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Wisconsin mystery: What's going boom in the night?

Residents of Clintonville, Wisconsin complain of sleepless nights caused by mysterious booms, sounding like thunder. Town officials can't find the source.  


A resident ask questions about mysterious booming noises at a public meeting with city officials at Clintonville High School in Clintonville, Wis., Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (

AP Photo/The Post-Crescent, Ron Page)

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Bemused curiosity turned into worry and aggravation for families in a small Wisconsin town longing for peace and quiet after three nights of mysterious booming noises that have sent some residents into the streets — sometimes still in their pajamas.

The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks, or someone slamming a heavy door. At first, many people were amused. But after a third restless night Tuesday into Wednesday, exasperation was mounting. And some folks are considering leaving town until investigators determine the source of the racket.

"My husband thought it was cool, but I don't think so. This is not a joke," said Jolene Van Beek, who awoke early Sunday to a loud boom that shook her house. "I don't know what it is, but I just want it to stop."

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The booming in Clintonville continued Monday and Tuesday nights and into Wednesday morning, eventually prompting Van Beek to take her three sons to her father's home, 10 minutes away, so they could get some uninterrupted sleep. 

If the number of phone calls to police is any indication, it was a relatively quiet night Wednesday. Police received several calls early Thursday morning, compared to more than 100 overnight Sunday to Monday when the racket began.

About 300 people attended a public meeting Wednesday night in a local high school auditorium to get an update on the situation. City Administrator Lisa Kuss (KOOS) assured residents that officials are doing everything they can to determine the source of the booming. But they still don't know what's behind the mysterious booms. 

There have been no reports of injury, despite some residents saying they could feel the ground roll beneath their feet.

City officials say they have investigated every possible human cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives and inspected a dam next to City Hall. They even tested methane levels at the landfill in case the gas was spontaneously exploding.


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