The Mysterious Taos Hum - Unsolved Mysteries Week

By Mark Falanga

A wave frequency visualized. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There’s a lot of buzz going on in the tiny New Mexico town of Taos. Is it the popular hiking trails? No. Is it the ski resorts? No. Well maybe it’s the general small town charm that Taos offers to all of its visitors? No.

What’s actually got everyone talking is a literal buzzing noise known as the Taos Hum. The Hum is low-pitched, constant sound that resembles a resonating idling diesel engine running from far away. However, it doesn’t affect all people, only some. To see if you’re one of the people who can hear the hum, click here, and go down to the bottom of the page to listen to recordings of it.

It’s a mystery as to how long the hum has been a part of the Taos area but reports of it seemed to rise in the ‘90s.  Residents were bothered so much by the noise that they pleaded with Congress in 1993 to send researchers out to their town to discover the source of the sound. Congress abided and funded a group of 12 researchers to locate the source of the mysterious Hum. However, after their study, the findings were mixed.  In their study, published as “Taos Hum Investigation: Informal Report,” they interviewed ten sufferers of The Hum and found no conclusive evidence as to why they were hearing the sound. The best answer they came up with was that people there were just unusually sensitive to microwave radiation.

This led some people to believe that if the government couldn’t find the cause of the noise, then they were the cause of this phenomenon. Many conspiracy theorists believe the government program called HAARP, which stands for High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, is to blame for the Taos Hum.

The program aims to study the ionosphere of the Earth, and then learn how to enhance its radio and surveillance capabilities. To try and explain this as simply as possible, the ionosphere is partly responsible for how far radio signals can be transmitted. Sometimes, signals can bounce off of the ionosphere and transmit hundreds, even thousands of miles away. (I tried this experiment in my home this past week. On the AM band at night, I was able to receive signals from my home in eastern Pennsylvania from as far away as Knoxville, Tennessee and Toronto, Canada.)

Conspiracy theorists believe that these high frequency transmissions are harmful to humans, and cause The Hum in New Mexico. What adds more credence to this belief is that the project was started in 1993, the same year the report was commissioned on the Taos Hum. Although it doesn’t answer why it only centers on this tiny New Mexico town, the coincidences are certainly present.

But how do locals, who live in Taos feel about this issue? I decided to find out and spoke to Joanie Griffin, the President and Owner of Griffin and Associates, who was hired by the town of Taos to be their official spokeswoman.

“We get many people curious about The Hum, and people would love to know more about it,” says Griffin. She went on to explain that so many people have inquired about it, that there’s information in the town visitor centers that discuss the best places to hear The Hum.

However, the question remains as to what The Hum means to the local population. “There are two ways to look at it, myth and fact,” says Griffin, “The myth is that if you’re lucky enough to hear The Hum, it has mystical healing powers and good things will happen to you. However, a study was done by the University of New Mexico, and they [found that the] source of the sound could be from wind blowing through the mountains that border Taos, but it wasn’t conclusive.”

However, one fact is constant in both of the stories, “The best time to hear it is at sunset, nobody knows why that is,” Griffin says.

But what if you’re one of the unlucky ones who don’t hear The Hum, will you have a disappointing time in Taos?  “Absolutely not,” says Griffin. “We have art exhibits, hiking trails, fishing and in the winter time, even skiing. The aim of Taos is to give our visitors the feeling that they’ve left the country, even though they haven’t.”

So if you want to seek out an unsolved mystery and have fun while doing it, then checking out what all the buzz around the mysterious Taos Hum is definitely for you.