Timeline of the Hills’ Events on September 19, 1961

The UFO Sighting, The Abduction, and the Immediate


© Kathleen Marden 2023


      In 1961, New Hampshire was known as a different world from its more heavily populated neighbors to the south. It offered splendid views from craggy, granite mountain peaks, shimmering sky blue lakes, tranquil streams, ocean beaches, hiking trails, and succulent north Atlantic seafood. Its dairy farms supplied milk throughout the region, and its numerous poultry farms shipped baby chicks and hatching eggs around the world. In the fall, apple orchards sold pecks of crispy, red Macintosh apples, fresh pressed cider, and old fashion donuts. Small businesses bolstered the economy and skilled workers labored in factories producing much sought after textiles. 

     Portsmouth, New Hampshire was a small port city on the Piscataqua River that led into the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. Betty Hill lived and worked in Portsmouth as a child welfare and adoption specialist for the State Division of Child and Family Services. She was a conscious employee who took her professional position very seriously. 

     Married years earlier, she had raised her first husband’s three children, but as the years passed, she grew tired of her husband’s  boozing and running with fast women. Fed up with a life filled with disappointment,  she divorced him, acquired one of their real estate investments, and returned to college for her Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work. 

     She met Barney Hill in the mid-1950s when he was vacationing in New Hampshire, and when he and his first wife separated, their courtship began. Although they were acutely aware of the consequences of interracial relationships in this less accepting period in America, it did not matter to Betty. She was an outspoken  advocate of civil rights and had many friends of different races and nationalities. Barney was an intelligent, well-read, handsome, gentile man and Betty could not resist the opportunity to spend time with him.

     They married in 1960 but he remained in Philadelphia with his beloved sons until the US Post Office transferred him to Boston in 1961. Barney had driven a mail truck in Philadelphia and enjoyed driving, so it did not seem unreasonable to surprise Betty with a trip to Niagara Falls during her upcoming September vacation. 

     I had visited Niagara Falls weeks earlier and had excitedly shared all the details of my trip with Betty and Barney during their weekly visit to my childhood home. Barney asked Betty if she would like to visit this popular vacation spot and she indicated that she would be delighted to. So, on September 15, Barney requested a few days off from his new job as a distribution clerk at the post office. They pooled their cash, gathered their important documents, and packed food in a picnic cooler, setting off on their journey early on the morning of September 17. 

     September 17, 1961: The Hills have driven to Niagara Falls, NY, and crossed the bridge to the Canadian side. It is the most frequently visited area of the falls because it is lively and spectacular. The Hills had taken in Canadian culture and hospitality and were enjoying themselves immensely. They spent the night here and embarked east toward Toronto in the morning. 

I visited Niagara Falls in July 1961 and showed Betty and Barney my photos. He decided to surprise Betty with a vacation during her vacation in September. In this photograph, I am a thirteen year old school girl standing by Niagara Falls.
This is the beautiful Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

     September 18, 1961: Betty and Barney are enjoying their drive through Ontario, taking in the sights, and sampling a variety of culinary delights, when late in the afternoon their car emits a squealing sound. They are in the Thousand Islands area, so they cross over a bridge into Upstate New York where they find an American service station. It is a great relief when the Hills are informed that the problem can be easily and inexpensively remedied. The malfunction is quickly eradicated with an injection of grease. 

A Restful Night at a Pleasant Motel 112 Miles Southwest of Montreal

     Soon the Hills continued on their way toward Montreal but grew tired and decided to stop for the night approximately one hundred and twenty miles west of the city. Barney pulled up to a friendly looking motel and Betty registered the couple and their pet dachshund Delsey for the night.

     September 19, 1961:  Well rested from the night before, the Hills ate a large breakfast at a restaurant a short walk across the street from the motel. They were anticipating taking in the sights of the big city and experiencing the cultural events that Montreal had to offer, so they departed along a four lane highway on the 112 mile journey toward the city. 

