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Volume 7
Number 5
January 29, 2002

Editor: Joseph Trainor

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Discovery of a mysterious trench in the side of Mount Snowden in Wales has become complicated by a UFO sighting in the same region during the same period.

Although Mount Snowden is in North Wales, the incident apparently began in the Bridgend area of South Wales, where Roger F. and his son had an unusual encounter.

"On the evening of Thursday, January 17, 2002, at 2125 hours GMT (9:25 p.m.), while travelling by car through the village of Sarn, near Bridgend, South Wales (UK), towards the railway station, I noticed a red glowing stationary object quite high. The object was spotted briefly by myself and my son as we passed a row of houses," Roger F. reported.

"After descending a hill shortly after, we stopped near the railway station to scan the sky but could not see the light where we thought it should be. It was not a plane (navigational) light as far as I could tell, just something unusual that we believe needed explaining."

Roger described the object as "bright red, practically round in shape. Height (altitude in the USA--J.T.) about 100 feet (30 metres) although difficult to tell, as it was dark and only briefly seen between houses." (Email Form Report)

A few days later, in North Wales, "a 20-metre long trench has mysteriously appeared on a remote North Wales mountainside--arousing the interest of some of Britain's leading astronomers."

"The gash, about 2,500 feet (764 meters) high, between Moel Eilio and Snowdon, starts amid a cluster of smashed rocks, ending in boggy ground close to a fence."

"Astronomers were last night investigating the possibility the gouge could have been caused by a meteor smashing into the earth."

"Another less likely theory is that it may have been caused by a lightning strike."

"One expert told the Daily Post yesterday (January 23, 2002) 'It is all fascinating stuff, and if it is eventually found to have been caused by a meteor, it will be virtually unique in Wales.'"

"Land walkers and fell-runners (hikers in the USA--J.T.) first noticed some disturbance, but it was not until a Caernaron builder, Mike Blake, a member of the Eryri Harriers Club, examined it in more detail that the interest of leading astronomers was aroused."

"Mike, a keen amateur photographer, visited the site and took photographs. He has sent them to the Natural History Museum and to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire."

"'It's clear that some natural occurrence has taken place, but what exactly it is, I just don't know,' he said."

"'It appears that a rocky outcrop was hit and shattered, as there are fragments over a wide area. Leading away from it is a large gouge about 20 metres (66 feet) long, which ends in boggy ground.'"

"Mike tried to clear a drainage ditch to see what lay at the bottom of the trench, but it quickly filled up again."

"'I am desperately anxious to know what caused it, but one thing is clear, and that is that it was not caused by any vehicle,' he said."

"This week Mike has been in touch with the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland, whose director, Professor Mark Bailey, who said he was intrigued by Mark's detailed description."

"'There does appear to have been a violent impact with the mountainside,' he said."

"One puzzling feature, he said, was the long trench, as this would indicate an object hitting the ground at a shallow angle, while a meteorite would be expected to approach Earth much more directly."

"'It would be wonderful if it were a meteorite because we don't get very many of them in this part of the world, but something about this does not ring true. If it were a meteorite, it would have almost certainly have been visible,' said Professor Bailey."

"His concerns about the angle of trajectory and the trench were shared by Jay Tait, director of the Knighton Observatory in Powys," Wales, UK.

"'It is well worth further investigation, and I shall be following this with great interest. If it were a meteorite, it would be virtually unique in Wales, the last one in England having been in the 1960s,' he said." (See the Daily Post for January 24, 2002, "Experts called to investigate Snowdonia's space riddle." Many thanks to Gerry Lovell and Louise A. Lowry for forwarding this newspaper article.)

(Editor's Note: Mount Snowden was the birthplace and boyhood home of Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson, the USA's third president.)


South America's UFO flap continued last week with a new sighting, this one in the small nation of Uruguay.

On Tuesday, January 22, 2002, at 10 p.m., in the coastal city of Maldonado, 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Montevideo, Uruguay's capital, a teenaged girl spotted a dark triangular UFO with a white light at each corner as it passed over the port city.

Rosario de Arca reported, "One of my daughters observed three luminous points that moved in the sky from south to north. They caught her attention because they didn't maintain a straight orbit but rather zigzagged through the sky."

"She called us, and when we came out, I saw that the luminous points were approximately the size of a sixth-magnitude star. They moved in tandem about 50 degrees in altitude from the point at which I originally saw them, still going from south to north."

