Slide Show

If you’re craving more UFO goodness, view our slide show of baffling photos taken by fellow Oregonians over the years.

LONG BEFORE OREGON became a magnet for the creative class, East Coast refugees, and retiring 20-somethings, our state was attracting visitors of a different kind: the alien kind. Not only was the term “flying saucer” coined here in 1947—unleashing a nationwide UFO frenzy—but two of the first-ever photographs of UFOs were taken just down Highway 99, at the Trent farm near McMinnville, in 1950. (See Close Encounters)

This month, thousands of curious onlookers, diehards, and experts will converge on McMinnville for the 13th annual UFO Festival—the second-most popular such celebration in the world, after Roswell, New Mexico’s—to commemorate the famous (and still controversial) photos.

But the Trent case merely scratches the surface of Oregon’s rich UFO history. By one estimate, Oregon has recorded more than 1,500 reported UFO sightings, making it third on the list of sightings per capita, close behind neighbors in Washington and Montana. We interviewed UFO investigators, debunkers, and historians to learn more about Oregon’s penchant for attracting the otherworldly. What we found just might surprise you.