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Phantom Lights in Nevada

Phantom Lights in Nevada

By Kenneth Arnold

Summer 1948

Like phantoms the mysterious lights glided over the desert, frightening man and beast alike. They acted intelligent, yet how could they be?

About every ten years, in the desert near the Oregon Canyon Ranch, which is located near McDermott, Nevada, mysterious lights are seen at night by sheepherders and cowboys. Although rarely receiving publicity, these lights are a frequent subject of comment and conjecture on the part of the local ranchers.

The elevation is approximately 4,400 feet above sea level, and the area is extremely dry. There is no swampland, no damp area which might account for the lights as “swamp-fire.”

Sheepherders, most of them Basques (those strange people from the northeast provinces of Spain), have seen the lights most frequently, and describe them with complete and positive accord.

The lights, they say, appear somewhat like the lights of a car, but with either a pale red or a pale yellow gold, and hugging very close to the ground. The general appearance is as if someone was carrying a lantern, or a car was approaching. They are of a circular shape, glowing like a fluorescent light, and very often appear to be only twenty or thirty feet ahead of the observer. Yet, when approached, they seem just that much farther away. The lights have been chased as much as two or three miles, but never could the pursuer get close enough to determine the exact nature of the light. A series was seen in 1922, again in 1927, and others in 1930.

In 1930, Joe Bankafier, a rancher, was riding back to his ranch at night when he noticed a large, pale reddish glow or light, circular in shape, near the sheep corrals on his ranch at Oregon Canyon.

His horse carried him to within fifty yards of the light, then became frightened. Bankafier was unable to control the horse, which turned in terror, and ran with him for more than a mile. Finally exhausted, the horse pulled up, and Bankafier turned the animal around and tried to get it to return to the ranch. The horse went slowly, but remained nervous and jittery.

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