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Crash Site Claims Abound 'Round Roswell
Four Spots Plugged As True UFO Turf

By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
ALMOST ANYWHERE BUT ROSWELL -- Fifty years after the "Roswell Incident," a dizzying array of official crash sites sprawls out across the New Mexico plains.
There has always been considerable debate about what fell to the earth in New Mexico in July 1947. Was it an alien-powered spaceship, a simple weather balloon or a secret government experiment gone awry?
Details have also been fuzzy on what date the crash occurred, who exactly saw it, what it looked like, and where the wreckage ultimately was stored.
Now there is a new dispute.
"The site of the alleged crash," muses Roswell Mayor Thomas Jennings. "Oh, there's a number of 'em."
To date, there are three widely acclaimed crash sites, each with its own pedigree of memories, scant physical evidence and rampant speculation.
The site of the Roswell Incident, depending on whom you believe, is either 30 miles north of Roswell, 55 miles west-northwest of Roswell or 75 miles northwest of Roswell.
It is either on private ranch land, on Bureau of Land Management property or in the Lincoln National Forest.
A fourth splinter theory puts it west of Socorro, a long 225 miles from Roswell, splat in the middle of the Plains of San Agustin.
How could one ship of aliens chew up so much New Mexico real estate in one lonely summer night?
"My theory," says debunker David Thomas, "is that the Roswell ship did not actually crash, that it only landed and took off again and continued to land at all these other sites."
Thomas, a physicist and member of New Mexicans for Science and Reason, is kidding when he advances the theory of the Continuously Crashing Spaceship. But for those involved in explaining, promoting and selling the Roswell phenomenon, promoting one crash site over another is no laughing matter.
Touring alien terrain
Just where did that flying saucer land? Take your pick of sites.
RAGSDALE SITE: Four-wheel drive required. Turn west from U.S. 285 onto Pine Lodge Road. Forty-five miles from the turnoff, past Mile Marker 33, is a sign for Boy Scout Mountain. Turn onto Forest Road 130. Drive 3.7 miles. You will see a jeep road on the left. Turn and drive a little more than a mile. You will cross a creek, climb a hill and see a stone campfire ring on your left as the road crests. Follow a short trail to the rock, which is about 5 feet tall and is split in two.
BRAZEL SITE: From Corona, go east on N.M. 247. Just past Mile Marker 17, turn right at Corona Compressor Station sign. The site is about 16 miles southeast of the turnoff. It is on Bureau of Land Management property, which is open to the public, but reaching the site requires passing through private ranch land, which is fenced and gated.
CORN SITE: Drive north from Roswell on U.S. 285. You will see a large white sign advertising the crash site on the west side of the road about 20 miles north of town. The site sits eight miles from U.S. 285 on private land. It is closed to all but organized tours. Call 623-4043 and either Hub Corn or his wife, Sheila, will set up a tour. Tours are $15 per person. Children under 13 are free.
When books touting one site sell for $14.95, videos fetch $29.95 and an overnight sleepover at another site brings a whopping $90, the motivation to locate and defend a crash site becomes intense.
Just how three, maybe four, crash sites emerged is a tangled tale that involves a bizarre mix of speculation, memories that improve with age, a deathbed declaration, naked lovers in the back of a pickup truck -- and the almighty dollar.
A field of debris
Let's begin the story far back in time and far from Roswell.
W.W. "Mac" Brazel, out on horseback checking on his sheep after a thunderstorm, found something on the J.B. Foster Ranch southeast of Corona in early July 1947. That much is certain.
The scads of UFO researchers that have combed records, interviewed witnesses and written books also agree that the U.S. Army Air Force came to his ranch -- a good 75 miles northwest of Roswell -- and cleaned up the debris.
This swatch of land, owned by the Bureau of Land Management and leased to the Bogle family of Dexter, is commonly referred to as the "Brazel debris field."
The site is reached by going through the Bogles' private property and requires opening a gate. More truth-seekers have opened the gate than have closed it, so ranch manager Eddie Davis does not advertise the site or allow visitors.
A 1991 book by Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmidt, "UFO Crash at Roswell," hypothesizes that the debris Brazel found came from a flying saucer as it skidded into the first bounce of a crash. The actual craft and bodies, the authors say, came to a rest about 2{ miles southeast of the debris field. This site was identified, they say, on an aerial search days after the crash.
The site is unremarkable today, a typical stretch of ranchland.
The authors' theory jibes with the recollection of Loretta Proctor, a neighbor of Brazel who was shown some of the debris before Brazel took it to town.
"I had heard that the bodies were two miles east of what Mac found," Proctor says. "I hadn't heard of the place in Roswell."
Alien interruption
The "place in Roswell" is actually quite a bit north of Roswell, although it is the closest of the alleged crash sites to the town for which they were named.
