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A majestic beast with mystical powers.
FREEMAN: This is one of the most amazing things
ever attributed to an animal.
A death-defying mission to the top of the world.
It became the biggest mystery of the Victorian era.
And a groundbreaking study of mind-bending powers.
There had never been anything like these two young men.
WILDMAN: Within the walls of great institutions
lie secrets waiting to be revealed.
These are the mysteries at the museum.
-- Captions by VITAC --
Closed Captions provided by Scripps Networks, LLC.
WILDMAN: Durham, North Carolina, first found prosperity
by way of the tobacco industry
but now thrives on the strength
of its scientific research community.
But just west of downtown,
an unassuming building hides a boundary-pushing institution --
the Rhine ESP/ Parapsychology Museum.
On display is a variety of devices
meant to assist in the research of extrasensory perception.
But amongst these intriguing instruments
lies a more humble item.
FREEMAN: It's very small.
It's only about 4 inches by 6 inches,
tan with a red binding,
full of pages with many notes and little, tiny writing.
WILDMAN: And as public-relations director Susan Freeman knows,
this memorandum book was used
to document a remarkable equine phenomenon
that captivated the country.
FREEMAN: This is one of the most amazing things
ever attributed to an animal.
WILDMAN: So how is this notebook connected
to perhaps the strangest telepathy story ever told?
1927 -- Chesterfield, Virginia.
On a farm outside the city of Richmond,
Claudia Fonda tends to Lady Wonder,
a healthy, 3-year-old filly.
But soon, Claudia notices something remarkable
about the horse she's raised since shortly after its birth.
Mrs. Fonda rarely had to call the horse.
Lady always seemed to sense when Mrs. Fonda was looking for her
and would show up before called.
WILDMAN: Believing Lady is particularly intelligent and intuitive,
Fonda decides to nurture her gift.
Mrs. Fonda used small children's blocks with letters and numbers,
and she taught Lady to move the blocks with her nose
in order to spell words.
WILDMAN: Soon, Lady even begins spelling words on her own.
When a tractor came down the road,
Lady spelled out the word "engine."
WILDMAN: All the more remarkably,
she spells it out before the vehicle appears,
and soon, Fonda becomes convinced that her horse's gifts
Lady predicts the winners
of several world heavyweight boxing championship fights
by spelling out the names before each bout.
News of the seemingly clairvoyant mare
spreads through the Richmond area,
and Fonda is eager to capitalize on her horse's growing fame.
She has a special machine built
to enable Lady to display her talents.
FREEMAN: It mimicked the actions of a typewriter arm,
and when Lady would push it with her nose,
letters would raise to spell words.
WILDMAN: The public flocks to the Fonda farm
to ask Lady Wonder questions, three for a dollar.
And this seemingly psychic horse does not disappoint.
FREEMAN: Lady was able to give people names of their mother's
or their own personal maiden names --
things that no one else could really have known
except for the person asking the question.
WILDMAN: But is Lady Wonder really clairvoyant,
or is she just taking them for a ride?
In December of 1927, Dr. J.B. Rhine,
a renowned psychologist from Duke University,
visits the farm hoping to find out.
FREEMAN: Dr. Rhine was interested in telepathy, in mediumship,
and he wanted to research her.
WILDMAN: With Claudia Fonda's permission,
Dr. Rhine devises a test for Lady.
He writes down words
on pieces of paper that he keeps from view,
and then asks the horse to spell them
on her typewriter-like device.
FREEMAN: Dr. Rhine started out with simple words,
but then he graduated to bigger words
like Mesopotamia and Carolina.
WILDMAN: Much to Dr. Rhine's astonishment and delight,
Lady produces the correct answer the majority of the time.
FREEMAN: Dr. Rhine believed
that Lady was showing signs of clear telepathic abilities
at this point.
WILDMAN: The psychologist's notes from these sessions
are now on display
at his namesake Rhine ESP/Parapsychologist Museum
In the wake of Dr. Rhine's astonishing findings,
Lady's popularity soars, and for over two decades,
it seems there's no question she can't answer.
But in 1951, the mare encounters her toughest inquiry yet.
