Growing up in the US, you are taught about the disappearance of the colony at Roanoke. We we really aren’t taught is that this wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last. From little green men to portals that lead to different times and places, the theories for these mass disappearances in North America run the gamut. And it doesn’t take long to figure out why people’s imaginations run wild when a mass disappearance happens.
- The Anasazi – About the time Hatshepsut was coming to the throne in Ancient Egypt a civilization in North America were carving cities out of cliffs in what is modern day Utah. We actually know very little about the Anasazi, although they are a favorite topic among ancient alien theorists because they believed in gods that came from other solar systems and they disappeared in a flash. Even legends of Native Americans native to the region don’t tell what happened to them. Although, at least one tribal nation believes they were taken by their gods to a different star to live. Interestingly, the name Anasazi means “ancient enemy” and most Native American nations now call them Ancient Puebloans.
- The Lost Viking Raiders – Vessels go missing at sea fairly often, especially in the time of the Vikings. What makes this one interesting is that one ship landed and then the people disappeared. By 1066, the date of the Norman conquest of Britain, the Vikings were sending raiding parties to North America fairly regularly by way of Iceland, Greenland, and then into Canada. Two vessels were sent together, one was delayed by a day for some reason. When it arrived, it found its sister ship and anchored nearby. The launch boats (shore boats) were already on the shore, pulled up and away from the high tide. Later in the day, the second ship sent its crew to shore. The second crew found no signs of the missing raiders. It rejoined its vessel and the two ships drew close together for protection reasons in the bay where they had sent their crews to shore. They waited as long as they could, a period of days and then weeks passed before the two vessels decided they had to make the return trip home. None of the men that had landed earlier were ever seen again.
- Lake Anjikuni Village – In the 1930s a trader in northern Canada entered an Inuit village that sat upon the shore of Lake Anjikuni. The village was a bustling place with over 1,200 villagers living and working in the frigid climate. On that day though, there wasn’t a soul to be found. Food stocks were prepared for the winter. Clothing remained in the huts. Everything was normal except that there were no people. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were eventually contacted and they investigated, but found no trace of the villagers. The RCMP still considers it an unsolved disappearance.
- Gold Rush Goners – When gold was found in the desert region of Arizona, people headed west across the US. It was not a journey for the weak, the terrain was rough, climate unfavorable, and the Natives were hostile (for good reason). Thousands of people though sold everything and set off to make their fortunes. Sometimes they went in small groups of men and sometimes they went in large groups, numbering as many as 100 men. Imagine how unsettling it would be to find one of these large encampments abandoned. Near the border of modern day Northern Texas and New Mexico, a large encampment was found, tents were set up, livestock was still hitched to the wagons, including horses, food, weapons, clothing, all of it still in place, but no people. Most surmised they had been ambushed by Native Americans, but that didn’t explain why the guns and livestock were left untouched. And there should have been blood on at least a few items, but none was ever found. The men were just gone, none ever returned home and no letters from them were ever reported to be received.
- The USS Cyclops – I added this one because the USS Cyclops disappeared with 300 men aboard and none were ever heard from again. It was 1918, the war in Europe was wrapping up when the USS Cyclops left Brazil headed back to the US. It’s last confirmed sighting was off the coast of Barbados. Once the USS Cyclops sailed north of the small island nation it disappeared into the history books. Search crews were sent out, but nothing was recovered, and even modern day treasure hunters that scour the Caribbean have found no trace of the USS Cyclops. At 542 feet long, it is the largest vessel to ever go missing without a trace. After the war ended, the German Navy swore they had never seen the Cyclops on it’s journey from Brazil to the US, which at that point it had no reason to deny seeing, so it probably wasn’t sunk by the Germans. As I said earlier, ships go missing at sea often. The reason the USS Cyclops made the list is because it produced one of the largest searches for a missing vessel in the history of the US. The cargo of the USS Cyclops was worth millions of dollars and still would be because it carried over 5 tons of manganese ore, which is part of the reason it is still a highly sought after ship by treasure hunters.
If I had done the world over, this list would be a whole lot longer and probably start with the disappearance of those that built the Moai of Easter Island. No one knows when the natives of Easter Island disappeared, but it was uninhabited when Europeans finally landed on its shores. An explorer once joked that Easter Island was barren of people and trees (there are no trees on Easter Island and most scientists believe it was deforested to create rolling logs to move the Moai – the stone statues that proliferate Easter Island). I only focused on North American disappearances because I’m more familiar with them.