Alien City, The UFO Capital of the World, Home of the Annual UFO Festival.
This is NOT the kind of place that The GypsyNesters can just pass by.
Oh no, we had to stop and investigate. The first stop of any trip to Roswell has got to be The International UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street in the middle of town.
Since opening in 1992 the museum has outgrown two locations prior to occupying the old Plains Theater, and has plans to expand yet again.
Before the center came to town, little was known about The Incident.
As their website proudly proclaims, there were no alien eyes on the lamp posts, no space based logos for the local car dealer and no city of Roswell logo with a spaceship before they opened up. Roswell was just an unknown dot on the map.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center proudly points out their contributions to civic growth by noting that six UFO related businesses have opened downtown.
Six hotels have been completed, and Roswell now has a Home Depot, Super Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Sams Club, PetCo, Famous Footwear, a Chili’s and an Applebee’s just in the past eight years.
No doubt a great deal of this business comes from the curious and the down right skeptical, count us among them, but the museum maintains its position on the serious side for the UFO interested visitors.
We won’t go into a detailed description or analysis of The Incident, but suffice it to say that the museum has every piece of information that any human (or alien for that matter) could ever dream of.
The centerpieces of the collection are the 1947 newspapers and radio broadcasts announcing the crash of a flying disc” and the retraction of the story the next day, word for word from a Roswell Army Air Field press release.
Somehow, overnight, the official story changed from personnel from the field’s 509th Bomb Group had recovered a crashed flying disc from a ranch near Roswell, to Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force stated that, in fact, a radar-tracking balloon had been recovered by the RAAF personnel, not a flying disc.
No wonder there are conspiracy theories.
Also prominent are eye witness accounts and expert testimonies and, perhaps most compelling, signed affidavits from some of the military personnel who were actually involved in the crash clean up.
It was getting a bit creepy in Roswell.
By the time we had finished studying the displays and information, we had some serious doubts as to the validity of the official government explanation.
We’re not saying we believe it was a UFO crash, but we’re not buying the weather balloon story either.
Beyond the exhibits about The Incident, the museum takes a turn toward the less credible. A lot of the standard, grainy, blurry and cheesy UFO photos are featured along with artwork and some very questionable science.
There was some fairly reasonable evidence that the Nazi war machine had developed a flying saucer referred to as a Foo Fighter.
The museum has a nifty little display that depicts what one may have looked like. Perhaps our Air Force was messing with a captured one after the war.
Personally, we like the Foo Fighter explanation more than little green men tale, oh and yes, that is where the band got their name.
Once we had absorbed the museum, it was time to check out the research center. Yeah buddy, this is where they keep the good stuff! Nothing is too farfetched or bogus to make it into this library.
Books expounding outlandish theories, incredibly questionable scientific journals and a video collection any UFOlogist (their word, not ours) would die for. Every bad Sci-Fi movie that even mentions an alien is here, many that reside on every worst movies of all time list.
For the truly serious researchers, a complete set of every “Lost in Space” episode is included. The scientific knowledge hidden away in those gems is priceless.
To continue our immersion into all things alien, it was time to step up the goofy a notch and walk across the street to The UFO Roswell Space Center to take a little trip through their SpaceWalk. Billed as a walk-through blacklight art experience, this was not to be missed.
Seriously, here’s the description direct from their brochure: Step into the temporal vortex field of the Paisley-Horvak TVG9000.
See into Roswell’s past, when the future was beginning; then watch the future unfold, becoming a spectacular panorama of outerspace viewed from the deck of an alien starship.
There has never been a better description of a series of glowing blacklight charged diaramas — one that even includes scenes from I Love Lucy — in the history of the universe. Oh, and one other note from the brochure, Free Alien Money With Any Purchase. Stop, please, I can’t take anymore!
There was absolutely no way we were ever going to top that on the goofy-cheesy scale, so we decided to take in some of the actual historical sites of Roswell. Even before the aliens got all out of control and crashed, real space age history was being made here.
In 1930, Robert Goddard, the inventor of the liquid fueled rocket, came to Roswell to pursue his experiments in rocketry. The wide open spaces were perfect for launches without endangering the public.
Often called “The Father of Modern Rocketry,” Goddard worked in secrecy here throughout the thirties, building ever larger and more sophisticated rockets until World War II diverted most of his attention to developing rocket engines to assist aircraft in takeoffs.
The Roswell Museum and Art Center, just a tad more serious as museums in Roswell go, features an entire gallery dedicated to Goddard’s work. The exhibit includes a re-creation of his workshop and many of his actual rockets, the largest of which stands outside the museum in a launch tower ready for lift off.
While Goddard was working for the war effort, German prisoners of war were being held at a camp in nearby Orchard Park.
The prisoners often were sent to work in Roswell and during one of those trips a group of POWs inlaid an iron cross with stones while paving the bank of the North Spring River.
Unhappy locals covered the cross with concrete.In the 1980s the cross was uncovered and the small park on the opposite shore became known as Iron Cross Park.
Later, in 1996, the park was renamed POW/MIA Park and displays a chunk of The Berlin Wall, donated to the city by the German Air Force.
Perhaps the confluence of the whole German military, World War II, Foo Fighters, Spacecraft, Rockets, Aliens and Roswell comes together in this one place. X, or the iron cross, marks the spot. Who knows?
It’s hard to decipher a lot of the fact from fiction in Roswell. One thing we do know, we left town no more sure about the existence of visitors from outer space than when we came here.
But no less either.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com