Ancient America

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Ancient Mysteries in Mid-America

By Frank Joseph

Less than a two-hour drive from Chicago, a lonely boulder perched atop a steep-sided hill overlooks thousands of daily commuters speeding by on the expressway below from their suburban homes to jobs in the big city and back again each day. Absorbed in the mundane affairs of modern survival, they are oblivious to the magical monolith that still points its unchanging finger at the sky, just as it did centuries before the suburbanites’ forebears came to northern Illinois. This part of Illinois, the Prairie State,…

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New Light on the “Burrows Cave” Controversy

By Frank Joseph

In 1982, Russell E. Burrows was trolling alone among the sparsely inhabited hills and fields in southern Illinois, twenty miles from the Ohio River. The amateur treasure hunter, originally from West Virginia, would later claim to have been searching for Civil War-era buckles, pioneer horseshoes, or old coins, with his metal detector, when he supposedly fell into a large, overgrown hole. The subterranean interior, he would say, connected to a corridor and series of man-made chambers filled with a vast and bewildering array of black…

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The Very Odd Case of the “Michigan Relics”

By Frank Joseph

During spring 2015, The Travel Channel’s popular Mysteries at the Museum series dramatized a story about a Michigan resident, James O. Scotford. It recounted the uneducated handyman’s “discovery” of a strangely decorated jar near Detroit, in 1890, when this supposed relic of a lost, pre-Indian civilization sparked intense public curiosity. Local interest was fanned to statewide fascination, as he claimed to find one similar article after another, mostly as a tomb robber desecrating Native American burial mounds. Anxious to cash in on the lucrative trade…

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