[Aerial photo of Kekoskee / Mayville crop circle formation facing North.]
On July 23-24, 2003, a private scientific research team documented physical evidence that confirmed Art Rantala’s eyewitness observation that the Mayville/Kekoskee, Wisconsin crop circle formation was not made by hoaxers.
The team consisted of Gary Kahlhamer of Horicon, Wisconsin, Dr. Charles Lietzau and Jeffrey Wilson of Michigan, and Roger Sugden of Indiana. Arriving at the field on July 23, 2002, we discovered and photographed the presence of several anomalies that cannot be duplicated by hoaxers.
Art Rantala, a retired truck driver, on July 4, 2003 at approximately 7:30 AM Central Daylight Time (CDT), was up early making coffee in his workshop and watching a weather front that was moving across the Dodge County, Wisconsin area. His workshop is located a few miles from the town of Mayville and the village of Kekoskee, and situated at the top of a hill overlooking a wheat field across the street (owned by a Mrs. Schraufnagel, and farmed by a third party). Art poured his first cup of coffee at 7:35 AM CDT noticing the time on his coffee maker. A few minutes later (approx. 7:40 AM CDT), as the rain was falling, the wind picked up, and Mr. Rantala noticed that the bark began flying off a hickory nut tree that was about 10 feet outside his open, East-facing workshop window.
View from Mr. Rantala’s workshop of the hickory nut tree with missing bark.
He leaned out the window to take a closer look. Mr. Rantala then noticed that directly across the street, a group of trees “started swinging every which-way.” He said that as he followed the trees blowing around, his gaze naturally followed down to the wheat field where the circles appeared one by one, right in front of him.
View of the circle formation from Mr. Rantala’s workshop window.
The Northern-most circle, farthest away from the road (what we have named Circle #1 in order of appearance), formed first, appearing as a ‘black hole’ in the standing wheat that was created when the circle of wheat was flattened down. Next, the Southern-most circle closest to the road formed (Circle #2), followed by the one in the center (Circle #3). Mr. Rantala said all the circles were flattened in roughly 12 seconds, but no more than 15 seconds. Mr. Rantala’s important eyewitness observation to the crop circles forming may be the first ever recorded in the USA, and is certainly one of only a couple of dozen reported worldwide in the last 50 years. Mr. Rantala reported that there was no apparent means for the wheat to have been swirled and flattened – nothing unusual in the sky, no lights, no unusual sounds, and no unusual odors. Whatever the energetic force was that caused the circles to form, it was beyond the range of visible sight.
Many of the plants inside these circles, though, bear witness to the formative energies in the form of ‘blown node collars’ or expulsion cavities. The joint or node collars were flash heated by so much energy, that their internal moisture turned to steam causing them to explode and rupture like popcorn. We also located plants with blown node collars inside ‘randomly-downed’ patches of flattened wheat that were also found in the field as far away as 500ft from the circle formation.
View of one of the many blown node collars from the flattened stalks of wheat found inside the formation.
Blown node collars have never been found in any hoaxed crop circles, nor in any control samples that have ever been studied. There is no known technology that is able to duplicate this blown node collar effect on thousands of plants in these downed areas of crop fields. However, this effect has been reproduced by putting stems into a microwave oven, and cooking them for a short time. The appearance, then, of these blown node collars is conclusive evidence - in itself - that these circles were not flattened by human-mechanical means.
We also discovered several wheat stems with ‘seed axis deformities.’
View of one of the stalks of wheat found in the formation with a seed axis deformity in the stalk just below the seed head.
These seed axis deformities are affected sections of the stalk just below the seed head, and have been twisted around in a ‘curly-q’ effect. This has been reported in only a few crop circles worldwide, and was first reported in 1999 in a crop circle formation in the UK near Avebury in Wiltshire County. This deformity has also never been found in standing plants or control samples.
