More than a dozen mysterious carved discs found near Volgograd, Russia

More than a dozen mysterious carved discs found near Volgograd, Russia

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A team of investigators in Russia have found more than a dozen stone discs in the Volgograd region of Russia. The team claims that the discs contain tungsten, a high density metal that has applications in military technology. The nature of the discs remain a mystery.

Russian news site Bloknot Volgograd reports that the finding was made by the Russian UFOlogy and Crytozoology group Kosmopoisk, led by Vadim Chernobrov, during excavations in the Zhirnovsky district of the Volgograd region. The UFO hunters were investigating in the region due its fame for the occurrence of ‘mystical phenomena’.

While the team had previously discovered more than a dozen disc-shaped stones, they recenly found a particularly large one.

“We already found a dozen of these discs of not more than one meter in diameter and in Kuzbass a disc of about two meters in diameter,” Chernobrov told Bloknot Volgograd, adding that the newest one is unique because it is larger than all the others.

“The shape..., which resembles the popular image of a flying saucer, has let the imagination of the conspiracy theorists fly,” reports International Business Times . “Scott Waring of UFO Sightings Daily thinks this is proof that aliens exist and claims the disc is made of tungsten. Tungsten is also known as wolfram, and is used in special military technology.”

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Large stone disc being lifted by a crane in Volgograd, Russia (Credit: Bloknot-Volgograd)

The UFO investigation team has made lavish claims about the stone discs, stating that they could be about a million years old, and maintaining that they are most probably military drones that were damaged in an attack on Mars before falling to Earth.

Fortunately, scientists at the Zhirnovsky museum are taking a more rational approach and are studying the largest stone disc to determine its age and material. Some skeptics also believe that the rocks were not even man-made but are simply the result of ordinary rocks shaped by erosion.

Earlier this year, another disc-shaped stone object was discovered in Russia by a coal mining company, this time in Siberia’s Kuznetsk Basin. The strange relic was found 40 meters underground, which suggests it is quite old. Archaeologists who examined the stone disc, which is perfectly circular with a diameter of 1.2 meters, stated that it was man-made.

The disc-shaped object dug up in Russia by a coal mining company (ufo2day/twitter)

The recently discovered large stone disc is currently on display at the Zhirnovsky museum, where it is undergoing further testing.

Featured image: Large stone disc recently discovered in Russia. (Credit: Bloknot-Volgograd)

    Educating Humanity

    The string of sightings around Dyfed, Wales in 1977 had a little bit of everything: UFO sightings, glowing balls of light chasing cars, and aliens looking in people's windows. Best of all: a UFO that liked to hover over a schoolhouse TVs, radios, and cars that stopped working for no reason and even the teleportation of a large number of cattle from one place to another. Wales is consistently rated as one of the best places on the planet to see UFOs. You may have never seen an unidentified flying object over Myrtle Beach, but if you live in this area, chances are you know someone who has.The Grand Strand has long had more than its share of UFO sightings. One witness to multiple sightings offers her thoughts. ."Possibility they might be from another planet, possibly they might be time travelers, they might be from another dimension. Some of them might be our military doing exercises out over the ocean'" Check the full story of Myrtle Beach UFO hotspot.

    The vast field of Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, southern England, is a stretch of verdant land steeped in history. It's here where the ancient neolithic site of Stonehenge sits, an unscrutable pile of rocks wrapped in mystery. And it's ere, or at least in the town of Warminster, where some of the U.K.'s most impassioned UFO watchers gather atop nearby Cradle Hill in the belief that they can signal extraterrestrial spaceships. In the 60s and 70s, local journalist Arthur Shuttlewood popularized The Warminster Mystery, leading to hundreds, perhaps thousands of independent claims of UFO sightings all coming from this small town. The most common and well documented sightings involve translucent, glowing orange discs that hover and then move in the sky with fantastic speed.
    It is not often we get an opportunity to put an entire country on our UFO hotspot list but UFO sightings in Canada are at an all-time high, according to Canadian sky-gazers. The annual report from Ufology Research claims that between 2011and 2012 UFO sightings more than doubled. According to witnesses triangles, chevron, boomerang, orbs, spheres and saucer shape craft have been recently seen in in the skies over Canada. One of the most intriguing mass UFO sighting cases occurred in Canada in 1975-76, The Charlie Redstar Flap where UFOs were seen by hundreds of people and described as friendly. Over the past two decades residents in Chile's central district have recorded so many UFO sightings that in 2008 the town of Sam Clemente opened a "UFO trail". The 19-mile stretch weaves through the Andes mountains, whose plateaus are said to make great landing pads for the spacecraft. Even though the area has long been known as a destination for UFO sightings, the move likely had a bit more to do with bringing in tourist dollars than it did unidentified spacecrafts. Along the trail tourists and UFO hunters alike can read signs that detail well-known sightings and visit restaurants, camping sites, hostels and cabins. And though Sernatur — the country's official tourism service — backed the initiative, it nonetheless claims, "In no way can we guarantee that a tourist coming to San Clemente will see a UFO."

