What happened to the missing people in the old Gold Rush town in Alaska?


They have nothing common. Except that they are on the same list.

The Alaska Missing Persons List.

There’s Ellen Gilbert, 24. Missing since July 1995. She was driving to a fair with a friend when her car stalled. Ellen’s friend went off to get help. When she returned, Ellen had vanished.

And there’s Michael Palmer, 15. Last seen in June 1999, when he went cycling one afternoon. His bicycle was found in a nearby river, his shoes in a nearby field.

Michael had vanished.

And Richard Hills, 37. Missing since February 2004. He’d left his girlfriend and three kids to pick up his wages from the oilrig he worked on.

But he never arrived. His car was found 15 miles from home, the keys in the ignition, his wallet on the front seat. His footprints led to an isolated spot a mile and a half away. And there, his footsteps ended.

Richard had vanished.

Just some of the names on the long list of folk who seem to have disappeared into thin air in this area of Alaska.

The US state of Alaska covers 1.7 million square miles, making it seven times bigger than the UK. Most of it is wilderness and densely wooded forest. Temperatures can get as low as -40F.

Very few people live in Alaska. Just 650,000 spread across that vast outdoors.

But out there, an average of 5 out of every 1,000 people go missing every year. That’s more than double the rate for the rest of the US.

And many of them go missing from Nome. A remote town with a sub-arctic climate on the shore of the Bering Sea.

Around 3,000 people live there.

But since 1960, at least 24 of those inhabitants – men, women and children – have disappeared. Without a trace.

At first it was assumed the missing had just got lost. And perhaps because they’d wanted to get lost…

With 3,000 rivers, 39 mountain ranges and an estimated 3 million lakes, Alaska is the kind of place where you could go missing and stay missing, with small chance of anyone finding you.

But by 2005, even the FBI were concerned.

In Nome, the missing person rate was higher than what it should be.

People in Nome had started to worry there was a serial killer involved. Maybe more than one.

And so the FBI decided to look into the disappearances.

It found no evidence of a murderer.

Instead, the report concluded the high number of missing people was due to ‘excessive alcohol consumption and a harsh climate’.

Some locals accepted that.

In Alaska, there are many ‘dry’ towns and villages, where the sale of alcohol in bars, restaurants and shops is banned. Nome is different.

Nome is a ‘wet’ town where people can buy alcohol and drink it.

People come to Nome to get drunk.

So had the missing people simply had too much to drink and wondered off into the vast, inhospitable wilderness?

If so, how could the missing children be accounted for? And the fact all of those who’d vanished left no trace, no footprints, no bodies, no clues?

Locals started to think about other explanations…

Nome sits on the edge of a continent, next to a seemingly limitless ocean.

And in that unique and isolated place, there are more sightings of UFOs than practically anywhere else in the whole world.

Some believe the area is some sort of alien command centre, where extraterrestrials organise their activities here on earth.

It sounds far-fetched – or pretty unlikely, to say the least…

But not according to some.

The internet is stuffed with photos of UFOs in the Alaskan skies – not to mention eye-witness accounts and sightings by supposedly credible people.

While scpetics argue there’s a lack of hard evidence, the photos are compelling and hard to ignore.

And, consequently – for many believers – the possibility of alien abduction would seem to be a frightening reality.

It also raises some rather worrying questions…

What do the aliens want with the people they’re abducting? And what do they want here on earth?

Questions to which no one has answers, as the UFO sightings in Nome continue…

The truth is out there…

The mystery of the missing people of Nome, Alaska, has long inspired the film makers.

The X-Files

In an episode called Ice, first broadcast in 1993, Mulder and Scully visit a research station in Alaska where a five-person team has been killed by an unknown life-form.

The Fourth Kind

In 2009, Universal Pictures released The Fourth Kind, a film in which the story of Nome is told through several fictionalised characters. The film suggests authorities are covering up evidence of alien intervention.