This crash site popped up in 1993 when Jim Ragsdale, a retired oil field worker, told a story of a tryst with a girlfriend back in 1947. He said he and his paramour drove out into the country, and began making out in the bed of his truck. In a notarized statement, he said they were interrupted by a flash of light and the next morning ventured out to find a crashed airship and dead alien bodies. He put the site about 40 miles almost due north of Roswell.
Not long after that, Miller "Hub" Corn began seeing strangers driving on the county road that leads to his ranch gate off U.S. 285, approximately 30 miles north of Roswell. Corn's father had bought the ranch in 1976.
Corn, a slow-talking 36-year-old whose family homesteaded these parts in 1880, was contacted by the board of directors of the International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell in 1994 and informed that he was in possession of the official site of the 1947 crash. The directors had been bringing researchers and reporters out to look at the site.
"It kind of made me mad at the time," Corn says. "I locked the gates."
But people continued to drive down the gravel road.
According to Corn, the museum board offered to buy the site. He countered with a lease plan in which he would retain ownership and get a share of whatever profits the museum could make off the site.
It wasn't that Corn wanted to own a tourist attraction. It was just, he says, that the rancher's code doesn't involve selling land unless he has to.
The museum wasn't interested. So, figuring that people would come to the site with his permission or not, Corn went into business himself. He put up a big sign on the highway pointing toward the site and advertising $15 tours. He and his wife, Sheila, take a break from chores to drive tourists to the site and point out the rock where the spaceship allegedly struck.
Visitors must first sign a waiver that warns them of the possible dangers of cactus, lizards, scorpions and snakes.
Corn won't say how much money he's made off the tours, except to describe the business as about as much trouble as it's worth.
But he has big plans for the 50th anniversary of the crash this July. He has paired with a promoter to turn the site into a park, and a sculptor in Santa Fe is crafting stone obelisks while water lines are laid and a parking lot is cleared. During the week of July 4, campers who pay $90 a night can sleep under the stars.
Corn says he knows his ranch is the real site of the crash because of an eyewitness account.
Frank Kaufmann, a former civilian Army Air Force employee who helped clean up the debris and who says he saw the dead bodies of two aliens there, says he went to the canyon on what is now the Corn Ranch.
Kaufmann, however, is having nothing to do with Corn's commercialization of the canyon.
"To me, it's sacrilegious as hell. I could kick Hub Corn's butt for doing that. It's wrong."
Telling a different tale
Museum officials deny they ever offered to buy the site. The museum purports to not take sides in any aspect of the Roswell phenomenon. But board secretary-treasurer Max Littell is the man behind promoting the most recent crash site, identified by the same Jim Ragsdale who pointed toward Corn's ranch in 1993.
Two years later and dying of lung cancer, Ragsdale dictated a second sworn statement about his close encounter. This second account is much more detailed and differs in several details.
In this account, his tryst occurred not in the plains northwest of Roswell but in the mountains more due west. He gave detailed directions to a spot on Boy Scout Mountain.
This time, he and his girlfriend "were lying in the back of my pickup truck, buck naked, drinking beer and having a good ole time" when the spaceship struck. This time, he and the woman did not wait until morning to investigate. They took flashlights and went through the brush until they came on the craft.
Ragsdale described the rock that the craft split in two. And said he took debris with him. The debris was stolen later, he said. And his girlfriend, a married woman, was killed a short time later when her car struck a bridge.
Littell formed a partnership with his and Ragsdale's relatives and is selling Ragsdale's accou nt of the crash in a book and a video. Littell put up $25,000 to produce the materials, he says, and has already recouped his investment. Profits will be split between Ragsdale's heirs and the museum, he says.
While Littell says he maintains objectivity, the first map encountered by visitors to the museum identifies Corn's ranch as the "alleged impact site" and the Boy Scout Mountain site as the "Ragsdale site."
Corn calls Ragsdale's second story "a bunch of hogwash. It's all garbage."
Roswell "investigator" Stanton Friedman interviewed Ragsdale and found his story credible, even though Friedman already has settled on two other crash sites -- the Plains of San Agustin and Brazel's ranch -- as the rightful wearers of the Roswell Incident crown.
The only place a spaceship definitely did not crash, in Friedman's view, is at Corn's ranch. And this is why: "You're out with a married woman on that ranch in the middle of nowhere in the desert, or do you go up in the cool mountains? That's no choice."
Until Ragsdale came forward, Friedman's theory went like this: Two spaceships were flying over southern New Mexico and collided. One fell to the west, between Magdalena and Datil, and the other fell to the east, on Brazel's ranch.
When he heard Ragsdale's story, he believed it, too. One more crash site; one more flying saucer. "Maybe," Friedman says, "there were three of them."

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