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W-File: cc810905.html

Type: Crop Circle
Date: September 5, 1981
Location: Blanchardville, Wisconsin

Source: Albany, WI Herald, September 10, 1981

From UFO to lightning, marks remain a mystery

When Robert Johnson found a small, triangular-shaped patch of dead alfalfa in his field near here on Saturday, he didn't figure it would stir up a debate.

He was wrong, because it did.

The debate centers around the origin of the markings.

Iowa County Sheriff Arnold Fritsch said he believes the marks were caused by lightning striking the ground.

Ronald Johnson (no relation to Robert), director of the Lafayette County Office of Emergency Government, however, disagrees, and argues that it wasn't lightning. His speculation of the cause ranges from the possibility of an unidentified flying object to the freezing of the ground or some kind of chemical spill.

Ronald Johnson has taken samples of the marred grasses and the soil where they were found, and has sent them to be examined by county and state agricultural officials.

"I have seen lightning strikes before and this doesn't at all look like that," he said. "Why would lightning strike the ground there when there was a 65-foot-tall oak tree less than 100 yards away on a hill?"

Johnson said there also were unexplainable marks in the ground at the points forming the 46-inch triangle. "It is real, but strange," he added.

When asked about the UFO speculation, Johnson said, "I've never seen one, so I couldn't say if they would leave those kinds of marks. Nobody reported seeing anything in the area that could have made them such as a UFO."

Robert Johnson, the owner of the land, wouldn't talk about the incident. The longtime Blanchardville-area farmer told authorities that he hesitated at notifying them at all, figuring someone would think it foolish and that they wouldn't believe him. When he finally contacted officials in Madison, he was immediately referred back to his home county, where he got in touch with the Lafayette County emergency government director.

Mrs. Johnson said there had been a number of lightning strikes in the area in recent weeks, and tended to lean toward that as an answer to the mysterious ground markings.

"Lightning has put out a number of my appliances and caused a number of electrical problems, Mrs. Johnson said. She said no buildings or animals were affected by the thunderbolts.

Agriculture officials say certain fungus diseases caused by wet weather such as experienced in the past few weeks may have caused the strange markings, but couldn't say for certain without examining a sample of the alfalfa.

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