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WA phenomena featured on Netflix show of the unexplained

Evergreen State no stranger to phenomena

By Karlee Van De Venter, Tri-City Herald
Published: April 13, 2024, 6:03am

KENNEWICK — The latest season of “Files of the Unexplained” has been released on Netflix. The series looks at unexplained phenomena across the country, diving into what’s known about the instance.

One episode featured a particular unexplained instance in Oakville, Washington, referred to as the Oakville blobs.

In 1994, the small town of Oakville experienced precipitation like never before. What looked like it could be a tough rain or maybe hail, residents discovered a gelatinous, translucent substance was falling from the sky.

It has been reported that some people and animals got sick after touching the blobs. There was state investigation into the substance, but nothing conclusive came of the testing.

Thirty years later, there is still no definitive answer as to what the blobs were. There are many theories, some with more credence than others, but with all testing samples gone, it’s likely we’ll never know what fell on Oakville in 1994.

The mystery has been shared by numerous news outlets, TV shows like “Files of the Unexplained,” on social media accounts like the popular YouTube channel Watcher’s “Mystery Files.” Yet still no answers.

Are there other unexplained instances in Washington? How many mysterious phenomena have taken place in the Evergreen State?

Feet found on Salish Sea beaches

There was another occurrence of Washington’s unexplained in the show, about how a large number of disembodied feet, still in sneakers, washed up on beaches around the Salish Sea. Around two dozen have been found in the last 20 years.

Some believe the occurrences are increasing in recent years, though experts speculate that may be a misunderstanding, and there are simply more discoveries since media coverage has grown.

Some of the feet have been identified, some are too decomposed for DNA analysis.

It is said that the sheer volume of people around the Puget Sound leads to a large number of corpses in the waters, for various reasons, as experts told VOX in 2017.

From there, ocean scavengers generally start with the softest parts of the body, often above the ankle, which could lead to detached extremities. When the corpses are wearing sneakers, the most buoyant shoe option, detached feet can be carried by the water to shore due to the flow of water.

Some believe there are more sinister reasons, but it is most likely the specific conditions surrounding the Salish Sea that lead to the greater discovery of feet on the beaches. Of the identified feet, the majority belonged to missing individuals, who are believed to have died either by suicide or accidentally.

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Many Bigfoot sightings

Washington has seen its fair share of claims regarding Bigfoot. The cryptid species has reportedly been spotted across Northwest forests.

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization’s database says Washington has had more sightings than any other state, with over 700. The Washington National Guard even has information on the legend, including the fact that “Sasquatch” is derived from the Salish word “Sasquits.”

Multiple counties have enacted legal protections for the potential species, placing fines and other punishments for anyone who kills a sasquatch.

Some Washington areas are more popular for sightings than others, including the Olympic Peninsula, surrounding Lake Wenatchee, the Oregon Butte area and around Mount Rainier.

The International Bigfoot Conference even has been held in Tri-Cities in the past.

The creature’s image has been used by brands across the state, as a mascot, for marketing or other purposes.

Theories of Prosser’s Gravity Hill

In a rural outskirts of Prosser, there is a place referred to as Gravity Hill.

If you drive up to the bottom of the hill, then put your car in neutral, you are naturally pulled to the top of the hill and down the road.

There are several theories as to why that happens. There are similar occurrences in other states, and even other countries, but no definitive explanation.

The most ominous, and far-fetched, is that ghost children push your car up the hill. Some say that dusting dirt or flour on the back of your car before you start will prove this, claiming small handprints will be visible after the trip.

Other theories include a magnetic reaction in the landscape.

One more popular theory, even being investigated by scientists, is that it’s an optical illusion.

While on ground level, you wouldn’t be able to discern if the hill you’re on is actually part of a larger hill. The theory essentially is that being on a hill within a hill would cause this movement, as you’d naturally follow the flow of the larger hill.

Some believe that this theory has no credence in Prosser, based on elevation testing. At this point, no one knows exactly why Gravity Hill moves cars the way it does.

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve

The Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve showcases another natural phenomena that have stumped scientists for decades. A series of dirt mounds up to seven feet high and 40 feet across, occurring in conjunction, the phenomenon has been described as soil or prairie pimples.

Like Gravity Hill, there are several occurrences like the Mima Mounds across the world, but still no conclusive explanation as to how they occur. The Natural Area Preserve is the best way to see the hills of silt, sand and pebbles, though other sets appear in the area.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources has publications on the possible explanations. Some believe the mounds are a result of seismic activity, others believe it was glacial impact. There is no shortage of theories into the phenomenon, but no concrete explanation.

Does Mel’s Hole exist?

Speculation about the existence of Mel’s Hole has gone on since the late ’90s, when it was first publicly mentioned.

A national show received a call from a “Mel Waters” about a hole on his Kittitas County property, seemingly bottomless. There were claims of the hole’s fantastical powers, including an ability to resurrect animals.

Theories started popping up everywhere, from alien involvement to military disposal, there were many ideas. However, no one has ever been able to credibly confirm the hole exists.

A vague location has been given, but it includes a fairly large area of private property on Manastash Ridge. The Yakima Herald-Republic investigated the claims by looking into county records and found no one by the name of Mel Waters living in the area.

Geologists wrote off the possibility of Mel’s Hole after claims that it was at least 80,000 feet deep. Experts say this is physically impossible.

Regardless, since the first call from Mel Waters, there have been news articles, documentaries, books and many discussions dedicated to the story.

Hotbed for UFO sightings

Bigfoot isn’t the only paranormal sighting the Evergreen State is known for. There’s also a high frequency of UFO — or UAP — sightings in Washington.

In fact, a 2022 Axios study ranked Washington as the state with the most per capita sightings, based on data from the National UFO Reporting Center.

While many people are familiar with the acronym UFO, unidentified flying object, the formal acronym has been established as UAP, unidentified anomalous phenomena, an effort to ease the stigma.

Whatever you call them, sightings of unexplained aircraft are common in Washington.

Perhaps the most popular spot is around Mount Rainier, like the most well-known sighting in Washington. In 1947, private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine shiny UAPs moving at fast speeds.

It was his explanation of the aircraft that led to widespread use of the term “flying saucer.” Due to the nationwide appeal of the story, and the subsequent government investigation, some believe Arnold’s sighting set off the following decades of public fascination with UAPs.

The Evergreen State has been a hotbed for sightings ever since.