"We could see them for about 30 seconds. Then they disappeared quickly. The night was very clear, without clouds. The moon was already hiding. We were in front of our home when we saw the phenomenon." (Email Interview)


On Thursday, January 24, 2002, at 11:30 p.m., Jody L. was at her friend's apartment in Grafton, Auckland, New Zealand. "I went out onto the balcony, and I saw it in the sky. It was low cloud, and it (the UFO) flew about in the cloud. I called my friend out to see it."

"He didn't know what it was. It sort of curved a few times, like a bird would when turning, then it flew off out of sight in a straight direction southward."

Jody described the UFO as "roughly spherical. It seemed as though it didn't give off much light. It was lighted by the city lights. It was flying within the low clouds, so I'm estimating that it was something like a metre (3.3 feet) wide (at that altitude--J.T.) It was silent and moved smoothly. It was travelling much faster than a bird would at about 60 to 80 kilometers per hour (36 to 50 miles per hour)."
(Email Form Report)


On Tuesday, January 22, 2002, at 3:05 p.m., a silvery-white flying disc was spotted over the city of Merida, in the Yucatan jungles of Mexico.

David Antonio Triay Lucatero was standing outside of his home in the Francisco de Montero housing development in Merida when he spied "an elongated discoidal shape, silvery-white in color."

"I was standing outside, looking at the sky to the north when I saw a discoidal object emerge from a small cloud at an altitude of some 30 degrees above the horizon," David reported, "It moved from west to east at high speed, (first) making a small curve toward the southwest and then returning to a northeasterly heading. Its movements appeared to be intelligently guided."

"When I calculated that the heading was leading it toward a cloudless area, I ran into my house and fetched my 16x50 binoculars and an Olympus F50 millimeter camera with Fuji Superia ISO 800 film. The one-minute delay in returning to the place where the sighting occurred meant that the object had already vanished from sight. No trace of it was found after scanning the sky with binoculars."

"The sky had scattered clouds at 764 meters (2,500 feet), wind was blowing from the east-southeast at 29 kilometers per hour (18 miles per hour). The object left no wake in its path." (Muchas gracias a Scott Corrales, autor ce los libros, Chupacabras and Other Mysteries y Forbidden Mexico para esas noticias.)


Mount Popocatepetl, east of Mexico City, drew more UFOs last week for some unknown reason. The majestic stratovolcano, which has long been a Mexican UFO hotspot, remains in the middle of a major flap.

On Wednesday, January 23, 2002, "a spherical luminous UFO was seen moving at high velocity around the summit of Mount Popocatepetl. The object was seen by airline ground crews at the Mariano Matamoros airport in Cuernavaca," 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Mexico City. The UFO "contrasted sharply with the plume of black smoke from the volcano, which was in the background."

On Thursday, January 24, 2002, at 6 a.m., Mexican ufologist "Pedro Hernandez captured on video a strange luminous object moving around in the sky above Amecameca, near the volcano Mount Ixtaccihuatl and Mount Popocatepetl. The object moved slowly and at low altitude, Hernandez said. He caught the object on videotape for two minutes before it lost itself in the eastern horizon."

Later the same day, Thursday, January 24, 2002, at 8:55 p.m., "Jonathan Esparza saw a luminous UFO with multicolored lights flying just east of Villa de Las Flores, to the north of Mexico City. Esparza observed the strange object with his binoculars and perceived two large white lights and three small lights colored green, blue and yellow. Finally, the object became a luminous sphere in his field of view before it vanished completely." (See NotiOVNI for January 27, 2002. Muchas gracias a Daniel Munoz para esas noticias.)


On Tuesday, January 22, 2002, at about 5 a.m., teenaged M.J. "was in my bedroom talking on the phone with the lights out and my glasses off. I happened to glance at the window and saw a large object with white, red and maybe green lights sort of hovering over our hog barn. I couldn't see it well since I wasn't wearing my glasses."

"I grabbed my glasses and put them on and ran to the window. But by this time it (the UFO) was pretty far away and I couldn't make out any details, but I'm fairly sure it was round. It seemed (to come) pretty close to the house. But there was no sound at all. Possibly it was saucer-shaped."

"I didn't see it approach. I only saw it hovering. It must have been pretty low and very close considering I even saw it. I'm pretty much blind without my glasses. It also must have moved very fast. I had turned away from my window for just a second or two to grab my glasses, and when I looked out the window. It looked to be several miles away."

