Fifteen-year-old Jane Baker scooped up the two cats, Scamp and Babe, and headed outside to put them in the garage for the night. The rest of the family was settling in. It was 9:00 PM on March 13, 1975. Philip Baker had his shoes off and made himself comfortable in front of the TV for an episode of the private detective series Harry O while his wife sorted seed packs for spring planting.
As Jane rounded the corner of the house, an unexpected bright light drew her attention to the road. A silvery disc-shaped object with a domed top sat on the road just up the hill to the north. She recalled, “I was carrying two cats. I was walking to the garage. And I got by this corner, right by the house here, and I looked, and there was this weird object with funny noises, and it was really bright.” The dome on top of the disk gave off a yellow-white glow. Around the object’s midsection a row of alternating green and red lights blinked on and off. Jane said it lit the whole hill.
She put the cats in the garage and vaulted back to the house, tumbling through the door, “Dad! Dad! Come quick! There’s something out there!”
Mr. Baker stepped out onto the porch in his stocking feet. “I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing,” Baker recalled. He went back inside, put on his shoes and a coat before investigating further. Jane and two of her brothers followed him out. His wife stood in the doorway, and another son watched the commotion from a second-floor window. They all saw the object. The red and green lights quit flashing, but Mr. Baker described a square lighted area with rounded corners in the middle of the object which appeared to be an open hatch. It emitted a yellow-white light. “I felt I could’ve looked inside if I’d been closer, but I couldn’t see any details. It made a high whiny, sing-songy noise. I never heard a sound like that before.”
As they stood staring, a pounding noise came from inside the object, “a sound of metal hitting metal as though someone were repairing or fixing machinery. Some bangs were louder than others, like a heavy hit and then a light tap. There was no pattern to it.” The Bakers thought it sounded like some type of repair work being conducted. This description is consistent with a common trope employed by the phenomena–that of the landed craft undergoing mechanical repair, a ruse described in John Keel, Operation in Trojan Horse.
Comparing the size of the object against the width of the road and the height of the snowbanks, Mr. Baker estimated the disk to have a diameter of twelve feet and a height of six feet to the top of the lighted dome.
From inside the object came “a sound of metal hitting metal as though someone were repairing or fixing machinery.
Baker’s curiosity inspired him to move closer for a better view. He drew to within 300 feet and intended to go closer yet, but his daughter protested and his wife, still standing in the doorway, ordered him to stay back. Baker returned inside to notify the authorities. No sooner did Ashland County Undersheriff George Ree answer the phone than the Bakers heard a loud boom outside. Jane hurried to look. The object was gone. It had been on the ground about ten minutes before disappearing.
Undersheriff George Ree recalled the phone call, “Baker was very upset. He’s a pretty reliable, dependable person and I have no reason to disbelieve him, but he was quite excited. I had to tell him, ‘Take it easy, cool down and just tell me what it is.’”
Ree drove out to the farm. He found the family frightened and agitated. Mrs. Baker refused to leave the house at all. Ree said, “I firmly believe that the Baker family did see an object.” Nevertheless, he found no evidence of a vehicle. He looked for tracks or other signs, but found nothing. Distressed at the prospect of being considered crazy, Baker asked the police officer to keep the matter private or, better yet, just forget the whole thing.
A total of nine deputies in Ashland and Iron counties saw the UFOs.
Ree returned home, but he wasn’t home long before more UFO reports began coming in. He headed back out to meet with some deputies and to see if they could spot the objects. They did. They saw a total of four UFOs during the next few hours. The brightest of them changed colors as it moved through the sky. A total of nine deputies in Ashland and Iron counties saw the nocturnal lights cavorting in the sky that night, and Ashland County Sheriff Joe Croteau said, “Telephones were ringing off the hook from citizens who also saw the objects.”