    Texas is a UFO hotspot in its own right, always ranking at the top of MUFON and UFORC list so that must make Stephenville TX white hot. It has been the location of one of the most incredible mass UFO sightings in the history of the USA.
    In January 2008, dozens of people reported something strange hovering in the night sky. It was described as a mile-wide, silent object that flew low to the ground. Some said it moved incredibly fast. A local newspaper reporter said it had very intense, bright lights. The story later made it onto CNN's Larry King Live, which did an entire hour on the sighting. So was it life from another planet? Not so, said the U.S. Air Force a couple weeks later, explaining that ten Air Force Reserve F-16 fighter jets were the cause of the lights seen over the central Texas town. But it's doubtful the Air Force's explanation sufficed for those who witnessed the object. There is even a website dedicated to UFO sightings in Stephenville called the Follow this link to read the full story on the historic Stephenville UFO Case.

    There's something special about Bonnybridge, Scotland. Since 1992, the small town has been the sight of an unusually high number of UFO sightings. In fact, Bonnybridge lies in what UFO believers call "The Falkirk Triangle," an area of land between the cities Stirling, Fife and the outer neighborhoods of Edinburgh where people routinely report unidentified objects sailing through the sky. The Scottish government says it receives over 300 UFO sightings from Bonnybridge and surrounding areas every year. UFO reports have continued over the years, leading some people to believe they are real. "How do we know aliens aren't walking about?" Bonnybridge Councillor Billy Buchanan told The Scotsman newspaper in 2005. "I have no doubt that Bonnybridge is part of something exciting." Read the full story on UFOs in Bonnybridge, Scotland .

    Nullarbor Plain, Australia

    "Crossing the Nullarbor", for many Australians, is a quintessential experience of the "Australian Outback". Stickers bought from roadhouses on the highway show "I have crossed the Nullarbor", and can be seen on vehicles of varying quality or capacity for long distance travel. This place first made its bones as a UFO hotspot when the British military began testing atomic bombs there in the 1950s. Since then, the extremely isolated area has become a hub of intense UFO activity. Numerous people traveling through its harsh desert reported having their cars chased by UFOs. These, plus reports of alien abductions, drove the Australian government to erect a highway sign that reads: "Beware of UFOs."

    Area 51 and Surrounding Towns

    There are three good reasons why chances of seeing a UFO here are better then average: First off the Extraterrestrial Highway cuts right through the region, can you think of a better place to see a UFO when motoring around the western United States. Second it is home of the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachael Nevada, where like minded UFO enthusiast make a point of exchanging stories about their latest sightings. Next door to Rachael NV is the infamous, least keep secret on the planet, Groom Lake - aka. Area 51 .

    20 Atomic Lighthouse - Cape Aniva

    The Atomic Lighthouse, constructed by the Russian architect Miura Shinobu, was built on the Sakhalin island in the middle 90s. It was a complicated building, a technical one that had to be a unique creation. Cape Aniva's lighthouse used a diesel generator to get going, although it also had some backup batteries.

    In the late 90s, the Atomic lighthouse was retrofitted with more power as a way to save more money. Somehow it fell into disuse anyway, so the building now sits lonesome by the sea, hopelessly waiting for a new potential reconstruction.

    24 The Unusual Bismuth Crystals

    The above image may look like a unique handmade jewel or something from an alien planet but it is actually made naturally here on Earth. The Bismuth Crystals are small crystals that have unique shapes and shine brightly with a purple tint to them. However, some of them are classified as rainbow colored. Bismuth is 86% as dense as lead according to Belmont Metals. The Bismuth crystal is thought to have healing properties stored within it and is sometimes called a stone of "transformation and change, helping to adapt to change with calm assurance."

    The Havana Syndrome: Unraveling the Mystery

    T he State Department , the CIA, and the Pentagon have stepped up efforts to investigate a series of health incidents, deemed “directed-energy attacks,” which have injured American officers in Cuba, China, Russia, and elsewhere. Now we have learned that the U.S. is also probing suspected attacks in Miami and Alexandria, Va., as well as near the White House.

    This deeply troubling and unresolved mystery, with both human and national-security implications, spans more than four years. The first attacks occurred in November 2016 in Cuba. American diplomats and CIA officers there started suffering what was dubbed “Havana syndrome.” The debilitating symptoms — severe vertigo, fatigue, headaches, and loss of hearing, memory, and balance — led Washington to evacuate the victims for extended treatment and, in some cases, early retirement.

    By the end of 2017, more than two dozen American-embassy personnel in Cuba had shown symptoms. The Trump administration recalled more than half of the embassy staff and their family members and issued a travel warning. In response to Cuba’s failure to protect American officials in accordance with the Vienna Convention, the State Department expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the U.S.

    In addition, from the spring of 2017 to at least 2019, more than 14 Canadian officials stationed in Cuba reportedly “got hit” and experienced similar symptoms. Some of them sued their government for downplaying and mishandling the mysterious illness. Through it all, Raúl Castro’s minister of foreign affairs denied any knowledge of the reported health incidents. He dismissed the symptoms as “science fiction” and called Washington’s move “eminently political.”

    Initial theories of what caused the ailment ran the gamut: a stressful environment, a virus, toxic pesticides, and exposure to acoustic or sonic waves. After examining 21 of the affected U.S. officials from Cuba, a medical team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Brain Injury and Repair ascribed the symptoms in March 2018 to “an unknown energy source” that was highly directional. The center’s director, Dr. Douglas H. Smith, later said microwaves were considered a main cause of the affliction, adding that the team was increasingly sure the officials had suffered injuries to widespread brain networks.

