Crash Site Flops as UFO Woodstock
By Rene Romo
Journal Staff Writer
ROSWELL -- As a minimecca for the UFO faithful, Hub Corn's ranch had been viewed as a salesman's dream.
But, as of Independence Day, Corn commotion hasn't lived up to expectations.
The ranch, 20 miles north of Roswell on U.S. 285, is one of three widely acclaimed sites of the purported flying saucer crash 50 years ago.
The ranch fizzled this week as a commercial tie-in to UFO Encounter '97, the city's six-day celebration of what many consider to be a defining moment in UFOlogy.
On Thursday night, only five people camped on Corn's ranch. By Friday afternoon, only one tent remained.
Promoter John Brower, working with Corn, hoped to create a sort of Woodstock for the alien nation on Corn's 15,000-acre sheep and cattle ranch.
Brower set a price of $90 for a pair of campers to spend one night on the land where many claim a wedge-shaped flying saucer crashed after bouncing off a ranch 20 miles northwest. Rancher Mac Brazel found strange debris on the site to the north, prompting the Army Air Forces to issue, then retract, a stunning press release about a flying saucer find. The U.S. Air Force now says the debris was part of a top-secret balloon mission to monitor Soviet nuclear testing.
"We heard about a tent city. There were supposed to be lots and lots of people, just hanging out, having a good time," said Oregon resident Brad Santos, 18, a disappointed camper who made a detour to Roswell on his way to Phoenix. "I'm a little perturbed."
Camp sites Friday were being offered for $40 for two people, and the deal no longer included a tent and two cots.
Brower's grand plans took another hit Friday when Corn decided not to allow a techno music rave, an all-night dance party that was scheduled to take place Saturday on the farm. Corn said he was concerned about the safety of the partyers and wanted to prevent damage to the ranchland.
"I just told him to shut it down," said the soft-spoken Corn.
Brower said Friday he was trying to find a new location for the dance party somewhere in Roswell. The dance party itself was a substitute event for grander concert plans that fell through after Brower failed to line up sponsors.
Stan Crosby, organizer of UFO Encounter '97, said the city quit its promotional contract with Brower more than two weeks ago. But Brower said Friday he is still trying to line up a major concert in October on a 2,400-acre ranch adjacent to the former Army air field where the alien saucer allegedly was taken.
Meanwhile, hundreds of visitors continued to arrive at Corn's ranch Friday, paying $15 a head to take a three-mile ride to the purported crash site. About 160 arrived on Wednesday; by Friday, the estimate was over 300.
"It's kind of neat, kind of puts you in touch with (the Roswell Incident), helps you feel a connection somehow," said Wayne LeRoy, who made a detour to Roswell as he headed west from Indiana to a new home in Mesa, Ariz. "I always wanted to come here, but I never thought I would. If something really did happen, this would be the most important site in history. To me, it would be."
Corn, 36, and his wife, Sheila, spent Friday delivering a simple account of what UFO researchers and others say about their ranch -- that around 11 p.m. July 4, 1947, a wedge-shaped craft crashed, and military personnel quickly swooped upon the scene to recover both the craft and the bodies of five extraterrestrials.
The area is taking on the appearance of a religious shrine.
Two weeks ago, an anonymous donor set up sandstone pillars, resembling the Stonehenge slabs, at the ends of a path to the purported crash site. Other slabs by the same donor formed seven meditation seats.
A slab at the end of the path is inscribed: "We don't know who they were. We don't know why they came. We only know they changed our view of the universe."
On Friday afternoon, the site was consecrated by dancers from Laguna Pueblo.
For most visitors, the purported crash site was just another curiosity in the funky weeklong festival.
"Nice rock," commented Will Baum of Los Angeles.