Unidentified Flying Objects in the PA Wilds
Every year, thousands of people visit the Pennsylvania Wilds. They come to explore, to hike, tour our museums and communities. They arrive from all over the country.
And some visitors may be coming from a lot further away than that.
There have been UFO sightings in the Pennsylvania Wilds — many of them. Some of them date back over a century. And the Dark Skies landscape of the Wilds, one of the best places in the country for stargazing, is the perfect place for spotting them. (Sure, you can do astronomy and look for meteors, too, if you’re into that.) The other landscapes have had sightings, as well, and are also worth exploring. But Dark Skies is the perfect place to begin.
Robert R. Lyman, author of the book “Amazing Indeed,” claimed to have seen UFOs in Potter County. One was round, one was cylindrical, and two were egg-shaped. He mentioned a Potter County newspaper article from 1897 that said,”The flying machine was seen by reputable persons, whose veracity could not be questioned, and they allege that three men were visible on the machine which was in the shape of a huge cigar.”
Lyman also reported the sightings of Hiram Cranmer of Hammersley Fork, Clinton County, who was something of a local character for stories of the paranormal. Between 1950 and 1962, Cranmer claimed to have spotted UFOs in the sky repeatedly near his Leidy Township home. Many of these were described as the actual flying saucer-shaped crafts. (Not all UFOs are actual saucers, but that’s how many people picture them.) Of a 1961 sighting, Cranmer said it was “Shining like silver” before it suddenly vanished. (Photo of Hiram Cranmer at right provided by the Annie Halenbake Ross Library.)
The summer of 1966 seems to have been a swarm of UFO activity, with objects in the sky being spotted by multiple people around Coudersport. A group of young people riding outside of town reported an oval-shaped object that made their engine go dead. A minister, who previously had not believed in UFOs, saw a round object hovering above the trees.
In April of 1967, several witnesses reported seeing UFOs near Queens Run, along the Bucktail Scenic Byway (Route 120). They were described as green lights with white centers (The UFOs, not the witnesses.) They moved around in the sky for a while, then disappeared, leaving puffs of smoke which didn’t dissipate for over an hour.
In more recent times, there have been many sightings of UFOs in the PA Wilds. June of 2018 had a green sphere sighted over Smethport in the Allegheny National Forest and Surrounds, and in 2009, “Dim lights” were sighted flying south over Clarion, just south of the Cook Forest and the Ancients landscape, in a triangle formation. In November of 2018, witnesses saw a triangle-shaped object in the sky, with lights on it. It was flying in the I-80 Frontier, just north of Loganton in Clinton County. It soared above the interstate for a moment, and then disappeared.
Are these always sightings of aliens? No, not necessarily. An Unidentified Flying Object is just that: Unidentified. “UFO” does not necessarily mean “little green men,” simply a sighting of something that hasn’t been explained.
If you decide to investigate, you should also consider the possibility of odd-shaped aircraft, odd weather such as lenticular clouds, or privately-operated drones.
So let’s say you do want to go look into UFOs. What’s the best way to proceed? Always consider every possibility. Try to rule out planes, drones, or meteors. Talk with other witnesses, and judge their reliability. Visit the site of a UFO sighting, or a place where they are likely to be spotted, such as Cherry Springs State Park. Take binoculars and a camera, and if you really want to be thorough, a star chart or book about constellations and a map of the area. If you really, really want to be thorough, bring some litmus paper to take samples, if you find any, as well as a small, airtight container to store the samples. Find a comfortable spot, and check the skies for a sighting.
There’s plenty to see and do in the Pennsylvania Wilds, and it’s not all limited to ground level. While you’re out enjoying the outdoors, make sure to take a moment….And look up.
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