We also followed the L-NEAT (Levengood Node Elongation Analysis Test) scientific protocol to determine if there was a statistical difference in the measurement of growth nodes of plants inside the circles as compared to the measured length of growth nodes of control plants taken from outside the circles in the standing wheat. This test positively identified the fact that the growth nodes of plants found inside the circles were statistically larger than the growth nodes of plants measured from outside the circles in the standing wheat. This elongation or enlargement of the growth nodes of these plants cannot be duplicated by any demonstrated hoaxing techniques. This positive result from L-NEAT test, then, independently and conclusively confirms that no human-mechanical means were used in the creation of these crop circles. [For the statistical data, see the Appendix.]
Our team also obtained plant samples and control samples for further analysis. We also understand that plant samples were collected by researchers from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Clare and Madison, and have been forwarded to biophysicist W.C. Levengood of Grass Lake, Michigan, and to Nancy Talbott of the BLT, Inc. Research Team of Cambridge, Massachusetts. We look to them to carry out many of the time consuming studies necessary to document the characteristics of the formative energies, but those laboratory results will take months, and we wanted to conclusively determine the authenticity of the formation while it was still fresh. Bent growth nodes in the past have been used as a determination of the authenticity of crop circle formations, but that methodology does not always work. Both phototropism and geotropism can cause node bending after crops are flattened, although it has been shown experimentally to take several days for those processes to exhibit a noticeable growth node bending effect.
Because we arrived at the formation almost three weeks after it formed, we did not use node bending as a criteria for authenticity, nor as it turns out, did we need to.
Soil Anomaly and Sampling
Further, we carried out the collection process for obtaining soil samples and conclusively noted another anomaly. Roger Sugden did a preliminary field test of the soil using a magnet and discovered that the soil showed a high magnetic response.
Soil inside the formation which shows a HIGH MAGNETIC RESPONSE; complete, multilayer coverage of the probe.
Soil outside the formation used as a control showing a low magnetic response; demonstrating incomplete coverage of the magnet.
As we continued the field test, we obtained soil samples on a North-South line across the formation, and we again tested the soil for this magnetic effect. Every sample from inside the circles was found to consist of soil that showed this highly magnetic response. We also applied this test to the control samples we obtained from outside the circles beginning with soil just outside the flattened wheat areas, and continuing to several hundred yards away to the back of the field. Only two of the samples close to the circle formation showed this property of being highly magnetic, while the others taken farther away showed signs of having some magnetic particles but at a much lower proportion. Using the statistical Fisher Exact Probability Test, the soil samples are significant at p = 0.0147. [See Appendix for full statistics.] This in-the-field observational test shows that the soil inside the circles anomalously consisted of more magnetic particles than the control soil outside the circles in the same f
ield. We are planning to further analyze the soil samples in a lab environment.
The crop circle formation is located at approximately 43°31.81m N latitude, and 88°31.59m W longitude. This location was confirmed through using two different Global Positioning System (GPS) units. However, we were unable to conclusively obtain an approximate feet-above-sea-level measurement from within the formation. Our attempt resulted in a constantly changing measurement ranging from –242ft below sea level to over +1142 ft above sea level (the area is approximately +566ft above sea level). This effect on the GPS system was witnessed by the entire team and videotaped. The effect was not noted in GPS control readings taken from outside the formation. Noting the anomaly, we carried out a statistical test from several areas from within Circle #2 and compared them to readings taken with the GPS from outside the circles that conclusively determined the anomalous effect existed.
Considering that our team arrived nearly three weeks after the crop circles formed, we did not expect to find the presence of any residual Electro-Magnetic anomalies. In fact, we did conduct a preliminary Electro-Magnetic field measurement soon after arriving at the location. We took measurements from inside the formation and from outside the formation which showed no elevated measurements of either electric field strength or magnetic field strength. So, due to time constraints, and considering our past experience of not finding high E-M readings more than approximately 10 days after circle formation, we abandoned those tests. It was only later that we noted the GPS anomaly, which remains unexplained, and may not have been caused the presence of high Electro-Magnetic fields, but by some other undetermined cause.
Crop Circle Formation Description and Measurements
Overhead aerial photo of the circle formation.
