Museums are home to a multitude of wonders. There are museums for art, architecture, history, science and technology. You can even find more specialized museums dedicated to the printing press, soft drinks, sports, and even international tragedies. Museums are where we go to remember where we came from, what we as a global people have achieved, and sometimes to catch a glimpse of where we might be heading.
However, if you are like most people, sometimes a trip to the local museum can be a bit... well... boring. I mean, how many times can you look at the bones of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and be full of wonder? After all, didn’t we just see one with all its skin just a year ago in that movie Jurassic World? I know, not quite the same thing, but for a younger child, it might not be all that different. Ah, but believe me, there are still wonders to be found in the museum. New discoveries are still being made every day. This big blue marble we call home hasn’t given up all its secrets just yet.
What if I was to tell you that there are tons of museums spread out across the world, some a little off the beaten path, where you can still find little-known artefacts that are guaranteed to make you take note? Well, rejoice, because I am here to say just that! Below, I have compiled a list of some fascinating artefacts - some seemingly everyday items - that stand as evidence of some unbelievable occurrences; occurrences that might end up terrifying you once you think about them. These aren’t locked away in some research lab or vault; they are all on display and can be readily viewed on your next vacation. So take note and enjoy fifteen ordinary items that are evidence of some extraordinary events.
15 Tjipetir Mystery Blocks
On display in the Wrakkenmuseum, in Terschelling, Netherlands is a curious-looking rubbery block, dark in color, rectangular with rounded corners, about the size of kitchen chopping board. Engraved on the front of the block is the word, “Tjipetir.” For many years, these rubber-like blocks have been washing up on shores along the United Kingdom and Europe. Sometimes they are found with bales of rubber washed up nearby. The word, “Tjipetir,” is the name of a rubber plantation in West Java, Indonesia, from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The blocks are not entirely rubber, but gutta-percha, the gum of a tree indigenous to Malaysia and the Malay Peninsula.
14 Legend Of The Red Ghost
Residing in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum at Fort lee, Virginia, is an interesting bronze collar bell, approximately 3 7/8” across and about 3 ¾” high. The bell displays the image of American eagles with a shield, banner and star bursts. This odd little bell is evidence of a strange experiment conducted by the U.S. Army in the 1850s. The camel is a truly adaptable animal, able to thrive in almost any terrain. The U.S. Army thought they would be perfect for a pack train to move supplies from Texas across to the West Coast. The U.S. Army purchased some from overseas and began to train them for the project. However, the Civil War interrupted the experiment and the camels were released, some sold at auction, some just turned loose. That brings us to the legend of the Red Ghost.
13 Karen Silkwood’s Purse
On November 13, 1974, 28-year-old labor activist Karen Silkwood was killed in an apparent car accident, however mystery has surrounded her death ever since when it was revealed she was about to go public about hazardous conditions at a nuclear plant. Silkwood’s purse, recovered from the scene of her fatal crash, is now displayed at the Museum of the Gulf Coast, in Port Arthur, Texas. Silkwood is remembered as one of the great whistleblowers in modern history; her purse is a reminder. In the early 1970s, Silkwood worked as a technician at Kerr-McGee’s Cimarron Plutonium Plant near Crescent, Oklahoma. Her job included polishing fuel rods filled with radioactive plutonium. She was involved with the union and was tasked with investigating plant safety issues.
12 The Mysterious Plaster Cast
In 1963, Harlan Ford and his friend, Billy Mills were deep in the Honey Island Swamp of Louisiana. They were searching for an old cabin they spotted overhead by plane. When they reached a clearing, what they found has shocked and haunted the area ever since. The duo spotted some type of animal, standing upright. The creature made eye-contact momentarily before rapidly escaping into the underbrush. Later, in 1974, Ford and Mills returned to the area for some duck hunting. They found several dead boars with torn throats. They suspected the creature they had previously sighted was in the area. Around the boards, they found several footprints, four-toed and appearing webbed. Not wanting to encounter the creature again, they left the area quickly but returned later to make a cast of the prints.
11 Jersey Devil Plaster Cast
Displayed in the popular International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine, is a curious artefact: a plaster cast, measuring 20 inches long, 8 inches across, with dark shapes at each end that appear like a large “C.” Some people believe this cast is evidence of dreadful encounters and a fearful legend.
