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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Sélestat, in Autumn 1913:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1913-00-00-SELESTAT-1

Summary:

During the big "flap" of flying saucers in 1954 in France, the regional newspaper "LeNouveau Rhin Français" published a story from one of their readers reporting that he had already seen one "at a time when we do did not make a big fuss about it."

In the autumn of 1913, he was a railway man on duty on a freight train between Colmar and Hausbergen, and due to a problem at the station, the train was stopped at the entrance of Sélestat, awaiting the signal that would allow them to resume the trip.

The night was warm; the sky was low, covered with a dark and thick cloud layer, and one could barely make out one's outstretched hand.

The driver and the witness were chatting next to the locomotive, when suddenly the driver exclaimed, "Look... look... over there!"

As the two men could not see anything on their side, they climbed on the machine, and then saw a glimmering plate shape, fluttering on the layer of black clouds. It remained motionless for a few seconds and then moved in a flash to the north, before spinning suddenly westward to reappear at the South. The glow "moved here and there, like magic, like a ghostly apparition."

This lasted about fifteen minutes, and all of a sudden, it illuminated the Schanzel hotel at the foot of the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, then there was nothing anymore, "and that is how the car stopped outside the hotel, after having illuminated the surrounding forest with its powerful headlights."

It is commented that it is significant that "these saucers or cups appear mostly in the rainy season of autumn when the cloud ceiling is low."

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: Fall 1913
Time: Night
Duration: ~15 minutes.
First known report date: 1954
Reporting delay: 4 decades

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Sélestat
Place: From locomotive stopped and the entry of Sélestat, UFO towards mountain slopes.
Latitude: 48.250
Longitude: 7.434
Uncertainty ratio: 1 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 3
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults
Witness(es) types: Local railwaymen.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter to the regional Press.
Type of location: From stopped locomotive, UFO towards mountain slopes.
Visibility conditions: Night, low cloud layer.
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: Yes
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: Car headlight on cloud layer.

Classifications:

Hynek: NL or negative
ALSACAT: Probable vehicle with projector.

Sources:

[Ref. nr1:] JOURNAL "LE NOUVEAU RHIN FRANCAIS":

Who saw flying saucers and cigars?

I have actually already seen flying saucers, and at a time when it did not make such a fuss.

The sighting occurred before World War I in autumn 1913. I was a railwayman, (service on a freight train between Colmar and Hausbergen. Due to a problem at the station, we were stopped at the entrance of Sélestat, awaiting the signal that would allow us to move forward.

It was a warm night; the sky was low, covered with a thick layer of dark clouds, and we could barely make out one's own outstretched hand.

The driver and I were discussing next to the locomotive waiting for the signal allowing us to go on.

Suddenly, we heard the driver exclaim: Look... Look... there! As we could not see anything on our side, we climbed on the machine.

There, we saw a plate-shaped light hovering over the layer of dark clouds. It remains motionless for a few seconds, then moved in a flash to the north, before speeding suddenly westward to reappear at the South. The glow was moving here and there, like magic, like a ghostly apparition.

The phenomenon lasted about fifteen minutes. Suddenly it illuminated the Schanzel hotel at the foot of the Haut-Koenigsbourg before darkening completely, and that is how the car stopped outside the hotel, after having illuminated the surrounding forest of its powerful headlights.

It is not the intention of this correspondent to criticize the experts, but it is still significant that these plates or cups that appear mainly in the rainy season of autumn when the cloud ceiling is low.

[Ref. cv2:] CHRISTIAN VALENTIN:

Former journalist Christian Valentin published in 2012 a very interesting book telling the story of UFO sightings, flying saucers sightings, in Alsace, from the beginning to 1980.

In this book, he provides his translation of an article in the German-speaking issue of Le Nouveau Rhin Fran9ais for October 1, 1954:

Who saw flying saucers and cigars?

I have actually already seen flying saucers, and at a time when it did not make such a fuss.

The sighting occurred before World War I in autumn 1913. I was a railwayman, (service on a freight train between Colmar and Hausbergen. Due to a problem at the station, we were stopped at the entrance of Sélestat, awaiting the signal that would allow us to move forward.

It was a warm night; the sky was low, covered with a thick layer of dark clouds, and we could barely make out one's own outstretched hand.

The driver and I were discussing next to the locomotive waiting for the signal allowing us to go on.

Suddenly, we heard the driver exclaim: Look... Look... there! As we could not see anything on our side, we climbed on the machine.

There, we saw a plate-shaped light hovering over the layer of dark clouds. It remains motionless for a few seconds, then moved in a flash to the north, before speeding suddenly westward to reappear at the South. The glow was moving here and there, like magic, like a ghostly apparition.

The phenomenon lasted about fifteen minutes. Suddenly it illuminated the Schanzel hotel at the foot of the Haut-Koenigsbourg before darkening completely, and that is how the car stopped outside the hotel, after having illuminated the surrounding forest of its powerful headlights.

It is not the intention of this correspondent to criticize the experts, but it is still significant that these plates or cups that appear mainly in the rainy season of autumn when the cloud ceiling is low.

Valentin comments that one could ramble a lot about this observation, the question whether at the time in 1913, the power of vehicles headlights was able to produce the circles of light on a cloud ceiling, even if very low and if the road to the castle was steep enough to produce that vision.

He retains anecdotally the pragmatism of the experiencer of 1913 and notes that his interpretation found echoes six months after the wave of 1954, and that this form of misinterpretations multiplied in the 1990s with the development of lasers and other light effects from discotheques and outdoor events.

Discussion:

About Christian Valentin's book:

It is not at all my habit to "advertise" a book or anything, and I have no interested relationship with the author, but I wanted to say a word on the book by Christian Valentin, "Mythes et Réalités des Phénomènes Aériens Non Identifiés" (i.e. "Myths and Realities of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (cover on the left) , ref. [cv2]; which, as its subtitle indicates, is about Alsatian UFO sighting reports and the saucer lore in Alsace.

I think Alsatian ufologists and generally people interested in the UFO question, or in the history of Alsace, my region, would probably like this book.

The 144 pages book is sober but well presented, unbiased, richly documented and illustrated. It is the first work in print specifically about UFO sightings in Alsace. (There was another one a few years ago, but it was partly made by copying - pasting without mention of the sources, portions of my website, especially the Alsatians cases I almost exhaustively documented in my catalog of UFO sightings in France in 1954, and copies from another websites; the trivial explanations I proposed or gave there being almost always stripped off!)

The author does not want to prove or disprove the possibility of extraterrestrial visitors or some other so-called "extraordinary" explanation, he rather offers a chronologically ordered review of Alsatian UFO reports, starting from the origin and stopping in 1980, based on known sources ufology, on the articles of the regional Press, and cases less known or even unreleased so far that he collected directly with the witnesses. His own comments are printed in a different color, references to the sources are always given. A very nice work in my opinion!

The author currently has a blog where he shows what libraries in Alsace have the book available, see: christian.valentin.overblog.com

Between the railway tracks at the entrance of Sélestat and the road climbing to the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, there are only six kilometers in straight line.

Above: The catle of the Haut-Koenigsbourg (under the red line) seen by day from near the railway at the entry of Sélestat.

It is obviously difficult to check the veracity of the story, and it is not totally obvious that car headlights can produce the effect described at that distance, but nothing either refutes this currently.

I am thinking about the military vehicles such as this military projector vehicle with pwer generator, from the French Renault manifacturer in 1914:

Evaluation:

Probable vehicle with projector.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross March 3, 2016 Creation, [nr1], [cv2].
1.0 Patrick Gross March 3, 2016 First published.

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This page was last updated on March 3, 2016.