This summer, for the first time in decades, skeptics, believers, the uncertain and the just plain curious will walk across a patch of desert northwest of Roswell each is likely to see in a different way. But all have been drawn to the area for the same, perhaps otherworldly reason: to visit the scene of a reported UFO crash that forever altered the character and direction of this region, while also changing the way many people look skyward.
While people have, for years, flocked to Roswell for the annual UFO Festival marking the occasion of that alleged 1947 ‘flying saucer’ crash, the actual crash site — ground zero when it comes to the lore and commerce that have sprung up around the incident — has been off limits. The Bogle family, which owns Bogle, Ltd., the working ranch on which the crash site sits, have prioritized ranching and other agricultural interests instead. But as this year’s UFO Festival approached, three members of the family — sisters Lauren Bogle, Madison Bogle and Abby Bogle — recognized an opportunity to contribute to the community-wide effort, and to Roswell.
“We kind of saw an opportunity to help with the economy in Roswell, and to help bring in a new, exciting thing for the UFO Festival,” Lauren Bogle said. “It felt like it was the right time.”
The family has owned and worked the land there since 1952 and the sisters have grown up working on and caring about the property, which lies south of Highway 247, east of Corona.
Of course, they’ve visited the crash site.
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And when it comes to this, perhaps the most famous location in all of ufology, what are they asked about the most? Not surprisingly, it’s about the mystery, the conspiracies — flying saucer or high-altitude balloon? Just what were the debris discovered on the property in 1947 by ranch foreman W.W. “Mack” Brazel?
“We love that,” Lauren said. “Our family has believed for a long time that it was Project Mogul, because that’s what our great grandfather Hal believed.” Project Mogul involved top-secret U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons outfitted with microphones meant to detect the sound waves created by Soviet atomic bomb tests.
Lauren Bogle continued, “Personally, for me, for us not to believe that there are other living organisms … is kind of naive. I tend to lean the other way.”
But it’s up to visitors to the site to make up their own mind, the Bogles point out.
The tours will run July 5-9, roughly parallel to the UFO Festival, which runs July 6-8. Planning for the tours have allowed the Bogles to work alongside UFO Festival organizers and become involved in the local UFO-focused tourism machinery.
“They have UFO Festival meetings,” Madison Bogle said. “They have obviously done this for a while … They are just really helpful. They helped us find places to put our flyers.
“They’ve just been a great help, everyone.”
Lauren Bogle added, “We definitely want what’s best for the economy, for Roswell, so if everyone is working together, everyone benefits and it’s the most positive experience for all.”
The sisters said during an interview on Monday that treating the location respectfully has been a priority for them all along — and not just because of its place on the local landscape as a working ranch.
The overwhelming response to the idea of crash site tours has been positive.
“We’ve gotten I’d say, 80 percent positive feedback,” Lauren Bogle said, “and the other 20 percent is from very opinionated ufologists and geologists and I understand their concern — they want it to be treated with respect.
“If they would just call us we’d let them know that’s exactly what’s happening.”
During the Monday interview, which included a preview of some of the tour locations, Lauren and Madison Bogle served as guides for two historically significant spots on the ranch — the Foster Camp, where Brazel lived at the time of the 1947 incident; and the Hines Camp, a spot from which he worked and where some of the crash debris were originally stored.
These tour locations look like places one would expect to find on a working ranch, but knowledge of the legends they and the ranch are steeped in is never far from one’s mind. It’s likewise impossible to ignore the amount of work that’s gone into creating the upcoming tours — and the consideration being given to the special place this ranch, this site hold in the minds of so many.
“For lack of a better term, we don’t want to treat this cheesy and corny,” Lauren Bogle said. “We really want the historical facts to come out in this, and for people to decide for themselves.
“We’re not making a declarative statement at all — but there is a lot of history here.”
Editor’s note: More information on the crash site tours can be found online at ufo1947crashtour.com.