Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

8-29 New Mexico Conspiracies


Syndicated Columnist

      SANTA FE -- New Mexico is a fun place to live. Our wide open spaces seem to attract adventure, mystery and wild notions about what causes the West to be wild.

   The wildest notions of all involve flying saucers and visitors from outer space. Books and movies about space creatures usually take place in big cities but stories about claimed encounters invariably happen in the middle of nowhere.

   New Mexico has more than its share of these encounters. Three crashes have been claimed near Roswell, one near Socorro, one near Magdalena and one near Aztec, which has since been recanted. But visitors still stop there on UFO treks through New Mexico.

   Then, there is the monstrous, underground UFO base in northern Rio Arriba County, in the vicinity of reported cattle mutilations. And there are reports of alien abductions all over the place.

   Why do space aliens prefer New Mexico? It all seemed to start in 1947 a little less than two years after, and a little less than 100 miles from, Earth's first nuclear explosion.

   New Mexico also has the world's largest listening station for audio transmissions from outer space, located on the Magdalena Flats, not far from a reported UFO crash.

   Ufologists say that the Roswell crashes are among the less believable encounters that have been reported. But until a spaceship lands somewhere and an alien says, "Take me to your leader," Roswell will remain the UFO capital of the world.

   That's because Roswell is the only place a government ever has claimed to have captured a flying saucer. Sure, the story changed the next day and changed twice more 50 years later.

   You can bet the farm that none of the military top brass, sitting around a conference table at Roswell Army Air Force Base, on July 8, 1947, believed we had found a flying saucer.

   They figured it was something secret being developed at White Sands Proving Grounds, or some other secret site, that needed covering up.

   So an instance of governmental secrecy gave thousands of space nuts over the past 60 years their best opportunity ever to invent a whole wave of slightly believable conspiracy theories.

   It has helped our tourism immeasurably. The state Tourism Department currently is using space creatures to promote New Mexico as the best place in the universe to visit. Roswell tourism has boomed for more than a decade and now appears to be turning into economic development.

   The past few years have seen a focus on a possible conspiracy between Sheriff Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid for Garrett to shoot someone else and claim it was the Kid so Billy could sneak away and live a boring life in Arizona or Texas.

   The Texas claim is ludicrous. The Arizona claim is difficult to prove or disprove because no one ever got to interview John Miller. But the recent controversy over digging everyone up has led to an increase in magazine issues devoted to Billy, plus TV documentaries, at least one movie and a major museum exhibit.

   Also there may be new information on the hundred tons of gold reputedly buried at Victorio Peak a few miles east of where Spaceport America will be located. The story of buried treasure has involved presidents, the Treasury Department, the CIA, digging by the Army, the Watergate hearings, F. Lee Bailey and some deaths.

   Many stories tell of caverns under Victorio and nearby hills, filled with gold and treasure from nearby Spanish mines, added to by Carlotta when Maximilian was overthrown as emperor of Mexico and then used by Apaches to store their loot from raids.

   All legal activity ceased in the area after the Army took it over for White Sands Missile Range. The Army insists that there is no treasure there and that it has never even looked. But treasure hunters, who have sneaked in, claim to have seen Army trucks carrying away huge loads.

   This may be New Mexico's greatest unsolved mystery.

WED, 8-29-07


JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505

(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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