Support Us Button Widget

The 1950 UFO photos that thrust a local farming couple into the national spotlight

Decades later, two images taken by Paul Trent at his farm in Dayton still fascinate UFO enthusiasts.

A black-and-white photograph showing the silhouette of the corner of a building, a power pole, distant hills, and a small, saucer-shaped object at a slight angle in the sky.

Paul Trent’s first UFO photo, taken May 11, 1950, from his farm in Yamhill County.

Photo by Paul Trent

One of the great mysteries of the universe is summed up with one question: Are we alone?

Last week, Congress listened to testimonies from high-ranking officials on sightings of UAPs, or “unidentified anomalous phenomena” — the federal government’s term for UFOs (though UAP can also include objects detected underwater). The hearing has once again sparked widespread interest in the age-old question posed above.

And the time is ripe to probe the depths of a local UFO sighting.

It was May 11, 1950. Evelyn Trent was at her farm in Dayton about an hour southwest of Portland when she spotted an object she later described as resembling “a good-sized parachute canopy without the strings, only silver-bright mixed with bronze.” She darted inside and got her husband, Paul, and a camera.

Paul took two black-and-white photos of what he called “a round, shiny, wingless object” before it noiselessly zipped away into the mist. The images would go unseen until Paul finished the roll of film and had them developed. They were published in The McMinnville Telephone Register and The Oregonian that June.

Word traveled fast. National news outlets ran stories on the couple’s claims and a US Air Force investigator visited the farm. Seventeen years after the sighting, military-commissioned research led by nuclear physicist Edward U. Condon concluded that it couldn’t be easily debunked like many others.

A grainy black-and-white image of a disc-shaped object in the air.

A zoomed-in scan of Paul’s second UFO photo.

Photo by Paul Trent

The report, which analyzed the original negatives, stated that “all factors investigated… appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two [credible] witnesses.”

Though Paul and Evelyn died over 20 years ago, their story is here to stay, even inspiring an annual UFO festival in McMinnville. The question is — what else has decided to stay?

More from PDXtoday