Monumental Mysteries Special

Don Wildman investigates a statue that has earned a grisly reputation, a tribute to a revered leader that some say is a symbol of evil and famous carvings that are rumored to hide a secret vault.

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Betty Hill Dress
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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National Firearms Museum
National Firearms Museum

National Firearms Museum

The collection of the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, VA, includes a World War II-era pistol that was found during the hunt for a secret network of spies operating on American soil. What evil plot was discovered along with this gun? 960 1280

  

Albert DeSalvo Captured

Albert DeSalvo Captured

In the early 1960s, a series of gruesome murders plagued the Boston area. Eventually, a man by the name of Albert DeSalvo confessed that he was the “Boston Strangler,” but many still maintain his innocence. 960 1280

Ollie Noonan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images  

Museum of Crime and Punishment

Museum of Crime and Punishment

The Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, DC, contains a simple switchblade that belonged to Albert DeSalvo, believed to be one of Boston’s most notorious killers. Fifty years later, the case remains largely unsolved. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

At the Newseum in Washington, DC, is a worn leather bag that once belonged to a pioneering journalist. 960 1280

  

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly's hard-hitting investigation was as groundbreaking as it was risky, almost making her a casualty of the very dark and sinister practices she was trying to uncover. 960 1280

  

New York Historical Society

New York Historical Society

On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the New York Historical Society displays a painting that played a role in a shocking political scandal. Is this portrait evidence of the strange private habits of a powerful colonial-era leader? 960 1280

  

Museum of Whiskey

Museum of Whiskey

The Kentucky city of Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World and is home to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey. 960 1280

  

Hatchet at the Museum of Whiskey

Hatchet at the Museum of Whiskey

But one of the museum’s most intriguing objects isn’t a bottle of alcohol, but a hatchet. This weapon was wielded by a crusading activist whose fight for temperance paved the way for Prohibition. 960 1280

  

Oneida Community Mansion House

Oneida Community Mansion House

The Oneida Community Mansion House in Oneida, NY, contains a set of silverware that represents the disturbing secrets of the people who once lived in this sprawling building. Built on dreams of utopia, this house was the site of a shocking series of events that brought down a charismatic leader. 960 1280

  

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