It was 1897, and a strange light appeared in the sky over Topeka. History Guy looks back at the UFO sighting. – The Topeka Capital-Journal

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UFO in Topeka past articles history guy

Tim Hrenchir, the History Guy for CJOnline, talks about UFOs in this weeks video.

Evert Nelson, Topeka Capital-Journal

Hundreds saw a strange red light that appeared in the sky above Topeka on the evening of March 27, 1897, the Topeka Daily Capital reported the next day on its front page.

“Was it the headlight of an airship?” the newspaper asked.

This week’s History Guy video at CJOnline — coming during a year that’s seen an increased number of reports of unidentified flying objects across the nation — focuses on the 1897 sighting, which was described in an article in the Daily Capital.

“Perhaps it was not an airship but it was something — something startling,” the newspaper said.

That sighting came four months after the San Francisco Call in late 1896 published a drawing of a mystery airship it reported had moved slowly over Sacramento, Calif., at a height of about 1,000 feet.

In the months that followed, many UFO sightings were reported in California and the central United States. Inventor Thomas Edison sought to quell widespread speculation that he was behind the UFOs by issuing a statement denying responsibility.

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The Daily Capital initially disregarded reports it received from nearby towns indicating an apparent airship featuring a “huge headlight” was floating around at night.

But The Daily Capital then reported on March 28, 1897, that numerous Topekans had seen a red light in the western sky beginning about 9:30 p.m. the previous evening.

“It seemed as if about 1,000 Topekans saw it about the same time, and they were all kind enough to notify the Capital office about it by telephone,” the newspaper said.

Witnesses included about 200 people who watched from the area of S. 7th and Kansas Avenue, the Daily Capital reported.

Some of those thought they saw the object move, while others were uncertain, it said.

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The light then suddenly disappeared, the Daily Capital reported.

“No one could guess where it had gone, but that fact that it had disappeared suddenly proved that it was not a star,” the newspaper said.

Its article concluded by saying the UFO was “supposed to be the work of an inventor who was experimenting with it secretly.”

That UFO never was identified.



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