If you were a small Canadian town and wanted to boost tourism, why limit yourself to visitors from this planet? That may have been what tourism officials in St. Paul, Alberta, were thinking when they decided to erect the world's first official UFO landing pad back in 1967. Though the quirky landmark has attracted its fair share of eccentrics, it is still awaiting its first interplanetary traveler.
Aside from the saucer-shaped landing pad, which weighs about 130 tons, the site also hosts a tourist center featuring UFO memorabilia, such as photographs of other alleged landing sites, crop circles and cattle mutilations. According to the town's website, the exhibit is "designed to educate."
It might all seem like an inside joke, but the site appears to be serious business. Some of the items on display at the center have been purchased from the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, an organization founded by one of the scientists who worked on the top secret United States Air Force UFO study called Project Blue Book. During the pad's grand opening on June 3, 1967, the town of St. Paul was even declared the Centennial Capital of Canada.
On the backstop of the pad is a map of Canada, consisting of stones provided by each of the country's provinces. The site also contains a time capsule that is scheduled to be re-opened in 2067, on its 100-year anniversary.
A sign beside the landing pad has an uplifting message: "The area under the World's First UFO Landing Pad was designated international by the Town of St. Paul as a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife. That future travel in space will be safe for all intergalactic beings, all visitors from earth or otherwise are welcome to this territory and to the Town of St. Paul."
The message takes an optimistic view of what UFO abductions and cattle mutilations might signify, to be sure. We can only hope the sign won't merely become the first thing torched by the radioactive exhaust of an invading alien battleship.
A toll-free number for people to call and report their own sightings is maintained by the St. Paul center. The hotline is 1-888-See-UFOs. Serious calls are preferred.
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