Type: Newspaper article
Publication: New York Times
Date: March 9, 1996

RACHEL, Nev. - This speck of a town is little more than a trailer park, 
a gas station and a diner alongside State Route 375, a 100-mile stretch 
of secondary road through the scrub country of southern Nevada where 
there are often more cows on the blacktop than cars. 

Yet Rachel has become a tourist destination for finders and seekers of 
UFOs, prompting the state to designate the road running by here as the 
Extraterrestrial Highway and to order signs along the thoroughfare. 

``It's kind of a tourist ploy,'' said Scott Magruder, spokesman for the 
Nevada Transportation Department, which gave the highway its new name 
after a similar effort faltered in the Legislature last year. 

Many locals and visitors, however, are not so lighthearted about the 
subject. Seminars on flying saucers have been held here and tours 
frequently take to the rough side roads and barren hills to look for 
strange objects in the sky. 

Their tales range from those who say they have seen flying saucers or 
have psychic contact with aliens to those who do not know what they saw 
but reject conventional explanations. 

The highway skirts a secret military test site called Area 51. Some 
believers in UFOs suspect that the U.S. government is using the site to 
test captured alien spacecraft. But a more prosaic explanation for 
sightings attributed to the extraterrestrial is that they are actually 
flights by aircraft over the nearby Nellis Air Force Base. 

Still, Glenn Campbell was intrigued enough to leave a job as a computer 
programmer in Boston and move to Rachel in January 1993, where he is the 
director of the Area 51 Research Center, which has a staff of one and 
operates out of a trailer surrounded by cattle skulls. 

Campbell, who has written a viewer's guide to the area and sells 
detailed maps of the Area 51 installation, discounts most of the wilder 
tales but believes that advanced aircraft of extra-worldly origin may be 
in the possession of the government. 

He is not happy, however, about the road's new name, fearing that 
tourists will inundate the area, unprepared either for the harsh desert 
or the vigilant security officers who are well known for arresting 
straying sightseers. 

``It pulls down the credibility of the UFO movement,'' he said of the 
designation. ``It trivializes the serious issues here.'' 

But few of the other 100 folks who live here are worried about too many 
visitors. ``Earthlings welcome,'' says a sign at the Little A'Le' Inn, a 
restaurant-motel-gift shop that sells items like Extraterrestrial 
Highway doormats and playing cards. 

Dolls of bald, doe-eyed aliens hang on the walls, along with blurry 
pictures of lights in the sky and the engineering plans for a flying 
saucer. The blueprints are based on a description by Bob Lazar, whose 
assertion that he worked on captured alien spacecraft at Area 51 put 
Rachel on the map in 1989. 

On a recent afternoon, with temperatures around 30 and snow covering the 
mountains that flank the road, several tourists shopped for souvenirs 
while a group of locals bad-mouthed the federal government. 

Taking part in the conversation between rounds of video poker was Chuck 
Clark, who said he had been interested in the subject since he saw 
several UFOs playing cat and mouse with jet fighters in the skies over 
Los Angeles in 1957. 

Clark, an astronomy enthusiast who moved to Rachel after retirement and 
spent months camping in the hills and watching the heavens, pulled out 
some photos taken in the desert. One showed a dot of bright light in the 
night sky, another a shaft of purple light shooting into a mountain. 

He said he did not have a camera on another occasion when he witnessed 
some type of craft going through aerial maneuvers that defied the known 
laws of physics. 

Clark has also written a viewing guide to the area but said he did not 
subscribe to any one theory about UFOs. ``We might all be 
extraterrestrials,'' he said. ``Basically our missing link could be in 
the sands of a Martian desert. I don't claim it's true, but it's a