The Kekoskee / Mayville, Wisconsin formation is interesting in several aspects – although Mr. Rantalla described the formation event as each circle flattening individually one by one, the three circles are related to each other through their design form. Circle #1 and Circle #3 are connected by a pathway that was part of the original formation -creating a classic ‘dumbell’-type (two circles connected by a pathway) shape aligned in a North-South direction. Circle #2 was isolated in the field (and offset from the N-S alignment), but was related to Circle #3 in an interesting way. The obvious feature of Circle #3 is the standing crescent of wheat that has been created through the offset flattening of a circle of wheat. The obvious feature of Circle #2 is the standing circle of wheat which then creates a flattened ‘crescent.’ Although all the circles (including the standing one) when measured prove to be elliptical, when you compare the flattened interior circle’s diameter of Circle #3 with the diameter of
the standing circle of wheat in Circle #2 along their NE/SW, they both measure 22’ in diameter. Circle #2 and Circle #3 are in alignment NE/SW. All the circles when measured along their E/W diameter were 42’exactly.
Pathway – measurements: 18’ long (Flattened from South to North) by 2’2” wide.
We believe that this formation began to be formed with this pathway. We could clearly follow the pathway’s flattened wheat into the lay of Circle #1, where there was a ‘ring’ of flattened wheat that was layered over the top of it swirled counter-clockwise. All of the wheat in Circle #1’s ‘central circle’ was flattened directly to the North, which was at the Northern-most point flattened over the top of the flattened ring.
Circle #1 – measurements: (‘ring’ swirled counter-clockwise, interior ‘circle’ flattened South to North)
N/S – 42’ diameter
NW/SE – 43’ diameter
E/W – 42’ diameter
N/S interior ring 6’6”/4’9”
NW/SE int. ring 6’2”/9’
E/W int. ring 8’/6’
N/S Center diameter 30’9”
NW/SE Center dia. 27’10”
E/W Center dia. 28’
Circle #2 – measurements: (flattened areas swirled counter-clockwise)
N/S – 46’2” diameter
NW/SE – 40’6” diameter
E/W – 42’ diameter
N/S standing wheat dia. 17’
NW/SE stand. wh. dia. 22’
E/W standing wh. dia. 17’
N/S ring to stand. 3’8”
NW/SE ring to stand. 3’
E/W ring to standing 8’6”
Circle #3 – measurements: (both exterior ‘ring’ and interior circle swirled counter-clockwise)
N/S – 40’6” diameter
NW/SE – 44’ diameter
E/W – 42’ diameter
N/S interior ring 2’8”/4’9”
NW/SE int. ring 3’1”/3’
E/W int. ring 8’/6’
N/S Center diameter 22’
NW/SE Center dia. 22’
E/W Center dia. 23’
Circle #3’s central point of the swirl was offset from the ‘true’ center by about 3 feet (N radius 11’, S radius 11’, E radius 10’, W radius 13’).
There were also many areas of ‘randomly-downed’ sections of flattened wheat in this same field where there exhibited the weaving and swirls associated with crop circle formation, but without any geometric design to these areas.
Crop Circle Location Geology and Context
The second day of our investigation began with the team splitting up to gather additional context information. Roger Sugden rented a plane and hired a pilot to take several aerial photos of the formation. Dr. Chuck Lietzau and Gary Kahlhamer went back to the formation site to examine more plants and take additional samples. I (Jeffrey Wilson) went to investigate several nearby Indian mound formations and gather information about the area from the local chamber of commerce in nearby Horicon, Wisconsin. The local area, we learned is very unique, and may have had a contributing role to play in why the crop circle formation appeared in the location it did. Dodge County, Wisconsin happens to have one of the largest concentrations of existing Indian burial and effigy mounds in the United States. In relation to the crop circle formation, there are more than 500 Indian mounds within a 15-mile radius. Nearly all exist on private property, and most remain unmarked, unsurveyed, and unidentified. The closest g
rouping of Indian mounds to the crop circles is one of these unidentified groupings. We noted four geometrically aligned mounds approximately 1 mile from the formation that point in close alignment to the crop circles.
