Drive 30 miles north by northwest of Sundance, Wyoming, to a very remote region and witness for yourself what prompted Steven Spielberg and famed ufologist Dr. Josef Allen Hynek to call “Devils Tower” one of the “strangest places on Earth;” thus prompting nearly a million tourists each year to visit this site where UFO sightings are “as common as tumble weeds.”
Devils Tower has become a popular landmark for UFO sightings ever since Steven Spielberg used the location in his 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” However, it’s been a “mystery” sort of place, say locals in Sundance, Wyoming, who “market” this monolith that rises nearly 900 feet above a barren plot of land that prompted UFO-fan President Teddy Roosevelt to make it the first national monument in 1906, some 105 years ago this month. Near Devils Tower are two very telling signs: one informs visitors of the local Native American heritage, stating: “The Tower is held sacred by many American Indians and highly regarded by other peoples,” while another smaller sign that’s made of metal proclaims that “Dr. J. Allen Hynek believed that alien life visited Devils Tower over the centuries.”
Devils Tower used as “beacon” for UFO craft, say locals
“It’s interesting that one of the first photographs of Devils Tower from 1900 features one of the first photos of a UFO,” says Sundance local Eliza Whittier. In fact, the photo that accompanies this report shows what Whittier believes is one of the first “official photos of a UFO” flying near the top left of the Tower.
In turn, Whittier says Devils Tower has been attracting “throngs of visitors from all over the world as of late. We don’t know if it’s because of the 105th anniversary of his national monument, or if there’s some ‘calling’ as was the case in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ but we’re happy in Sundance because it’s bringing in lots of business.”
Moreover, the alien film, “Paul,” features Devils Monument as “one of the must places to visit” for UFO fans and others who long to “be in the presence of the ancients,” as one local Sundance legend calls the region around the monument.
In fact, the Lakota Sioux named for Devils Tower -- that’s been interpreted as “Place of Spirits,” and ‘Bad God’s Tower” and even “Place of Bears” – is “without doubt” a very “spooky place that still gives me chills, and I’ve lived here for 20 plus years,” explains Whittier.
Also, Whittier says “it doesn’t hurt business when tourists report seeing light phenomena and even UFOs flying around the tower’s summit.”
Devils Tower has a “strange connection” to Dr. J. Allen Hynek
Dr. Josef Allen Hynek is a famed U.S. astronomer, professor and one of the first “official” ufologists to claim that “alien life is here, and has been here for eons.”
Sadly, Professor Hynek died – as have many ufologists – of mysterious causes relating to a “malignant brain tumor” on April 27, 1986. He was 75 when he passed and, according to his biographers, “set to make a major address about his latest UFO findings.”
Professor Hynek is most famous, however, for being the “UFO expert and consultant” for Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
According to a background paper about the making of the film, Spielberg asked Professor Hynek “how much of Devils Tower should be featured in this movie?” Professor Hynek replied: “All of it,” because he said “it’s that important.”
In fact, Professor Hynek not only served as the major consultant for “Close Encounters” but Spielberg also decided to feature the famous UFO expert in the film. Professor Hynek can be seen with his pipe, looking on as aliens communicate with Earth Scientists at the Devils Tower contact site.
“I have come to support less and less the idea that UFOs are ‘nuts and bolt’s spacecraft from other worlds. There are just too many things going against this theory. To me, it seems ridiculous that super intelligences would travel great distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil samples and frighten people. I think we must begin to re-e-examine the evidence. We must begin to look closer to home at alien life already here,” explained Professor Hynek in an October 1976 statement.
Moreover, Professor Hynek said he was “fascinated by Devils Tower” and also thought that UFOs and alien life on Earth may be linked to “another dimension” where by the UFO sightings are, perhaps, tied to some physical barrier that’s somehow broken, and thus people can “see them.”
In addition to his famous connection to Devils Tower, Professor Hynek served as the U.S. government’s scientific advisor to “Project Blue Book” from 1952 to 1969.
Overall, Professor Hynek said the “Extraterrestrial hypothesis" is somehow tied to Devils Tower.
Man jumps to top of Devils Tower and discovers signs of alien life
The 70th anniversary of when publicity seeker George Hopkins decided to parachute on top of Devils Tower is in October. It was on Oct. 13, 1941, that Hopkins not only landed atop Devils Tower, and later revealed – in what became classified interviews – that he claimed to have spotted “alien artifacts and strange markings” that Hopkins said “were out of this world.
A Time magazine story from Oct. 13, 1941, reminded Americans that Devils Tower was not only the country’s first national monument, but also a place of mystery that needs to be explored by hikers, climbers, geology experts and also UFO seekers.
“In northeast Wyoming, near Sundance, one day last week, Parachutist George Hopkins leaped out of an airplane to win a $50 bet. The problem was to collect. For George Hopkins landed, as the bet prescribed, on Devil's Tower. A lava blister, formed by an eruption 20,000,000 years ago, Devil's Tower is a gigantic rock stump rising 1,200 feet into the sky. Teddy Roosevelt made it the country's first national monument. Its weathered sides are fluted, nearly vertical, practically unscalable,” Time magazine reported in 1941.
“While a crowd held its breath and stared, Hopkins tried to lower himself on a length of rope which had been dropped to him from an airplane. When his foot slipped, he clambered fearfully back. The rope was too short, anyhow. National Park Service officials, who had been sending instructions via plane, ordered him to stay where he was, wait until they could think of something. Hopkins resigned himself to spending the night there. Park Service mountain climbers tried to get up, failed. Planes dropped food, blankets, wood for a fire, whiskey, a megaphone, which Hopkins used to screech out a request for some funny papers,” stated Time magazine. Several days went by. Officials considered using helicopters, blimps. The climbers had another try. failed. Said one official sourly: "We hate to jeopardize the lives of our men for a stunt that someone thought was smart," the report added.
“From New York Jack Durrance and Merrill McLane, ace Dartmouth College mountain climbers, started for Wyoming by airplane. Durrance said that he had scaled the Tower in 1936, thought he could do it again. With Paul Petzoldt, a veteran of Himalayan climbs, and five other men, Durrance and McLane inched their way up the Tower's sides, driving iron spikes (‘pitons’) into its hard, sheer sides to make a ladder. They reached the summit, roped little George Hopkins into the middle of their column, and carefully edged their way back down again. Safe on the ground, Hopkins drew a grateful breath, departed to collect his bet,” stated the Time magazine story.
Also, Professor Hynek is said to have insisted on the theme of “people being drawn to Devils Tower,” while citing Hopkins daring decision to parachute on top of Devils Tower.
What is Devils Tower, and why has it become a beacon for UFO sightings since 1900
According to an official national monument overview of Devils Tower, it’s simply a “huge mound of molten rock,” and once part of a large explosive volcano.
What’s strange, however, is geologists say they “can exactly explain how such a mound was formed?”
While geologists agree that the tower was “formed by an igneous intrusion,” the jury’s out on why this tower is as attractive to visitors as it has been for more than 100 years of local recorded history.
Professor Hynek is said to have “enjoyed flying over the tower,” saying “it serves as a landmark or beacon” for other things that fly in this remote northwest corner of Wyoming.
Image source of Devils Tower from 1900 with a UFO spotted near the top left side of the tower, per one of the first known photos of a UFO in the U.S., state experts: Wikipedia