Riceville (population 800) is in northern Iowa just south of the Minnesota state line about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north-northeast of Des Moines, the state capital. (Email Interview)


On Friday, January 11, 2002, Derek T. and his wife decided to visit New York City on a weekend vacation. At 6:30 p.m., they arrived at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East Thirty-Third Street, and Derek got out his camera.

"My wife and I were visiting New York," Derek reported, "And my wife decided it would be great to take a picture of the Empire State Building, as the building was all lit up in red, white and blue. We were on the right-hand side (towards the corner--J.T.) looking directly at the building."

(Editor's Note: Since the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Empire State Building, completed in the 1930s, has again become the tallest building in New York City.)

"I took one photo with my Olympus 2040 digital camera and then we continued shopping," he added, "I did not see the object at this time."

The couple left New York City on Sunday, January 13, 2002. Derek had the film developed later that week. And, when he looked at the photo, "I saw a silver-gray saucer with a protrusion on the top," seemingly hovering high above East Thirty-Second Street.

"I still do not know what it was," Derek added. (Email Form Report)


On Tuesday, January 15, 2002, the commandant's office of the U.S. Coast Guard's Ninth District announced the recovery of one body in Lake Michigan. The victim was one of four people who were aboard a Cessna 182 when it vanished over Lake Michigan on December 11, 2001.

The body was "recovered near St. Joseph, Michigan. The body was recovered on Friday, January 11, 2002 and was verified to be the pilot of the Cessna 182 which crashed northwest of Chicago."

"Family members made positive identification to the Medical Examiner."

"Three bodies remain unaccounted for." (Many thanks to Todd Lemire for forwarding the Coast Guard news release. For more on the disappearance of the Cessna 182, see UFO Roundup, volume 7, number 1, page 1.)


"A treasure trove of fossilized jellyfish, discovered in a quarry in Mosinee, Wisconsin, appears to be one of the largest finds of its kind in the world, scientists say."

"'Preservation of a soft-bodied organism is incredibly rare, but a whole deposit of them is like finding your own vein of gold,' says James Hagadorn of the California Institute of Technology and co-author of an article about the discovery in February's Geology."

"The jellyfish, which have no durable body parts, were fossilized during the ancient Cambrian Period, when the world's oceans exploded with a diversity of life."

"The creatures were apparently buried within hours after being stranded in a shallow lagoon some 510 million years ago by a freak tide or storm and buried by sand." (See USA Today for January 29, 2002, "Jellyfish fossils found in Wisconsin," page 6D.)

(Editor's Comment: Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it, what strange apocalypse overwhelmed the giant sentient jellyfish of Cambrian Wisconsin half a billion years ago?)

From the UFO Files...


Rio Grande City, Texas is a small town on the USA-Mexico border, about 180 miles (300 kilometers) south of San Antonio and 60 miles (100 kilometers) west of Brownsville. Nowadays it's famous for citrus fruits, duty-free shops and maquiladoras. Yet Rio Grande City is famous for something else, as well.

It's the birthplace of Conan of Cimmeria, the fictional hero of author Robert E. Howard (1906-1936). As to how the brawling, black-haired, blue-eyed Cimmerian came into existence...well, that in itself is an interesting paranormal tale.

In 1931, following a sickly childhood and a succession of briefly-held, low-paying jobs, Robert Ervin Howard was finally starting to come into his own as a writer. He was regularly selling his short fiction to the pulp magazines in New York City and, at age twenty-five, was making almost as much money annually as the banker in his hometown of Cross Plains, Texas.

"The year 1932 proved eventful for Robert Howard, both as a writer and a man. It was in 1932 that he wrote and sold his first Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword," which is rated as one of the better stories in the series."

"The new year began inauspiciously. After months of high-speed production, Robert found himself unable to write anything of value. This unsettling drainage of creativity often befalls writers of fiction and results in depression or sheer panic. Looking back on this experience a year later (in 1933--J.T.), he wrote, '...for months I had been absolutely barren of ideas, completely unable to work up anything sellable.'"

"He decided to take a vacation, and in February 1932 he set forth by bus for San Antonio."

"In San Antonio, he shopped for knives and swords for his collection. He fell in with an East Indian (a Hindu--J.T.) who had spent most of his life in China. From him Howard learned of the 'ghastly tortures of the Orient.' The man also mentioned that he had seen scores of Chinese Communists beheaded in the open streets."

(Editor's Comment: Apparently Bob's Hindu friend was in Shanghai in April 1927 when Chiang Kaishek's Kuomintang Party broke with their one-time allies, the Chinese Communist Party, and, with the aid of the Triad societies, massacred the Chinese Reds. The big question, of course, is...what brought this fellow to Texas?)