Over 500 miles away, in Norfolk County, Massachusetts,
the district attorney has been investigating for over a year
the disappearance of a 4-year-old local boy.
With few leads and the case colder than ever,
he turns to the psychic horse for help.
FREEMAN: The district attorney asked someone
to go down and present Lady with the question,
"Where is this young boy?"
WILDMAN: So, can Lady Wonder help find this missing child?
Lady is asked to spell the missing boy's whereabouts,
and she promptly types a response --
"Pittsfield water wheel."
The name baffles investigators.
FREEMAN: Unfortunately, there is no Pittsfield water wheel
in the location where they were searching for the boy.
WILDMAN: But back in Massachusetts, an investigator has a thought.
What if the horse accidentally rearranged
the letters of an actual location?
FREEMAN: The Field-and-Wilde water pit,
which is in the area of Massachusetts
where the boy disappeared,
is a very similar word to what Lady offered.
WILDMAN: Investigators drain the old, abandoned quarry,
and at the bottom...
they find the boy's lifeless body.
It's a tragic conclusion to a yearlong case,
but it seems to prove once and for all
Lady's much-ballyhooed psychic abilities.
FREEMAN: The Fondas and Lady were inundated
by the National Press.
Everyone came to get a photograph
of Lady and the Fondas.
WILDMAN: But many fail to accept
that Lady Wonder's psychic gifts are real.
A magician named John Scarne visits the Fonda farm
and is convinced that she is merely a well-trained horse.
FREEMAN: Scarne pointed out
that Mrs. Fonda used a whip or other body language
to cue Lady Wonder.
Scarne believes that Mrs. Fonda signaled Lady Wonder
each time the horse hovered over the correct letter.
But the earlier tests performed by Dr. Rhine
had made sure to account for this possibility.
Rhine and his team did use blinders and even blindfolds
on Lady to ensure that she could not see Mrs. Fonda.
WILDMAN: In the end, Scarne's suspicions
do nothing to diminish Lady Wonder's acclaim.
FREEMAN: There's always someone
that's going to doubt in psychic abilities in human beings,
much less a horse.
It's almost impossible to prove.
There are some things we just can't explain.
WILDMAN: Lady Wonder continues to astound the public with her mental feats
until her death in 1957 at the ripe old age of 32.
And today, at the Rhine ESP/Parapsychology Museum,
this notebook stands as a tribute to one remarkable horse
and her ability to entertain and enthrall, psychic or not.
Founded in 1701,
Naugatuck, Connecticut, was once a thriving mill town
during the Industrial Revolution.
And the story of the region's past
unfolds in its old railroad station,
now home to the Naugatuck Historical Society.
Its charming collection includes a miniature replica
of the entire town,
as well as models of the vintage clocks and fashionable footwear
that were once manufactured here.
Yet the artifact with perhaps the most impressive story
is easily overlooked.
SLACK: This piece is very slender and smooth,
and it's pliable.
It doesn't look like it's good for much of anything.
WILDMAN: But as author Charles Slack can attest,
this simple item helped revolutionize the world.
This very ordinary-looking piece
actually holds the clue to one of the greatest
industrial and scientific secrets of all time.
WILDMAN: What is this strange material,
and how is it linked to one of history's most monumental
It's the early 1830s in Philadelphia.
The Industrial Revolution is in full swing,
and a new, miracle-like substance
is taking American factories by storm --
Extracted from the sap of trees in Brazil,
it is unlike anything U.S. companies have ever seen.
SLACK: It was pliable, so people made rubber shoes out of it.
It was waterproof, so people made life preservers out of it.
And it had these qualities that nothing else really had.
WILDMAN: And among those hoping to capitalize on the craze
is a struggling 34-year-old inventor named Charles Goodyear.
SLACK: His business is on the rocks,
and he is looking for something he can find
to resuscitate his career.
WILDMAN: Goodyear believes his salvation lies in his latest idea --
a superior valve specially designed
for inflatable rubber life preservers.
Yet when Goodyear finally shows a retailer his invention,
he receives crushing news.
The market for rubber has collapsed due to a fatal flaw.
When exposed to heat,
the remarkable, natural substance melts.
