• Offutt: Mass of molten metal leaves bystanders with questions

  • Big Lake Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is relatively quiet. Children run and play at the playground and honking geese occasionally drift across the rippling lake.

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  • Big Lake Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is relatively quiet. Children run and play at the playground and honking geese occasionally drift across the rippling lake.
    But the night of Dec. 17, 1977, the park wasn’t so peaceful.
    Mike Moore, 58, of Council Bluffs was 24 in 1977 when he and his now-ex-wife drove through Big Lake Park at 7:45 p.m. and saw something in the sky – something that shouldn’t have been there.
    “We saw this big ball of red stuff in the sky,” he said.
    Moore thought the light was probably an airplane from nearby Eppley Field in Omaha, but it didn’t act like an airplane – it hovered. Whatever the light in the sky was, it dropped something into the park. Something on fire.
    “All I seen was this ball coming down,” Moore said. “It was pretty high in the sky when I seen it. I just seen a big ball of flame.” Then the hovering object flew away.
    Moore and his wife weren’t the only ones to see it.
    A group of teenagers cruising on North 16th Street “noticed a reddish object about 500-600 feet in the air falling straight down,” according to an article in the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County December 2007 newsletter.
    The teens pulled into the park and stopped next to the car of Kenny and Carol Drake. The Drakes had seen the object as well.
    Mike Moore’s father, Assistant Fire Chief Jack Moore, who responded to the scene 15 minutes after the incident, spoke with the Drakes who said they had seen, “something red” in the sky, as reported in the Dec. 18, 1977 issue of the Council Bluffs newspaper, The Daily Nonpareil.
    An anonymous couple told computer programmer-turned UFO investigator Dr. Jacques Vallee they had seen, “a bright red object rocket to the ground near Big Lake.” The Drakes told Jack Moore they’d seen, “something red fall out of the sky to the southeast, hit the ground and explode into flames.”
    When Jack Moore arrived at the spot of the impact, he found a 4-by-6 foot “mass of molten metal” on a levee, according to The Daily Nonpareil. “It was running, boiling down the edge of the levee,” Jack Moore said. “The center of it was way too hot to touch.”
    The center of the metal was so hot it looked like “blue flash bulbs,” Mike Moore said.
    After the metal cooled, the fire department loaded most of it onto a truck and took it to the station.
    “When they left I kind of hung around and picked up a few pieces that were left,” Mike Moore said. “I still have boxes of it in my shed. I’ve got torches. All the torch did was heat it up. A grinder won’t cut it. You can’t even bend them.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Mike Moore’s words echoed those of his father from more than 30 years ago.
    “I have the pieces in my office,” Jack Moore told The Daily Nonpareil in 1977. “You can’t break it and you can’t bend it. I know it’s metal, period. It’s got me beat.”
    Samples of the metal were taken to nearby Griffin Pipe Products Company and to the Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University. The metal turned out to be disappointingly ordinary.
    “I recall the examination,” Francis Laabs of the Ames Laboratory, said. Laabs did the initial testing and was less than enthused by the results. “We found the debris we received to examine to be consistent with smelter slag, very similar to that from a few operations in eastern Nebraska where they were using auto scrap to make manhole covers, etc.”
    But, a question remained. Although a railroad ran alongside the park, and two smelters operated in nearby Omaha, how could someone dump that much molten metal onto the levee half a football field away from the tracks?
    “To take that much molten iron, you’d have to have it at 2,000 degrees, and it was a heavily-traveled road,” Moore said. “There was about 1,000 pounds of molten iron laying on the ground. And that doesn’t explain how four or five people saw it fall out of the sky.”
    Greg Hoskins of Omaha is a long-time UFO enthusiast and visited the site shortly after the incident. He picked up small pieces of metal still on the ground and took them to a laboratory, but their findings were the same – the metal was slag.
    “I had physical material, but it’s not worth anything,” Hoskins said. “It was just common. You can get slag from anywhere.”
    But not on that day.
    According to Griffin Pipe Products in Valle’s 1998 article, “Physical Analyses in 10 Cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Material Samples,” from the Journal of Scientific Exploration, the metal would not only have to be kept at 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit to remain in the state as the fire department found it, but the foundry didn’t pour on Saturday.
    Mike Moore doesn’t care what scientists say the material is; he knows what he and others saw; and he’s certain it’s extraterrestrial.
    “I think there’s stuff out there,” he said.
    Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt, P.O. Box 501, Maryville, Mo., 64468, or jasonoffutt@hotmail.com.
    Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”

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