Feb 03, 2023 I Nick Redfern

The Philadelphia Experiment: Behind the Curtains and Everything Else That Happened

Born just outside of Rockville, Indiana, Morris Jessup was someone who, as a young boy, gravitated, ahem, towards the growing field of astronomy. Such was his passion for the subject, and as time went by, Jessup secured a bachelor of science in 1925 at the age of twenty-five, while working at the Lamont-Hussey Observatory, which was operated by the University of Michigan. Just barely a year later a Master of Science Degree followed for Jessup. Despite all of these impressive achievements, Jessup – somewhat baffling - spent much of his life working as a salesman in parts for cars. That didn’t stop Jessup from digging deeply into his other passions, however. One was the field of archaeology. And, when the era of the Flying Saucer began in 1947, Jessup wasted no time eagerly looking into that issue, too. Of course, the blending of the two issues that Jessup was deeply into – ancient civilizations and UFOs – meant that it was almost inevitable he would become a well-known figure in the UFO scene. Sadly, time was already running out for Jessup. He didn’t know it, though.  To his credit, Jessup was certainly not what one would call an “armchair investigator.” The man hit the road to a degree that Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady - combined - would have been proud of. Jessup, though, unfortunately didn’t have the kinds of looks that made the girls swoon when Kerouac was around. And he didn’t look like Harrison Ford’s leather-jacket-wearing Indiana Jones in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Suits, glasses, ties and jackets were Jessup’s things for the somewhat pudgy man who is still spoken about to this very day.

(U.S. Navy) The U.S. Navy took this photo of the USS Eldridge.

As the U.S. Navy is a part of the U.S. Government, the photo is now in the public domain.

But, none of that stopped Jessup from doing what he really loved in life: hitting the road and seeking for the ancient mysteries of our world. For example, Jessup took road trips to – among others – Honduras, the Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, Peru, Chiapas and Tabasco.  The Great Pyramid of Cholula (also known as Tlachihualtepetl) was one of Jessup’s particular favorites, too. There is also another name for this huge pyramid. It is “made-by-hand mountain.” Zaria Gorvett, writing for the U.K.’s BBC says of Spanish invaders of October 1519, that they “…arrived in their thousands. Hardened by months of war with ferocious natives, near-starvation and exotic diseases, Hernan Cortez and his Spanish army marched into the great city of Cholula expecting a fight. But this was a sacred city. Instead of investing in weapons, its inhabitants built temples; it was said they had a holy pyramid for every day of the year. After such generosity, their gods would surely protect them. This was a grave error indeed. As the army stormed its streets, religious treasures were looted and the precious pyramids went up in smoke. Within three hours they had murdered 3,000 people.” 

A close and clear reading of Jessup’s The Case for the UFO makes it very obvious that, by the time his first book was published in 1955, Jessup had all but constructed a complete theory for what lay behind the building of the world’s ancient, huge structures. In Jessup’s mind, it all just had to be down to levitation-driven technology that, by the 1950s, no longer existed on our world. As Jessup saw it, the ancient, levitation-based technology was lost or was deliberately hidden thousands of years ago. He wasn’t sure which. And it was one of Jessup’s roles to try and solve that riddle. One way or another. Jessup said - while practically giving an unmissable middle-finger to the scientific community - the following: “In many areas we find evidence of stone blocks of unbelievable weight being quarried, more or less casually moved considerable distances, then lifted into place. This common factor connects pre-Inca Peru with Easter Island in a startling and undeniable way, and seems to tie in the Middle East, the Orient, Africa, and maybe Polynesia. Many investigators and thinkers have proposed methods for moving these quarried and dressed blocks. All of the proposals are based on application of such simple present-day engineering equipment as block-and-tackle or sand ramps.”

(Nick Redfern) What really was the full story of the Philadelphia Experiment? We're still asking questions.

