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.

Photos

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

On display inside the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library in Guthrie, OK, is an ordinary-looking pistol. Dedicated to preserving the history of Oklahoma, this museum houses a wide array of artifacts from the state’s boom times. 960 1280

  

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

This pistol marked the beginning of a dark and outlandish journey spanning 7 decades and thousands of miles, but how is it linked to a macabre funhouse mummy’s real identity? 960 1280

  

San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Among the venerated vessels of flight at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in California is an ordinary lawn chair with milk jugs attached to it with rope and tape. 960 1280

  

Flying lawn chair

Flying lawn chair

This jerry-rigged piece of outdoor furniture was used by an unlikely pilot to soar to unimaginable heights. 960 1280

  

Grover Cleveland Bergdoll's house

Grover Cleveland Bergdoll's house

This former home of Grover Cleveland Bergdoll is where he grew up in the lap of luxury after escaping police custody. 960 1280

  

Model B Flyer

Model B Flyer

This Model B Flyer at the Franklin Institute was once the prized possession of a wealthy scoundrel who led law enforcement on a manhunt and kicked off a frenzied search for hidden gold that continues to this day. 960 1280

  

Museum of Chinese in America

Museum of Chinese in America

Located in New York City’s bustling Chinatown district, the Museum of Chinese in America documents the trials the Chinese undertook to start over in the United States. Its collection includes a small paper sculpture that symbolizes the universal dream for freedom. 960 1280

  

Museum of Chinese in America

Museum of Chinese in America

This small sculpture symbolizes the unbelievable lengths some people took in hopes for a better life. What harrowing circumstances led to this sculpture’s creation? 960 1280

  

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Striving to preserve New Jersey’s rich history, the Thomas Warne Historical Museum in Old Bridge, NJ, has an artifact on display that has been scarred by a violent past, telling a tale of unprecedented devastation. 960 1280

  

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

Thomas Warne Historical Museum

This jagged artillery shell played a role in a terrible tragedy that shook a small American town at the height of World War I. 960 1280

  

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Texas A&M University in College Station houses items that commemorate the country’s 41st president. But a helmet on display honors another famous Texan and is linked to a scorching tale of bravery. 960 1280

  

Red Adair

Red Adair

Who wore this helmet, and how did his heroism extinguish a fire some people thought would burn forever? 960 1280

  

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

  

Failed Assassination of JFK

Failed Assassination of JFK

The Belmont Public Library in New Hampshire has in its collection a small pin that was awarded for an immense act of heroism. In 1950, the pin was awarded to postmaster Thomas Murphy, who pieced together several postcards that were sent directly to him from a man named Richard Pavlick, including one that said, "Soon you'll be hearing from me in a big way." 960 1280

  

Failed Assassination of JFK

Failed Assassination of JFK

This miniscule item is connected to a thrilling tale of investigation and a devious plot that threatened to kill a member of the country’s most famous family. After getting a tip from Thomas Murphy, the police caught Pavlick in his car, staking out the church of John F. Kennedy with enough explosives in his trunk to blow up the entire block. 960 1280

  

Max Factor

Max Factor

The Hollywood Museum in California displays several items that were designed by a pioneer in the glamorous world of silver-screen beauty, Max Factor. 960 1280

  

Max Factor

Max Factor

In the early days of film, actors and actresses struggled with how to present themselves to the public. But then expert makeup artist Max Factor opened up the first cosmetic studio that attracted all of Hollywood's stars. 960 1280

  

Max Factor

Max Factor

In the 1930s, Factor’s studio was the place to be, and fans waited outside for hours just to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. The Hollywood Museum contains a bizarre contraption that could be mistaken for a medieval torture device; however, the device was designed by Factor to use as a beauty calibrator. 960 1280

  

Martian Monkey

Martian Monkey

In Decatur, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Museum has preserved evidence of a strange being that some believed was evidence of a close encounter. News of its discovery caused a phenomenal reaction in the country, sparking a quest to uncover the truth behind its bizarre origins. 960 1280

  

Martian Monkey

Martian Monkey

On July 8, 1953, officer Shirley Brown was patrolling an isolated street in Atlanta when he came across 3 men standing over an odd beast. The creature was green, 2 feet long and had no hair. But it turned out to be a hoax concocted by those 3 men who made a bet to see if they could make the cover of the newspaper. 960 1280

  

Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers

In the capital city of Lincoln, the Nebraska History Museum displays a gun that triggered a terrifying series of events that gripped the nation, when 2 teenage lovers, Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather, went on one of the most horrific and infamous crime sprees in modern history. 960 1280

  

Shakespeare's Lost Plays

Shakespeare's Lost Plays

It was 1796 in London when an apparent treasure trove of unpublished manuscripts seemingly written by William Shakespeare were discovered. When one of the plays, “Vortigern and Rowena,” was performed for a live audience, it was an unmitigated disaster. Edmund Malone then wrote a 400-page, scathing review, calling the play a fake due to a litany of grammatical errors and historical inaccuracies. 960 1280

  

Shakespeare's Lost Plays

Shakespeare's Lost Plays

Samuel Ireland, the man who discovered the journals, refused to believe they were not actually written by Shakespeare himself and employed his son, William Henry Ireland, to disprove Malone's claim. About a week later, William Henry finally revealed to his father that he created the fake manuscripts himself. 960 1280

  

Dymaxion Car

Dymaxion Car

The National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV, displays an unconventional vehicle with a daring design that once promised to revolutionize the entire auto industry. With only 3 wheels and a teardrop shape, the car was inspired by vastly different modes of transportation. 960 1280

  

Dymaxion Car

Dymaxion Car

The Dymaxion car -- supposedly able to travel by land, sea and air -- only made its debut on the ground during Chicago's World Fair in 1933. Shortly after, the vehicle was involved in a controversial tragedy that devastated its famous inventor, Buckminster Fuller, and caused it to vanish from American highways forever. 960 1280