Wednesday, July 30, 2008
City plans to make UFO site into tourist attraction
EDITORIAL The city of Socorro has decided to turn the site of the "Socorro UFO landing" into a tourist attraction.
On April 24, 1964, Socorro police officer Lonnie Zamora and an unidentified tourist saw something land in a gully at the south end of town. Zamora had gone to the mesa when he heard a blast or a roar because he thought a building used to store explosives had blown up.
Zamora described in detail what he saw that evening: the craft, the "child-like" figures standing by it and its take-off. Since neither Zamora nor anyone else could positively identify the craft, it was classified as an unidentified flying object.
The incident was documented in El Defensor Chieftain and later on many Internet sites. At the time, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, special consultant to the U.S. Air Force for Project Bluebook, examined the site and took samples. He found the site trampled by the curious but said the impressions made by the object's feet or pods were tangible proof of the landing.
Hynek visited Socorro several times in connection with the landing, but was unable to determine what the object was. Since then, theorists have suggested a weather balloon, a helicopter, a secret government craft, an experimental lunar landing craft or, of course, an interplanetary vehicle.
The site is currently on land owned by the Richardson Trust Fund. Katherine Richardson, owner of the Water and Ice Store, said the family is anxious to work with the city to develop the site as a tourist attraction.
The site can be accessed by a rough dirt road, formerly known as "H" Street, just north of the Socorro Baptist Temple. In the gully are four rock circles said to mark the four impressions made by the object's feet where it landed.
Socorro Police Chief Lawrence Romero put a pink flag at one of the rock circles to mark the spot. Romero, City Tourism Director Deborah Dean, City Councilor Gordy Hicks and Richardson met at the site last week, to discuss plans to develop the area as a tourist attraction.
Dean said her office gets two or three inquiries every month from people looking for the site.
Tim Sawyer, pastor of the Socorro Baptist Temple, said he has five or six people stopping there every month looking for the site.
Sawyer frequently sees people milling around at the top of the ridge as if they are looking for the site — so he goes up the ridge and tells them what he knows about the landing.
The city plans to put a plaque at the landing site as well as benches either at the site or on the mesa overlooking the gully.
"Look what Roswell did with theirs (UFO landing), and ours is better documented," Romero said.
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The News-Bulletin: City plans to make UFO site into tourist attraction