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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

JANUARY 21, 1909, CLAYTON, NEW JERSEY, USA, WILLIAM WASSO:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

"Jersey Devil" literature says that during the Jersey Devil reports of 1909, or precisely on January 21, 1909, there was a short period of relief in public concern about the "beast" when Councilman R. L. Campbell of Clayton, New Jersey, told the Devil was dead.

Campbell had heard the report of a track-walker of the electric railway between Clayton and Newfield named William Wasso. It is claimed the latter was going toward Clayton when he spotted the Jersey Devil 300 feet ahead of him, sniffing the third rail, when his long slimy tail touched it. There was a puff of fire and smoke and a violent explosion which melted the tracks for 20 feet in all directions. No remnant of the creature was left so Wasso concluded the Jersey Devil had been "annihilated."

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001465
Date of event: January 21, 1909
Earliest report of event: 1909?
Delay of report: Day, days?
Witness reported via: Not known. Alleged Witness allegedly told local councilman.
First alleged record by: Local councilman R. L. Campbell.
First certain record by: "Jersey Devil" book.
First alleged record type: Local councilman.
First certain record type: "Jersey Devil" book.
This file created on: April 6, 2013
This file last updated on: April 6, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: New Jersey
Type of location: Electric railway tracks.
Lighting conditions: Not reported.
UFO observed: No
UFO arrival observed: N/A
UFO departure observed: N/A
UFO/Entity Relation: None
Witnesses numbers: 1
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adult.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Man, trackwalker on the local electric railroad.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Not reported
Entities height: Not reported
Entities outfit type: Not reported.
Entities outfit color: Not reported.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported. Slimy tail.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None reported.
Entities actions: Sniffed electric train track.
Entities/witness interactions: None.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Possible invention, or confusion, animal.
Explanation certainty: High.

Narratives:

[Ref. mm1:] JAMES MCCLOY AND RAY MILLER:

The authors say that during the Jersey Devil reports of 1909, there was a short period of relief as Councilman R. L. Campbell of Clayton, New Jersey, wrongly said the Devil was dead.

He had heard the report of a track-walker of the electric railway between Clayton and Newfield named William Wasso. Wasso was going toward Clayton when he spotted the Jersey Devil 300 feet ahead of him, sniffing the third rail, when his long slimy tail touched it. There was a puff of fire and smoke and a violent explosion which melted the tracks for 20 feet in all directions. No remnant of the creature was left so Wasso concluded the Jersey Devil had been annihilated.

[Ref. mm2:] JAMES MCCLOY AND RAY MILLER:

The authors say that during the Jersey Devil appearances of 1909, William Wasso, a trackwalker on the electric railroad between Clayton and Newfield, told Clayton Councilman R.L. Campbell that the Jersey Devil had been blasted to death by high voltage when its long, slimy tail came into contact with the third rail.

[Ref. dh1:] "NEW JERSEY DEVILS HUNTERS":

Thurs. 1/21

Clayton, NJ

R. L. Campbell falsely claimed that the creature was dead, after a man told him he had watched the creature walk towards an electric railway. The man said that the creature's tail had hit the rail line, and suddenly there was a power surge and an explosion that melted tracks for twenty feet in both directions. They believed this to be the end of the creature, since no remains were found.

[Ref. ar1:] ALBERT ROSALES:

Albert Rosales indicates that near Clayton, New Jersey, on January 21, 1909, in the afternoon "A man walking along the tracks of the electric railway spotted a creature he thought was the 'Jersey Devil,' just ahead. The creature sniffed the tracks, and then its tail touched the rail. Immediately, the sparks began to fly. After the smoke had dust cleared, 20 feet of track had melted and the creature was gone. The same or similar creature was later seen on the same date just over the border in Pennsylvania. A woman claimed she saw him in her yard. It spit flames form his mouth and left."

Albert Rosales indicates that the source is "Jerry A. Young, Mysterious Monsters".

Points to consider:

Before discussing this particular case, I must make some general remarks about what was called the "Jersey Devil".

In Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, for nearly two centuries at least, some people give reports of encounters with a "creature" whose descriptions suggested that it was some sort of "devil", though in my opinion it was often merely a large bird in migration there, the sandhill crane.

Ufologically, these stories are mostly not considered as related in any way with UFOs or UFO occupants, in my opinion too they should not be part of a catalog of "close encounters of the third kind".

However, some ufologists included such stories in such catalogs, thinking for some reason it does have something to do with the UFO question. Most of the time, they do not include all the Jersey Devil reports, but only a few of them, maybe due to lack of documentation or maybe for some other reason I do not understand.

So I have to include all these stories, because if some source considers, rightly or wrongly, that this a UFO-related, then it is within my scope, not to immediately and arbitrarily disregard their idea, but to evaluate it, and thus to collect the documentation and the comments about it. And therefore, I have to check and document all reported, not just those selected arbitrarily by these ufologists who believed this is UFO material. This is why you cans see I have a file for each Jersey Devil reports, even those that were never included in the ufology literature.

I should note that most stories are fragmentary, often because the sources write about several observations, and what is said about one report is supposed to be implicitly true for the others. I do not do it that way; I publish case files individually and discuss each on its own merits or issues, and offer a specific assessment for each case. But of course, generalities can be said on these reports. As I do not want to disconnect individual reports from these generalities, I make the following notes.

I want to first list the various explanations offered for the "Jersey Devil" - they could apply its late equivalent the West Virginia "Mothman" which was introduced in UFO books the 1960s:

Now let's see this report.

Electric railways of the type involved here use a third rail to get the electric power. It provided DC power likely between 650 and 1000 Volts. This third rail systems present electric shock hazards, higher system voltages (above 1500 Volts) are not considered safe. But in order for someone to be electrocuted by this third rail, contact with ground is needed. Insulators normally keep the power from reaching ground. This is why a bird may step unharmed on the third rail.

The idea here seems to be that the "Jersey Devil" made contact with both the rail and the ground, and conducted power. This could of course hurt or kill a bird; however it would not at all destroy any of the tracks.

This makes it likely that either R. L. Campbell or the alleged William Wasso made the story up entirely. Maybe councilman Campbell invented this as a way to calm people down, as "Jersey Devil" stories had spread a real panic in the area.

Another possibility is that an actual bird was injured but not killed; the lack of remnant would be explained by the bird flying away, rather than by supernatural essence of a real otherworldly devil. The damages to the tracks and the explosion" would have been exaggerations by one of the parties involved in passing on the story.

Let me note a problem with the story. We are told that Wasso was 300 feet from the "Jersey Devil". We are told that his tail was "slimy." I do not think anyone can see such a detail at such a distance. The "slimy" tail sounds like an invented feature to "explain" the conductivity between the third rail and the ground.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Severe April 6, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Primary source not available and not referenced. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe April 6, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No description of entity except "slimy tail". Help needed. Opened.
3 Ufology Severe April 6, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Single witness case. Help needed. Opened.
4 Ufology Severe April 6, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No sign of investigation or checking. Help needed. Opened.
5 Ufology Severe April 6, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Daylight or night? Help needed. Opened.

Evaluation:

Possible invention, or confusion, animal.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross April 6, 2013 Creation, [mm1], [mm2], [dh1], [ar1].
1.0 Patrick Gross April 6, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on April 6, 2013