SLACK: The warehouse was filled with rubber products
returned by angry customers
because they'd melted and become essentially foul-smelling goo.
WILDMAN: And suddenly, the wondrous product
that once seemed a sure bet is a spectacular bust.
All of these rubber companies that had sprung up
are collapsing all around.
The rubber industry seems on the verge of absolute ruin.
WILDMAN: But Goodyear thinks he can reinvigorate the industry
by somehow making the material impervious to heat.
SLACK: He wanted to be the one to unlock this puzzle,
the one to give this gift to the world.
WILDMAN: In his quest for durability,
Goodyear mixes a variety of additives with rubber,
but the experiments end in failure.
Still, he continues to invest his limited funds
into his obsessive quest.
After five long years,
Goodyear is on the verge of financial collapse.
SLACK: His family is suffering. They don't have enough to eat.
He has bet everything on finding the answer to this riddle.
WILDMAN: So, what will it take
for Charles Goodyear to discover the secrets of rubber?
It's the 1830s in Philadelphia.
Charles Goodyear is determined to solve
the fatal flaw of rubber.
When exposed to heat,
the miracle-like substance turns into a sticky mess.
But after years of experimenting,
the would-be inventor incurs crippling debt
and hits rock bottom.
So, what will it take for Charles Goodyear to bounce back?
In early 1839,
one particular additive catches the inventor's eye.
Putting sulfur on the outside of rubber
made an intriguingly smooth, hard exterior.
He realizes that he's onto something.
WILDMAN: According to the story, Goodyear heads to a store
to show off a sulfur-treated rubber slab,
like the one on display at the Naugatuck Historical Society.
But when he presents the sample,
the retailer and his shoppers are far from impressed.
The substance is still too soft.
SLACK: People by this time had had enough of rubber,
and they, quite frankly, don't want to hear about it.
So, as the story goes, Goodyear became frustrated
and hurled the piece against a stove.
WILDMAN: When the discouraged experimenter
retrieves the sample from the hot surface,
instead of a melted mess, he finds something amazing.
You can still bend it, but it hasn't melted against the heat.
It's maintained its properties,
but now it's harder and smoother than it was before.
He has a sense that he's finally taken a great step
to unlocking this mystery.
WILDMAN: Further tests confirm his suspicion.
The combination of sulfur and extreme heat
forges a bond that renders a remarkably resilient substance.
In 1844, Goodyear takes out a patent
on a process he calls vulcanization,
named after Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
And the industrial world takes notice.
Suddenly, this substance which has been given up for dead
becomes the hot commodity once again.
Vulcanized rubber is used to produce a limitless array
of new, durable goods, from shoe soles and sporting gear,
and, in later years, electrical equipment and automobile parts.
Charles Goodyear passes away in 1860,
but his legacy lives on through his ingenious invention.
In 1898, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
is named in honor of the man who,
through a combination of tenacity and chance,
reshaped modern civilization.
And today, this strip of rubber and sulfur
is preserved at the Naugatuck Historical Society
to commemorate the genius who solved what has been called
the greatest industrial puzzle of the 19th century.
During its heyday in the late 19th century,
this northern region of the state
produced more silver than any other in the U.S.
And on the main thoroughfare
is an institution dedicated to the history of the industry --
the Wallace District Mining Museum.
Inside, visitors can see
a turn-of-the-century mine bicycle,
a 1917 Linotype used to print the local paper,
and ore samples taken from nearby excavations.
But among these proud relics of the area's booming past
is one object inspired by a heated disaster.
SEE: This artifact has a wooden handle
that has been weathered with age.
The steel head has two blades on it --
a hoe blade and an ax blade,
and the initials E.P. are stamped on it.
WILDMAN: As historian Jim See explains, this piece transformed
one of mankind's most perilous professions.
SEE: This tool was born out of amazing circumstances
during a terrifying natural disaster.
WILDMAN: Who wielded this instrument,
and what act of heroism led to its creation?
1910 -- Idaho.
An unusually dry summer in the northwestern United States
has sparked thousands of wildfires.
And on the front lines of the Coeur D'Alene mountains
are the brave men of the U.S. Forest Service.
