Elk River news paper article
Elk river news paper Article
It was probably one of the strangest chapters in Elk River’s history — the year the UFOs came to town.
It happened 10 years ago during the waning months of 1992.
For several weeks, there were numerous reports of UFO sightings in the Elk River area.
“It’s like there was a mini rush on them, and then it stopped,” said Elk River Police Chief Tom Zerwas, who also was chief at the time.
Don Heinzman, who was editor of the Star News in 1992, is convinced that the people who reported the UFO sightings in Elk River saw something.
“But whether it was a UFO is, of course, up to all of our imaginations,” Heinzman said.
Woman saw huge lights hovering in back yard
It started innocently enough on Sept. 17, 1992, when an Elk River woman got up to go to the bathroom at about 4:45 a.m. She looked out the window and saw three huge lights hovering about 6 feet off the ground in her neighbor’s fenced back yard. Within seconds, the lights were gone.
“It’s a very awesome thing to witness this,” the woman told the Star News during a 1992 interview. “Actually I wish I never would have because it gave me a very eerie feeling.”
She reported the incident to police and a story ran in the Star News.
A rash of UFO sightings followed (see timeline on this page).
Then in October 1992, signs appeared at the entrances to Elk River, proclaiming the city “UFO Capital of the Universe.”
That same month, a Princeton man suggested that a life-size model of the large UFO he reported seeing in September be built in Elk River and illuminated at night. (City officials never took him up on the idea.)
Meanwhile, members of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) mobilized. The organization investigates UFO sightings and MUFON members interviewed some of the people who reported seeing UFOs in the Elk River area. The group also hosted an information meeting in Elk River in November, which attracted a standing-room-only crowd.
Later that month, a farmer harvesting corn near the Sherburne County Government Center in Elk River discovered a mysterious large clearing in the middle of the field. Police later learned that it was a hoax, created by some kids.
Sightings were the talk of the town in 1992
The Star News ran a series of stories on the sightings in 1992, including artist’s drawings of some of the flying saucers people reported seeing.
“What I remember about the experience is that during the time we were writing (about UFOs) I had several people, who I thought were sane, normal, rational people, who said, ‘Now don’t put this in the paper, but I remember one night I saw one of those.’ And they would describe it,” former editor Heinzman said.
He said everywhere he went around town at the time, people were talking about the UFO sightings.
“My only regret about it is that no one who saw one ever took a photo,” Heinzman said with a laugh.
Dick Moss of MUFON said last week that what was noteworthy about the Elk River sightings was the fact that one man reported being so close to a craft. (That’s the scene in the drawing on this page.)
“It was more than just a light in the sky,” said Moss, a retired chemistry and physics teacher from Long Prairie. “... The fact that it was close up, I think at the time caught us all off guard. That was kind of interesting. There aren’t very many really close situations that are observed.”
Many reports are of lights in the sky, visible even in the daytime. Crop circles or “saucer nests” have also been reported in Minnesota, Moss said.
The sightings in Elk River a decade ago attracted local, state and national media interest.
“We were contacted by news media from around the country,” Police Chief Zerwas said.
Interest in the sightings continues today.
One of the reports that appeared in the Star News in 1992 has been translated into French and now appears on a Web site with other UFO reports from around the world.
Heinzman said: “It was a story that really put Elk River on the map.”