The Mountain Mysteries
The Mountain Mystery of The Paintsville UFO and CSX train incident
You know, my dad was a no-nonsense hard ass. I take a lot of that after him, but it was apparent to me at an early age that he certainly did have an open mind. He had paranormal encounters off and on throughout his life and didn’t discuss them with many people. Like many of us, had his demons he fought, and mostly won. I remember once, I was, 13 or 14 and he and I were setting outside of the first home my parents were able to buy. It was in a rural country setting, in a small place called Sitka. The night was clear, and the summer breeze swept away any cares I may have had, at that age I didn’t have many at all. But I distinctly remember looking up at the stars. The sky was like a black velvet blanket that was there just so we could see all of those stars poring light down on us. For a moment, I had thought it was just for us. I remember looking at dad and asking if he thought there were such a thing as aliens. He looked up and back at me, and said well, if they’re not, it sure does seem like a waste of that space. He also said that it was a bit arrogant for man to think he was it, the only one in the entire universe that had any semblance of intelligence.
On this episode of The Mountain Mysteries, we look into a controversial case, that shook a small town in Eastern Kentucky, at least…those who knew about it, and left them wondering what they had just experienced.
These are The Mountain Mysteries, and this…is episode five. Impact, The Mountain Mystery of The Paintsville UFO and CSX train incident.
Most people fall into three categories, I guess. The “well that’s bull crap ones, the anything is possible ones, and the I BELIEVE ones. Now so I’m clear, I’m not here to influence you in anyway, I respect whatever your opinion is. But whatever it is, you have to admit, all of these sightings, all of the people coming forth, some as reputable as President’s, ok so that may not be the best example, but my point is that a lot of the people that have come forward and made these reports have a lot to lose. Especially when people start dropping words like insane in their sentences.
The ones that make me take notice, are the hard-working everyday people, that just are trying to get done what they need to get done so they can get home, get something to eat, shower and relax, so they can run in the same rat race again the next time they’re told to get to the starting line. These people rarely want attention like that drawn to them. But to quote the great Mick Jagger, you can’t always get what you want.
Our story begins in the early morning hours of January 14th, 2002 just outside of Paintsville Kentucky, yes, the same place that Episode one of The Mountain Mysteries took place in. Only this wasn’t at the Lake, no…it was on the railroad tracks. Coal has always been a vital part of the region’s economy, in addition to keeping costs on electricity lower than that of the national average, it was a way that many in the hills of a place I call home kept food on their table, and a roof over head. It had been and is an honorable way to make a living, albeit a dangerous one for people to earn their money, and they sure as hell earned every dime. There were few ways to get said product to where it needed to go. One was trucks, the size of a tractor trailer with modified beds and driven by people that could seemingly park a forty-foot trailer in a thirty-foot space and still have room for a small table and two chairs. Maybe the most popular way, or at least a viable alternative was by rail. This particular train was coming from Russel Kentucky on its way with its destination being Shelbiana. A small community in Pike county.
Coal had been carried by freight cars up and down the Ohio and Big Sandy rivers since I could recall and long before I’m sure. These engineers on those trains knew they carried a lifeline to people who not only lived in Kentucky, but all those surrounding states as well. A responsibility they took very seriously. But even the best laid plans can go south like the wind. That was a cold morning as most are during the winter months in the city between the lakes, when at 2:47 am exactly, the train approached milepost 42. They called that spot the Wild Kingdom because of all the animals that had been seen there. Then suddenly, lights were seen by the conductor and some of the crew coming from the other way. According to the crew, that usually means another train is coming on the opposing set of tracks, so they turned off their lights as not to blind the other train’s crew.
As they rounded the bend, the crew reported that their trains on board computer began to flash on and off, the speed recorder went haywire, and the train just died. Alarms were sounding and hell was breaking loose, and that…is when they saw it.
A minimum of three objects, that were a metallic silver in color with several search lights focused on the river below, apparently looking for something. The lights were several colors and the crafts hovered around ten to twelve feet above the tracks. Witnessed said there were no windows or openings that they could see. They described the objects as eighteen to twenty feet in length, and around ten feet high.
At this point, both engines on the train were dead as they rounded a corner. The were making some noise, because the trains emergency brakes had kicked in and were moving around thirty miles an hour, with around sixteen thousand trailing tons of coal. It was stated that the first object did not move out of the way in time, and whatever it was, clipped the top of the lead unit of the train then skipped back and took a chunk of the trailing unit and the first two coal cars. It was at this point that the other two objects vanished.
