I was simply
writing about Ripley's Petrified Man that was on
display at their Orlando, Florida location, up
until about two years ago. I was recently at
the Orlando museum and was surprised and
disappointed to see that he had been replaced
with a set of miniature Japanese ceramic
warriors. I asked the fellow at the register,
who informed me that it had been removed from
display after complaints of indecency by
visitors. I then asked him why they didn't
simply place a loin cloth over him. He just
shrugged his shoulders and laughed. I then
wrote directly to Edward Meyer at Ripley's, who
informed me that the Petrified Man is actually
owned by a man in Jacksonville, Florida, who
leases it out to the Orlando Ripley's franchise
owner, who just so happens to be the same fellow
who opened the
attraction in Spain. The very same one that I
had created several attractions for. He had the
piece actually transferred over there two years
ago. The specimen's actual owner, that is
currently leasing it, had started exhibiting it
himself sometime back in the 1940's.
seeing the figure for the first time, I thought
that maybe it was the original
"Solid Muldoon" However, photographic
comparison determined otherwise, besides the
fact that I recently discovered that the
original has been buried and is marked with a
this matter further on the Internet, I stumbled
across the attached advertising drawing for
"Chadron's Petrified Man". It is in the exact
same position as the Ripley's Petrified Man, and
I believe them to be one and the same. So,
apparently it had already been on display long
before at some point in its past history. I
have also attached a picture of Ripley's for
comparison. I was not sure if you were aware of
this information or not, however I thought that
I should bring it to your attention, as it might
help unravel the mystery and some of the lost
history of this bizarre and fascinating relic.
If you have any
information at all on this particular petrified
man, and/or its exhibition and history, it would
be most greatly appreciated.
original Solid Muldoon was the name given to a
mysterious "prehistoric human body" dug up near
Beulah, Colorado, in 1877. The seven-and-a-half
foot stone man was thought to be the "missing
link" between apes and humans. "There can be no
question about the genuineness of this piece of
statuary" said the Denver Daily Times.
It was later revealed that George Hull,
perpetrator of a previous hoax featuring the
Cardiff Giant, had spent three years fashioning
his second "petrified man", using mortar, rock
dust, clay, plaster, ground bones, blood and
meat. He kiln-fired the figure for many days
and then buried it.
A few months later, as the celebration of
Colorado's year-old statehood approached, the
statue was "discovered" by William Conant, who
had once worked for the legendary showman P.T.
Barnum. News of the find quickly spread to
Pueblo, Denver, and eventually to New York.
The statue was named the Solid Muldoon after
William Muldoon, a famous wrestler and strongman
who had been honored in a popular song.
Displayed in New York, it attracted large crowds
until an unpaid business associate of Hull
revealed the hoax to the New York Tribune, and
the statue was seen no more.
In 1983 John G.
Maher concocted a hoax inspired by fossil
discoveries. Maher commissioned a detailed
concrete cast of a man then buried it north
of Chadron. It was "Discovered" by a
Smithsonian Institution scientist, who
labeled it a petrified man about one million
years old. Before long the petrified man was
being exhibited at fairs and other events
throughout the country, until Maher himself
exposed the hoax. The figure was "laid
to rest" in Illinois.
The Iowa Giant -
Gypsum, along with many rocks and minerals found
in Iowa, has significance beyond the walls in
your home. Iowa played a role in one of the
greatest hoaxes ever portrayed on the public of
the United States.
I am talking about a man who stood 10 feet 4 and
½ inches tall, and weighed nearly 3,000 pounds.
This man traveled extensively, leaving Iowa and
moving on to Chicago, IL and then further east
to New York. Some may have already guessed of
whom I speak, others are probably oblivious to
the name. The man I speak of is known as the
Cardiff Giant. I use the term man loosely, as
some of you are aware, because the man was not a
man at all.
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