    According to the 1961–62 discoveries of American biologist Allan H. Frey, high-intensity microwave beams can produce a sensation of odd, loud noise and cause brain damage without any head trauma. As explained by intelligence experts, to launch an attack, a satellite dish mounted on a small van could possibly be used to direct microwave beams at a target — through walls and windows, and from as far away as a couple of miles.

    Then, in mid 2018, some 11 American diplomats and security officers based in China, most assigned to the U.S. consulate in the city of Guangzhou, were evacuated after developing the same symptoms that had been reported in Havana.

    The prime suspect behind these attacks, according to current and former intelligence officers, is Russia — a U.S. adversary, armed with radiofrequency-energy technology, that under Putin, has engaged in poisoning, injuring and incapacitating its foes.

    During the Cold War, Washington feared that Moscow was turning microwave radiation into a covert weapon that could produce neural impact. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency warned in 1976 that Soviet research on microwaves showed great promise for “disrupting the behavior patterns of military or diplomatic personnel.” Brain-damage symptoms experienced by CIA officers on intelligence missions in Russia, Poland, the former Soviet satellite of Georgia, Taiwan, and Australia from 2017 to 2019 only reinforced the suspicion of Russia’s involvement.

    One of the affected officers, Marc Polymeropoulos, who was the CIA’s deputy chief of operations for the Europe and Eurasia Mission Center, shared his experience in an interview with GQ. Following a brief Moscow visit, he suffered round-the-clock migraine from a brain injury and was forced to retire at 50. He and several of his intelligence colleagues joined the Havana victims’ ranks.

    A December 2020 report commissioned by the State Department and compiled by 19 experts in medicine and other fields added weight and clarity to the earlier findings. They found strong evidence that the mysterious ailment was caused by radiofrequency energy, a type of microwave radiation. They added that the attacks were the result of “directed” and “pulsed” energy, implying that the victims had been targeted.

    The experts were not privy to classified intelligence, so they did not point to a possible perpetrator. However, they mentioned “significant research in Russia/U.S.S.R.” on pulsed radiofrequency technology, as well as the exposure to microwave radiation of U.S. intelligence and military personnel in Eurasian countries.

    After more than four years of vile attacks against dozens of American officials, it behooves the Biden administration to conclude the investigations as soon as possible and hold the perpetrators accountable. If it’s not Russia, as the evidence seems to indicate, then who?

    In the case of Cuba — a police state with surveillance on every block — it’s unlikely that the multiple attacks on the island could have been carried out without the complicity of Castro and his politburo. If the CIA confirms the involvement of the Cuban regime, that nation should not be given a pass with another one-sided détente. Experience tells us that condoning evil only invites more evil.


    The sculpture was discovered on January 24, 1890 at a depth of 4 m (13 ft) in the peat bog of Shigir, [6] on the eastern slope of the Middle Urals, approximately 100 km (62 mi) from Yekaterinburg. Investigations in this area had begun 40 years earlier, after the discovery of a variety of prehistoric objects in an open-cast gold mine.

    It was extracted in ten parts. Professor D. I. Lobanov combined the main fragments to reconstitute a sculpture 2.8 m (9.2 ft) high. [7]

    In 1914, archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev [ru] proposed a variant of this reconstruction by integrating the unused fragments. His reconstruction suggested that the original height of the statue was 5.3 m (17.4 ft). [7]

    Later, some of these fragments were lost, so only Tolmachev's drawings of them remain. [8]

    The initial radiocarbon dating carried out by G. I. Zajtseva of the Institute of the History for the Material Culture [ru] in Saint-Petersburg, confirmed by the Geological Institute [ru] of Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, gave an age of around 9,500 years. In the 1990s, when this first radiocarbon dating was carried out, scholars suggested that the dating was incorrect, because they believed that the hunter-gatherers who inhabited the area 9,500 years ago would have been incapable of crafting and decorating such a massive object. [9]

    A later German analysis gave an age of 11,500 years. [10] [9] It is the most ancient wooden sculpture of its kind known in the world. Typically, wood degrades in most environments and does not endure for archaeological discovery so readily as other materials such as stone and metal. A decorated antler was found near the Shigir Idol and dated to the same period, giving credence to the estimated age of 11,500 years. [8]

    In 2021, in the journal Quaternary International, researchers from the University of Göttingen, and the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences published the results of a series of recent AMS-results dating the Idol close to the beginning of the Holocene (c. 10,000 cal BC) or about 12 000 years before present. This dating makes it the earliest monumental wooden sculpture of the world. [4] Researchers note that, while any direct parallel to this find is not yet known, nevertheless, the contextualization can be assisted by some very limited evidence of wooden objects from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. [6] [11]

    The geometric decorations, such as simple lines and zigzags of the Idol are commonly found in Late Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic decorations. Thus, various elements of the Shigir sculpture are consistent with the record of Late Glacial to Early Mesolithic art in Eurasia. [4]

    The sculpture is carved from larch. As identified from the annual rings, the tree was at least 159 years old. Stone tools were used for carving the markings. The top portion is a head with a face with eyes, nose, and mouth. The body is flat and rectangular. Geometrical motifs decorate its surface, including zigzag lines and depictions of human faces and hands. [9] Horizontal lines at the level of the thorax may represent ribs, and lines broken in chevrons cover the rest of what often is described as the body [10] however, along with the face at the top, several faces are visible at various points along the sculpture. [12] The arrangement resembles a totem pole. [13]

