French Connection and Shipwrecked Gold

Don Wildman unlocks the secrets of an infamous drug syndicate at the DEA Museum, inspects a piece of metal from a mysterious plane crash at the Atomic Testing Museum and more.

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Elizabeth Van Lew
Elizabeth Van Lew

Elizabeth Van Lew

Despite being a well-to-do Southerner, Elizabeth Van Lew helped secure an important Civil War victory for the North through her extensive spy ring which she operated from her residence in Richmond, VA. 960 1280

  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

One of the most popular museums in Washington, DC, the International Spy Museum is dedicated to the history of espionage and houses many artifacts from some of the most famous spies. 960 1280

  

International Spy Museum

International Spy Museum

This small piece of paper at the International Spy Museum represents one of the scrolls that was secreted across enemy lines under the careful coordination of Elizabeth Van Lew. 960 1280

  

The Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is one of the world’s largest automotive museums with about 150 vehicles on display. 960 1280

  

The Petersen Automotive Museum

The Petersen Automotive Museum

One of the vehicles on display there is this uniquely designed yellow car model that was once promised to save a nation in the midst of an unprecedented fuel crisis. 960 1280

  

Bakken Museum

Bakken Museum

On the shores of Lake Calhoun, the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis is the world’s only museum dedicated to medical electricity. 960 1280

  

Bakken Museum

Bakken Museum

On display at the Bakken is a wooden and glass musical instrument, invented by one of America’s founding fathers and known as the glass armonica. Not only did it mesmerize people on both sides of the Atlantic, but it also seemed to perform medical miracles no doctor could explain. 960 1280

  

EBR-I Atomic Museum

EBR-I Atomic Museum

A US National Historic Landmark, the EBR-I Atomic Museum in Arco, ID, is housed in a former nuclear facility. 960 1280

  

EBR-I Atomic Museum

EBR-I Atomic Museum

On display there is this oversized panel with red lights, which speaks to one of the worst nuclear accidents in American history. Was it simply an accident or did deeper tensions cause the disaster? 960 1280

  

Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the City of New York

At the Museum of the City of New York sits a small hollow figure of a portly man, a caricature of one of the Big Apple’s most influential -- and crooked -- politicians. 960 1280

  

The American Yacht Club

The American Yacht Club

The American Yacht Club in Rye, NY, contains an extensive collection of model ships. 960 1280

  

The American Yacht Club

The American Yacht Club

This model ship showcases an innovative design that was used by a courageous explorer to battle the elements in his attempt to reach one of Earth’s harshest environments. 960 1280

  

Phil Reinhart, board member of the Superstition Mountain Museum stands next to the Peralta Stones. 960 1280

  

A newspaper detailing the events of the Donora Smog. 960 1280

  

Museum Curator, Gerald Thomas, examines a life vest at the Chicago Maritime Museum. 960 1280

  

Exterior of the Superstition Mountain Museum in Apache Junction, AZ. 960 1280

  

A space rock on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque. 960 1280

  

Historian Ted Karamanski at the Chicago Maritime Museum. 960 1280

  

The oxygen tank on display at the Donora Smog Museum was used to provide oxygen to countless people during the smog. 960 1280

  

Mars ROVER replica on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. 960 1280

  

The exterior of the Donora Smog Museum. 960 1280

  

The ax used during the Smuttynose murders is on display at the Portsmouth Athenaeum. 960 1280

  

The cell of Al Capone in the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum in Philadelphia, PA. 960 1280

  

Capone's haunting expert, Charlie Adams sits for his interview in a forbidden cellblock in Eastern State Penitentiary Museum in Philadelphia, PA. 960 1280

  

The conjoined liver of Chang and Eng Bunker is on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, PA. 960 1280

  

The Georgi Markov Umbrella is on display at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. 960 1280

  

A vampire-killing kit artifact can be viewed at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA. 960 1280

  

The MIT Course Catalogue artifact at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. 960 1280

  

Betty Hill's dress and alien sculpture is displayed at the Milne Special Collections and Archives, UNH Library. 960 1280

  

The death cast of Chang and Eng Bunker can be seen at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, PA. 960 1280

  

Betty Hill's alien paintings at the Milne Special Collections and Archives, UNH Library. 960 1280

  

Various artifacts at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. 960 1280

  

Scale model of Boston at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA. 960 1280

  

Various artifacts at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, PA. 960 1280

  

Photos

Mariners’ Museum

Mariners’ Museum

This device helped sustain one man’s unbelievable fight for survival against the odds. How did this crude device quench a lost adventurer’s thirst? 960 1280

  

Mariners’ Museum

Mariners’ Museum

Documenting nearly 3,000 years of man’s history at sea, the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA, explains how this device sustained amateur sailor, Steve Callahan, through a historic, yet possibly tragic, quest for glory while he drifted aimlessly in the Atlantic. 960 1280

  

Hardin County History Museum

Hardin County History Museum

These glimmering gemstones are linked to a supposed land of riches that hypnotized some of the wealthiest men of their day in the wake of the Gold Rush. 960 1280

  

Hardin County History Museum

Hardin County History Museum

The Hardin County History Museum in Elizabethtown, KY, tells the story behind these false diamonds and the role they played in a glittering tale of discovery, power and greed. 960 1280

