Friday, March 8, 2013

WANAQUE, Part seven:Strange Days?

So... 1966 was over with all it's strange Wanaque lights, and 1967 was over with all its strange analysis, and the Air Force was settled in to happily ignore Wanaque, and Colorado [though asked] was happily settling in to ignore Wanaque, and basically EVERYBODY is settling in to ignore Wanaque. Afterall, how important could an area be which seems to produce multiple anomalistic BOL reports a year? Or BOLS or whatever they are with very peculiar light? Or somethings-or-other which seem to draw geometric non-inertial flight patterns on the sky, as if in display? Nope, you can't fool us. We, the military and the scientific and even the UFOlogical community, are too sharp to fall for anything like that.

Over in his home in New Jersey, even Ivan Sanderson had settled in to ignore Wanaque [somewhat surprising to me by the way; maybe Keel was keeping him up to date]. But Ivan was not completely asleep. He had become very interested in the work of Jacques Vallee and his current colleague, Don Hanlon [Ivan must have been reading his FSRs]. He was attempting to communicate with the two of them, and if I'm lucky someday I might stumble into their correspondence, which so far eludes me. Ivan wrote them in early 1969, the thrust of which I don't know. Hanlon responded with the news that Jacques had taken a sabbatical from UFOs to "read books", and Hanlon said that Sanderson would be "shocked" to hear what he has to say when he returns. This has to be a reference to PASSPORT TO MAGONIA, which indeed would shock everybody.

Immediately, Hanlon launched into commenting about Keel, and how many "buffs" are being profoundly influenced by him to their detriment, even their sanity. Keel had been "bombarding" he and Vallee with tons of his materials. Hanlon classed the content of the letters as "unhealthy". Still, and this is me talking now, this is interesting in that it indicates that Hanlon and Vallee must have been at least somewhat influenced by Keel themselves. That this would be going on just prior to the "sort-of" Keelian Magonia is intriguing. I still give Jacques full marks, regardless, as his Magonia presentation is scholarly and far more moderate and conceivable than the Keel excesses which were spewing forth unmitigated. Doubtless Ivan found the hints fascinating.

Then Hanlon said a rather odd thing. Allen Hynek had recently received a request from one of his "Invisible College" scientists interested in UFOs. This fellow knew a person from New York, well apparently, who had strange things to tell about ... Wanaque. I don't know who the invisible collegian was, but it could have been Lee Katchen, who worked as an atmospheric physicist at Goddard Space Center and had dropped in briefly to research Wanaque for NICAP. Whoever he was, he knew a well-placed wealthy man, who had a great interest in UFOs, and who even felt moved to produce a major documentary film about them.

Around Christmas 1968 this man had driven to the Wanaque area almost by accident [he was returning to NYC from having taken a family member elsewhere for medical treatment.] He decided to divert slightly to Wanaque because he was curious about a place which had so much activity. He became completely freaked out. He said to his scientist friend that the reservoir was so heavily guarded that it looked like a military operation. The town itself was unnatural having as he said "no Christmas decorations". Then, the worst. He decided to stop at a local shopping mall. Here he seemed to have entered a zombie movie. People moved like automatons and seemed to have "plasticine" complexions. He spun on his heels and retreated to his car. There he found his camera and slowly reapproached to film the zombie scene. But no, it was not to be. Two cops met him and told him to get back in his car and leave town. He protested and was led back to the car and given a police escort out of town.

Uhhhh.... REALLY?

We will of course never know, but inquiring minds WANT to know, and so Hanlon asked Ivan if he'd go over there to find out. As Hanlon cleverly closed the letter: "Wanaque might be a nice place to visit; but is anyone living there?"

Rather mind-boggling that anyone could be living in a mindscape where they could ask someone to take the zombie population of a New Jersey city with a straight face.

I don't know how "straight" Ivan's face was, but he apparently had nothing better to do so he drove over there. HAD Wanaque turned into UFO Zombie Headquarters?? THAT was the question.

