The small Wisconsin town in the heart of the Kettle Moraine State Forest has a long, weird history of UFO sightings and other mysterious phenomena.
A look at the bizarre history of a small town in Wisconsin with an unusually high number of UFO sightings.
According to data from the National UFO Reporting Center, Wisconsin ranks 23rd for UFO sightings in the United States. An unknown object witnessed in rural Barron, WI in 1934 inspired Coral Lorenzen to pioneer UFO research. And there are three individual UFO festivals held around the state every year in locations known to have an unusually high number of UFO sightings.
Of those three places, one area in particular is perhaps the most peculiar.
UFOs Over UFO Daze
On the evening of July 17, 2004, a crowd was gathered at a tavern on the shore of Long Lake in Dundee, Wisconsin for the annual UFO Daze festival hosted by local UFO researcher Bill Benson. UFO enthusiasts have been gathering here by the hundreds to share their experiences and hoping to spot something strange in the sky since 1988. But this particular night would be different.
When the hot and humid summer day gave way to night, many of the day’s visitors remained to see if anything unusual would show up in the night sky. It was near midnight when excited murmurings from the crowd turned all eyes to the sky.
Something was coming.
“What I remember first about the experience was the bluish green light,” attendee Noah Voss wrote in his book UFO Wisconsin. “From the absentee stars I observe what seems to be perhaps a triangle shape.”
The object passed low and silent over the crowd with a Y-shaped pattern of lights, and disappeared over the tree line.
Whatever it was the crowd at UFO Daze witnessed that night, it was not an isolated incident. Mysterious orbs of flashing lights and strange objects in the sky are not uncommon in the area, and have turned more than a few skeptics into believers.
There is a long history of unexplained sightings over Long Lake and nearby Dundee Mountain, and Bill Benson is eager to share it with anyone who asks.
Spheres of light filmed over Long Lake by UFO Daze attendees on July 22, 2002
Benson’s UFO Headquarters
Bill’s extraterrestrial-themed tavern, Benson’s Hide-a-Way, may be the only place in Wisconsin where you can report a UFO sighting, see an alien in a jar, and get a killer fish fry on a Friday night. Alien posters, UFO models, tinfoil hats, and inflatable little green men adorn the interior. There is a scrapbook at the bar full of glowing circles set against a black backdrop – unidentified flying objects photographed in the area by Bill’s friend Tim Hildebrandt, who spent many nights with his cameras on the summit of Dundee Mountain capturing those images.
Benson’s is located in the heart of the picturesque Kettle Moraine State Forest, an area known for hiking, camping, and fishing. It seems an unlikely setting for flying saucers and alien abductions. Nevertheless, decades of strange happenings have lead locals to proclaim it the “UFO Capital of the World.”
Visitors have come from around the globe to get a glimpse of something otherworldly hovering over the rural community, and they congregate at the Hide-a-Way.
Bill Benson’s collection of UFO photos, including a crop circle that appeared in the reeds in Long Lake in 1995.
Bill’s unusual interest began in the late 1940s, he said in a recent interview. When he was a child, crop circles appeared in an oat field about four miles from his home. The farm was owned by relatives of Bill’s in an area near Dundee known as the jersey flats.
Later, during his time serving in the US military in Vietnam, he personally witnessed a large bright light moving unnaturally in the distant sky while on guard duty one night.
“I saw a strange orange light dancing off in right angles, flashing quickly, twisting and moving around rapidly,” he told the Fond du Lac reporter in 1993.
But for Bill, the seminal moment came in 1985 when a circular object hovering near his neighbor’s farm on Vista Drive kept frightening the cows out of the pasture and into the barn. Another neighbor witnessed the event from his car while driving down the road.
This incident prompted Benson, along with his friend and radio personality Robert “UFO Bob” Kuehn, who claimed to maintain ongoing telepathic communication with an extraterrestrial named Eveata from the Plaidian star system (Eveata liked to visit and catch Green Bay Packers games), to hold the first UFO Daze as a safe place for others who had similar experiences to share their stories.
Over the years, locals have reported glowing orbs hovering over the summit of Dundee Mountain, sometimes being chased by US Air Force jet craft or helicopters. In 1995 a crop circle inexplicably appeared in the reeds near Benson’s. Formations of lights have been seen over the lake, and even flickering from the depths beneath.
It’s been 31 years since the first UFO Daze, and it is still a popular excuse to craft intricate tinfoil hats. Benson’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is known worldwide.
A triangular object filmed over Long Lake by UFO Daze attendees on July 17, 2004
Something Under Dundee Mountain
Dundee Mountain looms high above the tree line at the southern end of the lake. Gouged from the earth by the last glaciers to tear through the area, the “mountain” is actually a 270-foot high moulin kame formation made up of sediment left behind by the glaciers when they retreated over 10,000 years ago. And, depending on who you ask, it may be the source of the area’s mysterious activity.