The Hills' Route Through Ontario to Montreal, Quebec

     They had read an advertisement for Sainte Catherine Street, Montreal’s nine mile primary commercial artery across the metropolitan area. It is known for its department stores, specialty shops, restaurants, commercial buildings, and theaters. At the end of an afternoon exploring the sights and dining on French cuisine, the couple had planned on taking in a show at one of the glamorous theaters.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

     But first they must secure lodging. The hotels in downtown Montreal were inaccessible to a couple of a tight budget, and Barney was disappointed at the thought of driving to the bustling city’s outskirts and then turning around and negotiating the confusing route back to Sainte Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, after dark. The city road map was difficult to navigate, and this delayed his journey toward the city’s edge. With a sense of frustration, Barney decided to abandon his plans for and evening of Montreal's nightlife and instead turned onto the highway that led to New Hampshire.

     Barney did not have an affinity for the hustle and bustle of large cities. He preferred the peace, quiet, and natural beauty of lakes, mountains, and country farms. His favorite childhood memories were of the times he spent on his aunt’s and uncle’s farm in Virginia. Likewise, Betty spent her early years in the tranquility of a poultry and dairy farm in Southern New Hampshire. As an adult she resided in the small port city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, only twenty miles from her beloved family. Barney loved Portsmouth but his heart ached for his beloved sons in Philadelphia. He saw them as frequently as possible. 

     In 1961, it was 172 miles along the highway leading from Montreal to Canaan, Vermont. The drive would have taken approximately three and a half hours if they had not stopped. However, they did stop briefly to admire the beautiful tourist town of Magog and again  for a snack at a restaurant in Coaticook. The restaurant was crowded with French speaking people and the Hills had difficulty with the menu. Their order of French fried potatoes (pommes frites)  came as potato chips (croustilles), hardly a substantial meal.  Frustrated, they left the restaurant without placing a second order.

Downtown Coaticook, Quebec
     The couple went through US Customs in Canaan, Vermont, and drove the short trip along Route 102 to Colebrook, NH. Pleased to be back on home territory they filled their gas tank and sought the burning lights of an open restaurant. 

     It was only a 45 minute drive  from Coaticook to Colebrook, but potato chips and a soft drink would hardly satisfy the Hills’ appetites.  It was a little after 9:00 PM but luckily the large red and white building emblazoned with "Howard's Restaurant" was open for business.   

NH Map #1: 1961 NH Map. The Hills' entered New Hampshire near Canaan, Vermont, and drove the short distance to Colebrook where they stopped for a snack and gas. Initially, Betty thought that she spotted the unusual light in the sky near Groveton, but she later determined that she was south of Lancaster. 
Howard's Restaurant, Colebrook, NH.

      They took a seat at the counter at Howard's Restaurant in Colebrook,and were waited on by a Native American woman who had worked there for years. Barney ate a cheeseburger and Betty slowly savored a piece of chocolate cake spread with a sweet layer of chocolaty frosting. Both drank a cup of coffee and enjoyed the quiet ambiance of the restaurant.

     Having ingested their meal, the couple checked the time on their watches against the clock on the wall in Howard’s Restaurant. It was 10:05 PM. They wound their watches and Barney calculated the anticipated arrival time in Portsmouth that would mark the end of their vacation.

     The 185 mile drive averaged at 45 miles per hour would take aboutfour hours, so their anticipated arrival time should have been a little after 2:00 AM barring any unforeseen interruptions. He was able to drive 60 miles per hour on some sections of the highway, whereas the curved mountainousareas required a slower speed. It was a bright, light night, so he moved along at the maximum speed allowed by the law. 

Town of Lancaster, New Hampshire

     Although the Hills’ initial report stated that Betty had observed a strange moving light in the sky near Groveton, when they retraced their route they realized that they were south of Lancaster when Betty’s eyes were drawn to a rapidly moving light that arced upward into the sky. According to Betty’s statements, her initial sighting took place  30 miles south of Colebrook at approximately 10:55 PM.

