In Episode 244, Jeff Belanger and Ray Auger hike into the woods of the Allagash Wilderness in northern Maine searching for the location of a 1976 UFO sighting and alleged abduction. Four men embarked on a two-week camping trip and found more than they bargained for in the skies over this remote section of Maine. But were they actually taken aboard an alien spacecraft?
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[WALKING IN THE WOODS/NATURE SOUNDS]
RAY: Man oh man, we are far from anywhere right now.
JEFF: That we are, Ray. Northern Maine here in the Allagash Wilderness isn’t too far from the Canadian border. But it IS far from just about anywhere else.
RAY: It’s nothing but trees, lakes, rivers, and wilderness for miles and miles. If we get lost up here, we could be in real trouble.
JEFF: That’s very true. The closest help is many miles away. I think that’s part of what draws people to this area, though. If you want to drop a canoe in the water, and set up a camp, you’ll have no one to bother you. Peace and quiet. No cell service. No hustle and bustle. I can see how it would be a good place to reset yourself.
RAY: And out here… no one can hear you scream…
JEFF: What are you saying, Ray?
RAY: Nothing… nothing. Just pointing out that you could get away with almost ANYTHING this far from the rest of the world.
JEFF: AND this far from other worlds…
RAY: What does THAT mean?
JEFF: We’ve come to the wilderness of northern Maine, to explore the Allagash UFO Incident.
JEFF: I’m Jeff Belanger.
RAY: And I’m Ray Auger, and welcome to Episode 244 of the New England Legends podcast. If you give us about ten minutes, we’ll give you something strange to talk about today. And be sure to keep listening at the end for a new segment we’ve been doing for the last ten or so episodes or so that we call After the Legend. It’s where Jeff and I take a deeper dive into the story, the research behind it, and sometimes we go off the rails and talk about beer and other things.
JEFF: Definitely. We’re so glad you’ve joined us on our mission to chronicle every legend in New England one story at a time. We’re a community, and we can’t do what we do without you. So please subscribe to our podcast wherever you get your podcasts, and share it with your friends. Great things happen when you share these stories.
RAY: We also love it when you reach out to us with your story leads. We hear about most of these strange tales from YOU. Now, before we go looking for UFOs in northern Maine, we want to take just a minute to tell you about our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals!
JEFF: Ray, we’ve been to some strange places and seen some weird things.
RAY: We have.
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JEFF: We’ll take any edge we can get.
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RAY: Okay, Jeff. This region of the Allagash Wilderness in northern Maine is remote, as we said before.
JEFF: It is.
RAY: I guess if I was from an alien world and wanted to slip in an out unnoticed, this may be as good a spot as any on earth to do that.
JEFF: And if a group of guys happen to be camping way up here… well, no one would notice if your alien craft snatched them up, would they?
RAY: No, I guess they wouldn’t.
JEFF: To find out what happened, we’re going to travel back to the summer of 1976, and meet four men who had an experience they’ll never forget.
RAY: It’s August of 1976, and four young men are taking a camping trip up to the Allagash Wilderness. There’s brothers Jack and Jim Weiner, Chuck Rak, and Charlie Foltz. All four attend the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and have been planning this two-week camping trip for a while.
JEFF: It’s good to get away. These guys are creative types. A trip to the woods is just the kind of inspiration they need right now. I mean, the next school year is going to start in a few weeks, so late August is a great time for this kind of trip.
RAY: The first day of the camping trip is mostly uneventful. They paddle their canoes up the Allagash Wilderness Waterway until they find a place to make camp near the river. But the second night the men make camp, something strange happens.
RAY: They’re sitting around the campfire, when Jim notices a strange light in the sky. It’s too bright to be a star, it’s too bright to be the lights from a plane, and it’s not darting across the sky like a meteorite. Then, after maybe 30 seconds… It’s gone.
JEFF: That IS strange, but Jim didn’t think to call anyone else’s attention to the light. Plus, there’s no real concern. Just one of those weird things, I guess.
RAY: It’s two nights later. August 20th, and the four men have made their camp for the evening. The plan is to paddle out in their canoe to do a little night fishing.
JEFF: First, they build a good-sized camp fire…
JEFF: They want the fire to be a beacon back to their camp.
JEFF: Then they set off in their boats and start fishing.
RAY: They’re not out more than 15 minutes when a bright light appears in the sky again. This time Chuck is the first to see it. The light is so bright, almost like a mini sun. It only takes a few seconds before all of the men see it. It’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen in the night sky.
JEFF: Charlie Rak pulls out a flashlight and tries to signal to the light using Morse code.
[CLICK CLICK CLICK OF FLASHLIGHT SWITCH]
JEFF: He’s flashing S-O-S at the bright light. And whatever intelligence is behind the bright light, has taken notice. Suddenly, a beam of light surround the four men and their boat like a spotlight.
RAY: The guys are nervous, so they row their boat to get moving.
RAY: But the light follows them.
JEFF: They’re scared now. They row toward their camp which lies just ahead. It takes only a minute or two to reach the shore, pull their boat onto land, and look back up at the sky. And now the light…. It’s gone.
RAY: Yup. It’s gone. Whatever was up there has vanished.
JEFF: Then they notice their campfire….
RAY: Okay, that IS weird. It’s just a few glowing embers.
