Everyone has heard of the UFO crash site in Roswell, N.M., yet few know about another reported UFO crash that hit much closer to home, about 30 miles due south of Durango. Or so the legend goes.
It is this lesser-known crash that was celebrated Friday and Saturday at the 14th annual Aztec UFO Conference, bringing together skeptics and enthusiasts alike to ask the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe?
A fundraiser for the Friends of the Aztec Public Library, the group takes no stance one way or the other regarding the existence of alien life forms.
Saturday featured a full day of lectures from UFO experts, as well as guided tours of the Aztec UFO crash site.
Led by Indiana Judy Cowan, the 1½-hour tours took groups 12 miles northeast of Aztec into Hart Canyon, where it is believed a large spacecraft smashed into the ground March 25, 1948.
A volunteer at the Aztec Public Library circulation desk, Cowan has been leading tours to the site for five years.
Ive been told to relay that if you take any pictures, be sure to get a lot of sky, she told a group before beginning the tour. When those are printed, you may see some things you didnt notice when you took the picture.
A short hike from the parking lot, the nondescript site could easily be overlooked except for a simple metal sign detailing the crash and the subsequent secret military mission to transport the craft to the Los Alamos Laboratory.
Throughout the tour, Cowan recounted stories of the crash, some of which exist only in oral lore.
One such story involved a tall, blond alien who was found by two young Native Americans who were on a vision quest. They took the alien back to their village, where its injuries were healed.
Two years later, Cowan said, the blond alien disappeared at the same time as legions of spacecraft were seen flying over Farmington.
In fact, accounts of that strange event were well-documented in the March 18, 1950, Farmington Daily Times front-page story, Huge saucer armada jolts Farmington.
Fully half of the towns population still is certain today that it saw space ships or some strange aircraft hundreds of them zooming through the skies yesterday, the Times wrote. Scores described the objects as silvery discs.
Farmington resident Daniel Griffith and his 13-year-old son, London, toured the site for the first time Saturday.
Whether you believe it or you dont, its still fun, Griffith said. I dig stuff like this, and its cool when its this close to home.
Despite living in the area most of his life, Griffith had only recently learned about the crash site. While Griffith has never seen a Martian, he believes its both egotistical and shortsighted to assume humans are the only intelligent life forms in the universe.
Organizer Katee McClure said the event isnt about believing or disbelieving.
We want to open up the conversation, she said. We want to present speakers so that people can make up their own mind.
Even so, McClure, who has been involved with the event since 2000, was wearing a vest spotted with alien heads.
Overt believers in extraterrestrial life often seem to exist on the fringes of society, but if you ask McClure, theyre anything but crazy.
Its not a belief system, like bow unto the mighty alien, she said. Its more people who are just seeking information.