But fighting these infernos is no easy feat.
SEE: The crew of firefighters really didn't have very many resources.
They basically had little access to water, and...
they would use coats and slickers and blankets
to try to put those fires out.
WILDMAN: One of the most experienced outdoorsmen
is a 44-year-old ranger named Ed Pulaski.
Ranger Ed Pulaski was in charge of about 150 men
in the ridges and valleys throughout the forest,
and he carried himself and his decision-making
with an air of authority.
WILDMAN: Pulaski directs his team to create fire breaks --
strips of cleared land that can stop the fire from spreading.
Armed with several basic but heavy tools,
the men get to work.
SEE: It was hard labor,
where they were actually hoeing and shoveling
and trying to break up the vegetation
so that the fire had no fuel and then couldn't go any further.
WILDMAN: The effort is time-consuming and laborious
but appears to pay off.
By mid-August, it seems Pulaski and his men
have most of the blaze under control.
Little do they know that, coming up, all hell will break loose.
WILDMAN: On August 20th, freakish winds barrel out of the west
and slam into Idaho with hurricane force,
fanning the dimmed flames into a powerful inferno.
Pulaski's men are taken by complete surprise.
SEE: Seeing fire bounce from one ridge to another ridge,
It's blowing all over the place.
It's cropping up all around them.
So, the whole forest seems to be exploding with fire.
WILDMAN: Pulaski orders his crew to retreat,
but escape is impossible.
SEE: They're faced with a wall of fire behind them
and a wall of fire in front of them,
and there's just really no place to go.
WILDMAN: Suddenly, Pulaski realizes that the only way out
is into the earth.
He directs his men to a nearby mine shaft.
SEE: If he can just get them to a mine
to be able to escape the fire,
he feels he might be able to save their lives.
WILDMAN: It seems Pulaski and his men reach a tunnel just in time.
But soon, they discover
that the mine shaft is not the sanctuary they hoped for.
SEE: The fire is so hot, and it's hot in the mine,
and it's suffocating them.
They feel like they're gonna die in there
because of the smoke and the fire gas.
The men are beginning to panic.
WILDMAN: In search of fresh air,
one man rushes towards the entrance,
but Pulaski quickly draws his gun
and announces that anyone who tries to leave will be shot.
SEE: He's trying to save their lives
by actually threatening their lives.
WILDMAN: Can Pulaski calm his men
and keep them from being cooked alive?
It's 1910 in Idaho.
While desperately battling a raging wildfire,
forest ranger Ed Pulaski and his team
are forced to take refuge in a small mine.
But as the inferno blazes,
the scorching heat literally begins to cook them alive.
So, will this underground tunnel become their tomb?
The rangers struggle to breathe
until finally, one-by-one, they lose consciousness.
It seems Pulaski's plan to escape the fire has failed.
But hours later, the men stir to life.
SEE: The crew wakes up. They're dazed.
They don't exactly know where they are.
And they find the slumped body of Ed Pulaski.
One guy says... "The boss is dead."
Pulaski says, "Like hell he is."
WILDMAN: With the fire above them vastly diminished,
Pulaski's underground gambit has paid off.
Of the 45 men Pulaski led into the mine shaft, 40 emerge alive.
Pulaski is celebrated as a hero.
SEE: The Pulaski rescue story
became the iconic story of the 1910 fire.
It was told and retold throughout the United States.
WILDMAN: In the wake of the great fire,
Ed Pulaski devotes himself
to developing a safer and easier way to battle nature's fury.
He creates something that will lighten the load
for all firefighters,
combining two pieces of cumbersome equipment into one.
He took the head of a hoe
and welded it to the back of an ax head.
That enables the person to chop down vegetation
to create these fire breaks
that need to be done to contain the fires.
WILDMAN: In 1913, it goes into production nationwide
and becomes known as the Pulaski.
It remains a standard-issue tool for fighting wildfires.
The Pulaski has turned out to be the number-one firefighting tool
that is used to fight fires everywhere in the world.
And every time a firefighter lifts a Pulaski,
he really is retelling the story of Ed Pulaski.
