Finding the truth on Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway

Giant tin alien outside near Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway, so named by state after constant...

Giant tin alien outside near Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway, so named by state after constant reports of UFO sightings. IAN ROBERTSON PHOTO

Ian Robertson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:22 PM ET

RACHEL, Nevada — I was all ears before being launched along the Extraterrestrial Highway.

For fun, my fellow travellers and I spent a happy few light-minutes last May folding and twisting aluminum foil into signal blocking headgear.

Well, they did. I, instead, craftily produced Spock-like ears plus icicle-like clip-ons for my specs before we stopped beside a State Route 375 road sign.

It is a route taken yearly by tens of thousands of regular folks and fans who believe the nearby Area 51 government installation houses aliens. They dismiss government silence on the issue as a muzzling conspiracy.

Adding fuel to the ongoing fire is the fact that signs along a sideroad, which our driver took in error, warn that authorities will use “deadly force” on anyone venturing beyond the outer limits.

Tales also abound about flying saucers. And the myriad reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) flitting above dusty but delightful Sand Spring Valley drives a small local souvenir industry.

The repeated tales, fuelled by people’s love of intrigue, plus books, occasional television and movie references to the supposed mystery, prompted Nevada officials in 1996 to rebrand the ribbon of asphalt that passes by the hush-hush Nellis Air Force Range.

The 158-km Extraterrestrial Highway was born.

You may have read in the news recently that the Central Intelligence Agency finally released documents that acknowledge Area 51 exists.

SECERCY-LOVING CIA

It wasn’t that nobody knew, mind you. It was just the secrecy-loving CIA rarely resorts to talking publicly about above-or-underground facilities that develop top-secret tools and weapons.

Jeffrey Richelson, a George Washington University National Security Archive senior fellow in Washington, reviewed the site’s history in 2002 but all Area 51 references had been fudged. Soldiering on, Richelson asked again in 2005.

The new version was rushed to him eight years later, with confirmation of the former World War II gunnery range and airstrip’s existence 145 km north of Las Vegas.

Faster than you can say “Beam me up, Scotty,” Richelson’s findings, including references to tests there of the U-2 spy plane used by the CIA starting in the 1950s Cold War, took off in mid-August.

The news rocketed around the world, setting tongues wagging well into the starry nights with more questions and theories.

All this occurred three months after my group donned our fancy foil headgear and posed with a namesake roadsign, before passing a three-storey tall spaceman beside a steel building.

To get a firmer grip on the sunlit unknown, we stopped in Rachel (Pop. 100) at a rest stop appropriately and cleverly called The Little A’Le’Inn.

A 1950s truck with a flying saucer dangling from its tow hook stood outside. Refreshments include cold beer, an “Alien Burger,” morning pancakes and an open-face roast beef sandwich with chili-cheese fries. The cozy cafe’s interior was ringed with souvenirs: Child-size rubber spacemen, T-shirts, a “deadly force” sign and postcards.

Tempted to stay, alas, our trek up the Extraterrestrial Highway continued and we bid farewell to the former Rachel Bar and Grill where, it is said, you sometimes see more than a sky full of stars at night.

NEED TO KNOW

For $50 per night you can book a room in a mobile home with common area/bathroom at The Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel.

- For travel information, contact Nevada tourism at travelnevada.com.


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