It all began in January 1909, in Trenton, New Jersey. In the early morning hours, a respected city official, E.P. Weeden, is awoken by a loud flapping noise outside his second floor window. He looks outside and sees a curious set of hoof prints on the ledge, similar to those of a horse. But how could a horse leave prints on a roof? Over the next days and weeks, several others report finding the eerie prints, one of which was cast in plaster and now resides at this Portland museum.
Over 1,000 people, from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, begin reporting the hoof prints. Finally, on January 17, 1909, Bristol, Pennsylvania police officer, James Sackville catches sight of what is leaving the prints. Sackville was patrolling the streets when he hears a pack of dogs barking uncontrollably. He looks off into the distance and sees a shadowy figure that then lets of a sharp scream. The figure then leaps up and flies off into the night, allowing Sackville only a brief glimpse of the creature’s appearance.
10 Damascus Missile
The Titan II Launch Complex 374-7 is located in Van Buren County, just north of Damascus, Arkansas. It is the site of the most publicized disaster involving a Titan II nuclear missile. It was September 19, 1980, around 6:30 P.M., routine maintenance was being conducted on a Titan II ICBM missile. A U.S. Air Force repairman dropped a heavy wrench socket, which fell toward the bottom of the missile silo. The socket struck the missile, causing a leak from a pressurized fuel tank.
The missile complex and the surrounding area were immediately evacuated and a team of specialists were called in from Little Rock Air Force Base, the missile's main support station. About 8 hours after the leak began, the leaking fumes ignited and exploded, destroying the silo and killing one airman. Twenty-one other air force personnel were injured. The missile's nuclear warhead was blown clear and was recovered intact. The explosion was so powerful that it blew off the 740-ton silo door of reinforced concrete and steel over 200 feet into the air and hurled the 9-megaton nuclear warhead 600 feet. Safeguards operated correctly and tests revealed that there was no radioactive contamination.
9 A Haunting in Connecticut
You might have seen the 2009 movie. It’s a terrifying story and is based on an ever scarier book. However, did you know they are both loosely based on an actual investigation that took place in Southington, Connecticut, in 1986? The Snedeker family moved from upstate New York to 208 Meriden Avenue in Southington on June 30, 1986. They relocated to be near the University of Connecticut Health Center for their son’s cancer treatments. Strange and horrifying occurrences begin to take place: mop water tuning bloody red, dishes on a set table miraculously disappearing only to be found put away, lights flickering even though the sockets were missing bulbs, ghostly apparitions, and family members being physically assaulted. It seems outrageous and the family wanted answers.
In 1988, they called in paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, along with researcher John Zaffis, to help determine what was happening. They discovered that the family’s new home was once the Hallahan Funeral Home, and the funeral workers were rumored to be necrophiliacs. This is believed to have led to a malevolent presence. The investigators spent nine weeks investigating the former funeral home. Eventually, on September 6, 1988, the Warrens called for and received one of the last formal exorcisms endorsed by the Catholic Church.
8 Palomares Broken Arrow
The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is home to a unique artefact, a nuclear warhead available for viewing by the public. It looks like a simple 10-foot long metal capsule, dented and dinged, but it is the remains of a once deadly hydrogen bomb that was lost over the skies of Spain. It’s called a “Broken Arrow,” a euphemism the U.S. military uses for a lost nuclear weapon. That’s exactly what occurred on January 17, 1966. Due to the Cold War, American B-52 bombers patrolled the skies of Europe around-the-clock, ever-diligent to react quickly to the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack.
At 10:20 A.M., on that fateful day, one such B-52 was flying along the Turkish-Soviet border. In need of refuelling, the bomber moved over the southern coast of Spain. A KC-135 Stratotanker was ready to conduct a mid-air refuelling of the bomber when all of a sudden tragedy struck. The bomber came in too fast and collided with the tanker, triggering a violent explosion. All crewmen aboard the KC-135 were killed, and four of the seven crewmen aboard the bomber were able to eject before their plane broke apart.
7 The Fouke Monster
It’s a simple wire mesh screen, about 5 ½ inches tall, 8 inches long, made of metal and attached to an old piece of wood. It is housed at the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine and it appears innocuous. However, it is evidence of a horrifying encounter with what people call the Fouke Monster. It’s 1964, Fouke, Arkansas, young Mary Beth Searcy is at home doing schoolwork. She feels a chill and goes to close the window when she notices something odd. She looks out into the moonlit front yard and sees a hairy animal on two legs coming towards her. She screams in terror, locks the window and spends the rest of the evening staring at the screen, a small piece of which remains on display at the museum.