WILDMAN: Today, the original tool that Ed Pulaski invented,
which he engraved with his initials,
stands on display at the Wallace District Mining Museum,
where it serves as a reminder
of the devastation that afflicted this region,
and the hero who faced it head-on.
In the 1800s, Washington, D.C., was the hub
of the young nation's postal delivery system.
And D.C.'s original post office
now houses the National Postal Museum.
Its collection includes iconic memorabilia,
like America's first postage stamps,
gear from an airmail plane,
and packaging from the shipment of the Hope Diamond.
But there is one artifact here
that hearkens back to a much more sinister tale.
This artifact is about 9 inches long.
It's about 5 inches wide and approximately 3 inches deep.
WILDMAN: According to U.S. Postal Inspector Dan Mihalko,
this seemingly harmless box once delivered havoc to a quiet town.
MIHALKO: I don't think there was anything ever like this.
This becomes the highest-priority investigation
that a postal inspector will ever get involved with.
WILDMAN: What role did this box play
in one of America's most chilling incidents
of domestic terrorism?
Good Friday, April 10, 1936, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
On this morning, civic leader and father of two Thomas Maloney
steps outside of his home to collect the mail.
MIHALKO: He receives this package
and takes the brown paper wrapping off.
He opens up the package, and he sees a cigar box.
WILDMAN: Curious about what seems to be an unexpected gift,
Maloney begins to pry open the lid.
[ Explosion ]
a thunderous explosion
knocks Maloney and his two children unconscious.
[ Siren wails ]
Police rush the scene
and discover the victims are all severely injured.
As they take in the devastation,
investigators receive more unsettling news.
A second explosion is reported nearby.
MIHALKO: At this point, two bombs have exploded,
so the word got out pretty rapidly
that there was a terror spree that was going on
in Wilkes-Barre, and it was coming through the mail.
WILDMAN: So all outgoing mail is halted
to prevent another devastating delivery.
They were able to intercept two additional parcels.
WILDMAN: A fifth and sixth bomb reach their intended targets
but fail to detonate.
Then, in the wake of the terror spree,
Maloney and his son succumb to their wounds.
With nobody to blame, townspeople hold their breath,
wondering if the bomber will strike again.
MIHALKO: People were terrified.
They had never seen anything like this.
They didn't know what to do.
WILDMAN: Investigators must quickly determine
who is trying to blow
the good people of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to smithereens?
[ Explosion ]
It's April 1936, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Townspeople are on high alert
after a series of mail bombs concealed inside cigar boxes
have exploded, leaving three people dead.
So, can police find the bomber before he strikes again?
Detectives meticulously comb the crime scenes for clues.
There's a lot of evidence left over on a mail bomb.
The wrapper contains handwriting,
so that's a pretty good clue.
WILDMAN: With no return address,
police consider motive in order to zero in on a suspect.
MIHALKO: They interviewed hundreds of people,
trying to determine who might have an ax to grind
against any of these six people.
WILDMAN: When detectives investigate
the backgrounds of the six intended targets,
they find an unexpected connection.
Well, the one common thread
was that everyone had some type of a relationship
to the coal industry.
WILDMAN: Coal is the lifeblood of the region,
but the industry is plagued with instability.
There was a lot of labor and management strife.
There was violence between the union and the coal companies.
So that wasn't real unusual.
But now it's been taken to a different level.
Now it's become personal.
WILDMAN: The first target, Thomas Maloney,
is the president of a recently dissolved coal miners' union.
But another target is a coal company boss.
The bomber seems to be targeting people
on all sides of the union dispute.
But after several months, the investigation is at an impasse.
Then, on July 2nd, they receive an anonymous call.
Law enforcement was tipped off that maybe they should look
at a person by the name of Michael Fugmann.
WILDMAN: A clerk at the cigar store in town then identifies Fugmann
as having purchased multiple cigar boxes,
the same brand used in the bombings.
Investigators rush to his nearby home,
and what they find blows the case wide open.
MIHALKO: They found wrapping paper
very similar to what the bombs were wrapped in,
handwriting that corresponded with the handwriting
that was on the actual devices.
And under the basement floor was some dynamite.
