From Bigfoot in the Cascades, to UFOs over Mount Rainier, to D.B. Cooper parachuting into thin air, Washington State is no stranger to the strange and mysterious. Seattle Southside has plenty of opportunities to explore the weird and unknown. Here are four of our favorite mysterious hotspots in Seattle’s Backyard:
4 Mysterious Hotspots in Seattle's Backyard
- Maury Island UFO Incident
- Robert Morris Earthwork
- Landmark Event Center's Resident Ghost
- The Giant Sloth and DB Cooper Exhibits at Highline Heritage Museum
In June of 1947, weeks before the infamous Roswell incident, Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl had a close encounter off the shores of Des Moines. Allegedly, a group of UFOs rained down a metallic substance on their boat, injuring one and killing Dahl’s beloved dog! In the days following the encounter, a mysterious man in black made contact with Dahl and threatened him not to tell anyone of the incident or “bad things would happen” (“The Maury Island Incident, n.d.). Years later, local filmmakers would recreate the encounter in the 2014 short film The Maury Island Incident. Every year in Burien, the local community gathers to celebrate the otherworldly and watch the short film at the Burien UFO Festival. There is also a mural depicting the incident coming to a soon to be determined location in Des Moines. Stay tuned and keep your eyes on the skies…
Photo by Spike Mafford
In 1979, American artist Robert Morris created a 4-acre earthwork in SeaTac as part of a symposium entitled Earthworks: Art as Land Reclamation sponsored by the King County Arts Commission (Callahan, 2015). Also known as Johnson Pit #30, it’s easy for the earthwork to creep up on an unsuspecting visitor or Seattle Southside local. One minute you’re driving through a neighborhood, then suddenly, you stumble upon this massive public arts project overlooking the Kent valley below. Take some time on a clear day to explore the Earthwork and feel one with the local environment.
When you see the historic Landmark Event Center for the first time, the sprawling complex might just take your breath away. Built by the Freemasons in the 1920s as a retirement center, the building resembles the forever haunted mansion in Stephen King’s Rose Red, so it may not come as a surprise that the building is famously haunted. A rumored former Grand Master of the lodge named George haunts the historic hallways of the Landmark. George is typically seen roaming the halls in a full tuxedo. Although multiple Georges are pictures outside of the Grand Hall, it is unknown which George this ghost might be (Whitaker, 2013). The Landmark Event Center was vacant for years as it was on the market but it has been recently purchased by an area investment group. However, it’s unknown what they plan to do with the facility…or George.
The Highline Heritage Museum in Burien is home to a variety of interesting historical highlights of the Seattle Southside region. From a collection of pre-Colombian stories, to a wall of class photos and sports memorabilia dating back to the turn of the century, to a piece of fuselage from a Pan Am plane, this museum covers it all. Since the surrounding area encompasses Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, it’s no surprise that the history of the airport is heavily represented in the museum’s collection. That includes an exhibit on the mysterious D.B. Cooper who hijacked a plane in 1971 before parachuting over Southwest Washington with $200,000 in ransom money, never to be seen again (Hauser, 2016). Another can’t miss piece (you really can’t miss it) is the fossilized skeleton model of a 9-foot-tall Giant Sloth dug up under Sea-Tac Airport decades ago.
If you're looking to explore the weird and fascinating history of the Pacific Northwest, there's no better place to do it than Seattle Southside! Check out our complete list of things to do to start your adventure.
Callahan, A. (2015, June 6). Robert Morris Earthwork in SeaTac – and Five Other Extraordinary and Endangered Historic Properties in Washington. Retrieved from https://www.4culture.org/robert-morris-earthwork-in-seatac-and-five-other- extraordinary-and-endangered-historic-properties-in-washington/.
CityStream: UFOs, Strange Things & Terror Time. (2019, October 31). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=jogHXAzdRvg.
Hauser, C. (2016, July 13). Where Is D.B. Cooper? F.B.I. Ends 45-Year Hunt. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/14/us/where-is-db-cooper-fbi-ends-45-year-hunt.html.
The Maury Island Incident. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.weirdus.com/states/washington/unexplained_phenomena/maury_island_incident/index.php.
Whitaker, D. (2013, July 26). Haunted historical building for sale in Des Moines. Retrieved from https://komonews.com/archive/haunted-historical-building-for-sale-in-des-moines.