Go Back Report # 179



Winter Cold Prevents Search of Lake

       A strange metallic object that shone with an orange glow as it moved through the sky may now be resting at the bottom of a New England lake, hidden and unreachable until the ice over the lake thaws.

       The object was observed independently by two school boys on the morning of January 7, 1971, over the small community of Dennis, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. It traveled horizontally, then on an oblique path toward the ground, and disappeared behind some trees in the direction of a small body of water called Scargo Lake. One of the boys, unaware anyone else had seen the object, ran to a dock at the lake's edge and discovered a large hole in the ice covering the lake. Steam was rising from the hole, and the exposed water appeared agitated. Except for the hole, the lake and shore were normal, and the object was not in sight.

       A 13-year-old girl, who lived in a house near the dock, saw the boy running through her yard and went after him when he yelled to her. She too saw the hole but was too frightened to notice the condition of the water. Minutes later, another boy arrived on the scene, having also observed the first boy running to the lake. He saw the steam also, which by then was diminishing.

       The other witness to the object, a 13-year-old boy, was a little less than a mile from the lake when he first saw the object but made no attempt to follow it after it went down. Like the first boy, he was on his way to school at the time of the sighting. His description of the object was very similar to that of the first boy, except the first boy thought he saw a small flame at the rear of the object whereas the second boy saw only the object.

       NICAP learned of the incident the day after it happened and made a preliminary investigation two days later on January 11. By then, the incident had been reported to the newspaper, the police, and the Air Force, but no other witnesses had come forward, and no explanation had been offered for the sighting, save the possibility of a fuel tank dropping from an aircraft. The local air base, however, denied that any of its planes had dropped anything.

       On January 12, a local skin diver went through the hole in Scargo Lake to look for the object. After approximately 15 minutes, during which he found nothing unusual, encroaching darkness and dropping temperatures forced him to abandon the search, and no further attempt has been made, due to winter weather.

       One argument advanced to explain the hole (but not the sighting) was the presence of a spring at the bottom of the lake. NICAP's investigator rejected this theory on the ground there was neither time nor the necessary warmness for the ice to melt. Since none of the people who lived around the lake or used it for skating had observed the hole the day before the sighting, there was no apparent way the hole could have been made literally overnight in subfreezing weather (the temperature at the time of the sighting was 22 degrees). Also, the skin diver, who has dived and fished in the lake much of his life, said he had never seen an underwater spring produce a hole like the one in question when the lake was frozen.                                        
This reference: The UFO Investigator, (A NICAP Publication), February 1971, p.1      


Search Still Hampered by Bad Weather

       The mysterious object that appeared to impact the ice crust on Cape Cod's Scargo Lake (UFO Investigator, February 1971) may still be at the bottom of the lake, impervious to discovery until warm weather thaws the ice. The latest word from NICAP's man on the scene, astronomer Walter Webb, is that winter cold has kept skin divers at bay and thwarted all attempts to determine whether the object is really there.

       In the meantime, says Webb, the reports from the two boys who claim to have seen the object falling toward the lake, check out. Webb filed with NICAP the following comments, based on his investigation of the reports:

       "(1) Although the two witnesses are only 12 and 13 years old, this investigator was impressed by the apparent sincerity of both. They appear to be independent observers viewing the same UFO at approximately the same time. I could detect no obvious reason for complicity or publicity seeking.

       "(2) The chief evidence for the boys' stories remains the hole in the ice. Even though neither witness said he saw the object actually disappear into the lake -- and therefore the UFO and the hole cannot be positively linked -- there is, in my opinion, strong circumstantial evidence indicating a connection. First, we have the testimony of three youths who arrived at the lake's edge very soon after the object disappeared from view. All noted the hole. Two of them stated they saw steam rising from the hole, and one noted agitated water -- implying a freshly formed opening in the ice. A wind was reported blowing at the time, but one can only speculate on the effect a 15-mph breeze might have in creating the observed wave action.

       "In addition, we have the unanimous claim by uninvolved residents and skaters that there was no hole in the ice on the day before the sighting. No one could ever recall seeing such a large hole, or one of that shape, on Scargo Lake. After viewing the hole myself three days after the sighting, I believe the hole was formed by a rather sudden melting process. There was no evidence of radial cracking or scattered ice fragments. To this investigator, and to the skin diver who inspected the hole, it. would appear. unlikely that an underwater spring could melt away a three-inch layer of ice at the subfreezing temperatures that existed on the night before the sighting.

       "(3) Using a topographic map of the area, I plotted my compass bearings and found that the lines of direction to the UFO from each boy's viewing spot converged exactly over the hole in the lake. Although each witness's elevation and time estimates differ somewhat - by several minutes in the case of the time of the object's disappearance -- these are common uncertainties in any UFO report and unfortunately must be tolerated as subjective errors.  

