1897 UFO Sightings in Arkansas topic of Old State House Brown Bag Lecture today at noon

On Thursday, October 15, at noon, at the Old State House Museum, Brian Irby of the Arkansas History Commission will tell the story of one of the first waves of UFO hysteria that swept through the nation for a Brown Bag Lunch Lecture.

Between 1896 and 1897, the country was in the grips of what was one of the first major panics created by sightings of strange objects in the sky. Less than a decade before the Wright Brothers would fly the first powered flight, newspapers around the country began reporting on sightings of an airship, spotted in the wild.

In April of that year, the unidentified flying object stories came to Arkansas. In April, railroad conductor Jim Hooton told the Arkansas Gazette that he had seen the airship while hunting and provided a sketch to the paper. Just a few weeks later, mounted deputies near Hot Springs said they “noticed a brilliant light high in the heavens,” and drew their Winchesters on a man they said was traveling in an airship.

Brian Irby has a BA and MA from the University of Central Arkansas. He has been on staff at the Arkansas History Commission since 2008 as an archival assistant where he works on educational programs.

Admission is free, and attendees are welcome to bring a sack lunch. Soft drinks and water are provided.

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.