Mysteries: Santa Heist and Papago Park Pictures

Don Wildman examines a poster for the “most missingest man in America,” a toxic bottle of liquor and a leather bag used in a gutsy prison escape.

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St. Louis
St. Louis

St. Louis

St. Louis may be best known for the giant arch that is the “gateway to the West,” but the city is also home to a less-talked-about institution that introduces visitors to a very different slice of history. The World Chess Hall of Fame holds an array of artifacts, including one of the first computerized chessboards, game pieces carefully carved from precious materials and photographs of the greatest chess players of all time. 960 1280

  

St. Louis

St. Louis

Within the museum’s collection, there is a very ordinary-looking chessboard. It’s 16 by 16 inches and consists of 64 wooden squares of alternating wood grain patterns — just like any other. However, this board is anything but ordinary. It not only played a pivotal part in one of the most epic chess matches ever, it almost started a world war. 960 1280

  

Albuquerque, NM

Albuquerque, NM

There are a number of sights in Albuquerque, NM, that highlight the region’s nuclear past, such as the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. There, visitors can view artifacts linked to the research and development of nuclear technology, including a B-29 Superfortress bomber plane, a nuclear test device called "The Gadget" and radioactive-influenced quackery from the early 20th century. 960 1280

  

New Mexico

New Mexico

Tucked away inside the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is an item that looks completely inadequate next to the larger exhibits. The story behind this Boy Scouts badge reveals a brush with disaster that placed an entire town in great danger. 960 1280

  

New Mexico

New Mexico

At one time these harmless-looking rodents could be considered cute. However, this specimen spread the fear of death among thousands of New Mexico residents and threatened an entire region. 960 1280

  

New York City

New York City

New York City has some of the tallest buildings in the world, but what many people don’t realize is that the city also has some of the biggest and most beautiful cathedrals in the United States. Trinity Church, at the head of what is now Wall Street, houses the Trinity Museum, where visitors can view exhibits connecting the past with the present. 960 1280

  

Trinity Church

Trinity Church

To see one of Trinity’s most intriguing items, you need to delve deep into the by-appointment archive. Inside this diary from 1880 is a succession of handwritten notes that catalogs a bizarre chapter in Trinity’s history — a devious scheme perpetrated by a cunning individual. 960 1280

  

New iberia, LA

New iberia, LA

The southern Louisiana city of New Iberia was founded by Spaniards in 1779 but later became a refuge for Acadian French settlers deported from Nova Scotia by the British. New Iberia combines this Cajun culture clash with some down-home Southern charm, attracting visitors with its eclectic cuisine, old plantations and rollicking music scene. And on the city’s historic Main Street is the Bayou Teche Museum. Founded in 2010, this former grocery store chronicles the area’s rich history and is deliberately laid out in a winding pattern designed to resemble the snakelike curves of the Bayou Teche itself. 960 1280

  

Bayou Teche Museum

Bayou Teche Museum

Among the artifacts at the Bayou Teche Museum is a seemingly drab collection of slabs of uneven size and shape, the largest measuring 17 1/2 inches wide, 11 inches tall and 6 1/2 inches deep. These unassuming blocks were at the heart of a spicy story that led to the creation of one of today’s most recognizable brands. 960 1280

  

San Mateo County History Museum

San Mateo County History Museum

Redwood City, CA, once known mostly as a port for lumber, is now a city in the heart of Silicon Valley. At the center of this high-tech town sits an institution that has survived many waves of change: the San Mateo County History Museum. Its displays hold such treasures as a stagecoach, a stained-glass dome and models of galleon ships that once docked nearby. 960 1280

  

San Mateo County History Museum

San Mateo County History Museum

This gun on display at the San Mateo County History Museum represents the culmination of a conflict between 2 prominent San Franciscans and the race for mayor that made the city look like the Wild West all over again. 960 1280

  

Photos

Kansas Museum of History

Kansas Museum of History

At the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka is a well-worn nautical uniform that once belonged to a local doctor famous for performing goat gland transplants on his patients. 960 1280

  

Fox Sisters

Fox Sisters

On display at the Lily Dale Museum in Lily Dale, NY, is a large tin chest that is linked to the Fox sisters – a famous clan of psychics who claimed to be able to speak with the dead. So whose trunk was this? And what did it prove about a sinister tale of murder, intrigue and the afterlife? 960 1280

  

Easter Island

Easter Island

A statue from Easter Island at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. 960 1280

  

Custer's last stand

Custer's last stand

Actors reenact Custer’s last stand. 960 1280

  

US Army Quartermaster Museum

US Army Quartermaster Museum

Military uniforms on display at the US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, VA. 960 1280

  

Washington newspaper

Washington newspaper

Reporter Casey McNerthney inspects a Washington newspaper from 1935. It holds evidence of an infamous kidnapping. 960 1280