Ivan and Marion Fawcett got into the car and drove over. Ivan carried a card given to him by a well-known police friend, which served almost as a letter-of-recommendation when he presented it at police departments, and it served him well here.

So, first:  Had it all gone terribly wrong??

 Well, no.

Sorry to disappoint everyone, but no zombies, and no population of plasticine candidates for a Keelian theatre presentation about MIBs.

Ivan wrote this to Hanlon.

"After many hours, driving all over the lot, and talking to all manners of citizens casually, we found them less zombie like than the average Noo Joiseyites as a matter of fact". Speaking of visiting both the mall supermarkets and, of course, the pubs, Ivan said that the people were so friendly that it was his good luck to have had a father who manufactured Scotch or he would have been completely pickled by the rigors of the investigation. Ivan was at a loss to explain the NYC person's "report", and offered [tongue firmly in cheek]: "Of course there could be deros, zombies, or LSD highlifers who only come out at night, but those we saw looked much more like wifeswappers to me".

Ivan tried to imagine why the guy had been given the police escort out of town. The locals told him that they'd been having a rash of theft in these department stores etc in the malls and everyone was sensitive. {maybe a guy in a mental state where he was convinced he was in the midst of a town full of zombies just might have been displaying weird behavior}.

But Ivan didn't waste the trip. He went to the reservoir police and asked them about the real sightings of 1966. And he got a good interview.

Chief Casazza was happy to talk.

There are three "documents" which contain the gist of what the chief told them, and it may or may not be possible for me to smooth them together for you --- I think, as I sit here with them in hand that they're pretty similar; let's hope so. One is a page from Sanderson's book Invisible Residents, one is a typed report which I don't believe that he sent to Hanlon, being somewhat miffed at him and Hynek for some reason, and the third is a set of handwritten notes which appear to be the actual notes taken while in Chief Casazza's office. I'm going to battle the handwriting here, and lean on them as the primary document for the material below [I thought that it was a little more fun to just jump into this, and you and I can discover stuff on the go.]

hmmm.... difficult to smooth out. I'll just wade in. Some bits will be out-of-place, no doubt, but I don't want to spend all year on this.

1]. The reservoir dam was built in 1924 and the lights have been showing up from that time;

2]. During WWII, this water source was considered a major security area [still is], and odd occurrences needed to be reported. A standard reporting activity occurred with each "event" with the report going to the Army which passed it on to the nearest Army Air Corps installation. "Every such report resulted in immediate action, including the despatch of military aircraft to the area, and the arrival in short order of security agents who filled out interminable reports." [This is very interesting considering the arrival of helicopters and even the military agent meeting that no one can figure out. It just might be that some element of the military still responds this way to possible threats to NYCs water supply, and is of the opinion that it is none of the civilian community's business to know their procedures];

3]. Publicized sightings have caused great potential security problems by hampering free movement of police and inspectors and engineers along the reservoir; [another reason why some military guy would tell people not to talk these things up];

4]. the reservoir police have seen the lights "thousands" of times in the reservoir area, and he has been the one that they are reported to [though doubtless an exaggerated word this indicates a robust mystery];

5]. Most lights do not do much cruising up the reservoir, but rather tend to appear near the mountains on the west shore or at the southern end of the water;

6]. These things are not always seen merely as lights, but many are seen as apparently larger solid objects as well. The solid objects are reported not to be luminous in themselves but the bodies are seen via reflected light;

7]. He spoke of the 1966 events generally, no specific names or incidents, and basically supported the reality of all that, perhaps even enhancing the magnitude of the number of total witnesses and his surety that these were clearly real events;

8]. late in the interview he gave a specific hitherto unpublicly-reported case. One of his officers had called him in the dark of the evening to say that there was a large cigar-shaped object hovering directly over his home. It itself was NOT luminous nor did it have lights mounted on it. Ambient ground light etc was all that showed its existence. Also, as satellites or whatever, a number of small self-luminous things "were sort of lazing around it". [I believe that he means slowly meandering nearby]. Casazza told the officer to "get on the hotline and report" [note that the system of alerting the Air Force was going on semi-automatically] but that just at the time that the officer got through, "the whole lot just vanished";

