The Coso Artifact Mystery

My younger brother used to collect rocks and minerals for several years, when he was still a kid.  Before he lost interest in his hobby, he had accumulated plenty of various, beautiful natural specimens.  Among the most fascinating of his rocks were the geodes.  When you first find one, it resembles a somewhat spherical, run of the mill old rock.  But when cut

an actual Geode

an actual Geode

open by a diamond tipped saw, beautiful, crystaline shapes and colors are revealed.  Mark had many examples of various sized and colored geodes.

The subject of Geodes comes to mind when the subject of bad science is discussed.  At times, people who have a vested interest or preconceived idea about geology, bring forth the “evidence” for their cases with the example of the Coso Artifact.  This particular artifact is also a perfect example as to why multiple, peer-reviewed investigations are so important when bringing forth new data and findings.

A favorite sub-genre of interest to many people is that of “Out of Place Artifacts”. This is a term, mostly confined to writers of ancient astronaut hypotheses, cryptozoologists, paranormal proponents, and Young Earth believers. Out of Place Artifacts are used to “prove” various archaeological, historical, or paleontological hypotheses that challenge conventional scientific findings.  Many times the artifacts are shown as “proof” of advanced ancient civilizations, visits by extraterrestrials, or the possibility of time machines.

Depending on which article or book the Coso Artifact has been used as proof of some hypothesis or “theory”, you’ll find some embellishment of the story to fit the presented case “study”.  However, the basic accounts of the discovery of the artifact remain similar enough for conjecture.

On the day of February 13, 1961, the propriators of the “L M & V Rockhounds Gem and Gift Shop” in Olancha, California had gone out on a rock hunt for more items to sell.  Wallace Lane, Virginia Maxey, and Mike Mikesell set out at a peak approximately six miles northeast of Olancha.  The trio collected various rocks most of the morning before they returned to their shop.

The Coso Artifact

The Coso Artifact

The next day Mikesell decided to cut open the shell encrusted rock he believed was a geode.  After ruining a “nearly new” diamond tipped saw blade, the bisected rock contained a perfectly circular segment of a very hard, white, porcelain-like material.  At the very center of the circle was a 2mm long shaft of bright steel. Within one of the sections was a layer that appeared to be an hexagonal casing around the porcelain-like cylinder, between the layers was some corroded copper.

Later, one of the discoverers allegedly presented the artifact to an unknown geologist.  The “expert” claimed that nodules of that sort take about 500,000 years to form. For some reason, just who that geologist was and the whereabouts of his paper have never been found.

The only other person to inspect the item is creationist Ron Calais.  He took photographs and X-Rays of the object. He further found an object resembling a tiny spring. Furthermore, at one end of the hexagonal object there appeared to be what was left of a badly corroded metallic piece that was threaded.

One of the finders, Virginia Maxey, claimed the object might indeed be 500,000 years old or it was some sort of communication instrument from legendary Atlantis or Mu.  Speculations were presented by various writers and theorists along many of the same lines.

Meantime, an editor of “INFO Journal”, Paul Willis, thought the artifact was an

a different concretion

a different concretion

automotive spark plug.  The only anomaly was the spring shaped object at one end of the device, because modern spark plugs are not manufactured with that feature.

Independent investigators, using the photographic evidence and data about similar mineral formations determined that the device became encased within a “concretion” derived from a mixture of soil and the rust from the spark plug’s metallic parts.  Chemical scientists have proven that iron and other ferrous items rapidly produce oxidated concretions around them as a process of rusting in the ground.

CosoArtifact-03With the assistance of members of the “Spark Plug Collectors of America”, yes, some folks collect spark plugs, the artifact was identified as a particular plug.  Then President of the group, Chad Windham, identified the item as a 1920s-era Champion spark plug that was used in Model T and Model A Ford automotive engines.  Four other spark plug experts examined the same evidence and independently agreed with Windham.

It turns out that, as a general rule, spark plug collectors are very familiar with spark plugs being found in unusual situations and places.  There are other examples of similar geode-like spark plug “artifacts” in spark plug collections.


The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that the Coso Artifact has mysteriously vanished and has never been seen again.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Controversy, cultural highlights, religion, Science, Vintage Collectables and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Coso Artifact Mystery

  1. gpcox says:

    This is an amazing post, who would have thought? How the heck could the spark plug get inside the rock?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.