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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.

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Case of the Urlossenholz forest, on about 1850:

Case number:



In his 2012 book about the history of UFO sightings in Alsace, Christian Valentin recounted that according to the folklorist Auguste Stoeber, in the middle of the 19th century, there was a story of a "light that strays" near St-Nabor, at the foot of Mont Sainte Odile in the forest of Urlossenholz: one often saw a bright moving light at night.

On one occasion, a ranger had followed it, thinking he was going to catch a thief, and the light had moved to the mountains with the guard following; then it rocketted in the air with a whistling sound before turning off suddenly, leaving the ranger scared at night miles away from home. This ranger reportedly still told the story in 1883.

It is also said that a baker had a few days later also followed the light and was found dead near its path.


Temporal data:

Date: About 1850
Time: Night
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1883
Reporting delay: Days, decades.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Saint-Nabor
Place: In the Urlossenholz forest
Latitude: 48.523
Longitude: 7.417
Uncertainty ratio: 2 km

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2
Number of known witnesses: 1 or 2
Number of named witnesses: 0
Witness(es) ages: Adults.
Witness(es) types: Ranger, baker.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Folklorist Auguste Stoeber.
Type of location: Mountain forest.
Visibility conditions: Night
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: ?


Hynek: NL or CE1
ALSACAT: Unidentified, wisp or legend, not UFO related.



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 reports that during the 19th century, there was a story of a "light that strays" near Saint Nabor, at the foot of Mount Sainte Odile in the Urlossenholz forest.

In the night, one often saw a bright light that moved.

On one occasion, a ranger decided to follow it, thinking he was going to catch a thief. The light moved to the mountains with the ranger following, and at that time it climbed in the air with a hiss before turning off suddenly, leaving the frightened ranger in the night and miles from home.

It is said that the baker, a few days later, also followed the light and was found dead far from his path.

The ranger was still telling the story in 1883.

Christian Valentin says this is summarized from "Mille ans d'histoires, de légendes et de traditions orales d'Alsace", by Auguste Stoeber, Cayelles publishers, 2008, #43, Haute Alsace volume.

[Ref. cvo1:] CLUB VOSGIEN:

The Will'o'the Wisp of the Urlossenholz

The Urlossenholz forest is located between St-Nabor and Truttenhausen. It is the property of the town of Obernai but once it belonged to a knight who had committed many crimes. In this forest, we often saw a wisp. A ranger believing one day stop a wood thief, followed a light that always went before him and increasingly attracted him into the mountains. When he finally believed to grasp it, it sprang into the air with a lot of noise, then suddenly went out. He found himself alone in the darkness, away from his home, in a wild and disreputable place. He returned home with great difficulty. A few days later, they found a baker ot the area dead in the forest. People thought that he too had taken a wisp but that he did not get away with it as well as the forester.


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. [cvn2]; 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:

The forest of the Urlossenholz is located between Saint-Nabor and Truttenhausen. It belongs to the city of Obernai.


Obviously I have some hard time figuring out what this old legend about a wisp has to do with UFO sightings and especially those suspected to be caused by aliens.

Many phenomena of the past, "UFOs of the past", have prosaic explanations anyway, although sometimes difficult to establish.

At this location, here's an example of what I could find in the compilation "La Presse", volume 1836-1952, available at the National Library of France in Paris [egn1]:

Day of April 7, [1870]. Maximum temperature in the shade, 19°,1 (between 1 p.m. and the evening); Minimum temperature, ditto; 5°,9 (between 6 am and 7 am.) Average temperature, dito, 12°,5; maximum temperature in the sun, 50°6 (between 1 pm and 4 pm in the evening.); rain 0 mm. The aurora borealis that, Saturday night, appeared the horizon, and of which people in the West and the East benefitted of the magnificent spectacle, made for a hard time of concern among many residents. Here what is written in the Courrier du Bas Rhin,of Barr, on April 6.

"Great excitement in our city yesterday at nine pm. One came in crowds places where one could freely observe the sky to the north;. A bright red hue totally similar to that of a fire could be seen seen in that direction."

"With their usual promptness, our firefighters took their uniforms, preparing the fire pump for outside help and were preparing to leave at the first alert. "The fire is in Heiligenstein!" said one; the fact was denied at once by people who came from there. "It burns in Saint-Nabor, in Ottrott, in the Urlossenholz forest!" shouted others; the hill of Heiligenstein prevented to check immediately. There was still talks, when finally it was recognized that instead of a great fire, one had before his eyes a brilliant aurora borealis!"

"PS At the time of closing this letter, I learn by the bus driver who came last night from Schlestadt [Sélestat] that thousands of people of this city came to the ramparts to watch the fire. The same observation made all the population of the villages along the mountain stand up. Deceived by the glow, firemen in Obernai allegedly hasted to Rosheim, while perhaps the firemen of that city went to Molsheim."

In Dambach, people had the same fears. They saw in the northern lights for a few minutes, only the reflections of an huge fire.


Unidentified, wisp or legend, not UFO related.

Sources references:

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

File history:


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

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross July 19, 2015 Creation, [egn1], [cvn2], [cvo1].
1.0 Patrick Gross July 19, 2015 First published.

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This page was last updated on July 19, 2015.