9]. The last thing to be mentioned here was very enigmatic and strange. Casazza said that once in the company of three other officers, they saw "something that I refuse to disclose or describe". [I think that Marion Fawcett felt that he said "I will never reveal", from a margin annotation]. He continued: "I goofed, I know, and I did not do as I should have done; but perhaps the Almighty willed it that way, as I might well not be here now if I had done as I should have done, and [as he turned toward Marion] please excuse my language, but God knows what the hell might not have happened had I done what I should".

Well, THAT should keep everyone up at night. Ivan felt that Casazza was trying to talk about something that he could not talk about but skirt close to it anyway. He hoped that the chief would call them back later and unload it all. In her second marginalia, Marion wrote that he had implied that if he had done whatever this was, some major questions in UFOlogy might have been answered. In addition, she said, he at various times during their interview spoke of the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. Ivan, by the way, used none of this in his book.

So another episode of the Wanaque mystery ends. Did Ivan cast more light, or did he create more confusion? Ivan was a great fan of both, but he much preferred to cast light himself than confusion [he just wanted there to be plenty of confusion around for him to have fun with].

I've run out of worthy resources finally, but I think that I'll try one more entry on this thing. There is a great deal in this particular business, and I feel an urge to blow my own kind of unwarranted smoke about it. So, for the next time...

Be forewarned.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well if that isn't one of the most mysterious and wonderful things I've read lately - that interview with the police chief. What a find. Thanks for posting this and the rest of the examination of Wanaque.
    It reminds me a bit of what I've pieced together on Dexter - several sightings over several years, and a definite flap of strange lights and stuff during the swamp gas period. And local officials talked about some sort of military exercises or activity in the area -- though not at the same level as Chief Casazza describes.
    Simply wonderful stuff. Thanks!

  3. I tell you, Sir, I love this blog-- I've just been spending entire days reading through past entries. Thanks so much for typing up your wealth of information and personal conjectures. It's HIGHLY appreciated.

  4. I have to echo both previous commenters re: your efforts. I have no resources of any first hand nature whatsoever but have long followed in print the'phenomena' in the many manifestations it has exhibited. I've heard of the Wanaque events over the years sort of in passing but this account lays out much of the strangeness and the overall cultural gestalt of the era (a thank you for this in general through out the blog). To think that this was over 40 years ago. I know no more what to think about all this now than I did forty + years ago. It won't let go (either personally or socio-culturally) but it won't go away either. That in itself is fascinating regardless of the actual 'whatness' of the phenomena. Re: Keel (and others), I can certainly see how these events can be crazy-making.

  5. i live near "wanna-q". i used to drive by it at night also many times in the 80's to present. never saw anything strange. but then a much bigger dam was built in late 1980's and maybe flooded the phenomena. any one can walk into the resevior area from a state park to the west. not very heavily guarded but access along the lake is patrolled. i used to walk in the state park at night and i never saw anything unusual over the resevior.

    the whole hundson valley from west milford up to orangeburge was the site of a major ufo flap during the 1970's. one of my hobbies is L3 (low light level) video of the night sky for bolides and fireballs. havent seen many "snorters" in the past 2 years or so. still, i got hours of video in the can to review...

  6. dear prof

    can you elaborate on what mr Cazassa said (at number 9) ? about the goof he make and why he think his mistake/good might really save his life ? do you have any opinion on this ?


    1. Dear prof

      "Chief Casazza's mysterious incident where he "did not do as I should have done", sounds VERY much to me like he and his three officers came upon a landed object ... and though required to inspect anything abnormal at the reservoir, "did not do as I should have done", and backed off. THAT would cast a different light on this for sure."

      Thanks for your opinion on this. im still guessing on what kind of incident make the chief nerveous and wont speak about it. a landed UFO (with all the accompanying high strangeness) should be one of the possibility.

      regards milomilo



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