"This Howard reported to (his friend and fellow author Howard Phillips) Lovecraft, adding, 'The mere thought of such a spectacle slightly nauseated me.'"

"From San Antonio, (Robert E.) Howard traveled southward to the Rio Grande Valley, where he experimented with Mexican food and wandered up the valley as far as Rio Grande City...While Howard was enjoying 'tortillas...and Spanish wine' along the Border, the most memorable fictional idea of his life began to form."

One day in February 1932, while taking an after-lunch siesta in Rio Grande City, "Howard dreamed he was sitting by a campfire out on the prairie when out of the darkness stepped a barbarian wearing (black) chain-mail armor and a horned helmet."

By Robert's own account, the entity said, "I am Conan, a Cimmerian. I wish to tell you of my adventures."

Upon awakening, "Howard decided to write a series of prehistoric adventure fantasies, not unlike (his 1929) Kull stories, for such a setting would eliminate the need for accurate historical research."

Unknown to Robert, however, a similar "contact" had already taken place three years earlier, in 1929, in Bucuresti (Bucharest), Romania.

"Awakened from a sound sleep in his apartment," journalist Corneliu "Codreanu was confronted by a glowing entity in knightly armor that identified itself as 'St. Michael the Archangel.'"

The self-styled "archangel" ordered Codreanu to go to Jassy, the site of the Romanian Army's last stand in World War One, and raise a new military force to save the nation. Thus was born the Legion of St. Michael the Archangel, also known as the Iron Guard, which played a key role in the Holocaust during World War Two.

(Editor's Comment: The experiences of REH and Codreanu, along with Antonio Rivera's nighttime visit from a quadruped alien in Barcelona in 1930, certainly qualify this period as "the Era of Strange Contacts.")

"Since Howard was not good at inventing names, he often based personal and place names on historical figures and localities. He liked to assume that ancient and medieval names were derived from those of his imagined prehistoric realms, postulating that the records of the prehistoric civilization had been destroyed by invasion or natural catastrophe, surviving only in myths and legends. He wrote, 'If some cataclysm of nature were to destroy that civilization, remnants of what knowledge and stories of its greatness might well evolve into the fantastic fables that have descended to us.'"

Howard repeatedly hinted at just such a natural catastrophe in prehistory in many of his stories. Consider this passage from the Conan tale A Witch Shall Be Born:

"So thought many," answered the woman who called herself Sakome. "They carried me into the desert to die, damn them. I, a mewling, puling babe whose life was so young it was scarecely the flicker of a candle. And do you know why they bore me forth to die?"

"I--I have heard the story--" faltered Taramis.

Salome laughed fiercely and slapped her bosom. The low-necked tunic left the upper parts of her firm breasts, and between them there shone a curious mark--a crescent, red as blood."

"The mark of the witch!" cried Taramis, recoiling.

"Aye!" Salome's laughter was dagger-edged with hate. "The curse of the kings of Khauran! Aye, they tell the tale in the market places, with wagging beards and rolling eyes, the pious fools! They tell how the first queen of our line had traffic with a foul fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter who lives in foul legendry to this day. And thereafter, in each century, a girl baby was born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half-moon between her breasts, that signified her destiny."

"'Every century a witch shall be born.' So ran the ancient curse. Some were slain at birth, as they sought to slay me. Some walked the earth as witches, proud daughters of Khauran, with the moon of hell burning upon their ivory bosoms. Each was named Salome. I, too, am Salome. It was always Salome, the witch. It will always be Salome, the witch, even when the mountains of ice have roared down from the pole and ground the civilizations to ruin, and a new world has risen from the ashes and dust--even then there shall be Salomes to walk the earth, to trap men's hearts by their sorcery, to dance before the kings of the world, and see the heads of the wise men fall at their pleasure."

Howard wrote an essay entitled "The Hyborian Age" and sent it off to H.P. Lovecraft in Providence, R.I. Lovecraft, "who did not approve of Howard's system of nomenclature, passed the article on to a fan-magazine publishers with a letter:"

"Dear Wollheim,

"Here is something which Two-Gun Bob (HPL's nickname for Howard--J.T.) says he wants forwarded to you for The Phantagraph, and which I hope you'll be able to use. This is really great stuff--Howard has the most magnificent sense of the drama of 'History' of anyone I know...The only flaw in this stuff is R.E.H.'s incurable tendency to devise names too closely resembling actual names of ancient history--names which, for us, have a very different set of associations."

