Stan Gordon was a kid when the famous UFO incident took place in Kecksburg, PA. The first thing he remembers impressing him was the quantity of military people that showed up the next morning – December 10, 1965 - to take a look. It was the start of a distinguished and sensible career investigating and analyzing UFO reports in his part of Pennsylvania and the world.
I am very impressed with the organized study Stan Gordon has made. He started out as a UFO devotee, and it’s as that that he’s made his impression on the world; but his base of experiences and a logical mind have drawn him into a broader approach to psychic and paranormal material.
Stan started his March 16, 2009, talk in Sanborn with a direct acknowledgment about UFO reports. “While these cases may look unusual, when you properly investigate them they are usually normal in origin.” He recounts a remarkable list of natural things that produce UFO reports:
1) Fireball meteors and space debris
2) Normal aircraft lights and the reflections of airplane windows
3) Man-made events like high-atmosphere experiments
4) Even astronomical bodies like stars and planets. (Jupiter and Venus – often called “the Evening Star” - can fool people, particularly when they appear close together.)
In 1969 Stan Gordon set up his admirable hotline. Before long he was overwhelmed with UFO reports. His phone system crashed twice in a single week under the weight of calls.
Stan Gordon and his team investigated hundreds of UFO events in the greater Pittsburgh area. They heard about all five kinds of “close encounters,” including UFO touchdowns, different types of occupants, and reports of abductions.
With so many feelers into the community, Stan Gordon was capable of being quite sensitive to changes in the pattern of UFO reports. He noticed a couple of major blips. For one, 1973 and 1974 were banner years for UFO material of all kinds in his region of study, the remarkable “Chestnut Ridge” area – a broad north-south stretch of the Alleganies that runs right into Western New York’s Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. For another, it abounded in paranormal lore of many types.
While UFO phenomena was Stan’s primary interest, people tended to call him to report any other problem or observation they considered on the wack-side, including ghosts, haunted houses, giant birds, mystery-cats, Bigfoot… It may have been this that started him on the road leading to the subject of his March 16, 2009 talk at Niagara Community College in Sanborn, NY – the connection between UFO sightings and Bigfoot reports.
Some of the Bigfoot reports Stan Gordon got fit into that pattern we’re used to in the best paranormal material: it doesn’t make sense against what we think of as the natural world; but there is a curious integrity to it next to other reports of the type.
It may have been in August, 1973, that Stan Gordon first started to wonder if his paranormal material might all be related in some curious way. He got a phone call about a strange event. Someone shaving by an open window smelled the odor of rotting apples and looked out to meet a pair of glowing eyes – eight feet off the ground. The shaver - a man, hopefully - ran out.
As a side note, that same night some local boys taking a shortcut to a nearby mall heard a commotion in the woody underbrush, threw some rocks into it, and out came a Bigfoot. Stan showed up at the site, looked around, took interviews, and was about ready to leave when he spotted a three-toed, eight-by-thirteen-inch footprint. While in the field his team got a call about another close sighting, and it became the start of a regional wave so dramatic that some Bigfoot reports even came in from the media-shy Pennsylvania Dutch. Often there were numerous sightings in one day.
Some “Chestnut Ridge” Bigfoot reports were daytime and close-range sightings. In most of them, the big hairy was seven to nine feet tall, with exceptionally long arms. One of the oddest features of the dim-and-dark time reports were the glows around the hairies: odd, self-luminescent auras, usually orange-red but sometimes green. This very strange feature alone gets us thinking of extraterrestrials.
The rumor-panic of 1973-74 turned into such a phenomenon that some sort of mention of was even slated for a Johnny Carson/Tonight Show. (It just missed airing, but I am rather sure it would have been a wisecrack of some sort.) Not to worry. Lots of reporters visited Western Pennsylvania. Seven counties were involved.
This Chestnut Ridge, it turns out, is a hotbed for phenomena of many types. The earliest Bigfoot sighting Stan Gordon hears about comes from 1931. And these critters were not, apparently, just apparitions. They left physical signs of their at least occasional manifestations. We’re familiar with hair and blood samples in other parts of the US that have been curious, if not convincing. Stan Gordon has photos of pine trees pulled-out by the roots, accompanied by at least one terrific footprint. Another odd feature of the footprints found throughout the region: some were three-toed. Others were the normal five toes of a primate. Some were quite authentic tracks, too, like a slipped mark in wet ground… It would be hard to hoax that effect with a wooden model.
Possibly the most authentic Bigfoot reactions were made by those who could not speak. Dogs and cats ran under houses or trailers. Livestock were either paralyzed with fear or ran off. Human babies acted weird on nights of visitation.
Still, the most dramatic reports of the Chestnut Ridge were the human ones. We itemize some favorites. (I wish I could give you dates and places for every incident, but sometimes these details are kept private.)
1) In August 1973 a woman slept by an open window. Something made her wake up, and then she wished she hadn’t. A huge, hairy, hideous face was looking in the window. She had a good look at its face and nose. Its skin seemed even burnt, as if it had suffered a wound. The image stayed with her a long time. Her screams woke up her daughter, who looked out a window and saw a giant shadow moving away. In the aftermath she smelled the bad odor. It lasted hours.
2) In August 1974, a Harmony, PA, man had just cut his grass. Outside his dog was going crazy. He came out to see what was up. Thirty feet from him was the giant hairy, near the garden as if it liked veggies and flowers. It took off running. In its wake the homeowner found a huge branch that had not been there half an hour earlier. An eighteen-inch footprint was visible.
3) In the Beech Hills area, a woman was visiting friends in a low-level house. Around 3 AM she visited the bathroom and chanced to look out the screen window. On the other side of it was a huge hideous face with glowing eyes and fanglike teeth. The guest became quickly hysterical and demanded that her friends take her home. They complied, but a short time later, a similar sighting was reported again at the same other location, as if the critter followed her.
4) At a cemetery, a woman and daughter were putting flowers on graves. They heard the by-now familiar sound of the baby-crying… They turned to see a giant simian, regarding them, then coming closer. They tore out of there in a car and ended up at the home of the girl’s dad. Hours later the critter visited them there. The father took a shot at it, to no perceived effect.
As we see, the CSE - Critter-Sighting Experience - is accompanied by odd effects:
1) Odd sounds, sometimes described as “like a baby crying”
2) Scratching on doors and walls of trailers or homes
3) Electrical power outages
4) Multiple regional appearances on the same night, as if the critter were moving
5) Multiple appearances to the same person, as if the critter were stalking the witness
6) Usually these critters are as dark as Travis the Chimp, but more often than you’d think they appear in albino – white – forms.
7) The occasional, seemingly direct connection to a UFO experience.
The latter will take a bit more development. Stay tuned for Part 2.