The Donner Party, Shoe Bomber, FDR's Cane

Don Wildman investigates artifacts from some of the most mysterious and shocking events in human history – the infamous Donner Party, the Salton Sea, the Crippen Case, the Kinross UFO and more.

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Duffy's Cut
Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

Bill Watson examines the 7 sets of human remains that were found buried in an unmarked grave near “Duffy’s Cut,” a stretch of railroad line in Pennsylvania. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

The bones, now housed at Duffy’s Cut Museum at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania, were said to be the remains of Irish immigrants working on the railroad who came down with cholera in 1832. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

But the bones bear evidence of brutal violence. Archaeologists now believe that the immigrants did not die of cholera, after all. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

The memorial sign that was erected near the mass grave of the 57 Irish immigrants who are said to have died of cholera. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

Some of the bones found in the mass grave at Duffy’s Cut. 960 1280

  

Buddy Holly's Sunglasses

Buddy Holly's Sunglasses

Buddy Holly's sunglasses on display at the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe, IL. Some claim that Holly’s early and tragic death was the start of a sinister curse. 960 1280

  

Boston Fire Museum

Boston Fire Museum

An 1882 fire engine on display at the Boston Fire Museum. This antique steam engine was one of the first responders to the Boston Molasses Disaster in 1919. 960 1280

  

Boson Fire Museum

Boson Fire Museum

Boston Fire Museum curator Dan O'Neil with an 1882 fire engine. When a large molasses storage tank burst in 1919, the engine was one of the first on the scene. Despite the firefighters’ best efforts, the 2,300,000 gallons of molasses that rushed through the streets of Boston’s North End killed 21 people and injured 150. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

At the Newseum, John Fox takes out the hollow nickel for the crew to shoot. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

The crew shoots the hollow nickel on display at the Newseum. Designed by an international spy, the seemingly ordinary coin splits in half and was used to transmit covert secrets among Soviet spies operating in the US. 960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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?
960 1280

  

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).
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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!
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper

This aged dossier may contain critical information linking a gruesome turn-of-the-century murder to one of the world’s most notorious serial killers. 960 1280

  

Journal With Jack the Ripper Evidence

Journal With Jack the Ripper Evidence

Now housed at New York City’s Municipal Archives, the tattered journal is tied to a brutal murder at New York City’s East River Hotel in 1891. Could the woman, a well-known prostitute by the name of Carrie Brown, have been murdered by London’s infamous Jack the Ripper? 960 1280

  

Ice picks

Ice picks

At the Vicksburg Depot Museum in Vicksburg, MI, 2 medieval-looking implements hearken back to a time in American history when a brave group of industrious men teamed up with a visionary businessman to change dinner tables across America. 960 1280

  

Ice picks

Ice picks

The ice picks housed here tell the story of the invention of chilled train cars -- allowing raw meat to be transported across the country without spoiling. 960 1280

  

Counterfeit money

Counterfeit money

At the Secret Service Museum in Washington, DC, select visitors can view a weathered $20 bill, which was once wielded by a brilliant and elusive master-criminal whose forgeries triggered a decade-long manhunt. 960 1280

  

US Secret Service Museum

US Secret Service Museum

Few may realize that the US Secret Service was created by President Lincoln to stop counterfeiting, which had become rampant during the Civil War. One man, who became known as “Jim the Penman,” spent weeks on each of the bills he created. 960 1280

  

Locust

Locust

At the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity in Fort Collins, CO, a now-extinct insect specimen tells of a devastating swarm of biblical proportions that laid waste to much of the country. 960 1280

  

Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin

Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin

At the Salon de Magie in Loveland, OH, amidst the many artifacts chronicling the history of magic, one well-polished antique chest tells a shocking tale of deception and international intrigue. 960 1280

  

Wooden chest used by French magician

Wooden chest used by French magician

This wooden chest was used by famous French magician Jean-Eugene Robert-Houdin to help Emperor Napoleon quell a revolution in Algeria. The box was used in a trick to prove that French magic was more powerful than the magic of the tribal chiefs who were threatening revolution. 960 1280

  

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

At the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, GA, visitors come from far and wide to marvel at one massive steam engine which played a critical role in one of the most outlandish heists in American history. 960 1280

  

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History

During the Civil War, Union spies hijacked and attempted to steal the Confederate army train, known as The General. 960 1280

  

Photos

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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?
960 1280

  

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).
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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!
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

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.
960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

Bill Watson examines the 7 sets of human remains that were found buried in an unmarked grave near “Duffy’s Cut,” a stretch of railroad line in Pennsylvania. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

The bones, now housed at Duffy’s Cut Museum at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania, were said to be the remains of Irish immigrants working on the railroad who came down with cholera in 1832. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

But the bones bear evidence of brutal violence. Archaeologists now believe that the immigrants did not die of cholera, after all. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

The memorial sign that was erected near the mass grave of the 57 Irish immigrants who are said to have died of cholera. 960 1280

  

Duffy's Cut

Duffy's Cut

Some of the bones found in the mass grave at Duffy’s Cut. 960 1280

  

Buddy Holly's Sunglasses

Buddy Holly's Sunglasses

Buddy Holly's sunglasses on display at the Historic Auto Attractions Museum in Roscoe, IL. Some claim that Holly’s early and tragic death was the start of a sinister curse. 960 1280

  

Boston Fire Museum

Boston Fire Museum

An 1882 fire engine on display at the Boston Fire Museum. This antique steam engine was one of the first responders to the Boston Molasses Disaster in 1919. 960 1280

  

Boson Fire Museum

Boson Fire Museum

Boston Fire Museum curator Dan O'Neil with an 1882 fire engine. When a large molasses storage tank burst in 1919, the engine was one of the first on the scene. Despite the firefighters’ best efforts, the 2,300,000 gallons of molasses that rushed through the streets of Boston’s North End killed 21 people and injured 150. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

At the Newseum, John Fox takes out the hollow nickel for the crew to shoot. 960 1280

  

Newseum

Newseum

The crew shoots the hollow nickel on display at the Newseum. Designed by an international spy, the seemingly ordinary coin splits in half and was used to transmit covert secrets among Soviet spies operating in the US. 960 1280

  

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