The San Luis Valley: Monitoring a “Hot-Spot”

By Christopher O’Brien

Our strange planet features thousands of enigmatic locales that have a history of unexplained events, such as bizarre aerial activity, strange phantasmal creatures, sorcerer adepts and other inexplicable phenomena—all centered around specific locations. East, west, north or south, it doesn’t matter where you travel on this blue globe hanging in space, there is undoubtedly a paranormal “hotspot” region near you.

Generally, these areas appear to have a higher-than-normal incidence of UFO sightings, unusual geophysical properties, rare weather phenomena, crypto-creature reports and they often feature myths and legends that define them as hallowed grounds. These hotspot regions all have been subjected to waves of anomalous activity and unidentified aerial phenomena that have been observed for generations.

North America features more than its share of hotspot regions—some more celebrated and documented than others. A partial listing of North American hotspot regions should include: the infamous “Skinwalker Ranch” inside the Uintah Ute Indian Reservation; New Mexico Highway 70 (and the mountains around the Mescalero Apache Reservation); the White Sands Missile Range; and Mothman country back east in the Ohio River Valley around Point Pleasant, West Virginia. While we are on the East Coast there’s also the Hudson River Valley region with its mysterious dolmans and underground caverns and tunnels; the mysterious eastern tip of Long Island, New York, the mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania and magical Seashore State Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There are also many other locations, too numerous to mention.

These pivotal specific regions are also a sociologist’s undiscovered goldmine, however, few long- term studies have been mounted to scrutinize experiencers who live in these locales. After personally interviewing hundreds of witnesses of these types of events, I have begun to suspect that the experiencers themselves are as important as the incidents of weirdness they experience. In addition to so-called paranormal events, hotspot areas of the world also appear to feature unusual geophysical properties that may account for the higher than normal incidences of unusual events. These geo-energetic elements, when defined and studied, could potentially provide further motivation to scientifically investigate the full width and breadth of these hotspot regions’ unexplained activity. Without question, there appears to be an emerging public interest in these specific locales (and the events they feature) and word about the documented activity has been slowly filtering out into the mainstream.

At the top of North America, in the southern Rocky Mountains, you’ll find Colorado/New Mexico’s San Luis Valley (“SLV”)—one of North America’s premier hot spot locations. Hotspot regions are veritable magnets for reports of paranormal events, but unfortunately, any attempt to define what constitutes a truly “paranormal” event is wrought with perilous philosophic and scientific challenges, and a lack of hard, scientific data. Stories of witches, skinwalkers, devils, thunderbirds, ghosts, elementals and spooklights have been told here for generations, and prior to my arrival, knowledge of past reports of unexplained activity had not traveled out into the mainstream beyond the valley. When I moved here in 1989 little did I realize that I would spend the better part of the next fifteen years investigating, researching and documenting around a thousand unusual events—all occurring within the well-defined confines of this specific regional Petri dish. I think a key to success was coordinating the efforts of local law enforcement officials, state livestock boards, veterinarians, local newspaper reporters and researcher/historians and a skywatcher network.

Utilizing a loosely coordinated apprach, area residents documented and investigated intense three year waves activity between 1967—1970 and 1975–1978. And as a result, in 1990, this region at the top of North America was named the Number One per capita UFO hotspot by the Computer UFO Network (CUFON), with 257 sightings per 10,000 in population in Saguache County alone. Five out of the top eleven top hot-spot counties are located in this forgotten attic at the top of North America. And these rankings were tabulated before the amazing seven-year wave of unexplained phenomenal events that occurred between 1992 and 1999! This place is a paranormal Disneyland. For twenty-plus years, one of my goals has been to install a web of high-resolution video cameras around the San Luis Valley. Back in the early 90s when I first conceived of this surveillance net, the cost for gear and the level of existing affordable technology made the project too costly to undertake. Today, with the advent of low cost/high resolution cameras and the Internet, this surveillance net is now possible.

 

The Great Sand Dunes

 

 

This is an area of high-incident map of anomalous activity in the greater San Luis Valley, Colorado/New Mexico. Each saucer-shaped indicator represents five sighting events. The footprints represent a single bigfoot report and each black triangle represents a single report.

 

 

San Luis Valley Event Map

 

 

Object high above Valley View Hot Springs

Photo by: Michael MacLaughlin

With the help of several members and benefactors from MUFON OC & MUFON LA and private funding, this dream is becoming a reality. The SLV Camera Project has installed the first of seven proposed cameras on cell-towers and mountaintops and the team has conducted a successful two-week test. Customized tracking and synchronization software is being developed and the team envisions a Spring 2017 launch date for the first triangulated array. Along with the 35X optical zoom, 360 degree, pan/tilt cameras, the team has designed a scientific approach that includes recording magnetometers and gravitometers, extensive full-range audio recording, passive radar and later, FLIR systems—all coordinated with customized software and 24/7 recording.

We have been approved to create dedicated local TV channel that could provide SLV locals the chance to become involved. The channel will feature a high-resolution live camera view, switching from camera to camera. Then when an event triggers triangulation protocols, an “event” alert will be crawled across all of the cable system’s channels, alerting viewers to tune into the skywatch channel where a small map will indicate the location of the sighting event. A primary camera will be assigned focus on the event. Viewers will then be able to grab camcorders, go outside and know exactly where to look to obtain additional footage. This approach has never been attempted before and the team (that includes several accredited scientist consultants) hopes to generate irrefutable, hard scientific data of anomalous aerial object sighting events for peer review.