    Scholars have proposed various theories about the carvings' meaning. Svetlana Savchenko, a researcher at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum, suggested that the decoration tells the creation myth those who carved it believed in. [7] Other researchers at the museum have suggested that the markings could have served as a navigational aid or map. [7] Professor Mikhail Zhilin, an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow, guessed that the statue could depict mythological creatures such as forest spirits. [14] Archeologist Peter Vang Peterson, of the National Museum of Denmark, speculated that the idol could serve as a warning not to enter a dangerous area. [13]

    Scholars noted that the Shigir Idol's decoration was similar to that of the oldest known monumental stone ruins, at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. [3]

    The ornamentation on the sculpture was carved using three different sizes of chisels. In addition, following his 2014 examination of the sculpture, [15] Professor Zhilin discovered another face in the sculpture and asserted that the faces were carved last of all, using tools made from the lower jaw bones of a beaver, with sharpened incisor teeth. A beaver jaw tool from the same period was found at the Beregovaya 2 site. [16]

    The discovery upended scholars' views on when humans began making ritual art, as opposed to the kind of realistic art seen in the Lascaux caves. [9] Scientists had previously believed that complex art comparable to the Shigir Idol began in sedentary farming populations in the Middle East around 8,000 years ago. [9]

    Professor Zhilin stated that the sculpture was made from the larch, which is naturally phytoncidic, then preserved in a bog that had an acid, anaerobic environment, which kills microorganisms and also has a tanning effect. [7] Scientists suspect that many more statues like the Shigir Idol existed, but that they did not benefit from the same unusual conditions and therefore were not preserved. [14]

    8 of the Most Intriguing Disappearances in History

    It’s relatively difficult to get lost without a trace, at least these days. But history contains a number of examples of individuals (and groups) who seemingly managed to vanish into thin air. Many of these stories have become fodder for sci-fi and paranormal theories, from ghosts to sea monsters, but while the answers are probably far more prosaic, we just don’t have them—yet. Ian Crofton’s 2006 book The Disappeared, which contains 35 of these stories, provided much of the information for the eight here.


    It may be the oldest mystery in the nation: In the late 16th century, more than 100 colonists seemingly vanished from Roanoke Island, part of what is now North Carolina. The colonists had arrived in 1587 under the leadership of the Englishman John White, a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, and were part of the second (though some say it's the third) attempt to settle the area. The earliest days of the colony seemed to have been touched by both joy (White’s daughter gave birth to the first English child born in the New World about a month after arriving) and sorrow as relationships with the Native Americans deteriorated. When things started to look dire not long after the colony got started, White was persuaded to go back to England to get reinforcements and supplies.

    Unfortunately, storms and a war with Spain delayed White’s return until three years after he had left. Upon his return to Roanoke Island, he found no sign of his family or any of the other colonists. The only clues to their whereabouts seemed to be the letters “CRO” carved into a tree, and the word “Croatoan” carved into a fence post. White had left instructions that if the settlers moved, they should carve a sign of the place they were going to, and if they were in distress, they should add a cross. White found no cross, but he did find a mess of broken and spoiled belongings. He presumed the settlers had gone to live with the friendly Croatoan tribe, but bad weather and other mishaps prevented him from going to the island where the tribe lived (now called Hatteras Island) to check things out. White never managed to contact the colonists, and nothing more was ever heard of them.

    Today, some believe the colonists assimilated into local tribes, but the theory has yet to be proven. Archeological digs at Hatteras Island have found late 16th-century European artifacts, but that doesn’t prove the colonists moved there, since the items could have been acquired by trade or plunder. More recent research has pointed to a site called Merry Hill on Albemarle Sound. In 2015, archeologists said the concentration and dates of European artifacts at the site have convinced them that at least some of the “lost” Roanoke colonists ended up there—but likely fewer than a dozen.

    Where did the rest go? Chief Powhattan is said to have told Captain John Smith, leader of the Jamestown Colony, that he had massacred the colonists because they were living with a tribe he considered hostile, but historians have cast some doubt on this account. It’s also possible some, or all, of the colonists escaped with one of the small boats White left, and perished at sea—perhaps trying to return to their homeland, or find a new one. More digs are planned for the area in late 2018 and 2019, but it seems likely the secrets of the colony will remain hidden for some time to come.


    The Amazon in 1861. The ship was later renamed the Mary Celeste. Wikimedia // Public Domain

    On November 5, 1872, the Mary Celeste set sail from New York Harbor, bound for Genoa with a cargo of industrial alcohol. Almost a month later, the ship was spotted drifting 400 miles east of the Azores. The captain of the boat that spotted her, David Morehouse, noticed something strange about the way she was sailing, and sent his chief mate and a small party to investigate.

    Aboard the Mary Celeste, they discovered a perplexing scene: a ship under full sail, but with not a soul aboard. There was no sign of a struggle, and a six-month supply of food and water was still among the supplies. Almost all of the 1701 barrels of alcohol seemed untouched. But the lifeboat was missing, as were most of the ship’s papers and several navigational tools. The boarding party also found two open hatches, and 3 feet of water in the hold however, the ship was basically in seaworthy condition. The last entry in the captain’s log had been made 10 days prior.

