On a chilly Saturday night in November 1974, three teenage boys lit up a Carbondale silt pond and sparked a UFO legend that still glows 40 years later.
The boys, including Robert Gillette Jr., reported to police on Nov. 9 they saw “a red, whirring ball fly over Salem Mountain and into the mine pond.”
What would become known as the “Carbondale UFO” drew police officers, military, UFO enthusiasts and curious spectators from across the country. . . .
. . . A Scranton Times reporter described seeing licenses plates from 17 states and Canada at the pond. A story published on Nov. 12, 1974, reports that crowds showed up from New York and Connecticut. Every regional newspaper, radio and television station was live from the scene including a three-man news crew from Philadelphia. UFO specialists from New York, New Jersey and Northwestern University in Illinois investigated. A lengthy report by Matthew J. Graeber from the UFO Research Investigation Center in Philadelphia is still on file today at the Carbondale Historical Society.
Police manning the overwhelmed phone lines reported calls from as far away as England. People of all backgrounds and occupations surrounded the pond behind Russell Park, making the light in the water the lesser of then-police chief Francis Dottle’s worries. He was more concerned about the masses on the shore. . . .