The closest communities to the crop circles of Mayville, Kekoskee, and Horicon all lie along the southern edge of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve and the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. Combined, these two protected parks make up the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the USA – some 36,000 acres. The area is an extinct glacial lake carved out during the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, and had been used by Native Americans since at least that time as a sacred hunting ground. For thousands of years the marsh existed as a haven for wildlife that made it attractive to the Native Americans. In the last two hundred years, though, the marsh has undergone dramatic changes by the white settlers to the region. The marsh at one time was almost completely drained in an attempt to use the land for farming, but the experiment failed. The marsh had also been dammed up to create a 50-mile lake, but owners of the inundated land successfully sued to take down the dam to
recover their property. Over the past few decades reconstruction and conservation efforts have helped the marsh to recover, but overpopulation in the area, industrial pollution, and farm runoff are again posing as threats to the Horicon Marsh.
Also just south of the crop circle formation are two notable geologic formations: Ledge Park in which the Niagara (rock) Escarpment rises up and becomes exposed from under the Great Lakes, and Iron Ridge, a notable concentration of iron ore that was so accessible, it became the site of the first iron mining in the Midwest. Ledge Park is also the site of a series of Indian petroglyphs – at least one of which was conclusively determined to align to the rising of the sun on the solstices.
Directly under the crop circle formation however, and in much of the general area is a vast formation of limestone deposits, which have been continually mined for at least the last 150 years. Crop circles around the world have been noted to occur along aquifers, or water-bearing rock formations, notably limestone and greensand. This appears to be the case with this formation. The eyewitness, Art Rantala, told us of how he had dug into the field in which the formation was found several years ago while participating in a government project. They dug into the ground and exposed limestone just two feet under the soil at the bottom of the hill on which the crop circles formed. At the top of the hill, the limestone was found to be down just 10 feet deep.
Crop circles have also been noted to appear near some sort of body of water: a creek, a pond, a drainage ditch, etc, and with this formation, water also appears to be in close proximity. Not only does the formation occur directly above a limestone aquifer, but directly at the bottom of the hill, West of where the formation appeared is a drainage ditch. East of the formation, just one field away, is the north branch of the Rock River.
Crop Circles have also been known to form in close proximity to power lines, and again this circle site is no exception – less than a hundred yards from the circles runs a power line, and just up the hill, the closest transformer box was less than 100 feet from the workshop where Mr. Rantala watched the crop circles form.
Our research team had at this point in our investigation enough conclusive scientific evidence as well as a body of supporting contextual detail to show that the Mayville/Kekoskee crop circle formation had not been hoaxed by people using mechanical means, and that the evidence uncovered supports the eyewitness testimony given to us by Mr. Rantala.
US Military Visits Crop Circles
Roger Sugden and I arrived at the formation after Roger’s aerial photo flight, meeting Dr. Lietzau and Gary Kahilmer who were already there. We were surprised by the appearance of a military helicopter circling the formation very low to the ground.
View of the military helicopter circling over the crop formation.
The helicopter circled the formation for a few minutes (with our team in excited amazement), at which point it then flew off in the direction of the Horicon Marsh. It looked as if it flew the length of the marsh, and then flew back in our direction, but not as close. It then flew off towards the Southeast where we eventually lost sight of it. In all the crop circle reports in the USA in my database (over 250) I have never seen one that mentioned overflights by US military helicopters, or that the US military might be interested in crop circle reports. Of course, we have seen this repeatedly in the UK, but not in the USA.
After the helicopter left and our team settled down, we returned to gathering additional soil and plant samples from the field. After about 40-45 minutes, I noticed that we were also under surveillance on the ground. Looking up the hill towards Mr. Rantala’s workshop, I noticed a man in a camouflage uniform watching us with binoculars.
Photo of Air Force soldier watching us with binoculars.
