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Monday, February 19, 2018

Southern California Vol. 12: George Adamski and the UFO Commune

Growing up on the east coast, I heard the joke about California all the time.  You know the one. 

California is full of fruits and nuts.

Well, there’s a little bit of truth to that.  The fact is that in California’s storied history, there are more than a few famous residents that leaned toward the oddball side of things.  Remember backwhen we discussed Zzyzx Road?  Springer was definitely one.   Another example is the hippie movement that made San Francisco famous in the 1960’s.  Then you’ve got the Jonestown cult that started out in Los Angeles before moving down to Guyana.  Those are just a handful of examples.

One that many people don’t know about is the commune started by George Adamski down near San Diego.  It’s definitely one that stands apart from many others because it was founded on a belief in the guiding hand of space aliens.  To get the full story though, you have to go back to the late 1940’s.  Adamski, a WWI veteran, had moved to Pasadena, California and began handing out business cards touting himself as a public speaker and teacher.  He announced himself as the founder of “Universal Progressive Christianity”, a member of the “Royal Order of Tibet” and of the “Monastery at Laguna Beach”.  His goal was (obviously) to found a religion.  The basis of that religion centered around a science fiction book he’d written called Pioneers of Space: A Trip to the Moon, Mars, and Venus.

Things didn’t work out for him though.  He ended up moving to a campground called Palomar Gardens just north of San Diego.  The owner of the campground was Alice Wells who had ghostwritten Adamski’s science fiction book for him.  While on the campground, Adamski had a stroke of luck (or planned a stroke of luck depending on what you believe).  One night, he and five other people saw a UFO through Adamski’s telescope.  The craft hovered above the campground and was reported in the local papers.  A few months later, Adamski dropped a bombshell.

He came out with photographs of the UFO’s that he claimed visited the campground.  He also claimed that the UFO’s were drawn to him.  Then on November 20, 1952, Adamski was visited by the UFO’s in front of witnesses and he was approached and held a conversation with a “human being from another world” named Orthon the Venusian.  All of this came out in the form of a book titled Flying Saucers Have Landed.  It was a smash success and catapulted Adamski to fame.

He followed that up with more books and then took to speaking tours where he related his experience firsthand and passed along knowledge he’d gleaned from his visitors.  By this point, he had actual followers and they started a small commune on the Palomar Gardens property.  All of this continued until Adamski died in 1965.  At that point, the campground was sold and changed hands quite a few times.  It’s now called the Oak Knoll Campground and it sits on Hwy 76 by the Palomar Mountain turnoff.  It’s close to the Palomar Mountain Observatory.

Even after Adamski’s death though, Palomar has been a center for UFO activity over the years.  Most recently there were two sightings in 2016.   First in March there were six objects spotted flying over nearby Valley Center by a retired Air Force Major and his wife.  Then in November, witnesses reported seeing a “green orb” in the sky being chased by Marine helicopters.  There are plenty more going back for years before that.

If you want to see the place for yourself, you can visit anytime and if you decide to head there, take the time to visit the Valley Center History Museum.  There you’ll find a permanent exhibit about Adamski and his UFO commune.

So yeah, fruits and nuts… fruits and nuts. 


Lisanne Harrington said...

Being a native Californian, I of course have heard of George Adamski. I didn't know he wanted to found a religion, but it doesn't surprise me. Never been to Palomar but then again, I'm not much of a UFOlogist.

And about those fruits and nuts...Did you hear about the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg last December that people thought was a UFO about to land? *facepalm*

Yeah, fruits and nuts...

Cary said...

I saw that and LOVED all the people (many celebrities) who were tweeting about it right away. Hilarious!

I've got another one next week that you may not have heard of. They're a much more colorful bunch than Adamski's group.