Only a few hours after having left the Baker farm, Undersheriff Ree and several deputies stood beside their patrol cars near the Ashland-Iron County line, watching the UFOs maneuver through the skies. “We saw one object come from the south going in a northerly direction,” Ree said. “This was the second one, and it was a little lower than the first. We watched these two for maybe a half hour. Then a third one came from the north going south, and that was the lowest one of all. We could see different colored lights on it. That one stayed in the air for approximately ten or fifteen minutes, just moving, sort of doing a jig, going up and down, making a big ‘U’ and going up and down again.
Everything got so bright I could’ve read a newspaper. I could see my shadow on the ground.
“We had two more cars on U.S. 2 in the northern part of Ashland County and I was transmitting to the deputies in that location. Two deputies were watching from a fire tower on Birch Hill and another, Drolson, was northwest of them on Lake Superior when one of these objects we were watching took off at a very high rate of speed. I radioed to Drolson and told him, ‘It’s going your way,’ and all of a sudden he said, ‘I see it coming–’ and his radio went blank.”
Peter Drolson, a twenty-four-year-old Ashland County deputy, listened to the excited chatter on his police radio. “Everybody was seeing UFOs that night except for me.” He parked his patrol car at the end of a road overlooking Lake Superior and stepped out of the car. He received the undersheriff’s radio alert only a moments before the night around him grew bright. “Everything got so bright I could’ve read a newspaper. I could see my shadow on the ground. I was leaning against my car with the microphone in my hand and whatever it was came from the west behind me going east across the road. All I could see was this bright glow maybe a couple of blocks behind me at treetop level or a little higher.”
Everything got so bright I could’ve read a newspaper. I could see my shadow on the ground.
In a brief few seconds, the light passed over the trees on the other side of the road and was gone. “It sounded like a big gust of wind coming through the woods. I was talking on the radio the whole time but they heard only part of my transmission. They heard me talking, then a ‘whoosh’ and then me talking again.”
Undersheriff Ree heard the interference over the radio too. He said, “Later, around midnight, we decided to head back home when we saw the fourth object moving across the sky.”
Mr. Baker told his children to forget that they had ever seen anything, but fifteen-year-old Jane protested, “I’m not crazy. I know what I saw!” The morning after all the excitement, she went outside to see if she could find any traces of the object. She was startled to see the same object hovering over some evergreen trees along a nearby swamp. It was the same shape, but, in the morning light, she saw no flashing lights, nor did it emit any glow or make any audible sound.
She went back inside, put on a coat and enlisted the family dog. No sooner did she start toward the evergreens when the dog yelped and started to whine and paw at it’s ears as if bothered by a noise. Jane could hear no sound at all. Then the animal became still and refused to move. Jane carried the dog back into the house. When she came back out the object was gone.
She was startled to see the same object hovering over some evergreen trees along a nearby swamp.
At the spot that the saucer had been seen landed on the road, the Baker children found a rounded area where the snow seemed to have been “fluffed up.” They could see tire tracks over the area where the police car had passed after the object had left, but there were also bicycle tracks left by one of the boys from the previous morning. The bicycle tracks broke off at the “fluffed up” spot and resumed on the other side.
Mr. Baker tried to keep the story from spreading. He warned his children not to talk about it in school, and he asked the local paper not print the police report. The publisher of the Mellen paper honored Baker’s request, but the sensational eye-witness accounts from the police reports found their way into the Ashland paper and were picked up as an AP story.
Eugene Lunderholm, a librarian at the University of Wisconsin Superior conducted interviews with Baker and the local police officers the following the weekend on behalf of J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Lunderholm told the reporters, “There seem to be quite a few sightings regularly at this time of year. But we received reports all through last summer and this winter, too.” Soon the Bakers were inundated with inquiries, including an interview with National Enquirer and a film crew from Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of. Episode 21 of season 1 featured their story and aired on July 13, 1977.
Even when considered in isolation, the Baker story and associated Ashland area encounters of March 13-14, 1975, demand respect. When considered in the context of other area encounters from 1975, a pattern begins to emerge. The Mellen/Ashland story comes only eleven days after Carole Forster’s terrifying encounter near Elmwood, WI, and only a few weeks after the Durrand, WI encounter.
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