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Post Info TOPIC: Mysteries of The Coso Artifact

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Mysteries of The Coso Artifact

The Coso Artifact 

The story of the Coso Artifact has been embellished over the years, but nearly all accounts of the actual discovery are basically the same. On February 13, 1961, Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell were seeking interesting mineral specimens, particularly geodes, for their LM&V Rockhounds Gem and Gift Shop in Olancha, California. The trio was about 6 miles northeast of Olancha, near the top of a peak about 4300 feet in elevation and about 340 feet above the dry bed of Owens Lake. At lunchtime, after collecting rocks most of the morning, all three placed their specimens in the rock sack Mikesell was carrying (Steiger 1974: 49).

The next day in the gift shop's workroom, Mikesell ruined a nearly new diamond saw blade while cutting what he thought was a geode. Inside the cut nodule, Mikesell did not find the cavity that is typical of geodes, but a perfectly circular section of very hard, white material that appeared to be porcelain. In the center of the porcelain cylinder was a 2-millimeter shaft of bright metal. The metal shaft responded to a magnet. There were other odd qualities about the specimen. The outer layer of the specimen was encrusted with fossil shells and their fragments. In addition to shells, the discoverers noticed two nonmagnetic metallic objects in the crust, resembling a nail and a washer. Stranger still, the inner layer was hexagonal and seemed to form a casing around the hard porcelain cylinder. Within the inner layer, a layer of decomposing copper surrounded the porcelain cylinder.

The Initial Investigations

Very little is known about the initial physical inspections of the artifact. According to Maxey, a geologist she consulted who examined the fossil shells encrusting the specimen said that the nodule had taken at least 500 000 years to attain its present form. However, the identity of the first geologist is still a mystery, and his findings were never published. Another investigation was conducted by creationist Ron Calais. Calais is the only other individual known to have physically inspected the artifact, and he was allowed to record images of the nodule using both X-ray and natural-light photography. Calais's X-rays brought interest in the artifact to a new level. The X-ray of the upper end of the object seemed to reveal some sort of tiny spring or helix. INFO Journal editor Ronald J Willis (1969) speculated that it could actually be "the remains of a corroded piece of metal with threads." The other half of the artifact revealed a sheath of metal, presumably copper, covering the porcelain cylinder.

The last individual known to possess the Coso Artifact was one of the original discoverers, Wallace Lane. Lane had the object on display in his home, but he adamantly refused to allow anyone to examine it (Willis 1969). However, he had a standing offer to sell it for $25 000. In September 1999, a national search to locate any of the original discoverers proved fruitless. We suspect that Lane is dead. Maxey is alive, but is avoiding any public comment, and the whereabouts of Mikesell remain unknown. The location and disposition of the artifact are also unknown. Willis's 1969 article is the primary source for information on this object to date.

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