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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.