Aurora Cemetery: Home of the Strangest Historical Marker in Texas
My husband and I take day trips in the Dallas – Fort Worth area of north Texas as often as possible. We enjoy exploring historic downtown squares, cemeteries, family-run restaurants and uncovering quirky and/or overlooked sites.
Yesterday, we popped over to the Aurora Cemetery which was established in 1861. Like many older cemeteries, it has a Texas State Historical Marker. While pioneers, cattlemen, farmers and soldiers often figure prominently on such signs, what makes this historical marker so unusual is that it mentions a spaceship crash in 1897.
A spaceship crash?
Pre-dates the Roswell Incident
You’ve probably heard of, The Roswell Incident, an alleged spaceship crash in the desert of New Mexico in 1947. (I blogged about visiting the UFO museum in Roswell, New Mexico in My Close Encounter with Roswell, New Mexico.)
The Roswell incident is arguably the most well-known case in UFO history, yet here in Texas, there exists an alleged spaceship crash – complete with an alien body – which took place 50 years earlier! I was pretty excited to find out that I live a hop, skip and jump from Roswell’s Texan equivalent.
A spaceship crash with an alien body in north Texas?
As the story goes, in the early morning hours of April 17, 1897 something crash-landed in the north Texas town of Aurora. According to a newspaper article which appeared in the April 19th edition of the Dallas News, a mysterious cigar-shaped airship ran into a windmill, spread debris across several acres and – strangest of all – a small humanoid body was discovered in the wreck. According to the reporter, although the petite alien was, “not an inhabitant of this world,” his or her body was later buried at the local cemetery.
The Dallas News Article about the Mysterious Airship Crash in Aurora, Texas
Here’s a link to a scan of the original article, and here’s what the reporter claims:
“About 6 o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country. It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before.
Evidently some of the machinery was out-of-order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward the earth. It sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town it collided with the tower of Judge Proctor’s windmill and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge’s flower garden.
The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.”
What happened after the Spaceship Crash in Aurora Texas?
These days, with over 1800 graves, the Aurora Cemetery claims more inhabitants than the little town itself, with its current population of 376. In the late 1800′s, however, Aurora was poised to make it big. Its population boomed to nearly 3000 residents, making it one of the largest cities in Wise County. Sadly, a spotted fever epidemic killed hundreds of residents, the cotton crop failed and the railroad decided to pass the town by.
Given the mindset of the era and the challenges they faced, it’s not surprising that instead of studying the alien’s body for science, the town buried the creature and moved on with their lives.
No reportage exists regarding the actual funeral ceremony, although a headstone was placed at the gravesite. According to photos and verbal accounts, this headstone depiected a crudely carved cigar-shaped object with portholes in the side.
As for the townsfolk of Aurora, they had enough going on with epidemics, crop failure and being slighted by the railroad to worry about the mysterious alien’s origins.
Can you blame them?
Renewed Interest in the Aurora Texas Spaceship Crash
The entire incident faded into the background as the once-booming town of Aurora withered into near oblivion. Then, in 1973, a United Press International blurb mentioned that incident.
I find this part of the story quite strange, personally. Why did the story suddenly resurface?
Whatever the reason, this little article created so much interest in the old story that local police guarded the alien grave day and night. Sadly, the night they quit this vigil, someone stole the original headstone for the space creature. There was even a push to exhume the alien’s body, but the cemetery association declined.
The gravemarker that I saw yesterday, and which you see a photo of here, is a new one, added by the local townspeople back in 2000.
What Aurora, Texas alien crash site debunkers say
Many people believe the Aurora alien spaceship crash to be a complete hoax.
Their main complaints with the scenario are:
1. There was no windmill on Judge Proctor’s land.
2. There is no well.
3. There is no grave.
4. There is no mysterious metal near the crash site.
5. The reporter made the story up hoping to make the town a tourist attraction.
What Aurora, Texas alien crash site believers say
1. The History Channel recently found evidence of a windmill on Judge Proctor’s land.
2. They found a well at this site, too. The well was capped in the 1950′s because the owner thought it was contaminated by the alien debris. the History Channel convinced the current owner to let them uncap it and test the water.
3. Melted metal has been found in the alleged crash site area. This metal is not some unearthly element. It’s aluminum. While aluminum seems commonplace to us now, it was actually quite rare in the late 1800′s.
4. The History Channel also found, via ground-penetrating radar, a casket-shaped item in the exact spot where the alien is allegedly buried. While the original tombstone was stolen i 1973, a new one now stands in its place.
5. The Roswell crash debris was taken to Fort Worth, which is quite near Aurora.
6. The town of Aurora is set up like a military base. (I’m not sure what they mean by this, but I did notice a street called, “Base,” or something like that. I will have to look into this claim more.)
The History Channel’s Report on the Aurora, Texas Alien Spaceship Crash
Here’s a link to the History Channel’s investigation into the Aurora Spaceship Crash. It’s in four parts, so when each section ends you have to click on the next one:
Visiting Aurora Cemetery: Directions and Finding the Alien Grave
There isn’t an official street address for Aurora Cemetery, but it’s not hard to find. If you have a GPS, set it for: Cemetery Rd, Aurora, TX 76078. If not, head towards Rhome, Texas on US 81/287. Exit onto Highway 114, drive roughly 1.5 miles then turn onto Cemetery Road. The cemetery will be on your lefthand side.
To find the alien gravesite, turn right as you enter the Aurora Cemetery gates. It’s pretty easy to find there in the older section of the graveyard. There aren’t any graves near it, for some reason. Perhaps people were creeped out at the idea of being buried near the creature, or – since the alien didn’t have any family members – there was simply no one to put beside him or her.
My thoughts on the Aurora, Texas Alien crash site
While I don’t think there is any conclusive proof that an alien crashed to earth here in north Texas, I do think something unusual happened in Aurora back in April of 1897. Sadly, it is such a cold case that we may never know the truth.
I definitely wish the Aurora Cemetery would let a respected investigation group exhume the alien’s coffin and see what is really in there. The cemetery board very nearly exhumed the body back in 1973. What are they afraid of?
What Writers Can Learn from the Aurora Alien Crash Incident
As a writer, the whole thing sets my imagination into high gear. Ever since our visit, I keep riffing on sci-fi story ideas based on the mysterious incident. There is a movie called, “The Aurora Encounter,” which came out in 1986 that is based upon the crash. I’ve put it in my Netflix queue and will blog about it at a later date.
While researching this post, I learned that there was a rash of, “mysterious cigar-shaped airship,” sightings all across the US, but especially in Texas, in 1896 and 1897. Some of the accounts are downright ridiculous. In one I came across, the aliens reportedly sang religious hymns and had a barbecue.
Perhaps what makes the Aurora incident so enduring is that – even if it is just a tall Texan tale – its details dance along the edge of possibility without plunging overboard and landing in the utterly implausible. As a writer, I think this is good advice for storytellers everywhere.
Then again, to paraphrase Freud, “Sometimes a cigar-shaped object is just a cigar-shaped object.”