  

Red Ghost legend

Red Ghost legend

The US Army Quartermaster Museum in Fort Lee, VA, displays a brass bell that was linked to a legendary beast known as the Red Ghost. What was this terrifying creature? And how did it come to stalk the Arizona desert? 960 1280

  

Kansas Museum of History

Kansas Museum of History

The Kansas Museum of History’s museum registrar, Nikaela Zimmerman, tells the story of John R. Brinkley, a doctor who was hailed as a Kansas hero. 960 1280

  

John R. Brinkley

John R. Brinkley

After losing his medical license for his controversial goat gland transplants, John R. Brinkley launched a campaign for governor. These artifacts were given out to voters. 960 1280

  

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument

Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument

Custer on horseback at the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. On display at the museum is an unassuming array of bent and rusty cartridge casings that came from the blood-soaked site of one of the most famous battles in American history. 960 1280

  

American Mountaineering Museum

American Mountaineering Museum

On display at the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum is a weather-beaten, metal oxygen tank. 960 1280

  

Replica oxygen tank

Replica oxygen tank

This replica oxygen canister is a lasting testament to a fearless adventurer’s tragic end that remains shrouded in mystery to this day. 960 1280

  

American Mountaineering Museum

American Mountaineering Museum

Learn more about George Lee Mallory’s daring climb at Golden, Colorado’s American Mountaineering Museum. 960 1280

  

American Fur Company Store

American Fur Company Store

At the American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum on Mackinac Island, MI, the yellowing pages of a tattered antique book tell of a astonishing medical affliction and the secrets of human anatomy that it revealed. 960 1280

  

Putnam County Historical Museum

Putnam County Historical Museum

At the Putnam County Historical Museum in Unionville, MO, is a twisted piece of metal, a remnant from a catastrophic disaster in the sky. 960 1280

  

Piece of metal from Continental Flight 11

Piece of metal from Continental Flight 11

On March 22, 1962, Continental Airlines flight 11 exploded in the sky while en route to Kansas City, MO, killing all 45 passengers and crew on board. 960 1280

  

Wreckage of Continental Flight 11

Wreckage of Continental Flight 11

The FBI eventually learned that a man named Thomas Doty had smuggled dynamite onto the plane and exploded it mid-air. But why did he do it? 960 1280

  

Houdini's wooden box

Houdini's wooden box

At the Salon De Magie in Loveland, OH, visitors to the private collection can marvel at a strange wooden box that was once used in a chilling ritual said to summon spirits of the dead. 960 1280

  

New Brunswick Public Library

New Brunswick Public Library

At the New Brunswick Public Library in New Brunswick, NJ, visitors can see a tattered hat on display, which harkens back to the brutal murder of a pastor. 960 1280

  

Man-Eating Lions

Man-Eating Lions

On display at The Field Museum in Chicago are 2 massive stuffed lions that once tormented a group of railroad workers in East Africa. Dubbed the “Tsavo Man-Eaters,” these notorious lions were responsible for a number of deaths near Kenya’s Tsavo River in 1898. 960 1280

  

Cash register

Cash register

This cash register, on display at the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum in Fort Thomas, KY, once belonged to Kentucky’s Beverly Hills Supper Club – the site of a deadly fire. 960 1280

  

Cleveland's Tumor

Cleveland's Tumor

The Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, PA, houses a medical oddity that was part of a top-secret operation. Visit to see the tumor and a few teeth that former President Grover Cleveland had surgically removed while he was in office. 960 1280

  

Man-Eating Lions

Man-Eating Lions

Chicago’s Field Museum offers clues as to why 2 massive, 9-foot lions began attacking, killing and eating railroad workers in Kenya. 960 1280

  

State Senator Murder

State Senator Murder

Visit the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing, MI, to see the blood-stained hat that a Michigan State Senator was wearing when he was mysteriously murdered. 960 1280

  

Willamette Meteorite

Willamette Meteorite

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History at the University of Oregon in Eugene houses a replica of the Willamette Meteorite – the largest meteorite ever found in North America. 960 1280

  

Meteorite

Meteorite

Learn about the 15-ton meteorite -- and the scandal its discovery caused -- at University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History. 960 1280

  

President Grover Cleveland's Tumor

President Grover Cleveland's Tumor

Former President Grover Cleveland had his tumor along with a few teeth removed from his jaw during a top-secret operation aboard a fishing boat. 960 1280

  

UFO

UFO

At the Simpson County Archives in Franklin, KY, is a piece of a plane that crashed while tracking a UFO. 960 1280

  

UFO

UFO

A metal fragment at the Simpson County Archives tells the story of pilot who died in a mysterious plane crash in 1941. Did the UFO he was chasing have something to do with it? 960 1280

  

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