History Nebraska Blog

Chadron's Petrified Man

In 1893 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.

Illustration of Chadron's Petrified Man

Source: Nebraska State Historical Society Library Collection

Recreated petrified man

Recreation of Chadron's Petrified Man

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