John Brogan, 12, saw UFO as he walked down Elm Street to bus stop. Paul McCarthy, 13, west of Brogan's position, also saw object while going to catch school bus. Martha Koempel, 13, Joined Brogan at lakeside dock to view hole in ice. Robert Bottcher, 12, also saw hole. Note that lines of sight for Brogan end McCarthy intersect over hole.    

       "(4) It is improbable the object was a daytime fireball. Not only was it observed moving in slow horizontal flight for up to an estimated three minutes, but its appearance was not that of a fireball. Such brilliant phenomena normally leave a smoky trail in their wake, produce audible noise, and are of much shorter duration. Further, the clearinghouse for such reports, the Center for Short-Lived Phenomena in Boston, received no fireball calls for the time of the sighting.

       "(5) Bright planets were checked out and their elevations determined from the artificial sky projected at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science in Boston. The planets Venus (magnitude –4), Jupiter (-1.4), Mars (1.6), Mercury (0.7), and the star Antares were too far south of the UFO's position. In any case, the object's appearance and rapid azimuth change counter to a planet's diurnal motion all militate against the planet hypothesis. At the time of the sighting, just after sunrise, Venus (near maximum brightness) would have been barely visible as a stationary tiny white pinpoint if one knew exactly where to locate it.

       "(6) A jettisoned wing tank, perhaps afire, from a high-flying jet aircraft represents a possible though weak explanation for the object. A flaming fuel tank might explain the appearance of the UFO as well as the oblong melted hole in the ice. However, there should have been a smoke trail and possibly evidence of burning fuel on the lake. Even if it were not afire, a dropped wing tank would probably tumble on a downward trajectory and not travel horizontally at low altitude for three minutes (unless we discount this part of the second boy's testimony). Of course, denials by the Air Force might be understandable if a wing tank were accidentally dropped into an inhabited area and no hardware found. I asked both witnesses if they saw or heard any aircraft during their sightings, and they said no.

       "(7) in 1968 my wife and I observed a dart-shaped USAF tow target used for aerial radar and gunnery practice. Could the boys have witnessed a runaway tow target or drone? This is a possibility, but again aircraft should have been spotted in the vicinity, perhaps at low altitude, and it is extremely doubtful that a tow target of lightweight honeycomb construction could have melted a 100-foot hole in thick ice. Perhaps, however, there are heavier guided drones unfamiliar to this Investigator."                                                                                                                      
This reference: The UFO Investigator, (A NICAP Publication), March 1971, p.3           


Skin Divers Probe Lake in Vain

       Massachusetts's Scargo Lake appears to have swallowed whole the strange metallic object that was spotted last January 7 arcing through the sky on an apparent impact trajectory with the lake (UFO Investigator, March 1971). Skin divers have now made multiple searches along the lake bottom in an unsuccessful effort to determine if the object crashed through the lake's winter ice crust and came to rest in the water's muddy floor, as eyewitnesses to the object assumed it had when it dropped out of sight near the ground.

       Strongest evidence that the object entered the lake was a strange hole discovered in the ice moments after the object was seen. No satisfactory explanation could be offered for the hole, and mathematical calculations showed it was located at the exact point where the object seemed to go down. Divers have deposited a cement block on the bottom at the site of the hole, now that the ice has gone.

       Further attempts to locate the object are planned, possibly with metal detectors or other equipment. If the object is completely buried in mud, it may never be re­covered, since visibility at the bottom of the lake, reported to be very limited, would hamper retrieval efforts.                     
This reference: The UFO Investigator, (A NICAP Publication), June 1971, p.1 

       Despite repeated attempts at underwater exploration and 11 months of investigation by NICAP personnel, the mystery of Scargo Lake, Massachusetts, remains unsolved.

       Unless some startling new evidence is uncovered, the incident, which occured (sic) on Jan. 7, 1971, over the small town of Dennis, Mass. (UFO Investigator, February 1971), appears destined to go unresolved.

       Early that morning two boys, ages 12 and 13—observing independently from two different locations—reported sighting a strange metallic object moving horizontally over their community. The object soon changed its flight path, according to the youthful observers, and disappeared behind a line of trees, apparently headed into Scargo Lake.

       One of the boys, unaware that anyone else had seen the object, raced towards the lake and onto a nearby dock. Scanning the lake, he observed a large hole in the ice with what appeared to be steam rising from the water.

       The other witness was located about a mile away when he first observed the object, and he made no attempt to follow the UFO after it disappeared from his view (See UFO Investigator, March and June 1971 for further details).

       Despite the fact that neither witness actually observed the UFO disappear into the lake, the large hole in the ice and the triangulation of the lines of observation by each of the two witnesses provides strong circumstantial evidence that there is a connection.

       That the hole in the ice, measuring 25 by 100 feet, was freshly made and had not been there the day before has been substantiated by a number of witnesses, according to NICAP investigator Walter Webb.