      They were south of the small town of Twin Mountain when the object began to close in on their vehicle. Barney pulled to the side of the road to walk their dog near the Mount Cleveland Picnic Area a moments drive south of Twin Mountain, and a short 17 miles south of Lancaster at this first observational stop. He and Betty observed the encroaching craft through binoculars but left the area quickly and headed south toward Franconia Notch crossing the Hugh Gallen Bridge at approximately 11:30 PM. They had a clear view of Cannon Mountain and the craft as it passed over a warming hut and restaurant at the top of the popular ski resort. Betty checked the time on her watch to gauge their progress. 

The Hills first observational stop was near the Mount Cleveland Picnic Area, south of Twin Mountain.
The approximate time was 11:30 PM.
Betty and Barney entered Franconia Notch on the old Route 3, four miles south of their first stop, at the Mount Cleveland Picnic Area. This old section of US Route 3 is now closed to through traffic, because Interstate 95 is the main highway. 

     This uncanny craft had so sparked Betty’s insatiable curiosity that she would not be satisfied until she could identify it. Barney was weighing somepossibilities in his own mind as well, because he felt certain that extraterrestrial visitation was impossible. They pulled to the side of the highway for their second observational stop by the Old Man of the Mountains, a short mile south of Cannon Mountain and five miles south of their first stop at Mount Cleveland. It was now 11:35 or 11:40 PM.

     Through binoculars the Hills’ could see that the craft was at least 1 ½ times the length of the Old Man’s 48 foot profile. It was lighted on only one side and this was clearly visible when it rotated. Barney compared its movement to that of a spinning top. It then assumed a vertical position and began to move.

     Profile Lake is located at the base of the Old Man of the Mountain. Barney watched as the craft tilted vertically and descended to a new location above the lake. As he watched in amazement, it bounced back and forth in the sky. Barney said, like a yo-yo  or a ball attached to a wooden paddle with a rubber band. You hit the ball with the paddle and it shoots out in a straight line. Then it returns in a straight line without making a circle. Today’s observers have compared this motion to the back and forth action of a ping pong ball.

     The Hills quickly returned to their car and headed south toward the town of Lincoln and the familiar motels that lined the highway. This was the beginning of the commercial tourist attractions beyond the barren hostility of the wooded, mountainous area. 

     They pulled to the side of the highway for a brief moment six miles south of the Old Man of the Mountain but drove on because the trees blocked their view of the craft. Soon they were at the south end of Franconia Notch by a natural stone landmark known as Indian Head. Barney was relieved to have left the remote mountainous area and to view the familiar motels in Lincoln's tourist section. 

Indian Head Rock Profile 

     As they drove by the Indian Head Resort cabins, Betty saw a man smoking a cigarette behind a screened door. She considered the possibility of stopping for the night, but she could not quell her curiosity. She and Barney drove on as the craft surged ahead of them and descended lower next to the highway.

Photo © The Indian Head Resort in 1961

     Then, as they motored south of the Indian Head area in North Lincoln, almost directly in their path, the couple encountered a huge flattened circular disc with a row of lighted windows along its forward edge. Barney rapidly brought the car to a halt in the middle of the road and grabbed his binoculars for a closer look, opening the car door for a less encumbered view. The silent, hovering object descended to an estimated two hundred feet above their vehicle. He stepped back and the craft moved across the highway and descended lower, perhaps to one hundred feet overhead. 

The Close Encounter Field on US Route 3 a short distancesouth of Indian Head

     Barney left the car motor running and the driver's side door open illuminating the car's interior. He turned and followed the craft into the field while Betty remained seated on the passenger seat. 

     The silent enigmatic craft was huge; maybe sixty to eighty feet in diameter. As he approached it, two red lights at the end of fin-like structures parted from the sides of the craft, and it tilted toward Barney. 

