Forty years ago, on September 16 1979, a farmer in Wabasha County, discovered two large circles of downed field corn on his farm. The farmer, Curtis Olson, said the corn looked like “when you take a hair dryer and it blows all the hair from the center.” He had never seen anything like it, and he could not explain it.
Crop circles had not yet come to enjoy the widespread publicity, attention, and hoaxing they would achieve in the early 1980s. It was still an obscure phenomenon referred to by some UFO researchers as “saucer nests.” Corn stalks in a circle about 50 feet in diameter were flattened. In the center, some corn was missing and other stalks were charred. Paths led from the circle to another circle about 18 feet away. The second circle was about 30 feet in diameter but contained no charred or bare areas.
The farmer reported the damage to the Wabasha County Sheriff’s Department. Someone at some point suggested flying saucers might have had something to do with it. After all, the high-profile case of the Warren County deputy who collided with a UFO had just recently appeared in the news. Perhaps a saucer or some type of craft had landed in the field.
That’s when Bradley Ayers of CUFOS was called in to investigate. Ayers took soil samples and submitted them to the Center for UFO Studies, but the analysis found no evidence for or against UFO involvement. The Winona Daily News said that the county extension agent could find no natural explanation. “Concensus is that the happening is unexplainable.”
That’s no longer the case. Since then, the hoaxing of crop circles in Britain by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley has thoroughly discredited the phenomenon in the eyes of the public, but those hoaxers originally starting making their circles in imitation of the so-called saucer nests discovered in Australia. They didn’t make their first British crop circle until 1976, and their work did not catch international attention until 1978.
The story of the Olson farm crop circles circulated widely and became the first published case of crop circles in the United States. It remained a mystery until the prankster came forward, 23 years later. The August 10, 2002 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the story:
David Olson is still laughing, nearly 23 years later. At a family reunion, Olson’s nephew, Curtis, and his friends were wondering what would happen if they came across a UFO. David Olson decided to play a little practical joke that became a close encounter of another kind. On a steamy September night in 1979, Olson, equipped with a propane torch and burlap sacks on his feet, spent five hours creating two huge circles simulating UFO landings in his nephew’s farm.
The Wabasha County crop circle hoax received so much attention because it took place during a string of local UFO activity in the fall of 1979. Read the whole story and learn about the former CIA operative who investigated the sightings.
Image: Wiltshire 1980 Crop Circle
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