    Morehouse’s chief mate sailed the Mary Celeste to Gibraltar, and Morehouse himself later claimed the salvage rights to the ship. Suspicions about the crew’s disappearance initially settled on him—perhaps he had murdered the crew for the salvage rights?—but a British vice admiralty court found no evidence of foul play. (Morehouse did receive a relatively low salvage award, however, perhaps because of lingering suspicions about his involvement.)

    Many investigators believe the crew abandoned ship deliberately, since the lifeboat appeared to have been purposely detached rather than torn off in a wave. Some theorize that a quantity of the industrial alcohol—nine barrels were later found empty on the ship—had leaked, and the resultant fumes left the crew terrified of an explosion. They might have left in the lifeboat and intended to watch the ship from a safe distance until the fumes dissipated, then fell victim to a wave, storm, or other calamity. Other theories surrounding the crew’s disappearance have mentioned mutiny, piracy, ghosts, and giant squid, while more recent speculation has centered around a malfunctioning ship pump. Regardless of the truth, the mystery has continued to fascinate, helped along by multiple retellings (and embellishments) in both literature and film.


    In 1809, the British envoy to Vienna, Benjamin Bathurst, vanished into thin air. Well, almost—after being recalled to London, he checked in at the White Swann Inn at the Prussian town of Perleberg on November 25, ate dinner, and retired to his room. He dismissed his bodyguards at around 7 or 8 p.m., and a little later went to check on his coach, with which he was supposed to depart at 9 p.m. But when his servants went to check on him at 9, he was nowhere to be found.

    Granted, tensions at the time were running high: The Napoleonic Wars were at their height, and Bathurst feared that French agents were after him. He also seems to have believed that Napoleon had it in for him personally. There are indications that the 25-year-old Bathurst wasn’t in the best of mental health, so he may have been imagining things, or at least exaggerating them—especially because historians say a diplomat at the time shouldn’t have been overly concerned for his life. Yet one woman who saw Bathurst drinking tea the day he disappeared said he seemed so nervous he couldn’t drink without spilling from his cup.

    A few weeks later, two old women found a pair of Bathurst’s trousers, which contained bullet holes—but no blood—and a letter from Bathurst to his wife that said he feared he’d never see England again. Bathurst also blamed his predicament on the Come d’Entraigues, a French nobleman who later turned out to be a double agent working for Napoleon. But the French vehemently denied any attempt on Bathurst’s life, and insisted that Bathurst had committed suicide. Napoleon himself even assured Bathurst’s wife he had nothing to do with the matter, and allowed her to go to the Rhine area. A four-month investigation she conducted in 1810 failed to find a conclusive answer to her husband’s vanishing.

    Others have theorized that Bathurst was murdered by his valet or someone else who may have been after his money or the diplomatic correspondence he carried. In 1852, a skeleton of a person apparently killed with a heavy blow to the back of the head was found in the cellar of a house where a man who was working at the White Swann Inn had lived, but when the skull was shown to Bathurst’s sister, she said it didn’t look anything like him.


    By the time he was in his seventies, the sardonic writer sometimes nicknamed “Bitter Bierce”—best known for his Devil’s Dictionary—started dropping hints that he was tired of life. He wrote to one friend that he was “sleepy for death,” and to another, “my work is finished, and so am I.”

    Bierce also told friends he was interested in the revolution then underway in Mexico, where Pancho Villa and others were fighting the federal government. In one of his last letters, he wrote to a family member: “Good-bye—if you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags please know that I think that a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stars. To be a Gringo in Mexico—ah, that is euthanasia!"

    Bierce seems to have crossed into Mexico over the border at El Paso, and journalists who talked to him in Mexico reported that he said he was going to sign up with Villa’s army. In his last known letter, written on December 26, 1913 to his secretary, Bierce said he was with Villa and that they were leaving the next morning for Ojinaga. Villa’s army seized Ojinaga after a 10-day siege, and some scholars think Bierce may have been killed in the fighting, with his body later burned because of a typhoid epidemic. But none of the American journalists covering the battle mentioned Bierce’s presence.

    There are, however, reports that an “old gringo” was killed at Ojinaga. Bierce is also reported to have died, maybe, at several other points during the Mexican Revolution the torturous tales surrounding his death could be part of one of his own short stories. Others think Bierce never visited Mexico at all, but went to the Grand Canyon, where he sealed his own fate at the business end of a German revolver.


    The soldier, explorer, and mystic Percy Harrison Fawcett—who some say was the inspiration for Indiana Jones—disappeared in 1925 while searching the Amazon jungle for a lost city he simply called “Z.”

    Fawcett had heard stories of an ancient civilization whose remains were buried in the jungle, one full of crystals, mysterious monuments, and towers emitting a strange glow. After preliminary investigations revealed some telling finds (though Fawcett was cagey about what exactly those were), the explorer, his son Jack, and Jack’s school friend Raleigh Rimell headed north from the town of Cuiaba at the base of the Maato Grosso plateau. About 400 miles along, Fawcett told his Brazilian assistants to turn back, and sent a letter to his wife along with them, telling her: “You need have no fear of failure.”

    But nothing more was ever heard from Fawcett, Jack, or Raleigh. One Swiss man named Stefan Rattin reported encountering an old white man who was believed to be Fawcett. Rattin went out again with a couple of reporters, and they were never heard from again. Over the years, more than a dozen expeditions have looked for Fawcett—but none have been able to prove what happened to him.


