Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Oldest Known UFO Photo Refuted

A New Hampshire UFO photo that has intrigued me since the start of my research is the photo that is largely accepted today as the "Oldest known UFO photo." After years of research, and with some luck and helpful clues from others, I have assembled what I feel is unequivocal evidence that the photo is not of a UFO.

The photo first came into the spotlight in March 2002 when an article announcing its purchase appeared in Filer's Files #10 March 6th, 2002. It was purchased on eBay in an online auction for $385.00 by Samuel M. Sherman, president of Independent-International Pictures Corp. In the article, Sherman's photo is described as a stereo view of clouds over Mount Washington, with a long cigar-shaped object clearly visible in the center.

According to the article, Sherman said " this photograph will not be locked up in some collection, but will be submitted to scientists for detailed analysis, and the results made available to the public... the debunkers are already circling around the photo on the internet, even though they have only been able to see poor low resolution computer images and not photographic enlargements of the actual photo." The article also states that Sherman "expects this photo to be very controversial for a long time still to come."

As fascinated as I was by the photo, I wasn't convinced that it was a UFO, so I set out to try and obtain any information I could to hopefully bring better perspective to the photograph. I immediately started scouring the web for any info I could find on Sherman, Independent-International Pictures Corp., and the photo itself. I was unable to find any additional information at the time, and I reached a dead end.

Then in 2008, I tracked down a contact number for Independent-International Pictures Corp. and was able to speak with Mr. Sherman personally. I talked with him about the photo and asked if any analysis had been done, he informed me that no analysis had been done to date.

Over the years I revisited the photo from time to time, checking the web again for any new or additional information. I was hoping that a clue would surface that would help shed more light on whether the object in the photo was actually a UFO.

Finally, in 2008, I found my first new clue about the photo since 2002. I found reference to a 2003 Weirs Times newspaper article unearthed by NH UFO researcher Kathy Brisendine. The article U.F.O.s Over New Hampshire: Many Sightings, Few Answers  identifies the photographers as Amos F. Clough and Howard A. Kimball. The photo was taken by Clough and Kimball in 1871 during a meteorological expedition on Mt. Washington in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The expedition spent the winter of 1870-1871 on the summit making scientific observations, and Clough and Kimball documented the expedition in a series of stereo view photographs.

Now that I had the names of the photographers, I ran a Google search and found that the New York Public Library had a copy of the original, untouched photo in their digital library, along with a number of other photos from the same set. Upon viewing the original photo, it is immediately apparent that the version of the photo circulating on the internet since 2002, is a cropped, low-resolution version of the original photo. The object in the photo is not in the clouds, but on the surface of the mountain itself. In the original photo there is a clear distinction between the surface of the mountain and the sky above the mountain range. The brown object is lying on, or suspended in, the snow on the mountain top.

"Photo # 17 "Frost Architecture Photo Credit NYPL Digital Gallery"

In addition to having a number of photos from the Clough & Kimball collection, there were two other interesting images I found related to the expedition. One was the reverse side of the photo showing an itemized list of the photos taken on the expedition, with brief descriptions of each photo. The photo in question, number 17, is entitled "Frost Architecture." This is the second piece of evidence supporting my research  that the picture is of a frost structure, not clouds. All of the photos taken of the sky and clouds on the expedition are clearly labeled as such on the photo list. Another photo included is a scan of an old news article describing the frost formations at the top of Mt. Washington, which were referred to as "frost feathers". It describes Prof. Hunnington and Clough's examination and documentation of the frost formations on the expedition.

"The Summit Of Mount Washington 1870-1871 Photo List Photo Credit NYPL Digital Gallery"
 "Newspaper Article About The Frost Formations The Frost Work Photo Credit NYPL Digital Gallery"

Now armed with the original photo, the photo list, and the article, I dug even deeper and came across a post from a thread on the website Above Top Secret, discussing the alleged Mount Washington UFO photo. Forum user "atc_eh" had also come to a similar conclusion about the photo, and referenced an additional piece of evidence I had yet to discover, a book written about the 1870 expedition.

The book titled Mount Washington In Winter, or The Experiences Of A Scientific Expedition Upon The highest Mountain in New England-1870-71 by Charles Henry Hitchcock, chronicled the long winter that the scientific team and photographers spent on the summit of Mt. Washington. The book contains a chapter devoted to discussing the photography of Clough and Kimball on the expedition, including passages from Kimball's diary describing the process of photographing the mountain. There is no mention of any UFO's being spotted or photographed in this chapter, or the rest of the book. Forum user atc_eh also offered a theory as to what the object in the photo actually is, a wooden ruler used at the time by scientists to measure the depth of the snow, etc.

After examining the original stereo photo, the title card, the book written about the expedition, and the newspaper article about the frost structures on the surface of the mountain, it is clear that the "oldest known UFO" photo is not of a UFO, but of an object on the surface of  Mount Washington. Now that the truth is known, may the actual oldest known UFO photo take its rightful place in UFO history.

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Original photo and photo list:

Article describing frost formations:

Filer's Files #10 "Independent International Picture Corps.Wins Oldest Known UFO Photo"
March 6th 2002

Amsden, Roger. "U.F.Os Over New Hampshire: Many Sightings, Few Answers" Weirs Times and Tourists Gazette March, 3 2005 Vol.14, No.9

The Oldest UFO Photograph Ever Taken, Page 3
reply posted on 26-12-2008 @ 10:03 PM by atc_eh

"Mount Washington In Winter, or The Experiences Of A Scientific Expedition Upon The highest Mountain in New England-1870-71" by Charles Henry Hitchcock Chapter IX Pg.132 -144