According to a report published on 2 April 1897 by The Daily News of Omaha (Nebraska, USA), an inscribed object had been found in an anthracite mine at Lehigh (Iowa, USA). Consisting of a hard, dark grey stone measuring about 24×12×4 inches (610×305×102 mm), it was found at a depth of around 130 feet (40 m) and covered in an incised diamond pattern. At the centre of each diamond, the face of an old man with an indented forehead was carved, all identical except that in two instances, the head faced left rather than right. We are never shown a picture of this carved stone and it is never mentioned in any later accounts; no account says how many diamonds or faces there were on the stone (given that ‘only’ two faced left, we can safely assume that there were more than, say, six). What happened to the stone? Did it ever exist?
Is the date of the report significant (in other words, was it an April Fool’s Day prank re-reported in Nebraska having originally been reported at Webster City or Lehigh the day before)? Like so many of these later nineteenth-century reports, it is impossible to check details and to reach any firm conclusions. While true believers may object to a rational explanation involving hoaxes, this seems the most likely explanation in this case, given the date of the report.
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