High Strangeness: Fifty Years of Swamp Gas

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fifty Years of Swamp Gas

I am psyched. I just got word that the Conference in Michigan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous Dexter-Hillsdale "Swamp Gas" case is on for March 19, 2016, at the Wyndham Garden hotel in Ann Arbor!

I know most of you know the major points of the case, but for those who don't, here's a quick recap:
For several nights in March 1966, UFOs were being sighted over southeast Michigan by cops out on night patrol. The sightings culminated with an alleged UFO landing in a marsh behind a Dexter Township farm belonging to Frank Mannor, followed by another alleged landing the very next night in a college arboretum, witnessed by 87 college coeds and their housemother from the windows of the women's dorm at Hillsdale College. Because there were so many witnesses and their descriptions were all so similar, the event made national headlines and the UFO faithful were convinced that Dexter-Hillsdale was "The Big One," the one case that would provide incontrovertible proof that UFOs were real physical objects, and were in fact spaceships from another world.

Bowing to public and political pressure, the Air Force's "Project Blue Book" sent its scientific consultant, astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek, to Michigan to investigate. Three days later Hynek was pressured into holding a press conference at the Detroit Press Club to reveal the results of his investigation. To the dismay of nearly everyone, Hynek declared that, based on the facts at hand, the witnesses may have seen simple "Swamp Gas" dispelled by the decaying early Spring vegetation in the Mannor swamp and the college arboretum. The citizens of Michigan were outraged at what they saw as an insult to their honor, Hynek's colleagues and supporters were outraged that he would "lie" about The Big One supposedly under orders from the Air Force, and Hynek himself called it "The low point of my career."
Dr. J. Allen Hynek does some UFOsplaining at the Detroit Press Club
That's the story that's been reported and repeated faithfully for the past 50 years, but the thing is, that's not how it actually happened. That version of the story leaves out huge pieces of the puzzle that have been forgotten through the mists of time, but that actually turn the entire Dexter-Hillsdale story on its head... and I have been invited to the conference next March to talk about some of my findings about the case, and I can't wait.

For as much as this case has been investigated and written about, it is astonishing how much of the story people continually get wrong. Case in point: Hynek arrived in Michigan the Tuesday after the farm and dormitory sightings and held his press conference that Friday, three full days later. And yet knowledgeable people still insist that Hynek gave the press conference and made the "Swamp Gas" statement less than an hour after arriving in Michigan, without even conducting any investigation. Even the well-known UFO "historian" and Roswell slides promoter Richard Dolan got it wrong. In his 2014 book, UFOs for the 21st Century Mind, Dolan wrote that, "Immediately upon arriving in Michigan, Hynek gave a press conference." Well, sure, if you leave out the intervening three days.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem with the story is the devious and diabolical machinations people still ascribe to how Hynek came up with the "Swamp Gas" hypothesis, and why he offered it as a likely explanation for the Dexter-Hillsdale sightings. And I can tell you, it's not what you think.

Want the full story? Come to the Wyndham in Ann Arbor next March and you'll hear it direct from the source!


purrlgurrl said...

FYI, some of us don't consider Dolan a credible source on anything, even in his pre-Roswell slides utterances.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

I am well aware of that :)

So you are not one of the women in the UFO community who call him the "hot historian"??

Anonymous said...

Dolan lost his credibility when he took the stage in Mexico City for the Roswell slides fiasco.

purrlgurrl said...

How do I put this tactfully . . . participatoin in a sleazy and dumb UFO scam automatically reduces hotness to a negative number.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Hahahaha, I thought that was very tactful!

Jack Brewer said...

> FYI, some of us don't consider Dolan a credible source on anything,
> even in his pre-Roswell slides utterances.

Agreed. Dolan's activities surrounding the ill conceived Citizens Hearing on Disclosure alone revealed him to be more of an entertainer than researcher.

Hope the conference goes well, Mark.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

Thanks, Jack!