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Chapel Hill's Top Secret Space Capsule Landing

by Charly Mann

Chapel Hill holds many mysteries and secrets, but the one I witnessed and photographed on August 20th, 1961 is the least well known. On that morning a NASA Space Capsule crash landed just a few miles outside of Chapel Hill, and I am likely the last living person who saw that event. Fortunately I had a Leica M3 35 mm camera with me and took more than a dozen color photographs of the capsule, and I will share many of those pictures for the first time in this article. I will also reveal why I believe this event has been covered up for more than five decades.


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TerriClark      12:34 PM Mon 4/2/2012

My best friend's father was a NC Highway patrolman. I recall him telling me about an amazing event he witnessed outside of Chapel Hill in the early 60s that the government had made him and his fellow officiers promise not to reveal.

Charly Mann      7:49 PM Sun 4/1/2012

Hello Karly - I hope all is going great in your life. I remember you from 4th grade, and even had a crush on you for several months. <br \> <br \>As for amazing things I have experienced; I had at least three more unrelated incredible things happen to me in Chapel Hill in the following three decades, and have been fortunate to have several more miraculous experiences since leaving Chapel Hill and living in Boca Raton, Austin, and currently near Tulsa.

Bill A      2:43 PM Sun 4/1/2012

Fun story, Charly. Now I know why you are reluctant to date your articles. Ranks right up there with the secret Dean Smith interview and national debate championship articles!

Loyd Little      1:12 PM Sun 4/1/2012

Absolutely riveting! <br \>

Karly Weiss      11:00 AM Sun 4/1/2012

This is really incredible Charly! Is this the most amazing thing that has ever happened to you in your life? <br \> <br \>Thanks for sharing this story.

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Bite Sized Facts Link for Useful facts, financial success, universal truths, and great health info

Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.



What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.

-- Charles Kuralt



Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".



Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies


We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.





There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.



The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.





The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.





William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.



The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.



Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.



Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.



The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.



Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.



Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.



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