       The latest Investigation of the incident occurred September 26 when an exploration dive into the lake was conducted under the direction of Webb.

       "My diving friends were Edward Jameson of Natick and Paul Vallell of Burlington. Upon arriving in Dennis, we discovered we would have to do without the services of Mr. Buck (another diver), who failed to appear. I would have to determine as best I could where the site was from my sketches, photos, a few compass bearings, and from memory.

       "I stood on the dock nearest the site and attempted to guide Ed and Paul to the spot, using fixed landmarks on the opposite shore. It quickly became obvious in the first few minutes that an underwater reconnaissance was just about hopeless. Visibility was very poor above the lake bottom. The water became dark and murky...

       "Even so, they continued their underwater search for about three-quarters of an hour, moving out from the dock twice and sweeping across a wide area. However, Buck's cement marker (placed earlier at the location of the hole) was not found and the site of the ice hole could not be fixed with any certainty.

       "Two interesting new facts emerged: (1) The lake bottom sloped off at a much steeper angle than Buck had indicated, and (2) Paul said he swam into two or three pockets of colder temperature. Indicating to him the presence of springs (no current flow was detected), it seems quite likely that the steeper slope could have carried the alleged object farther out into the lake, making a search even more difficult. The divers recommended towing a metal detector below the surface as the next step in additional exploration is pursued.

       "Concerning Paul's discovery of 'cold pockets' in the lake, this observation does not in any way negate either the UFO sighting or the ice hole itself which formed under very sudden and mysterious circumstances. It is difficult to see how underwater springs could have produced the hole in the ice under the conditions noted," reported Webb.

       The probabilities that the UFO and the subsequent hole in the lake are related to a daytime fireball, bright planets, a jettisoned wing tank or a USAF tow target have been investigated and are considered slight.

       One hypothesis recently considered for the Scargo Lake incident recognizes the close correlation between the observation of the UFO and the subsequent hole in the ice and yet explains the inability, so far, to discover the object on the bottom of the lake. This hypothesis —which assumes the UFO was a guided vehicle-states that the object did in fact appear over Dennis and make an approach toward the surface of the lake, possibly with the intention of landing. But as it neared the frozen surface, the ice collapsed (possibly the result of intense heat). The object then either hovered momentarily or resumed its flight (possibly at a low angle skimming the surface of the lake), disappearing somewhere over the Cape.

       This theory would explain the following observations and questions that have been raised during investigation of the incident:

       (1) The smoothness of the fracture a-round the hole and the lack if ice frag­ments in its vicinity.

       (2) The failure of anyone to hear any loud noises that might have been associated with a large object crashing through the surface of the frozen lake.

       (3) The absence of any exit holes.

       (4) The failure of repeated searches of the lake bottom to turn up any indications that an object had indeed crashed and sunk to the floor of the lake.

       (5) The failure of anyone observing the departure of the UFO,

       Only a thorough search of the entire lake bottom, utilizing metal detectors, could help to shed more light on this incident. The lack of funds, equipment and personnel (in addition to the length of time that has elapsed since the incident was first reported) probably precludes such an effort at this time.                                                                                                                          

This reference: The UFO Investigator, (A NICAP Publication), November 1971, p. 2 & 4         

The Lessons of Scargo Lake

By Stuart Nixon

       If the murky waters of Scargo Lake have failed to yield fragments of a UFO, they nonetheless have raised some interesting questions and provided a few insights into UFO research.

       NICAP members will recall from the November issue that repeated underwater searching has disclosed no sign of the strange cylindrical object spotted over Cape Cod January 7, 1971, arcing toward the ice-covered lake. Although use of more sophisticated equipment might still uncover the object, the chances of finding it are slim, due to poor visibility at the bottom of the lake and the large area in which the object might be located.

It could be said, of course, that the most obvious explanation is the correct one: the object isn't there because it never existed in the first place. This doesn't seem likely, however, since the two boys who made the report were strangers prior to the incident and, at the time they reported seeing the object, were walking on roads half a mile apart, unaware of each other.

       One hypothesis already discussed assumes an object was present and was under guided flight rather than falling out of control. By this view, the object came down over the lake and hovered momentarily, producing the hole in the ice by heat emission or some other form of radiation. This would account for the cleanly cut edge of the hole, which NICAP investigator Walter Webb described as --"formed by a rather sudden melting process." A hole created by impact would almost surely have exhibited irregular edges, radial cracking, and a residue of ice fragments—all factors notably absent from the opening in Scargo Lake. The only other way to explain the hole is to ascribe It to underwater springs-a dubious explanation because of the sub-freezing temperatures that prevailed on the morning of the sighting, and, in Webb's words, "the unanimous claim by (local) residents and skaters that there was no hole in the ice on the day before the sighting."