After I informed the rest of the team that we were being watched, the uniformed soldier got into his car, drove down the hill towards where we were parked, and slowly passed us noting our license plates. He drove to the end of the block, turned his car around, drove back to where we were standing and parked his car. He got out and walked directly into the formation. Dr. Lietzau was practically jogging after him into the field. We decided on the spot that since we were going to publish our results on the Internet for everyone to share, we were not going to hold back anything from the military.
Photo of US Air Force soldier in crop circle.
As we chatted with this soldier from the US Air Force (who we had now identified by his uniform), he told us that he was part of a Special Crop Circle Investigative Unit in the US Air Force, and that they had been looking into this formation for the past couple of weeks, temporarily based out of a hanger in Milwaukee. He also told us that this unit was originally based out of Scott Air Force base located in Illinois (southeast of St. Louis, Missouri). He further told us that this team had investigated two crop circles that appeared near “Downing, Illinois” last summer (2002), but that he hadn’t participated in that investigation -- but others had. We had not heard of that crop circle report in Illinois, so we are checking to verify that information. As far as we have uncovered, there is a “Downing Park, Illinois” which isn’t too far from Scott A.F.B., but no “Downing, Illinois” (using MapQuest and MS Streets), so Downing Park is what he may have meant. [If anyone has information about this reported fo
rmation please contact this web site and let us know so we can confirm this piece of information.]
I played tour guide, and walked him around the formation -- pointing out the various crop lay anomalies, our ideas on where the formation began to be flattened, and how various parts of it were flattened in which order. We told him of some of our plant anomaly findings, and asked several questions (including a few rather silly ones) most of which he dodged or declined to answer. I offered my contact information to him, which he took, and our team offered to cooperate with his investigative team by providing them with any information we might find (and hoping they might reciprocate). I told him that we had traveled up from Michigan, and that our investigative report would be published on CropCircleNews.com. He said he was familiar with the website, and believed that someone from his team would most likely get in contact with me soon about the formation. He said he knew we were from Michigan (most likely from our license plates), and that their team was familiar with CropCircleNews.com. He stayed in t
he formation about 10-15 minutes, at which point he seemed satisfied, and he returned to his car and immediately got on his cell phone, and left.
One of the questions we asked him has left us with a nagging inconsistency: we asked him if he had been on the helicopter when it had overflown us about 45 minutes before he appeared. He said he had been on board the helicopter, and that besides himself there were two other members of this special crop circle investigative unit, a pilot, and a co-pilot on board. He had also told us that they were operating out of a hanger in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is at least an hour and a half drive from where the crop circles were located. From the time we lost sight of the helicopter to the time he appeared, he couldn’t have flown all the way to Milwaukee, got in a car and driven all the way back to the site. Either he wasn’t on board the helicopter, or the helicopter landed elsewhere closer by for him to drive back to the formation in the allotted time. We don’t know at this point. Of course, we are working to confirm all the details of this soldier’s freely-given information.
Over the next few days we will be in the process of filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for additional information about this possible USAF special investigative crop circle unit, and any crop circle information they may have uncovered. Of course, any information we obtain we will share with the crop circle community.
Our scientific research team would like to thank the people of the communities of Kekoskee, Mayville and Horicon for their incredible hospitality and cooperation in allowing us to conduct our research! We absolutely enjoyed the wonderful time we spent in and around their beautiful communities, and around the amazing Horicon Marsh. Oftentimes, as crop circle investigators, we struggle to conduct our investigations and face ridicule, but in this case the people we met were wonderfully interested, collaborative, cooperative, and supportive of us, and our investigative work. We hope that by sharing this report with them - and the world - about the crop circle formation in their community, we can build a broader understanding of the causative nature of crop circles worldwide.
Jeffrey Wilson, M.S.
Charles Lietzau, Ph.D.
Roger Sugden, Indiana MUFON Assistant State Director
July 28, 2003
All photos are ã 2003 Roger Sugden, Gary Kahlhamer, Charles Lietzau, and Jeffrey Wilson, and may not be reprinted, republished, or reused without permission
Appendix of Statistical Analysis
Reprinted with permission of the authors. Quotes may be excerpted from this article provided full credit is given to the author and this web site.