Long before the modern sightings around Dundee Mountain, it seems Native Americans were well aware of it’s unusual properties.
“They called it ‘Spirit Hill,'” Bill said during a 2008 interview with the Fond du Lac Reporter. “There’s been strange things forever out here.”
But what exactly does the ominous mound of dirt have to do with the unusual occurrences in the area?
Bill doesn’t pretend to have the answers. He has no idea why Dundee is the center of so much strange activity. But he does seem to believe Dundee Mountain may be the source of it.
“Something is under there,” he told a reporter in 2016.
But what it is, not even Bill knows.
The 31st annual UFO Daze is happening July 20, 2019.
UFO Summer Camp
I launched a new Cult of Weird shop over at TeePublic with t-shirt, prints, stickers, and more, including this limited edition UFO Summer Camp shirt.
A selection of the strangest and most fascinating headlines in science, history, archaeology, travel, and more from last month:
- Thieves steal 56-ton bridge in Russia
- Televangelist who refuses to fly with demons calls for day of prayer for Trump
- Mt Everest has lost its magic
- Lost medieval chess piece found in drawer
- New American Religion of UFOs
- FBI releases its Bigfoot file
- Nuclear bomb tests help identify art forgeries
- Circus uses holographic animals
- Japan’s telephone to the dead
- Prisoner’s body returned to family with organs missing
- Bay Area settler lost $100,000 in gold
- Carnivorous plant discovered in Ontario
- Algorithm generates portraits based on voices
- Irish festival will celebrate the birthplace of Halloween
- How to build something that lasts 10,000 years
- 30,000-year-old wolf head unearthed in Siberia
- Dioramas of death
- Strange creature caught on security camera?
- Haunted medieval prison that held witches is for sale
- The women who are killing it in taxidermy
- Thousands of snakes gather here to mate
- Norwegian city wants to abolish time
- Man kept a meth-fueled “attack squirrel”
- Arctic marathoner donates amputated toes for the Sourtoe Cocktail
- Cat filter accidentally applied to live press conference
- Man gets 14 months for robbing a bank with a banana
- Christian TV host says meatless burgers are stealing souls
- Mothman sighting over Chernobyl
- Younger generations are growing horns in the back of their heads
- Sperm bank in space for Mars colonization
- Pornographic mouse taxidermy for couples
- Fungi drugs cicadas to keep them mating
- Asteroid worth $700 quintillion in precious metals
- Buried WWII bomb explodes in field
- Town commemorates alien abduction with historical marker
- Pennsylvania has become a hotbed of Bigfoot sightings
July 2 – World UFO Day
July 5 – Roswell UFO Festival begins, celebrating the anniversary of the Roswell UFO crash
July 5 – P.T. Barnum was born on this day in 1810
July 8 – World Disclosure Day
July 10 – Nikola Tesla was born on this day in 1856
July 19 – Cannibal Alexander Pearce was executed on this day in 1824
July 21 – Rev. Thomas Baker was eaten in Fiji on this day in 1867
July 22 – Feast of Mary Magdalene
For several years, a Cleveland meat shop called Ray’s Sausage was battling a foul smell that had taken hold inside the building and was threatening to ruin the nearly 60-year-old, family-owned businesses. The family spent $20,000 on new plumbing, sewer lines, and grease traps, but the odor persisted. In October 2009, police discovered the source: 11 decomposed bodies in the house next door to Ray’s. The house belonged to serial killer Anthony Sowell, the “Cleveland Strangler,” who had moved in shortly before the stench began.
Previous Newsletter: The Woman Who Pioneered UFO Research
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Meet the unusual attendees of a small town Wisconsin UFO festival who have been watching the skies and communicating with extraterrestrials for decades.
Filmmaker Mark Borchardt, subject of the 1999 documentary American Movie about his struggle to produce an independent horror film with friends and family, returns with his first short film in over 20 years. The Dundee Project is a 19-minute doc that examines the unique characters who populate a local UFO hotspot in Dundee, Wisconsin.
Strange things have been happening around the small town of Dundee for a long time. Located in the heart of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the area draws hundreds of thousands annually for it’s bountiful hiking, fishing, and camping. But for decades, visitors and residents alike have been baffled and sometimes even frightened by oddly-shaped objects in the sky over Long Lake, lights in the watery depths beneath, and numerous other unexplained phenomena like lake monsters and wolfmen.
In 1988, following a particularly bizarre incident in which reeds were found flattened and woven into a circular formation thick enough to walk on without falling through into the water, tavern owner Bill Benson and the late Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn decided to host a gathering where everyone could share their experiences.