In a 1956 lecture for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), Jessup – at the time, promoting his book The Case for the UFO, to a sizeable audience - said: “The great pyramids, consisting of hundreds of thousands of huge stone blocks, are thought by some to have been erected by thousands of slaves toiling up long ramps of sand to bring these gigantic masses from the Nile. Flotation has been considered. No suggestions have been made which really fit all cases, and some of the submissions are so cumbersome and inadequate as to seem ridiculous.” Jessup, speaking to 1950s-era ufologist, Gray Barker – the man who just about kicked off the mystery of the Men in Black, by the way - made a concise statement that he used on several occasions –in lectures, primarily - before his 1959 death took him away: “I have used the word ‘levitation’ as a substitute for power or force. I have suggested that flying saucers used some means of reacting with the gravitational field. In this way they could apply accelerations or lifting forces to all particles of a body, inside and outside, simultaneously, and not through external force applied by pressure, or harness, to the surface only. I believe that this same, or a similar force was used to move stones in very ancient times. I believe the source of this lifting or levitating power was lost suddenly.”

 Had Jessup focused his work solely on the matter of UFOs and ancient mysteries, the likelihood is that his research and his book-writing, would all have continued at a steady, probably even merry, pace. Unfortunately, that is not what happened; far from it. That’s right: the exact opposite took place. Jessup found himself bombarded with letters and late-night phone-calls from people who had read both The Case for the UFO and, also, 1956’s The Expanding Case for the UFO. The latter addressed the matter of ancient levitation, too.  I should stress that I get all kinds of weird calls, Facebook messages, and emails, and at all times of the day and night. But, here’s the important thing about this: I don’t give a shit when some nut-job wakes me up at 3:00 a.m. Yes, I do get such things now and again; it’s part of the job in this alternative, strange business. But, I see it all as a part of the UFO game – and I’m totally fine about playing that strange game. I absolutely embrace the craziness that comes my way and that sometimes hits me on a 24/7 basis. 

On the other hand, though, and specifically for Jessup, such similar developments were nothing but stressful and anxiety-creating. It was a situation for Jessup that led him to uncontrollable paranoia. It got even worse when a certain, strange character - one Carlos Miguel Allende - came banging on Jessup’s front-door. Not quite literally. But, you get what I’m saying. That’s when the story of an invisible warship poked its nose in and Jessup was never really okay again. From Uncle Sam’s warships to ancient levitation? And a man named Allende? Jessup was beginning to wonder what on Earth he had got himself into? He soon found out; none of it was good. Yes, Jessup really didn’t enjoy any of this. It was just another layer of pummeling anxiety for the man who was slowly spiraling into a world of insanity.As for Allende, he was quite a character, to say the very least. Some researchers of this aspect of Jessup’s life have suggested that he, Allende, was a definitive whistleblower. For other investigators, though, Allende was just a crazed fantasist; someone who enjoyed conjuring-up bizarre stories for his very own amusement. Jessup had a very hard time trying to figure out what was real and what was mere fantasy and nothing else. Jessup didn’t stop, however, despite all that stress he simply could not avoid.  

Taking into consideration the fact that there was no Internet in 1955 / 1956, everything that came to the fore had Jessup wondering what the hell he should do and what was going down. Extremely strange letters sent by Allende to Jessup claimed that the U.S. Navy had managed to successfully, and secretly, make a U.S. Navy ship invisible. The story was that the USS Eldridge was the ship made invisible - and that it all went down at the Norfolk, Virginia naval yard in 1943. So we are told, everything went horrifically wrong: some of the crew-members were said to have been rendered invisible – as for the rest of their lives, no less. Others aboard the ship, however, were dying, right before their panicked comrades and friends, on the ship; terrified, and, for some, even embedded into the metal of the Eldridge. As a result, crew-members were hastily, and secretly, “put to sleep.” There was no option when a man was buried in the metal. And the terrible story continued to rumble onward. Jessup was becoming even more worried about what he was getting himself into, particularly so when Allende began to expand on the matter of ancient levitation. Jessup wondered: where was Allende getting all of his material on Antigravity? It certainby wasn’t from Jessup’s own book, The Case for the UFO; that much is sure. Allende seemed to know far more than he, Jessup, did about those strange, floating stones of ancient eras.