6 The Boy Scout’s Atomic Energy Patch
At the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, visitors can see an example of the now-discontinued Atomic Energy merit badge, awarded by the Boy Scouts of America, one of the largest youth organizations in the United States. One young man named David Charles Hahn became the first scout in the history of his troop to earn the badge and in doing so nearly caused a radioactive disaster.
5 “Authentic Alien Artifact”
If you visit the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, you will see something that is truly rare to find: an exhibit labelled “Authentic Alien Artefact.” The exhibit includes vials containing small metallic fragments. These fragments are from the crash of an unknown object that occurred high on Mount Izvestkovaya, in Russia. Known as the “Russian Roswell,” the crash occurred on January 29, 1986, around 7:55 P.M. Witnesses watched as an odd red sphere darted across the sky over the town of Dalnegorsk, jerking wildly before it crashed into the mountain. Witnesses reported the crash site burned bright for an hour.
4 The UFO Car
On August 27, 1979, something extraordinary happened to Val Johnson. Johnson was a deputy sheriff in Marshall County, Minnesota. He was on duty that evening, driving near the North Dakota border. He spotted a brilliant light through his side window. Believing at first it was a low-flying plane, he turned to get a better look. He then noticed the light was now moving towards him, travelling incredible fast. As the light grew closer, he was blinded. He remembers hearing glass breaking but then lost consciousness. When he awoke, his car was stalled and had skidded across the highway. He radioed for assistance and an ambulance was called. Johnson was determined to be in a mild state of shock. His eyes were irritated and they appeared to be suffering from flash burns, known also as “welder’s burns.”
3 Betty Hill’s Dress
Betty and Barney Hill were the very first to ever report that they had been abducted by aliens. In the many years since their report it appears their case is still the most convincing. It was the early hours of September 20, 1961; the Hills were on vacation. They were driving from Niagara Falls to their home in New Hampshire, when they sighted a strange object in the sky. Barney pulled out his binoculars and viewed the object before panicking and driving quickly away. They remembered hearing a beeping sound and then, instantly, they found themselves some 35 miles further down the road, hearing the same beeping sound again. Once home the couple experienced anxiety and nightmares; they wanted to know what occurred during that lost 35-mile trek that they couldn’t recall.
2 The Exorcist Cross
1973’s The Exorcist was a chilling film, based on William Peter Blatty’s book, about a child possessed by a demon who undergoes an exorcism. This supernatural thriller gave many who saw it nightmares. What many might not know is that the story was based on the real exorcism of Roland Doe, a pseudonym assigned by the Catholic Church. Most of the details about Roland’s possession and exorcism come from a journal kept by Father Raymond Bishop. It all began in January 1949; Roland was a 14-year-old teen living in Maryland. The Doe family began hearing strange noises in their home, seeing objects moving by themselves, and finding strange scratches on the walls. They contacted their local parish priest who, after keeping Roland under observation for a night, concluded that an evil entity was present. He recommended the rites of exorcism.
1 The Annabelle Doll
In 1970, a thoughtful mother bought a vintage Raggedy Ann Doll as a present for her daughter, Donna. Donna, and her roommate Angie, began to notice that the doll, normally sitting on Donna’s bed as a decoration, was appearing all over the house. Neither woman moved the doll but it seemed as if it was relocating itself on its own. Then one night, Donna noticed what appeared to be blood on the doll’s hands and chest. The women decided to seek help. They contacted a medium and conducted a seance. It was determined that the doll was home to the playful spirit of Annabelle Higgins, a seven year old who died on the property upon which the apartment building was built. Believing the spirit only wanted companionship, they welcomed Annabelle and the doll into their lives. However, they would soon find out that the spirit was not as benevolent as it claimed.
The spirit began appearing vindictive against the women’s friend, Lou. He would claim the doll would attack him when left alone. Another instance, when alone in a room with the doll, his chest was slashed and left bleeding. They had finally had enough and called a priest who recommended paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens believed the doll was indeed inhabited by a demonic presence. An exorcism was conducted and the apartment cleansed. The Warren’s took the doll with them when they left but were immediately plagued with strange occurrences until Ed doused the doll with holy water. They built a special case for the doll inside their Occult Museum in Monroe, Connecticut, where it resides to this day. Since being placed in the case, the doll no longer appears to move on its own, though a warning has been posted never to unlock the case.
Sources: bbc.com, history.com, harpers.org, huffingtonpost.com, yahoo.com
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