       Such a theory also explains the failure of either boy (or anybody else for that matter) to report a crashing sound as the object dropped behind the trees near the edge of the lake. An impact sufficient to produce a hole 100 feet long and 25 feet wide should have been heard by at least the closer of the two boys, who was no more than 800 feet from the lake when the object went down.

       Further evidence for the non-Impact theory is a statement from one of the boys that the water in the hole appeared agitated as though something had just disturbed it or moved over it. He also reported steam rising from the hole. Underwater springs could not produce these effects, but an object hovering overhead and giving off shock waves or heat certainly could, just as a helicopter over water creates waves and kicks up spray. A fireball could also cause the reported effects, but this explanation is ruled out by the length of time the object was in view {approximately three minutes by one boy) and the absence of such meteor-like features as discharge of sparks and a luminous train.

       Perhaps the most intriguing question at this point is what will happen if the object is actually found. The UFO field has frequently heard rumors of "crashed saucers,” but almost without exception these reports have been too sensational or too vague to warrant investigation. In the case of Scargo Lake, the circumstances are more concrete. Not only was an investigation made within hours of the alleged incident, but the site is still accessible and the participants have been fully interrogated on what they reported. Moreover, there is no suggestion of the secrecy or sinister activity that often characterize the typical report of a "captured" UFO.

        As a matter of fact, one of the more puzzling aspects of the Scargo Lake incident is the apparent indifference of almost everybody involved—townspeople, police, news reporters, even the Air Force. Except for the skin-divers, who continued searching off and on for approximately nine months, there was almost no public reaction at any time, even after two stories appeared in a local newspaper.

       Queried on this point, Investigator Webb attributed the lack of interest to the failure of any adult to report the object. "Who cares about the stories Of two kids?" he said.

       Undoubtedly, this was the reasoning of the military, who were notified by police the day the incident happened but did nothing. In a report dated August 22. Webb said he knew of no government agent who had questioned the boys or their parents, or even visited the lake. He indicated there had been some brief discussion of the possibility the Air Force was keeping quiet because it suspected the object was one of its own target drones or possibly a burning wing tank. However, one local source said a contact at nearby Otis Air Base "emphatically denied dropping anything."

       Those who lean toward the conspiracy theory on UFOs might ask what assurance we have the military can be believed in a situation like this. Is it possible, for example, that the Air Force searched the lake at night and recovered the object without the knowledge of local residents? This would explain both the inability of the skin-divers to find the object, and the apathy of local Air Force officials.

       Webb doubts this scenario, commenting that even the best Navy frogmen would have trouble in the dismal depths of Scargo Lake, especially beneath a crust of ice in the middle of the night. Also, the hole was about 100 feet from the shoreline, making the use of a truck and winch highly impractical under the circumstances.

       The simplest explanation is that the Air Force felt the report was too weak to merit official action of any kind, overt or otherwise. If agents had been sent to the area, little could have been accomplished without drawing attention to the report and encouraging speculation on what might be falling from the sky on helpless citizens. If the people living around Scargo Lake were not curious about what may have landed in their own backyard, and there was no direct evidence implicating the Air Force, the only sensible thing for the military to do was decline any involvement in the affair, pending new developments. Which, apparently, is exactly what they did.                 

This reference: The UFO Investigator, (A NICAP Publication), March 1972, p. 2          

UFOCAT PRN - 69805

UFOCAT URN – 069811 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, March 1971, p. 3

UFOCAT URN – NONE    UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, June 1971, p. 3

UFOCAT URN – 069855 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, November 1971, p. 2

UFOCAT URN – 062238 UFO Investigator, Publication of NICAP, March 1972, p. 2     

UFOCAT PRN - 61122

UFOCAT URN – 069805 UFO Investigator, publication of NICAP, February 1971, p. 1

UFOCAT URN – 079094 UFOs: Interplanetary Visitors by Raymond Fowler, © 1979, p. 357

UFOCAT URN – 082494 Physical Traces Associated With UFO Sightings by Ted Phillips, p. 661,
                                        CUFOS © 1979
UFOCAT URN – 150962 A Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies by George Eberhart, #0956, © 1980

UFOCAT URN – 061122 Walter N. Webb Investigation files, #70. No date of publication.

UFOCAT URN – 166420 *U* UFO Computer Database by Larry Hatch, # 09762 © 2002       

North America – United States, Massachusetts, Barnstable

Scargo Lake     Latitude 41-44-35 N, Longitude 70-10-58 W (D-M-S)

Dennis             Latitude 41-44-07 N, Longitude 70-11-38 W

Cape Cod Bay  Latitude 42-02-00 N, Longitude 70-24-58 W

Reference: http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic.

UFO Location (UFOCAT) Latitude 41.75 N, Longitude 70.17 W (D.%)

                                      Latitude 41.73 N, Longitude 70.22 W [URN 166420]


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