JEFF: Exactly. They set a good-sized fire when they pushed off to go fishing. They weren’t gone that long at all—maybe 20 minutes or so. The fire should have burned for hours, but it’s clearly burned down to almost nothing.
RAY: Now everyone is wondering… how long WERE we gone? Was it hours? It couldn’t have been.
JEFF: Everyone is a little uneasy, but there’s not much anyone can do, so they climb into their tents exhausted, and go to sleep.
RAY: When they tell the ranger on duty the following day, the ranger said maybe it was from a searchlight positioned at the grand opening of a hardware store in Millinocket.
JEFF: That doesn’t seem likely. Searchlights are pretty obvious. They just sweep the sky around and around. Plus, Millinocket is about 75 miles away from where they were camped.
RAY: The Ranger shrugs. And the four men spend six more days in the Allagash Wilderness. But they never see any strange lights in the sky for the rest of their trip. When they get home, they tell a few family and friends about the strange light, but no one seems to believe them. Pretty soon, they shrug it off, and move on with their schooling and lives.
JEFF: From here, we’re doing to leap ahead a dozen years to 1988. Brothers Jack and Jim Weiner are experiencing some strange nightmares.
RAY: What kind of nightmares?
JEFF: They find themselves sitting on a bench naked with their old buddies Chuck Rak and Charlie Foltz. They know they’re afraid of something in the dream. Seeing themselves together in the dream takes Jack and Jim back to the memories of their Maine camping trip. Those lights in the sky. Something seems missing.
RAY: Hungry for answers, Jack and Jim seek out UFO researcher Ray Fowler. Fowler listens to their account of what happened back in August of 1976. He’s most intrigued by the story of the campfire seeming to burn out so quickly. Fowler wonders if this is a clue that maybe these four are missing a chunk of time from their memories of that night. Fowler suggests maybe some regression hypnosis may help unlock some lost memories….
RAY: The four men each agree to go under hypnosis and not tell each other what they learn until everyone has gone through the process.
JEFF: Under hypnosis, a series of horrific memories come flooding back. Jack recalls how an alien creature with a terrifying face abducted the men and brought them onto a ship. He described the ship as very clinical, almost like some kind of doctor’s office. He said the alien beings put some kind of panel over his chest and then scraped skin from his body and took fluid samples.
RAY: Under hypnosis, Charlie recalls watching this procedure being conducted on Jack. He remembers seeing that Jack was in pain. That the device was silver and had curves to it.
JEFF: Once all four men had been through hypnosis regressions, Ray Fowler brings them all together to share their stories. They’re startled to learn how they remember the same event.
RAY: Ray Fowler takes all of the stories and notes from the hypnosis sessions, and publishes a book in 1993 called The Allagash Abductions. That leads to the Allagash Four, as they come to be called, making media appearances on programs like The Joan Rivers Show, and the story is even featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. And that brings us back to today.
JEFF: There’s an important follow-up to this story.
RAY: What’s that?
JEFF: Back in 2016, Chuck Rak went on record as saying they made the whole abduction thing up.
RAY: Come on…. This whole thing is a hoax?
JEFF: Well, hold on now. Rak said in an interview in 2016 that he recalls seeing the craft on both nights back in August of 1976, but he said they were never actually abducted. He claims he went along with the abduction story because he was told that they would make a lot of money sharing their story. Maybe millions. But that never materialized. Rak went on to say he recalls the lights changing color from white to red to green in a kind of liquid motion. But that was it.
RAY: So Rak claims they were never taken onboard a ship?
JEFF: Right. Also, it’s worth noting that the other three of the Allagash Four have stuck to their story about the abduction. They’ve had a falling out with Rak over this. Fowler claimed Rak grew bitter over some of the ridicule he encountered, and eventually changed his story. And, it’s worth noting, the four men made very little money from sharing their story.
RAY: Some of the men have spoken at UFO conferences and things like that, and continue to make media appearances related to the case. Skeptics point to what Chuck Rak said and say, “See! None of this is real!” but others think it’s just a case of sour grapes that he never got rich off the story, and could no longer take the ridicule.
JEFF: This UFO encounter is still talked about. People still speculate, and even though there’s now dissent among the four witnesses, those who believe continue to believe, and those who don’t, still call it a made up story.
RAY: That’s the thing with so many legends we cover. They live in gray areas, don’t they? We can’t necessarily prove some of these events happened, but we can’t disprove them either.
JEFF: And THAT brings us to The After the Legend Segment of our Show.
RAY: After the Legend is sponsored by our Patreon Patrons! This legendary group of people keeps us going. They help us with all of the costs associated with bringing you a new episode each and every week. Our production costs, hosting, travel, and marketing costs really add up after the past four years of doing this show. So thank you, patrons!
JEFF: For just $3 bucks per month they get early access to new episodes, plus bonus episodes and content that no one else gets to hear. We’d love to have you more involved. Just head over to patreon.com/newenglandlegends to sign up.
RAY: Okay, Jeff. There’s a lot to unpack here.
RAY: Please be sure to subscribe to our podcast. Post a review, or share this episode right now on your social media. It goes a long way to helping our community grow.
JEFF: We’d like to thank our sponsor, Nuwati Herbals, thank you to our patreon patrons, and our theme music is by John Judd.
RAY: Until next time remember… the bizarre is closer than you think.