    Keystone/Getty Images

    On July 30, 1975, Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa was supposed to meet mobster and fellow Teamster Anthony Provenzano, as well as mobster Anthony Giacalone, in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Around the time the meeting was supposed to happen, Hoffa called his wife, complaining of being stood up. But by the next morning, he hadn’t come home—and has never been seen again.

    Police found Hoffa’s car in the parking lot unlocked, with no clues inside. Witnesses reported seeing two men chatting with Hoffa in the parking lot on the evening in question, but both Provenzano and Giacalone had watertight alibis, and said no meeting had been scheduled. However, Hoffa and Provenzano were known enemies at the time (although the pair had once been friends), and over the years, most have assumed Hoffa was murdered, and that the mob was somehow involved. Yet the how, why, and where have never been revealed.

    In the intervening decades, several people have come forward claiming to have played a part in Hoffa’s murder under one scenario or another, but there have always been doubts about their confessions. The FBI has also undertaken major excavations after receiving tips tying various locations to Hoffa’s death—but once again, Hoffa’s body has remained elusive.


    On December 17, 1967, Harold Holt, then Prime Minister of Australia, went for a swim on Cheviot Beach near Portsea, near Melbourne, and never returned. The authorities mounted one of the largest search-and-rescue operations the nation had ever seen, but found no sign of his corpse. While the 59-year-old Holt was generally outdoorsy, strong, and fit, he’d had recent health trouble, including a shoulder injury that some said gave him agonizing pain. And he’d collapsed in Parliament earlier in the year, perhaps because of a heart condition. Then there’s the fact that Cheviot Beach was known for its rip tides. Yet the lack of a body has stirred conspiracy theories for decades—some say Holt was depressed at the time and may have committed suicide. Others say he was murdered because of his support for the Vietnam War, or may have been abducted by a Chinese or Soviet submarine. (Or, of course, by aliens.)


    John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, was known for his taste for luxury, gambling, fast cars, and right-wing politics, as well as for his dashing mustache. (His debonair manner is said to have once earned him consideration for the part of James Bond.) After a largely dissipated youth, he married Veronica Duncan, daughter of an army officer. But after they separated in 1973, he took to heavy drinking and began a bitter custody battle over their three children.

    On November 7, 1974, Veronica ran into a pub on Lower Belgrave Street covered in blood. At her house, police found her nanny beaten to death with a length of lead pipe, and the children clustered together upstairs, sobbing. Veronica said Lucan had come to the house, murdered the nanny, and then turned to her, but that she’d managed to flee.

    The police issued a warrant for his arrest, and police worldwide got in on the hunt—but Lucan was nowhere. However, before he had skipped town, he stopped at the house of a friend, to whom he told a confusing story: He had just happened to pass Veronica’s house, saw her being attacked, and let himself in with his key, but then slipped in a pool of blood before the assailant and his wife ran away. Lucan also told his mother that a “terrible catastrophe” had occurred at his wife’s house. A bloody Ford Corsair he had borrowed was later found abandoned in Newhaven, with a lead pipe inside, virtually identical to the one found at the murder scene.

    Lord Lucan’s disappearance has filled hundreds of tabloid column inches in Britain, but there’s no proof of what happened to him. Some think he murdered the nanny thinking she was his wife, then killed himself when he realized his mistake. For a period in 1974 the Australian police thought they’d found him, but their man turned out to be John Stonehouse, a former British government minister who faked his own suicide in Miami (really). Since then, Lucan has been seen hiking Mount Etna, playing cards in Botswana, partying in Goa, changing in a locker room in Vancouver, and, as a ghost, haunting the halls of government buildings in County Mayo, Ireland. One unlikely theory has it that Lucan decided to hang out in his friend John Aspinall’s private zoo, where a tiger mauled him to death. He was only legally declared dead in 1999.

    Source of Status

    The results are some of the first to use DNA to tackle a fundamental question in the study of human history: Where does status come from?

    Hereditary leadership—power and status based on birth—is a hallmark of complex societies. In societies that use writing, evidence for hereditary leadership is easy to come by: In Europe, written histories hold the answers. In the Americas, Aztec and Maya ruling families have been indentified from carved inscriptions.

    But without such records it's difficult to prove that leadership and power in ancient societies without writing was hereditary. "If these results hold up, I think it's a game changer," says American Museum of Natural History archaeologist David Thomas, who was not involved in the research.

    Evanston, Wyoming

    Evanston, the county seat of Uinta County, is located in the southwestern corner of the state in the Bear River Valley. Union Pacific Railroad Chief Engineer Grenville Dodge named the town for James Evans, who surveyed the eastern half of the railroad's route through Wyoming Territory and probably never set eyes on his namesake.

    Evanston's first structure and business enterprise was a tent saloon erected by Harvey Booth in November 1868 as the UP tracks reached the point where they turned westward from the Bear River Valley toward Echo Canyon and Utah. But the town’s real life began in late 1870 when the railroad chose Evanston as the locomotive service and crew division point between Ogden, Utah, and Green River, Wyo.

    Dodge platted the town in December 1870, orienting its main streets to the railroad tracks rather than to compass points. All the streets in Evanston's core run northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast.