As for what became famously known as the “Philadelphia Experiment,” it was supposedly deemed totally disastrous. So the story goes, the U.S. Navy – unsure of the nature of the technology and the science they had recklessly unleashed - quickly shut everything down, fearful for what might happen. For Jessup, all of this – the claims surrounding the terrible experiment at the naval yard and the words of Allende – might have eventually gone away. And, Jessup, perhaps, could have finally taken some deep breaths and get some relaxation. Too bad. That didn’t happen. There was a specific reason for that: in 1956, Jessup became a “person of interest” to the U.S. Navy. That’s something no-one needs to be labelled. For Jessup, the words “Deep” and “Shit” very likely swirled around his mind. Panic-attacks and over the hill anxiety was taking even more toll on Jessup.

The interest that the world of officialdom developed in Morris K. Jessup all began when the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research – that was based in D.C. – received in the mail a copy of nothing less than Jessup’s The Case for the UFO. Although, Jessup knew nothing about all that. The book had been posted to the Navy in an anonymous fashion. Whoever mailed the book clearly didn’t want the Navy to know who they were. The initial reading of the book went to one Major Darrell Ritter. He could quickly see this was no normal copy of Jessup’s book, however. Someone – presumably, the person who mailed it to the Navy – had filled it with bizarre scribblings and notes in various colors. And, making it clear that he or she knew all about (a) the disaster at the naval yard back in 1943; and (b) ancient levitation. Very intriguingly, the Navy didn’t toss the book out the window. Or the whole story. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Navy would soon be consulting Jessup to a significant level. 

Behind the scenes, it quickly became clear to the Navy that someone needed to make a deeper investigation of this curious book, of the person who had scrawled all of those near-endless words in The Case for the UFO, and of Jessup himself. In light of all that, Major Ritter handed wasted no time and he handed over the book, and the entire operation, no less, to a Commander George Hoover and a Captain Sidney Sherby. Notably, they were both in the employ of what was titled the “Special Projects Office.” That involved the development of fringe-like technology. Meanwhile, at home, Jessup – having been exposed to what seemed to be top secret Navy experiments – began to worry that one or more agencies of the U.S. government might be following him. Or, that his phone was wiretapped. Maybe, both. Whatever, Jessup had reasons to fret. It turned out that Jessup’s worries got even bigger

The time, the mid-1950s, was also when the Men in Black began to surface in Ufology: Gray Barker’s lengthy 1956 book on the M.I.B. – They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers – was published just one year after Jessup’s The Case for the UFO was to hit the shelves It’s no surprise, then, that Jessup had significant worries about the possibility of the dark-suited / fedora-wearing ones knocking on his door, late one night. In a near-prophetic, eerie fashion, that’s almost what happened. There wasn’t a loud banging on Jessup’s front-door. There was, however, a totally out-of-the-blue phone call from the U.S. Navy: would Jessup agree to fly out to Washington, D.C., at the cost of the Navy, and discuss the matter of Jessup, Carlos Allende and his book? They wanted to chat with Jessup for two days, no less. And, in the process, all would be explained to Jessup. At least, he hoped things would be cleared up. Jessup accepted the invite, even though he wasn’t sure that he should have or not. Nevertheless, Jessup was soon soaring through the air and wondering what would soon be waiting for him at the other end.

(Nick Redfern) Men in Black were in the story.

The first thing for Jessup, after landing, was a free dinner – courtesy of the U.S. Navy – in D.C. with Hoover and Sherby. Jessup was relieved there was no good-cop / bad-cop situation. That’s actually what Jessup had been anticipating. It wasn’t like that, though: Jessup said later on that, surprisingly, everything went down very well. Nevertheless, Jessup couldn’t shake off the fact that there was more to all of this. Indeed, there was "more to all of this." But, even now we only have portions of the story. It's about time someone went right to the back and have everything start again. That way, we just might get the answers about anti-gravity, invisibility, military deaths and more.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!