According to the crew, the train finally came to a stop around a mile and a half or two miles after the collision and the power came back on. They then notified their dispatcher, who was in Jacksonville Florida as to what had happened, the dispatcher thought this was a joke. When it was realized that it wasn’t, the dispatcher had the crew check the cars and see if the train could hold the rail and make it to the rail yard in Paintsville. Upon looking at the condition of the train, the crew said it looked as if the cab in the rear of the train had been destroyed and was smoking. The second two cars appeared as though they’d been struck by a huge hammer but appeared to be able to hold the rails. Many people are leery of a few things here, one being turning the lights off completely as to not blind the other crew, and the distance it took them to stop while emergency breaking at thirty miles an hour, even with sixteen thousand tons behind them.
The train limped into the Paintsville rail yard that morning around a quarter past five. There were huge overhead lights that were distinctly darkened, and the only light came from what the crew had thought were officials with the railroad company. They would be wrong in that assumption. As they pulled to a stop and started to unload the grips off the damaged train, they heard what sounded like a legion of workers minding the train. There were car doors slamming and people running by in strange outfits and lights glaring from all directions. There was something missing though, the railroad officials.
January 14, 2002. A CSX crew claims they struck an unidentified flying object as they made their way from Russel to Shelbiana Kentucky. The cab at the rear of the train was all but destroyed and damage was reported on other parts of the train as well. It was 5:15 in the morning when the train limped into the railyard in Paintsville Kentucky. As staff began working to unload the grips, they were approached by a man Ferguson. This man shook the hand of one of the employees who had been on the train and asked him, and the others, to follow. They did and upon entering the old rail office said they were asked hundreds of questions and stated that for their own protection they’d have to undergo medical testing before being allowed to leave. The crew member states he asked multiple times to speak with the road foreman or train master, but all requests were denied. Furthermore, the conductor’s cell phone was confiscated by the mysterious men.
They eventually left the old yard office and strange things continued to happen. The two locomotives and damaged cars were removed from the remainder of the train the crew brought in. They were taken off the property and told that this was a matter of national security and their silence was appreciated. The were driven to Martin Kentucky in neighboring Floyd county and went through more questioning, drug tests, and sent on to Shelbiana where the rested for eight hours before operating another train back o Russel. They passed Paintsville on the way back and there were not a single sign of the engines, cars, tent or people. It was spotless.
What is worth stating is a report from 2010 of a UFO sighting at 11:53 pm on the evening of the 13th of January 2002 in Paintsville. In actuality, only hours before the train incident of the early hours of the 14th.
The report stated that the anonymous witness, a Paintsville firefighter and paramedic was driving home following their shift. They begin their report by stating they “don’t know if train and UFO was a hoax but do know there was something strange in the area that night”.
As the witness was driving, he observed a “big light zig-zag” across the road in front of him. It would then travel over the top of them, nearly at the height of the trees and at the side of the road – roughly 250 feet high. As they were watching this bizarre incident unfold, two more lights emerged. One on either side of the car, even though it was a little higher than the first. They moved extremely fast, moving out of the west and to the east and the town of Paintsville.
Furthermore, as this went on, the witness’s car began to act odd. The witness said in the report the vehicle “didn’t quit but acted very strange”. The lights would flash constantly and the gauges “went crazy”. The witness claimed they would make a report to the police. Unfortunately, they wished to remain completely anonymous and wouldn’t provide contact details even to NUFORC.
If the report is genuine, then it almost certainly shares a connection to the train incident several hours later. And given that this second report is very minimal, it would seem as if it was a “hoax report”, especially one to back-up the first would contain more sensationalist details.
Belief appears divided on the validity of the case. Some who claim to be local and “in the know” on instances on the railways of Kentucky claim that the first they have heard of the incident was following the report made by the witness four years later in 2006. It is their belief they would have known if anything strange had taken place.
On the other hand, others who have extensive knowledge of railways and the lingo that is used claim that the language in the report is authentic and much the same as what would be used by those working in such a situation. And not just the terminology but the knowledge of the routes and procedures appears to be genuine.
And, if we accept the report of the mysterious men who “interviewed” them at the station then no news would have leaked out about the incident. It is one that is perhaps a case that still has secrets to uncover. Who the witness, for example, might be in reality, and whether they ever come forward with their name remains to be seen? Maybe they have decided to yield Ferguson’s advice? Maybe the account is nothing more than fantasy? Whatever this case is, hoax or real, it fits the bill for a Mountain Mystery.