But why locate a high-tech, state-of-the-art system in the San Luis Valley? For starters, from 1992 through 2000 almost every conceivable type of UFO craft was reported numerous times by San Luis Valley residents and visitors. Silver, red, orange, green, white and blue lighted “spheres” were seen, along with all sorts of traditional saucer- and cigar shaped craft. Huge black triangles were also reported and in one incident, the silent triangle was observed accompanied by “military aircraft” by an ex-county sheriff.

Photo by: Michael MacLaughlin

Space constraints prohibit even a quick overview of the hundreds of documented UFO sightings in the SLV, but my research has uncovered what may be one of the first documented UFO reports in the North American Southwest. According to archaeo-astronomer Marilyn Childs, the diary of New Mexico Territorial Governor Juan Baptiste de Anza contains a 1777 entry that describes strange lights observed flying around Blanca Peak, along with a description of a powerful low humming sound heard emanating from the mountains. At the time, De Anza was leading an army that was chasing renegade Comanche Chief Cuerno Verde north through the SLV over the pass by the Great Sand Dunes.

Unidentified object flying over the Sangre de Cristo foothills, Baca Grande Chalet I  (Bird?)

Other reports from the late 19th century and early 20th century suggest undefined aerial phenomena have been witnessed in the SLV (and elsewhere) for generations. These reports, made prior to the first conventional aircraft flights in the region, obviously cannot be dismissed as misidentified aerial activity. Anecdotal research of these isolated historical events cannot prove or disprove their high-strange nature, however it appears that a long time ago, something intelligent, with the aid of high technology, seems to have singled out humanity for unknown purposes. And, with daily sighting reports piling up around the world, it appears they are as busy as ever!

Documented UFO sightings in the San Luis Valley number in the thousands but there are a number of specific, historical reports that deserve mention. According to a San Francisco newspaper article that appeared in September 1948, a San Luis Valley resident named Grant Edwards, Sr. had been showing amazing daylight UFO footage of multiple objects to civic groups around the SLV Edwards had just been given a new 8mm movie camera. That August afternoon, he unwittingly became the first US civilian ever to film multiple daylight UFOs. Edwards evidently presented the film to several dozen people before the film was appropriated by “the FBI” six months later in early 1949. I received confirmation of this historic film from several witnesses of the film, including Grant Edwards’ son who, at the time I interviewed him, was a County Commissioner. He corroborated the film’s authenticity, telling me on-the- record, “Yes, my Dad was the same Grant Edwards who filmed the UFOs.”

Interestingly, 48 years later, another Edwards, Tim, (not related) captured six minutes of riveting video footage of a huge object that was broadcast around the world. The craft was estimated to be at a mile in length and was at a height of “70,000 feet,” according to West Point’s chief Army video analyst!

Still from video by: Tim Edwards

In the realm of the paranormal, the San Luis Valley is most notorious as the “birthplace of the cattle mutilation phenomenon.” The first widely publicized case of this type occurred right in the heart of the SLV just south of the mysterious Great Sand Dunes National Monument, but what makes this distinction compelling and perplexing is that the case in question featured a horse, not a cow.

Nellie Lewis, the horses owner stated emphatically to the media, “flying saucers killed my horse,” and this apparent link to UFOs has existed ever since. In the thousands of cases of animal mutilation that have since been reported around the world no other remains have ever been reported in the same horrific condition as those of “Snippy the Horse.” Not a popular subject with the casual “true-believer” crowd, ever since the Snippy case occurred in September, 1967, the scourge of “cattle mutilations” has quietly spread around the Western beef-eating world. Since 2002, over 2,000 cases have been reported in Argentina and Brazil alone, and estimates of the pervasiveness of the mystery most often cite the number of cases worldwide to well exceed 10,000. Since 1967, around 200 official reports have been filed by SLV ranchers, but the total number of local SLV cases may be closer to 1,000.

Nellie Lewis

Although “misidentified scavenger action” may explain many of these reports, most ranchers are skilled, knowledgeable outdoorsmen who know what is a mundane livestock death and what is truly high-strange. It stands to reason that they would not invite the scorn often associated with claims of animal mutilation upon themselves and their families. Couple this with dozens of reports of unusual military-style helicopter activity in and around mutilation sites and you have a truly puzzling scenario that is not easily studied, debunked or denied. The SLV Camera Project hopes to change this with full 24/7 coverage of the hardest hit areas.

Growing interest in these so-called “hot spot” regions has begun to attract scientific examination, but obviously more world-class investigation and analysis needs to be conducted. There is something weird and wonderful going on in our reality, and in the early 21st Century, quality documentation of unusual events will eventually put the mainstream scientific community on notice. Whether they like it or not, these enigmatic locales are worthy of 24/7 on-site scientific study and the SLV Camera Project is a major step in the right direction. This type of effort is our most direct path to explore and research what could truly be called “The Unknown”—those blank places on old seafarer maps where they wrote, “Here be Dragons!”

 

If you’d like to help out with the San Luis Valley Camera Project and/or donate tax-deductible funding to help the team finance and maintain this groundbreaking scientific effort, please contact the team at: [email protected]

 

 Genni Room, Manteno State Asylum, IL

 

Christopher O’Brien is the author of three books examining his ongoing 18-year investigation of the mysterious San Luis Valley, including Secrets of the Mysterious Valley. His latest book, Stalking the Herd is published by Adventures Unlimited Press. He can be reached at: cob@tmv.us. Bookmark ourstrangeplanet.com for updates on SLV activity, for streaming live video from the SLV Camera Project and for signed copies of his books and other works click below.

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