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Who's making 'mysterious' crop circles near Wilbur, Wash.?

The hotspot for "mysterious" crop circles in the Northwest is Wilbur, an eastern Washington town of about 1,000 humans surrounded by wheat fields.

This summer, you can add to the town’s stats: The best-kept secret – Who makes the crop circles showing up near Wilbur.

With as many as three instances of crop circles showing up in less than six years, all pretty much at the same time of the year and visible from roadways, many suspect the culprits must be locals. A previous set showed up in 2009 and got a lot of attention.

“The consensus from the people I have spoken to is that it is being done locally,” said Lincoln County Undersheriff Kelly Watkins. He added, however, he hasn’t heard who the culprit(s) might be.

“I’m kind of a pessimistic kind of a guy,” said William Grigsby, who has taught high school history in Wilbur for 18 years.

“I just got a feeling somebody around here has got this figured out and figured out a way to do it in the middle of the night and makes everybody crazy. "I’m sure that some people believe that the aliens have chosen our promised land here for their circles, but I think that most people think that somehow, something weird is going on and that these guys are doing this – but gosh, you just really would think that somebody would be talking about (who it is), but they’re not.”

We at KPLU confronted one person we were sure had to be doing it (for reasons that must remain a secret to protect this person’s identity), but that person declared unequivocally, “No. I didn’t do it.”

KHQ-TV in Spokane was first on the scene:

Some background

Crop circles – especially the elaborate ones that began showing up in southern England in the 1980s – have entertained and, despite being (mostly) shown to be human-made, have mystified people the world over.

The most fantastical theories for how crop circles are made involve aliens and the paranormal. One of the best crop circle hoaxes was this video made by a Mr. John Whaley (follow the link for an explanation):

And there have been plenty of words spilled on how humans make crop circles and how you can make one yourself.

“Crop circles appear to be very intricate formations, with many geometric shapes linked in sophisticated patterns. But the basics of crop-circle creation and the tools involved are actually fairly simple,” according to the website How Stuff Works.

Yet, the idea that at least some of these circles are made by something other than Homo sapiens persists.

Some in Wilbur wonder

KPLU talked to 11 residents of Wilbur this past week and none of them had so much as heard a rumor about the identities of the culprits – and that has some wondering if the culprits might really be humans.

Billy burger.JPG
Credit Corey J. Cousins
Corey J. Cousins
Wall of crop-circle fame at the Billy Burger in Wilbur, home of the

“There’s nobody out here smart enough to do that,” said Corey Cousins, whose family owns Billy Burger, home of the “alien burger.” Cousins is among those who wonder if the circles might be caused by supernatural forces.

“Wilbur sits on a natural aquifer, so there is a lot of magnetic energy that is underneath this town. So I don’t know if that is drawing something … I mean, I’m 50/50 on the subject.”

That’s 50 percent it’s human, and 50 percent it’s not.

The history teacher’s wife believes it’s … something.

“I think they are for real,” said Tove Grigsby. “I don’t think that somebody makes them. I think that something else beyond our understanding is what makes them.”


“Because they are perfectly made. There isn’t a trace around them anywhere. There are no footprints … No bent little grass next to them. There’s nothing. When we went to look at them they were absolutely perfect. There was no way into these circles. There wasn’t any trace from anybody who could have made them. I think it’s something supernatural that makes them.”

Good for business

Either way, the mystery of the Wilbur crop circles is good for the local economy.

“It’s a good deal,” said Wilbur’s mayor and local farmer Robert Wyborney. “It brings traffic and people … Roswell doesn’t have all the fame. We have some of it.”

Yeah, we asked, but it can’t be aliens, right? It’s got to be people doing this.

“Well,” the mayor said, “they are pretty crafty, because they are not leaving many tracks … If you were just out there messing around, how would you get the circles perfect, how would you get rid of the tracks? … Now you can walk down a furrow row if you are very careful and not disturb any wheat, but you still got to step on the ground.”

We pressed him: There’s not a group of people sitting at the local Elks Club saying, ‘This year we’re going to put one together’? They plan it out and with a wink and a nod, they put these things in the ground and everybody knows who they are but they don’t say anything?

“No,” Wyborney said. “Nobody knows who they are. If they do, they are pretty mum because I hear lots of things and I don’t know who they are.”

When we asked Tove: You yourself are not part of some conspiracy to have tourists come to Wilbur?

She burst out with a great, full-volume laugh – “No! That’s funny. No!”

Video: It’s aliens!

Video: It’s not aliens!

Junior Communication major at Pacific Lutheran University.