Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
A landmark happened last week. It was the third anniversary of Dave’s Corner of the Universe. Many of you may know that I have been busy recently with work and kidding season. I didn’t even think of making a mention in DCotU’s face book page. The site has changed a lot during the last three years. But from the beginning I have wanted to tell the story of The Philadelphia Experiment. I had always planned to tell it in three parts. Part 1) the story of the USS Eldridge. 2) Why the story is important to me personally. Pat 3) a more in depth look at the story’s main chachters, Carlos Miguel Allende (Carl M Allen), Morris K. Jessup, and Charles Berlitz.
So finally three years later I am telling the story. To start of let me say,in a world of highly unlikely conspiracy theories, this one is believed by nearly everyone to be a hoax. Now keep in mind that there are some proponents of things like, the queen of England, is really an alien lizard, the US faked the moon landing, and the Shaver Mystery (underground dwarfs abducting people in elevators)despite that, almost no one believes in the Philadelphia experiment.
The story is thus; The USS Eldridge (DE-173) was used in an experiment, devised by Einstein (later version claim it was Tesla), in a top secret project called RAINBOW. To accomplish this the ship was equipped with large electronic generators. According to a witness not only did the navy make the ship invisible, it had some unforeseen consequences. The ship then teleported to the coast of Norfolk Virginia. When the ship teleported back to Philadelphia, one crew member had his hand stuck in a bulkhead, others have molecularly fused into the ship, other personnel would occasionally vanish and come back sometimes with their insides on the outsides. Eventually the crew gets in a bar fight, and the sailors from the Elbridge vanished in full view of the shore patrol and bar patrons. The entire crew, who wasn’t killed outright, was declared insane and institutionalized.
The story originated from a witness calling himself Carlos Allende. He claimed to have been a crewman on the liberty ship SS Andrew Furuseth. He saw the events from his ship, and after the war began to leak the story. Now there are some problems with this story, basically scope. If Allende saw this from the deck of his ship, how did he know about Ernestine’s involvement? How did he know the operation was codenamed Rainbow? How did he know the ship appeared off the cost of Virginia?
This story would have disappeared in to obscurity until a copy of Morris K Jessup’s A Case for UFO’s, is mailed to the Office of Naval Intelligence, it is annotated by the writing of three men code named A,B and C. These men seem to be aliens, having great knowledge not only about The Philadelphia experiment, but many other galactic mysteries. The ONI pulled Jessup in and asked him about it. He tells them that he been getting letters from Allende about the Philadelphia experiment. The government has 500 copies of this annotated copy The Case for the UFO, (Named after the printing office, Vero)
The Vero copy of TCftUFO, has a prolog, which seems to justify the alien origin of the technology used in the Philadelphia experiment. But it was not written by a naval officer, but apparently by a Vero secretary who seemed to have done it as a joke. Tragically though soon after the story breaks, Jessup dies of an apparent suicide right before he claimed to blow the lid of the story. This gives credence to Allende’s story, and conspiracy theorist claim Jessup was killed by the government.
Linguist heir Charles Berlitz, published the story in his book The Bermuda Triangle, This lead to a movie and follow up book solely about the Eldridge. This led to a public hearing about the Philadelphia experiment.
Still the evidence is overwhelming that Philadelphia experiment was a hoax. For one thing despite Berlitz claim that all the crew of The Eldridge went insane or died, there are still crewmembers alive today that served on the ship. To a man they claim that they never were part of experiment nor was the ship ever docked at the port of Philadelphia.
Why did Allende chose this particular ship? One of the pieces of evidence he mailed to up back his story was a news article about the crew of the Eldridge, vanishing during a bar fight. Allende claimed that they vanished as a result of the experiment. Witness of the fight claim that the article is just badly written, that the truth was the crew ‘vanished’ by running through the kitchen and out a back door.
Though not true the story has influenced many science fiction stories. It has also captured the imagination of thousands. It defiantly affect me growing up and I will in the future write about who the story left an impact on me as a child and also more about the fascinating characters in this story, Allende, Jessup and Berlitz.