     Lifting his binoculars to his eyes, he spied a group of “strangely non-human” figures moving about with military precision. As the craft tilted downward and began to descend toward him, one of these strange creatures, who remained at the window, communicated a frightening message.  Something began to extend from the bottom of the craft, and this gave Barney had the immediate impression that he was in danger of being plucked from the field “like a bug in a net.” Overcome with fear and with all of the strength that he could muster, he tore the binoculars from his eyes and raced back to the car. Breathless, trembling, and in a near state of hysterics, half laughing, half weeping, he warned Betty that they needed to get out of there or they were going to be captured.

Barney sketched this from memory on the morning of
September 20, 1961.

     As Barney entered the car, he spotted the craft moving in his direction. He accelerated rapidly to escape the craft, but his effort was futile. It shifted directly overhead. Suddenly, rhythmic "buzzing" tones struck the trunk of the Hills’ vehicle and they sensed a penetrating vibration in their bodies. They thought that they had driven on without speaking, until 30 miles down the road, once again they heard a second series of buzzing sounds. This time they did not observe the craft. They continued on their route home arriving hours late.  

1960-1961 NH Map # 2: This 1961 New Hampshire Map depicts the continuation of the Hills' route. They traveled from Colebrook (See first NH map), on US Route 3 and stopped south of the town of Twin Mountain. They continued on US Route 3 through Franconia Notch, stopping at the Old Man of the Mountain. They were forced to stop in the middle of the road by Natureland, slightly south of Indian Head, because the craft swooped down over their 1957 Chevy Bel Air. This is the area of the close encounter field that Barney walked into and observed figures that we "Somehow not human." (NICAP report October 1961.)  Buzzing sounds struck the trunk of their car causing the vehicle to vibrate and a tingling sensation was felt in the Hills' bodied near Clark's Trading Post. (When they arrived home they discovered new shiny spots on their trunk.) The Hill's experienced confusion and partial memory loss at this point, but had memories of crossing a bridge and finding themselves on a dirt road lined by tall trees. They vaguely recalled a roadblock and a fiery orb that seemed to be sitting on the ground.  They began their search for this mystifying location in late 1961 and early 1962. They later discovered that they were on Mill Brook Road, a dead end dirt road off Route 175. 
1960-1961 NH Map #3: This 1960-1961 New Hampshire map shows their close encounter route and observational stops. The red line on the smaller insert indicates the first sighting, the close encounter route, the abduction site, and the moment at which they heard a second series of buzzing sounds that restored them to full awareness. 

     When the Hills arrived home they were were startled to find shiny concentric circles on their car’s trunk. They had not been there the previous day. When a compass was placed over the spots, the needle whirled indicating a magnetic field. But when it was moved to another area of the vehicle, the needle dropped down. Their watches had stopped and never ran again. And the leather strap on their binoculars had been severed.  

     Betty’s favorite blue dress had been in fine condition when she dressed on the morning of September 19. But when she arrived home, there was a 2 inch tear at the top of her zipper. The lining was torn from waist to hemline and the hem was torn down on the same side. Later, she discovered a pink powdery substance on many areas of her dress that had degraded the fabric. It has been analyzed in five scientific laboratories, but no scientist has discovered a prosaic explanation for the mystery.

     The tops of Barney’s best dress shoes were so badly scraped that he had to purchase new shoes. Vegetative matter speckled his pant legs. Later, a concentric circle of growths appeared on his groin.

In the days and months that followed, an aura of mystery surrounded the Hills' shocking events on the night of September 19, 1961. The physical and circumstantial evidence played constantly in their minds as they quietly sought answers to their questions. 

1960-1961 NH Map  #4: This 1961 New Hampshire map indicates the Hills' route to their home in Portsmouth, NH. US Route 3 continued straight onto US Route 3B. They did not take US Route 3 to Meredith and Laconia. They heard a second set of buzzing sounds striking the trunk of their vehicle near Northfield. Interstate Highway 93 was under construction and had been completed as far as Northfield/Tilton. They drove as far south as Concord and headed east on US Highway 4 to their home in Portsmouth. 


Kathleen Marden's Website (articles, transcripts, photos, and sketches) are ©Copyrighted by Kathleen Marden 2023