Montana, with its miles of dirt roads, deep forests and open fields, has a history of mysterious reports that many believe to be proof of alien activity. Whether it’s strange lights in the sky, unexplained animal deaths or close encounters, there’s a story about it in Montana.
As we’ve recently written, a mysterious light in the Montana sky on Feb. 13 turned out to be a Chinese satellite launcher burning up in the atmosphere, leaving excited witnesses a little let down. But for every incident that is eventually explained away, there are a multitude of sightings and encounters that have no answers, and not all of them are from the sky.
Here are some of Montana’s most puzzling UFOs – and more – throughout history.
James Lumley – 1865
In 1865, a fur trapper in Montana named James Lumley reported seeing a bright light fly quickly across the sky, leaving behind a strong wind and a smell of sulfur. He claimed that the next day he found a path it made when it crashed through the trees, and followed that to a stone containing glass and strange markings. It is said that some debris still remains, for those who want to look, but none has ever been found.
The Boulder Mountain Contact – 1940
Udo Wartena, an immigrant miner working for the Northwest Mining Company, reported making contact with aliens in early May, 1940. He was at his mining claim near Canyon Ferry Lake when he heard a humming noise. Wartena climbed up a short way to get a batter view of the surrounding area and saw a disc-shaped craft, 100 feet wide, hovering in a field. A staircase descended and a man approached him from inside, asking to take water aboard. Wartena was invited onto the ship, where he met another man. The three spoke for a while, and Wartena was invited to go with them, but he declined. Despite his very detailed account of the incident, Wartena kept it a secret until close to his death in 1989.
The Great Falls/Nick Mariana Film – August 1950
In 1950 outside of Great Falls, the manager of the local baseball team, Nick Mariana, and his secretary, Virginia Raunig, witnessed two silvery objects zip across the sky. Luckily for UFO-obsessed people of the future, Mariana kept his 16-mm camera in his car, and with it he recorded this video.
After viewing the footage, the Air Force initially said they were jet interceptors with sunlight reflecting off their fuselages, but the case was reexamined and that reasoning was rejected. The case remains a mystery to this day.
The Malmstrom Air Force Base UFOs – March 16, 1967
Maintenance crews and security personnel hunkered down to spend the night after doing routine maintenance on missiles at two launch facilities at the Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls. They stayed on-site, and early the next morning reports began to come in to the control facility from several of the men, describing hovering UFOS. Following these reports, missiles at the base began to shut down.
Robert Salas, an Air Force officer at the time, has since said that the incident was a potential threat to national security and the Air Force purposefully covered it up.
The Central Montana Cattle Mutilations – 1975-present
In the spring of 1975, a rancher in Choteau discovered one of his cows dead, with missing body parts and very little blood. There were no tracks around the body. In the two years following, there were 67 separate reports of mutilations. Similar reports have continued ever since. In 2006, a rancher in Valier found one of his cows dead and mutilated. He also reported that predators would not go near the carcass. In 2012, a rancher outside of Polson had a similar experience. The cows are usually mutilated in the exact same way, with precise cuts and no sign of ripping. Sometimes, internal organs are missing with no sign of entry from the outside.
Deer Lodge/Red Gate – ? – present
Deer Lodge and the surrounding area is who claim to have had experiences with UFOs and other alien-related incidents. The name “Red Gate” refers to an area east of Deer Lodge where a once-red gate cuts off a road, and where teenagers have gone to park since the ’50s. The area has been home to numerous UFO sightings, and incidents like horse mutilations and mysterious power outages. Sightings aren’t limited to residents, either. In 2005, a family of five was driving near Deer Lodge on their way to Glacier National Park when they noticed a round, white light in the sky. It was visible for about 20 minutes before it disappeared.