This article was published in the daily newspaper The Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg, Iowa, Wednesday, April 14, 1897.
Warning: the airship stories must not be taken at face value as "UFO sightings." Evaluation of such stories is under way here.
During the past week large red lights resembling locomotive headlights are reported to have passed over not less than fifty cities and towns in Iowa, Minnesota, Dakota, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. Several persons report having seen them, but are unable to account for them. In some places, it is claimed paper balloons were sent up for the purpose of creating sensations. It is hardly probable that such deception was successfully practiced at all the places where the lights have been seen. J.B. Martin, of the West Bend Journal, claims he saw one of the strange lights passing over Rodman at 9 o'clock Thursday night. He watched it fifteen minutes but could not account for it. It was also seen by several Emmetsburg parties but, not having seen any of the general reports they did not give it close attention. Granting that those who saw the lights were deceived; that the lights may have been some phenomena; granting that some mischievous parties may have been sending up small balloons to arouse the curiosity of their neighbors, it is not unreasonable to expect that aerial navigation will be one of the achievements of the coming century. An air ship would not be so wonderful as the telephone, the phonograph, or the kinetoscope, because people already travel in balloons.
A moving light was seen going to the northwest of this city last night. Some say the boys about town sent up a toy balloon. Others think it was a moving star. We can not say. The liquor dealers claim they sold only the best grades of goods last night and that they can not be held accountable for the strange light.