As investigators look closer into Michael Fugmann,
they slowly uncover a motive.
MIHALKO: Michael Fugmann was a miner, and he knew all these people.
He was also a member of Thomas Maloney's union.
WILDMAN: They discover that when the union dissolved,
Fugmann became incensed, believing Maloney betrayed him.
In some way, in his own mind,
he had a motive to send a bomb to each of these six people.
Police swiftly arrest him, and he is brought to trial.
During the trial,
mock-ups of the actual cigar-box bombs were created
by the expert witnesses and by postal inspectors.
WILDMAN: One of those mock-ups
is now on display at the National Postal Museum.
On October 7, 1936,
Michael Fugmann is found guilty of first-degree ***
and is sentenced to death.
Today, this cigar box
is a reminder of a hair-raising incident of domestic terrorism
and stands as a testament to the investigators
whose hard work restored peace to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Los Angeles, California, is home to the world of make-believe
and a mecca for movie stars.
But tucked away from the glitz and glamour of the silver screen
is an institution
dedicated to a very different type of performance.
This is the James Randi Educational Foundation,
which studies the world of supposedly supernatural
and psychic powers.
Here, alongside antique books on the paranormal, a spirit board,
and a phrenology bust,
is an innocuous object which stirred up a lot of controversy.
It's an 8-inch piece of steel, really an everyday object.
This artifact is a serving spoon.
WILDMAN: According to foundation president D.J. Grothe,
this twisted utensil was once a symbol
of an unprecedented scientific breakthrough.
It seemed to offer proof
of something with far-reaching, supernatural implications.
WILDMAN: Who was behind this spoon's transformation,
and how did they scandalize the world of science?
1979 -- St. Louis.
Prominent Washington University physicist Peter Phillips
is a keen advocate of parapsychology.
Parapsychology is the scientific study
of paranormal claims that can be examined in a lab setting.
WILDMAN: Phillips has recently been given
a grant of a half a million dollars
to set up a lab
and study the supernatural phenomenon of telekinesis.
Telekinesis, or psychokinesis,
is the claimed ability to move or impact objects
without the five known senses.
If you could prove, under scientific conditions,
that paranormal abilities actually exist,
it would change everything.
WILDMAN: Dr. Phillips immediately begins his search for volunteers
who can help him prove the existence of this phenomenon.
He put out a call
for anyone who believed they had genuine psychic abilities,
and nearly 300 people did apply.
WILDMAN: In a series of preliminary tests,
participants are presented with various physical objects,
which are carefully measured and labeled by researchers
according to their size.
The subjects are then asked
to bend these objects with their minds.
But not one person demonstrates psychic ability.
Then, three months into his search,
Dr. Phillips meets two men --
Michael Edwards and Stephen Shaw --
who do something remarkable.
GROTHE: The young men were presented with a series of spoons,
that they would concentrate on and seemed to make bend
with their minds.
Sometimes the bends were minor.
Sometimes the bends were major bends and very obvious.
WILDMAN: One of these spoons is now on display
at the James Randi Educational Foundation.
Soon, technicians begin filming sessions
in hopes of capturing further proof
of their psychokinetic ability.
GROTHE: These two young men could stop watches.
They could extinguish fuses.
In the history of parapsychology,
there had never been anything like these two young men.
WILDMAN: But amid the excitement,
there's one man who casts doubt on Phillips' work --
James Randi, also known as The Amazing Randi.
GROTHE: James Randi, for decades, has been a famous magician,
and he's also the leading skeptic
against paranormal claims.
WILDMAN: Randi cautions Phillips
against taking the men's seemingly telekinetic powers
at face value.
He would write Phillips friendly advice,
suggesting that, "Even though you're a scientist, Peter,
it would serve you well
to realize that you could still be deceived."
WILDMAN: But Phillips dismisses Randi's initial skepticism
and shares his findings
at the 1981 Parapsychology Association Convention,
an annual gathering of the world's leading scholars
from the field of parapsychology.
So, has Dr. Phillips really found proof of psychic ability,
or is there more to his findings than meets the eye?