Decades later, UFO Daze is still held every year on the third Saturday in July. Believers and skeptics alike gather at Benson’s Hide-a-Way, the “UFO Headquarters,” to enjoy a cup of spiked green punch and wear artfully crafted tinfoil hats.
The Dundee Project opens with Borchardt’s drive north into the hinterlands (passing right behind the Cult of Weird hive along the way) as he recalls in voice-over about learning of the festival on the “sad, infinite wastelands of cable television.”
He first attended UFO Daze in 2001 after discovering it was within driving distance of his hometown of Milwaukee. “I consulted the charts and realized that it was practically in my own backyard,” he says.
He brought his camera along and filmed a series of interviews with the festival’s curious participants as he returned year after year to what he calls “a lakeside haven for the thirsty and the curious.”
Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn
Mark speaks to several attendees who have personally witnessed extraterrestrial activity, but the primary reason to watch are his conversations with UFO Bob. Bob was a radio personality who used his show to transmit messages to extraterrestrials. The same ones, apparently, who tune in to Green Bay Packers games.
Bob is even in direct communication with a female alien named Eveata whom he refers to at one point during the film as his girlfriend.
Mark doesn’t seem to buy it, prodding Bob with questions that challenge his claims. My favorite moments occur in the outtakes and deleted scenes (thankfully included in both DVD and digital download formats), with Mark’s frustration over Bob’s unshakable beliefs. This is particularly evident when Bob informs Mark that aliens “tampered” with a photo of a UFO over Benson’s that Mark feels is obviously digitally manipulated.
Waiting for aliens to arrive at UFO Daze
I’ve spent the last several years researching the phenomena around Long Lake, including several recent expeditions to the area and a hike to the top of Dundee Mountain, an ancient glacial formation at the southern end of the lake that some believe is the origin of the unusual activity. I even attended the 30th annual UFO Daze in 2018. I haven’t seen anything myself, but it doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s actually aliens or just hi-tech trickery (I’ve heard rumors of hoaxes perpetrated during UFO Daze) the evidence is irrefutable to the denizens of Benson’s, who sit in their lawn chairs at the edge of the lake patiently awaiting visitors from outer space.
As UFO Bob says, “What we’re seeing out here is there.”
The Dundee Project is part humor and part mystery, guaranteed to either ignite your conspiracy theory-fueled paranoia or leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.
Either way, keep looking up.
The Dundee Project trailer narrated by Wisconsin native Jason Vernon of Bon Iver
Order The Dundee Project now right here.
UFO enthusiasts have been gathering in this Wisconsin town for 30 years to share their experiences and catch a glimpse of something strange in the sky.
There are three small Wisconsin communities that claim to be the UFO capital of the world, but the most compelling is the unincorporated town of Dundee about 20 minutes from Cult of Weird headquarters.
10,000 years ago, the last glaciers tore through the area, leaving behind a devastated landscape that is now the picturesque Kettle Moraine State Forest. When the glaciers receded, they left behind a 250-foot pile of sediment called Dundee Mountain. It’s not an actual mountain, but it is the highest point in the area.
And locals will tell you there’s something suspicious going on there.
Strange lights and unidentified objects witnessed in the sky over Dundee Mountain and nearby Long Lake have left residents puzzled for decades. So much so, in fact, that in 1988 tavern owner Bill Benson and some friends decided to host a gathering for those who had experienced something in the area.
Bill’s bar, Benson’s Hide-a-Way, is the self proclaimed UFO headquarters. It sits on the north shore of Long Lake, providing a clear view of Dundee Mountain’s tree-covered peak to the south. The bar is a kitschy backwoods nightmare, and that’s why it’s amazing. The walls are covered in images of little green men. A model of a UFO hangs behind the counter. A small grey figure with large black eyes floats in a jar of cloudy liquid. It is said to be from Area 51.
30 years since the first gathering was held, the annual UFO Daze event seems more like an excuse to wear goofy aluminum foil hats and drink the spiked green alien punch, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on. Behind the bar Bill keeps a binder of photos documenting unexplained activity in the area, from blurry lights in the sky over Dundee Mountain to the bizarre 1995 occurrence when a large patch of reeds in the lake near Benson’s became flattened and interwoven so thickly that residents could walk on it without falling through into the water.
A crop circle in the lake.
Photos of UFO activity around Dundee Mountain and Long Lake
Last weekend Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch and I set out to uncover the secrets of Dundee’s UFO activity at the 30th annual UFO Daze. We didn’t succeed, exactly, but we did see a few aliens (inflatable ones tied to boats) and some pretty amazing tinfoil hats.
Read about it here: Searching for aliens at the 30th annual UFO Daze