  

Kansas State Historical Society

Kansas State Historical Society

This deadly weapon from the Wild West played a central role in a duplicitous plot orchestrated by a very unlikely outlaw. The man who wielded it crossed the line between what is lawful and what is lawless, shocking the citizens of the town he was sworn to protect. 960 1280

  

Kansas State Historical Society

Kansas State Historical Society

Find this pistol at the Kansas State Historical Society, which chronicles the state’s notorious days of the Wild West. 960 1280

  

Ohio Historical Society

Ohio Historical Society

While this object appears to be a simple set of rosary beads, they were once clutched by one of the most notorious criminals in American history at a truly fateful moment. 960 1280

  

Ohio Historical Society

Ohio Historical Society

The rosary can be found at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, which includes a museum along with its archives, library and preservation office. 960 1280

  

Crittenden County Historical Museum

Crittenden County Historical Museum

The Crittenden County Historical Museum in Marion, AR, has on display an unassuming rock-like object that played a role in one of the worst maritime disasters to befall the United States. 960 1280

  

Crittenden County Historical Museum

Crittenden County Historical Museum

How did this simple fragment of a ship’s furnace trigger suspicions of sabotage and conspiracy at the close of the Civil War? 960 1280

  

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

This set of simple wooden speakers at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum gave rise to a device whose impact resonated around the globe. Yet its inventor was never awarded the credit and praise he sought during his lifetime. 960 1280

  

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

Garibaldi-Meucci Museum

The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in Staten Island, NY, is the historic home of inventor Antonio Meucci, who is believed to be the true inventor of the telephone. The museum offers exhibitions, lectures and concerts that celebrate Italian history in America. 960 1280

  

Betty Hill Dress

Betty Hill Dress

University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
In 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were allegedly abducted by aliens. This vintage, torn dress worn by Betty that strange fall night still carries a stain of an otherworldly nature. I’m afraid to ask.
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The Mars Spirit Rover

The Mars Spirit Rover

New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque, NM
It’s 2004 and our robot representative moves along on the Martian surface hobbled by a malfunctioning wheel. But the broken wheel scrapes away soil, leading to a major discovery: silica. Proof there once was water on the Red Planet.
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Sheet Music

Sheet Music

Circus World Museum, Baraboo, WI
July 6, 1944. A terrible fire consumes a Ringling Brothers’ circus tent, killing 168 people. The investigation turns up the problem: the tent was waterproofed using paraffin and gasoline. What were they thinking?
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The Flying Car

The Flying Car

Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA
The initial test flight of this machine must have been a terror. After all, cars should be driven, not flown (just one man’s opinion).
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Credit Card Machine

Credit Card Machine

Valdez Museum, Valdez, AK
On March 27, 1964 the second-largest earthquake in recorded history strikes Valdez, Alaska. Fifty years later this credit card machine from a gas station along the destroyed waterfront turns up in the weeds, a card still intact.
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Cher Ami, Hero Pigeon

Cher Ami, Hero Pigeon

US Army Signal Corps Museum, Fort Gordon, GA
In 1918, a homing pigeon named Cher Ami saved the lives of 194 US soldiers under a deadly barrage of friendly fire -- and this pigeon did it flying 25 miles after taking a bullet from a German sniper.
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Kittenger's Jumpsuit

Kittenger's Jumpsuit

National Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton, OH
In 1958, Capt. Joseph Kittenger wore this jumpsuit to test a new parachute system designed to save the lives of ejecting US pilots. But he would have to risk his own life, jumping from more than 20 miles above the earth!
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Pullman Car Lighting Brackets

Pullman Car Lighting Brackets

Seattle Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, WA
A devastating avalanche destroys a Great Northern Railway car stopped in the Cascade Mountains en route to Seattle. Decades later, these bent pieces of metal turn up, evidence of a tragedy that killed more than 100 passengers.
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Einstein's Stolen Brain

Einstein's Stolen Brain

Mutter Museum, Philadelphia, PA
When Albert Einstein dies in 1955, his brain is illegally preserved and dissected by the doctor who performs his autopsy. He mounts specimens of the brain on microscope slides -- and makes a valuable discovery.
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Spanish Treasure

Spanish Treasure

McLarty Treasure Museum, Sebastian, FL
In 1961, after a decade of searching, Kip Wagner realizes his dream and discovers buried Spanish treasure at the bottom of the sea -- worth about 20 million bucks then and a whole lot more today.
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Humming fish on display at the California Academy of Science, San Francisco, CA. 960 1280

  

The crew shoot reenactments of the houseboats where the humming fish were causing a disturbance in Sausalito, CA. 960 1280

  

A piece of the Exxon-Valdez wreck is on display at the Valdez Museum in Valdez, AK. 960 1280

  

Entry sign at the National UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. 960 1280

  

Tropical fish tank on display at the California Academy of Science, San Francisco, CA. 960 1280

  

Rifle used by Alfred Packer at the Museum of the West, Grand Junction, CO. 960 1280

  

Various displays at the National UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. 960 1280

  

The outside of the Valdez Museum in Valdez, AK. 960 1280

  

Dinosaur bones on display at the California Academy of Science, San Francisco, CA. 960 1280

  

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