    In 1871, the UP constructed a 20-stall stone roundhouse just northwest of the center of town, to service locomotives. In addition to train crews and roundhouse workers, the railroad also employed section crews who lived in camps along the tracks and were responsible for maintaining and repairing six-mile stretches, or sections, of the tracks and rights of way.

    Chinese in Evanston

    Chinese contract laborers were among the earliest residents of Evanston. They worked on section crews and as coal miners at the UP mines at Almy, about seven miles to the northwest—down the Bear River—from town. The 1880 census listed more than 100 Chinese in Evanston. In addition to being employed by the railroad, many worked in stores and restaurants. Some operated businesses such as laundries and groceries, while others raised and sold vegetables.

    Most of the Chinese lived along the banks of the Bear River across the tracks from downtown. In its heyday in the 1880s, Chinatown, as it was called locally, comprised several dozen residences, a community hall or tong house and, most notably, a temple—known to whites as the Joss House. The elaborately decorated temple also served as a hostel for overnight visitors to Chinatown. The Chinese staged lavish New Year's celebrations at the end of winter on the traditional Chinese calendar, including a dragon parade through downtown and fireworks.

    Following the Rock Springs, Wyo., massacre of Chinese in 1885, Evanston's Chinese population dropped dramatically: just 43 in 1900 and fewer than a dozen in 1920. In 1922, the Joss House burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances. Just a day or two earlier, the Union Pacific had ordered the few remaining Chinese to vacate the building. Some people in Evanston believe the UP set the fire, others think the Chinese burned the building themselves.

    Whatever the cause, there must have been some warning of it, for many decorative items were salvaged from the building, including the richly carved cedar wood panels that flanked the front door. The door panels now hang in the Chinese Joss House Museum, a replica of the original temple that stands in Evanston's Depot Square.

    The last two Chinese of the first generation of immigrants lived into the 1930s. They were Long Lock Choong, a vegetable gardener known as Mormon Charlie, and Ah Yuen, known as China Mary. Her origins were mysterious, but she was reputedly a prostitute. They died within months of each other in 1939 and were buried in the potter’s field section of the city cemetery.

    Downtown Evanston

    Soon after the town was founded, a small commercial district had sprung up in a four-block area adjacent to the UP tracks. One of the earliest businesses was the Blyth & Fargo Company, originally Blyth & Pixley, a general store established in 1872. First located on Front Street, the business moved one block west to Main Street in 1887. The Beeman-Cashin General Store took up the full length of the block on Tenth Street between Front and Main Streets its specialty was farm and ranch supplies and equipment.

    Joining the commercial structures on Main and Front streets were public buildings, including the county courthouse (1874) at the northeast end and the Evanston town hall and fire station (1915) on the southwest. The UP constructed a brick depot in 1900 to replace the first wooden one. A federal courthouse and post office was built in 1905. According to local lore, the only trial ever held in the courtroom was that of a bootlegger in the 1920s.

    In 1906, the Carnegie Library was completed on Front Street the building now houses the Uinta County Museum. The Masonic Lodge (1910) and the Strand Theater (1917) completed Evanston's downtown landscape. With its handsome brick buildings, Evanston was an economically and socially stable community at the beginning of the 20th century, serving as a commercial and service center for the surrounding area.

    While the railroad formed Evanston's backbone, the Wyoming State Hospital was also a significant economic mainstay in the community. Established by the Territorial Legislature as the Wyoming Insane Asylum, the hospital was opened in 1889 and located on one hundred acres donated to the territory by a local landowner. The hospital's older brick buildings sit on a north-facing hill overlooking the town and the Bear River. From the beginning, the hospital was a major employer in town, hiring local residents for patient care, maintenance and farm work. The older part of the campus was placed on the National register of Historic Places in 2003. Over the years, hundreds of Evanstonians have worked at the hospital, making it an integral part of the social fabric of the community.

    The UP Railroad

    The railroad continued to shape the physical as well as the economic contours of the community through the first quarter of the 20th century. In 1897, the UP, in partnership with Pacific Fruit Company, developed an icing station between the tracks and the Bear River southeast of downtown. Water was diverted from the river into two large shallow ponds from which ice blocks were harvested in the winter and stored in long wooden storage buildings at trackside. In the summer, the ice blocks were dropped into the ends of the railroad cars traveling from California to eastern markets to keep produce cool. The ice plant operated for nearly 20 years before electric refrigeration made it obsolete.

    In 1912 and 1913, the Union Pacific constructed a 65,000-square-foot, 28-stall brick roundhouse to accommodate its larger steam locomotives. On its 27-acre complex northwest of downtown, the company also built a 17,000-square-foot brick machine shop and several ancillary buildings, including a brick power house with generators to supply electricity to the complex and a wooden office building. For nearly 60 years, the lives of Evanston's residents were governed by the rhythms of the steam whistle at the roundhouse complex, which sounded daily at 7 a.m., noon and 4 p.m.

    The expansion of the roundhouse operations coincided with the establishment of the country's first transcontinental automobile route, the Lincoln Highway. The road passed through the heart of downtown and added “highway town” to Evanston's identity.

    Increasing automobile traffic along the route prompted the creation of a tourist camp on the eastern edge of town adjacent to the county fairgrounds. Garages, service stations and eventually motels also sprang up to accommodate motorists. The Downs Opera House on Front Street was converted to the Transcontinental Garage in 1913. The building remained in operation as an automobile garage until the early 2000s.