(Editor's Comment: "For us"...right! You and six Oxford dons, HPL!)

"In many cases he does this designedly--on the theory that the familiar names descend from the fabulous realms he describes--but such a design is invalidated by the fact that we clearly know the etymology of many of the historic terms, hence cannot accept the pedigree he suggests. E. Hoffman Price and I have both argued with Two-Gun on this point, but we make no headway whatsoever. The only thing to do is to accept the nomenclature as he gives it, wink at the weak spots, and be damned thankful that we can get such vivid artificial legendry."

But was it "artificial?" The incredible wealth of detail about Hyborian nations, kingdoms, cultures and customs in the Conan stories written exclusively by REH is in a class by itself. Such detail is missing from Howard's earlier Kull stories. There are the usual palace intrigues, plenty of violence, sporadic references to "barbarian" Atlantis and the "elder" mainland kingdoms like Valusia and Commoria, but the depth of detail is not there. It's as if the Kull and Conan stories were written by two different people.

And what are we to make of Howard's stubborn refusal to alter the characters' names, as Lovecraft suggested?

"Howard plunged into the new series. A steady stream of Conan stories began to pour out of his typewriter. In all, Howard completed twenty-one Conan stories, of which seventeen were published in Weird Tales during the remaining four years of his literary career," which ended with his apparent suicide in June 1936.

"Howard made no attempt to tell Conan's history in chronological order. In some stories, he appears as a youth; in others, as a middle-aged man."

In their biography of REH, L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin, listed the published Conan stories in the sequence of their appearance, showing the white heat in which the Texan author was churning out the saga. Here they are, in order of their appearance:

     The Phoenix on the Sword           December 1932
     The Scarlet Citadel                January 1933
     The Tower of the Elephant          March 1933
     Black Colossus                     June 1933
     The Slithering Shadow              September 1933
     The Pool of the Black One          October 1933
     Rogues in the House                January 1934
     Shadows in the Moonlight           April 1934
     Queen of the Black Coast           May 1934
     The Devil in Iron                  August 1934
     The People of the Black Circle     September 1934
     Jewels of Gwahlur                  March 1935
     Beyond the Black River             May 1935
     Shadows in Zamboula                November 1935
     The Hour of the Dragon             January 1936
     Red Nails                          July 1936

When you consider that The People of the Black Circle, The Hour of the Dragon and Red Nails were full-sized novels serialized over three and four-month periods in Weird Tales, REH completed a staggering amount of fiction during his brief "Conan" period.

"For many months he was so involved with Conan that he sometimes worked the night through. He wrote, 'For weeks I did nothing but write the adventures of Conan. The character took complete possession of my mind and crowded out everything else in the way of story-writing. When I deliberately tried to write something else, I couldn't do it."

(Editor's Comment: It all sounds a bit like automatic writing, doesn't it?)

Three other Conan stories were completed but did not sell. These included The God in the Bowl, The Vale of Lost Women and The Black Stranger. Howard had just begun writing for the Western pulp magazines when his life came to a sudden and tragic end.

Howard had some familiarity with Theosophy. In 1919, his father, Dr. Isaac Mordecai Howard, brought home a copy of Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled, and both his son and wife devoured it. Having some familiarity with the concept of "world-ages," Howard might have discussed it with his mysterious Hindu friend during that February 1932 trip to Rio Grande City. "Racial memory," another pet idea of REH, might have come up in the conversation, as well.

Some of us would like to know more about the mysterious Hindu who befriended Robert E. Howard during his vacation trip to southern Texas. But that is a mystery that remains buried in Rio Grande City.

While researching this article, your editor wondered if there was any sort of paranormal link to Rio Grande City. I did some extra reading and came up with a "possible."

Further up the Rio Grande Valley is an ancient stone ruin in Boquilla Pass, not far from Panther Junction and Hot Springs, Texas. It sits overlooking a millenia-old Native American trail leading north from Mexico. When I saw an old photo of the "stone fort," I had to blink twice. I had seen a structure like this before--in the Andes. The Incas called it a tampu.

What it's doing in the Rio Grande Valley is anybody's guess.

(See Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin, Bluesky Books Inc., New York, N.Y., 1983, pages 262 to 267; The Mighty Barbarians, edited by Hans Stefan Santesson, Lancer Books, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1969, pages 171 and 172; Fortean Times No. 132 for March 2000, page 50; and Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State, Hastings House, New York, N.Y., revised edition 1969, page 606.)

We'll be back next week with more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home--UFO Roundup." See you then!

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