13. Rachel, Nevada

Information acquired from HowStuffWorks

You might think that living close to a place like Area 51 could make you a little strange. A visit to Rachel, Nevada might just change your suspicion to certainty. The town is populated by less than 100 people, most of whom have a strong sense of independence and more than a touch of eccentricity. According to former Rachel part-time resident Glenn Campbell, Rachel’s documented history began on March 22, 1978 at 5:45 p.m. Not many towns can narrow down their origins so precisely. Campbell points out that on that date, power companies first supplied the Sand Springs Valley with electricity. Before this momentous occasion, only a few hardy farmers and a mining company occupied the valley.

In the 1970s, small numbers of people with a pioneering spirit and desire to live their lives free of interference began to settle the valley. One of those families was the Joneses, who became famous in their small community upon the birth of Rachel Jones, the first child born in the valley. The loose community felt the birth marked an important event in the town’s history, and so they named the town Rachel. The Joneses didn’t stick around much longer, and sadly a few years later Rachel passed away from a respiratory ailment.

The town has a gas station (currently closed, the closest open gas station is 60 miles away), a bar called the Little A’Le’Inn (a collection of mobile homes organized into a motel) and the Rachel Senior Center Thrift Store. The Thrift Store is the subject of a mysterious process where clothing comes from the Tonopah Thrift Shop 100 miles away. Rachel’s store sends unsold clothing to thrift stores in Las Vegas, which in turn send unsold clothes to the Tonopah Thrift Shop. Believers are convinced this cycle will continue until either the Tonopah Thrift Shop or Rachel’s store closes.

Rachel is home to several interesting characters, many of whom have pet theories about Area 51. A few work for the Air Force, though that’s about as much information as you’ll get from them. Pat and Joe Travis run the Little A’Le’Inn and have made a business out of selling t-shirts and videos about government conspiracies and aliens. Still, most of the people in Rachel will tell you they don’t think the UFOs are anything other than flares, UAVs or military aircraft on training missions.

Glenn Campbell established the Area 51 Research Center. He would often go to a lookout spot he named Freedom Ridge where he could legally view the facility from several miles away. Campbell wrote a newsletter called the Desert Rat, keeping people up to date on activities at the base. He campaigned against what he considered to be excessive government secrecy, arguing that the government was creating an environment of mistrust with the public. He also created a Web site that linked to dozens of news stories and timelines about the base. Although he no longer updates the site, it’s still available for you to explore. Campbell has since moved on from his focus on the secret base and no longer lives in Rachel.

The residents of Rachel seem to treat interest in their community with bemused patience. To them, sonic booms in the middle of the night and bright light shows are all normal, every day events. Just about everyone in the valley has had to replace a window cracked by a sonic boom or held a piece of airplane wreckage (Area 51’s history includes several spectacular crashes).

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