Was the Rip van Winkle story just an early example of alien abduction?

Re-reading this classic story – as a modern reader – I couldn’t help but notice that some elements are eerily similar to the modern-day accounts of alleged UFO abductees. There are the “little men,” lost time, the thunder-sound (coming from the other side of the mountain).

And the most striking fact for me was that he “returns” years later, where the town has aged but he has not, with the exception of growing his long white beard. Is this not what theoretically happens when beings travel at the velocities approaching the speed of light? Time “slows down” for such travelers; they themselves age at a “normal” rate relative to those they left behind who age much, much faster. Isn’t this just what our old friend Rip observed to be the case?

I submit that the folk he encountered in the Catskills were not, as rumored, the spirits of Henry Hudson’s crew of the Half Moon, but the extraterrestrial crew of a spacecraft which made thunderously loud noise when it was touching down” or “landing” in the remote mountain terrain. The crew, upon being discovered by Rip, are unsure what to do with him, and eventually drug him and take them away on their ship with them, perhaps visiting their home planet or a nearby base. It is eventually decided that this poor creature should be returned and they take him to the exact spot where he was abducted (next to his now rusted and decayed rifle), leaving Rip with the mystery he encounters and that which is told to us by Diedrich Knickerbocker, Washington Irving’s fictional chronicler.

What do you think?


  1. L G Cameron said,

    August 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Do you know the source of the illustration you posted?


  2. Jay said,

    August 12, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I’m sorry, I don’t. I found it via a google image search.


  3. Chris said,

    March 9, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I never knew this story as a child. I just read it and immediately searched “Rip Van Winkle Alien” and came to your post. Very well thought out explanation, I enjoyed it very much and also see it as a way for the author to put the message out there without rocking the so called boat of his time and place.


    • Jay said,

      March 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Thanks for the comment. Yeah, this post has gotten a pretty steady stream of page views over the years which makes me think we are not the only ones to have noticed these similarities.

      Although my post title was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I think the Hudson River Valley of that era was subject to many supernatural-istic events. 🙂


  4. hari said,

    March 21, 2022 at 1:10 pm

    i always felt that there might have been an alien connection to this story
    at least the old German folk tale that it was inspired by seemed creepy and much like an alien story ! maybe the game the aliens were playing was scientific in essence and not a game at all !

    Liked by 1 person

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