    Changing times

    The first significant economic shock to Evanston came suddenly in 1925, when UP executives announced that they planned to eliminate Evanston as a locomotive service and crew change point. The news was devastating to a community where a quarter of the population depended on a UP paycheck. A delegation of determined city officials and businessmen traveled to Omaha to plead with railroad administrators to reconsider their decision. Surprisingly, the company did so.

    In 1926, the roundhouse complex reopened as the Evanston Reclamation, Repair and Manufacturing Plant. At its peak during the war years, the Reclamation Plant employed more than 200 people—a significant number for a town of 3,600 residents. In the 1950s, however, employment slowly dropped as diesel-electric power began to replace steam in the railroad's locomotives. By 1971, when the plant finally closed, the labor force had dwindled to about 50.

    Every sector of Evanston's economy felt the impact of the Depression during the 1930s. The UP cut worker hours, and automobile traffic on U.S. Highway 30, the old Lincoln Highway, dropped sharply. In 1936, a group of ranchers and business leaders in Evanston decided to create an annual event that would help boost tourism.

    They launched Evanston's Cowboy Days, a three-day event over Labor Day weekend culminating in a parade and a rodeo held at the county fairgrounds. By the 1950s, the rodeo was a professional event, billed as the “Biggest Little Rodeo in the World.” Cowboy Days drew hundreds of people to Evanston, especially from the Wasatch Front area of Utah, and helped create the image of Evanston as a get-away destination -- an image captured in Evanston's current motto, “Fresh Air, Freedom and Fun.”

    Through the first seven decades of the 20th century, Evanston's population and economic structure remained fairly stable, growing slowly from 2,600 in 1910 to 3,600 in 1940 to 4,400 in 1970. By that time, another economic force was about to change the face of the community -- a boom in oil and gas drilling and production prompted by the oil embargo of 1973.

    Boom and Bust

    By the late 1970s, the full-scale oil boom that engulfed all of Uinta County was beginning to transform Evanston physically, economically, socially and culturally. Thousands of construction and oil-rig workers came to town in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The 1980 census counted 8,300 people in Evanston, nearly doubling the 1970 population of 4,400.

    The workers were paid well many of them were single young men who spent their money in local bars. One of the busiest places during the boom was the Whirl Inn on U.S. Highway 30 west of downtown, which quickly became known as the “Whirl Inn and Stagger Out.”

    In addition to skilled and unskilled laborers, the boom attracted engineers, attorneys, physicians, teachers and other white-collar workers to the area. Evanston was transformed in a few short years from a quiet, stable, homogeneous community to a busy town with a socially and culturally diverse population.

    While the boom swelled Evanston's tax base and revenues, the skyrocketing population created major problems in public safety and health, housing, roads and schools. The community's leaders recognized this as an opportunity to use revenues—and the considerable resources of the oil companies in the community like Amoco and Chevron—to develop infrastructure. Some 36 companies, all major players in the industry, formed the Overthrust Industry Association in 1981, named for the Overthrust Belt, the geological formation where the oil lay.

    The association functioned as a nonprofit corporation, providing grants to municipalities as well as the county. With this support, the city of Evanston was able to complete a wastewater treatment plant, a general hospital, four schools, a city hall, and a recreation center by the mid-1980s.

    Between 1970 and 1983, the city limits increased from 2.5 to 9 square miles. Although the frenetic activity of the early 1980s had calmed down considerably by the end of the decade, Evanston's population remained substantially above its historic levels, reaching 11,000 by 1990.

    By the mid-1980s, as the boom began to recede, many of the established businesses downtown closed their doors, including Blyth & Fargo, which had operated for 107 years. Many buildings wore garish signs of temporary businesses or were boarded up. Determined to counteract the decline of the downtown, a coalition of Evanston natives and newcomers formed the Evanston Urban Renewal Agency. Its mission was the preservation and economic revitalization of downtown, and one of its first projects was placing the downtown district on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Since 1982, the agency has used more than $5 million in private donations, corporate funds and federal and state grants to restore the Union Pacific Depot, roundhouse and machine shop, relocate and restore the historic Beeman-Cashin warehouse, rescue the Strand Theatre from a devastating fire, and turn all these structures into public spaces.

    Paralleling the efforts of the Renewal Agency, the Better Environment and River (BEAR) Project, was established in 1983, to rehabilitate the seriously degraded stretch of the Bear River that flows through Evanston. Gradually, this group transformed a wasteland into a community park by restoring the ice ponds for recreational use and constructing a pathway and footbridges along the river to link downtown with the Bear River State Park to the south.

    With oil production virtually over and the oil companies pulling out by the late 1990s, Evanstonians adjusted to post-boom life. In doing so, they discovered that the newcomers brought a new vitality and diversity to the community. Although the few Chinese in the community now are recent immigrants, the town still celebrates Chinese New Year in early February with a parade and fireworks. Evanston's Cowboy Days marked its 86th year in 2012.

    New festivals have emerged, including an annual BrewFest in July and a Roundhouse Festival in August, and a Teddy Bear parade for children in December. Sagebrush Theatre, a community playhouse founded during the boom, continues to stage productions twice a year.

    During its century and a half, Evanston has experienced its share of Wyoming's boom and bust pattern and undergone dramatic changes. But its core identity persists—as a small town with strong pride in its past.