While I wouldn’t say that Cowboys vs Aliens is actually based on a true story, there actually are a few alien abduction stories from the wild west. For this blog, I’m focusing specifically on one story from 1896.
On this week's episode of Misfits and Mysteries I told Emmy all about one of the earliest reported American UFO sightings in the United States and to the best of my knowledge, the first reported failed attempt at an alien abduction. If you want to learn more about the first popular alien abduction story or recent extraterrestrial news check out our alien and UFO blogs.
While everyone knows about the Roswell UFO incident and Area 51, you might be surprised to learn that 50 years earlier, two men in California encountered a cigar shaped UFO and were almost abducted by aliens. In 1896, Colonel H.G. Shaw and his buddy Camille Spooner were on their way from the small town of Lodi California to attend the Fresno Citrus Fair, when they encountered aliens. According to the men, while on their way to Fresno, they were approached by a group of three 7 foot tall extraterrestrials who were hanging out on the side of the road. According to Shaw, the aliens had bald heads, but their bodies were covered in a light fuzz, they had spindly arms with dainty hands, and they had large eyes that made their small mouths and ears appear even smaller. The aliens carried bags with hoses attached to them that they would often stick in their mouth, which probably helped them breath and they carried egg lamps that revealed the location of their ship.
According to Shaw, the aliens tried to abduct them but they were too weak to pick them up. I did some research on the average height and weight of an adult man in 1896 and wow these are some weak aliens. The average height and weight of an American Civil War soldier was 5’6” tall 143 pounds. Considering that Shaw was a Colonel, he most likely served in the Civil War, so it's safe to assume that Shaw and Spooner were probably around this height and weight. That means that three of these 7 foot tall aliens are too weak to even carry one of the men. That means that each alien was too weak to carry 48 pounds. When I first researched this I wondered why the men didn’t try to defend themselves with guns during the abduction but it’s obvious now that these aliens were no threat. The aliens decided to cut their losses and gave up on abducting Shaw and Spooner and decided to fly off in their spaceship.
Later, when Shaw recounted his story to the Evening Mail, a local Stockton newspaper, he shared his thoughts on what happened. “I have a theory, which of course is only a theory, that those we beheld were inhabitants of Mars, who have been sent to earth for the purpose of securing one of its inhabitants.”
I think this is an interesting story because it occurred 50 years before Roswell and occurred only a little over a decade after the term Martian was coined in 1877 and only a couple years after the term spaceship was coined in 1894. The story also takes on a much different approach to the genre of alien abduction stories than the famous abduction of Betty and Barney Hill. I’m not necessarily saying their story is false, I just think its very interesting how the genre of alien abductions has changed over time. I personally believe in Aliens and while I have my doubts about the validity of alien abduction stories, it’s not out of the question that these abductions could have happened.