objects, represented by the code name HUMINT.
This code name, short for Human Intelligence, means the collection of information from human sources through clandestine undercover methods—in contrast to interrogations, reading through files and correspondence, etc.
In other words, it meant the collection of information about UFOs from reliable sources through a game of deceit. The method which was chosen to achieve HUMINTs goals was so bizarre that nobody outside the UFO community would believe it.
Thanks for listening. If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! And please leave a rating and review of the show in the podcast app you listen from – doing so helps the show to get noticed! You can also email me anytime with your questions or comments through the website at WeirdDarkness.com. That’s also where you can find all of my social media, listen to free audiobooks I’ve narrated, shop the Weird Darkness store, sign up for the email newsletter to win monthly prizes, find other podcasts that I host, and find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Plus if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY – or call the DARKLINE toll free at 1-877-277-5944. That’s 1-877-277-5944.
All stories in Weird Darkness are purported to be true (unless stated otherwise) and you can find source links or links to the authors in the show notes.
“Oklahoma’s Mysterious Hollow Hill” by Ellen Lloyd for AncientPages.com
“Unsinkable Sam” by Natasha Ishak for AllThatsInteresting.com
“The Bolivia UFO Crash” posted at Anomalien.com
“The Great Worcester Airship Hoax of 1909” from SlightlyOddFitchburg.com:
Again, you can find link to all of these stories in the show notes.
WeirdDarkness™ – is a production and trademark of Marlar House Productions. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death.” — Proverbs 8:35-36 (NIV)
And a final thought… “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” – Dale Carnegie
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.