The Loch Raven Damn Incident

Halloween has always been a time of ghosts and goblins, when children (and some adults) dress up as their favorite characters, venturing into the night in search of good candy or even a trick or two.  For two men, Halloween 1958 would become something more than just fun and games. For shortly before Halloween of that year, they would find that holiday to be a time when that barrier between the real and the unreal becomes the thinnest. Twenty seven year old Philip Small and twenty four year old Alvin Cohen were driving home at about 10:30pm on the night of October 26, 1958. As they approached a bridge on the Loch Raven Reservoir just north of Baltimore, Maryland, they saw an egg-shaped craft floating just above the bridge. The object floated above the bridge at a height of 100 to 150 feet and emitted a luminescent white light.

As the car approached, its electrical system failed and the engine stopped running. Drifting to a stop, the two got out of the car and hid behind it, observing the object closely from their vantage point for some 45 seconds. Heat from the object was clearly felt on their faces and was almost unbearable. Suddenly, the craft burst into a bright light and jetted into the sky, disappearing.

After the object disappeared, they hurriedly got back into the car, which started on the first try, and headed back the way they came to find a telephone to report the incident. Their initial attempts to file a report with the Ground Observer Corps were met with ridicule so they felt forced to report their encounter to the Towson Police Department who sent patrol officers to interview them.

Noticing a sunburn-like appearance on their skin, the officers had the two go to the local hospital for treatment. They were released later that night. The Towson police, not knowing how to handle the report, requested that Andrew Air Force Base investigation the sighting. The Air Force, in turn, gave the case to Project Blue Book for investigation.

Blue Book conducted a thorough investigation.  Meteorological indication had the weather as having cloud cover with a ceiling of 20 miles with no thunderstorms in the area, eliminating the possibility of ball lightening.

The National Investigational Committee for Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) was involved in the investigation and took magnetic readings of the bridge in question. They determined that the top of the bridge had a slight magnetic field which may indicate exposure to a radioactive blast. The Project Blue Book and NICAP files that I could find were incomplete but they seem to indicate that there were several individuals who came forward once Small and Cohen’s story came out that reported seeing similar or the same object from other locales at the same time.  Most of these individuals had not filed a report until after the story went public for fear of ridicule and being called “crazy”.

One of these individuals was also a student of astronomy and was well versed on aerial phenomenon. Others reported hearing the dull explosion that accompanied the object’s accent into the sky but not seeing the object itself.  Two other people who seemed to have seen the same object was Robert Hargraves and John Lomax. Hargraves was a manager of a local restaurant and was driving Lomax, one his employees, home when they both saw what they described as a glowing light hovering over a field. Very quickly, the object “disintegrated”. This event, however, took place the following night at around the same time and in a different part of the Loch Raven Dam area. Was this the same object that Small and Cohen saw? The description is so similar that many have felt this to be the same craft.

Because of the multiple, independent witnesses in this case, the Loch Raven Dam UFO has become an important close observation of a UFO. Project Blue Book and NICAP files have marked this incident as unexplained.



“The Loch Raven Dam Case, 1958”,

The Project Blue Book Files,

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