There is something bizarrely unreal about the Century 16 shooting after midnight at The Dark Knight Rises: A Fire Will Rise showing in Aurora, Colorado.
But, first, the legend of Aurora developed from a real news item:
Aurora, Wise Co., Tex., April 17. - (To The News) - About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing around the country.Remember, Aurora means "dawn."
It was traveling due north and much nearer the earth than before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour and gradually settling toward the earth. It sailed directly over the public square, and when it reached the north part of town collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill, and went into pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden.
The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard and, while his remains were badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.
Mr. T.J. Weems, the United States signal service officer at this place, and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that the pilot was a native of the planet Mars.
Papers found on his person - evidently the record of his travels - are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and can not be deciphered.
This ship was too badly wrecked to form any conclusion as to its construction or motive power. It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and it must have weighed several tons.
The town is full of people to-day who are viewing the wreck and gathering specimens of strange metal from the debris. The pilot's funeral will take place at noon to-morrow. S. E. HAYDON
Most of the airship stories of the 1890s are what are called "journalistic hoaxes," so I asked my friend, famed ufologist author Jerry Clark if the Aurora case fit into that category.
A large number of people, including Hayden Hewes of the now defunct International UFO Bureau, Jim Marrs, who had most recently suggested the story was real, and even Walt Andrus, the former International Director of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) at various times journeyed to Aurora in search of the truth. They all reported they found a strange grave marker in the Aurora cemetery, they found strange metal with metal detectors, and they gathered reports from long time Aurora residents who remembered the story, remembered seeing the airship, or remembered parents talking about the crash. There was also discussion of government attempts to suppress the data. To them, that made the story of the crash real.
The problem here is that I beat most of these people to Aurora by several years to conduct my own investigation. I talked to some of those same longtime residents who told me in the early 1970s that nothing had happened. I talked to the historians at the Wise County Historical Society (Aurora is in Wise County) who told me that it hadn’t happened, though they wish it had. I learned that T.J. Weems, the famed Signal Corps officer was, in fact, the local blacksmith. I learned that Judge Proctor didn’t have a windmill, or rather that was what was said then. Now they suggest that he had two windmills. I wandered the grave yard, which isn’t all that large (something just over 800 graves) and found no marker with strange symbols carved on it, though there are those who suggest a crude headstone with a rough airship on it had been there at the time. I found nothing to support the tale and went away believing, based on my own research and interviews, this to be another of the airship hoaxes. ~ Kevin Randle
If you go to Aurora and see this headstone, it's not real....it is a marker at the supposed site of the "spaceman's" grave. The original headstone was "supposedly" stolen, and that's if there was a headstone. ~ Source.
For many years, this community burial ground was known as Masonic Cemetery. Beauchamp, his wife Caroline (1829-1915), and others in their family. An epidemic which struck the village in 1891 added hundreds of graves to the plot. Called "Spotted Fever" by the settlers, the disease is now thought to be a form of meningitis. Located in Aurora Cemetery is the gravestone of the infant Nellie Burris (1891-1893) with its often-quoted epitaph: "As I was so soon done, I don't know why I was begun."The joke is on me, for I did not know I would find myself here. My late maternal grandmother's first name is Nellie, and my late paternal grandmother's maiden name is Burris.
This site is also well-known because of the legend that a spaceship crashed nearby in 1897 and the pilot, killed in the crash, was buried here. Struck by epidemic and crop failure and bypassed by the railroad, the original town of Aurora almost disappeared, but the cemetery remains in use with over 800 graves.
Brawley Oates...purchased Judge Proctor's property around 1945. Oates cleaned out the debris from the well in order to use it as a water source, but later developed an extremely severe case of arthritis, which he claimed to be the result of contaminated water from the wreckage dumped into the well. As a result, Oates sealed up the well with a concrete slab and placed an outbuilding atop the slab. (According to writing on the slab, this was done in 1957.) ~ Source.
* * *"No case ever dies, no matter how many times it is exposed as a hoax." ~ Kevin Randle.
Tim Oates, nephew of Brawley Oates and the now-owner of the property with the sealed well where the UFO wreckage was purportedly buried, allowed the [UFO Hunters] investigators to unseal the well, in order to examine it for possible debris. Water was taken from the well which tested normal except for large amounts of aluminum present; the well had no significant contents. It was stated in the episode that any large pieces of metal had been removed from the well by a past owner of the property. Further, the remains of a windmill base were found near the well site, which refuted [Etta] Pegues' statements (from the 1979 Time magazine article) that Judge Proctor never had a windmill on his property. ~ Source.
But the tale endures. The legend abides. The name game lives on.
Today, you can go to Aurora, Texas, and find the exact site of the old Proctor farm. It is the Oates gas station.
Fast forward to the Aurora shootings in Colorado. The first face of The Dark Knight Rises "massacre" presented by the media to America was that of Aurora Police Chief Daniel Oates.
Also, the well-known Charles B. Pierce played the "Preacher" in Aurora Encounter. Pierce, an independent filmmaker whose inexpensively made documentary-style drama The Legend of Boggy Creek influenced the hit film The Blair Witch Project decades later, died at age 71, on March 5, 2010, in Dover, Tennessee. Pierce was involved with many B-movies, and was the initial concept screenwriter for the 1983 film Sudden Impact, the first "Dirty Harry" film, starring Clint Eastwood.
Sudden Impact, which made $67.6 million in the USA, is best remembered for Harry's catchphrase, "Go ahead, make my day." In 2005, it was voted in a poll by the American Film Institute as the sixth most memorable line in cinema history. United States President Ronald Reagan used the "make my day" line in a March 1985 speech threatening to veto legislation raising taxes. When campaigning for office as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California in 1986, Eastwood used bumper stickers entitled "Go Ahead — Make Me Mayor." ~ Source.