Renowned physicist Peter Phillips
believes he's documented something remarkable --
two test subjects manipulating objects
with only the power of their minds.
But it seems not everyone is swayed by the evidence.
So, has Dr. Phillips truly proven
that psychic powers are real?
In January 1983,
James Randi calls a press conference in New York
and makes a stunning claim about Dr. Phillips' work
and the two men who claim to be able to bend spoons.
Randi knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt,
that these young test subjects were perpetrating a hoax,
because he had been in collaboration with them
for the full two years of the project.
WILDMAN: So thought-out was Randi's hoax
that he and his fellow skeptics gave it a name.
They named it Project Alpha. Has a nice ring to it.
WILDMAN: Randi reveals that, throughout the project,
he was in constant contact with the two test subjects,
helping them to devise methods of deception.
Even the supposed bending of the spoons
was little more than sleight of hand.
GROTHE: When each spoon was labeled,
they complained that the labels got in their way
of demonstrating their abilities.
They were allowed to remove the labels and re-affix them.
WILDMAN: But instead of re-affixing the labels to the original spoons,
the labels were switched.
This led the scientists
to believe that the spoons had been transformed
through paranormal means.
Other times, they would just bend spoons under the table
when no researcher was looking.
WILDMAN: The hoax has the world of parapsychology up in arms.
Many scientists are furious with Randi,
claiming he set out to destroy the field of psychic research.
Randi adamantly refutes the claim.
GROTHE: They were perpetrating a hoax in order to tell a greater truth.
It said to the whole field
that they need to be more stringent in their protocols
and take their research methods much more seriously.
WILDMAN: Phillips' lab never fully recovers from the hoax
and eventually shuts down.
James Randi continues to challenge the psychic world
and educate the public on the need for stringent guidelines
when testing for extrasensory abilities.
For now, this spoon,
on display at the James Randi Educational Foundation,
recalls a time when a bold act of trickery and deception
shook the world of paranormal science.
The world's city draws in over 10 million
international urban explorers a year.
But an ornate Masonic lodge in Midtown Manhattan
houses an institution
dedicated to exploring the far reaches of the globe.
The Elisha Kent Kane Historical Society.
On display are an antique map of the North Pole...
a taxidermied polar bear...
and a fragment of a meteor
discovered during an 1897 expedition to Greenland.
But amidst these odes
to the glory days of Arctic exploration
is one artifact
attached to a quest with unforeseen consequences.
REITZ: It is 20 inches tall,
carved from a solid piece of wood,
with lovely, delicate features.
WILDMAN: According to Curator Trudy Reitz,
the serene features of this painted lady belie
her connection to a strange disappearance
that captured the world's attention.
It became the biggest mystery of the Victorian era.
WILDMAN: What role did this wooden woman play
in a dramatic and bone-chilling Arctic mystery?
The British Empire is expanding its reach
through its dominance at sea.
And there is one trade route
that, for years, has remained elusive --
the fabled Northwest Passage.
The Northwest Passage is the legendary link
between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific.
They were looking for a shortcut to the Orient.
WILDMAN: This new route could prove to be incredibly valuable
to the nation that discovers it.
And tasked with this arduous mission
is a seasoned *** -- Sir John Franklin.
REITZ: He was chosen because he was a good leader,
and he had a strong constitution.
This voyage was going to be taxing.
It was going to be dangerous.
WILDMAN: To ward off the threat of scurvy,
Franklin's ships are stocked
with a year's worth of a new convenience --
canned fruits, meats, and vegetables.
He had 3,000 tins of food.
WILDMAN: On May 19th, Franklin and a crew of 130 hearty souls
sets out from Kent, England, on a quest for greatness.
After months of sailing,
the expedition approaches Greenland,
then turns north.
They are spotted by a whaling ship in Baffin Bay
before disappearing into the icy unknown.
Two years pass without word from Franklin and his crew,
and soon, concern for his well-being begins to grow.
The questions of the day were, was he alive?
Was he trapped somewhere?
Or was he dead?
WILDMAN: The British Empire offers a hefty reward
to anyone willing to brave the Arctic
and find Franklin,
but one by one, 30 missions end in failure.
But one person refuses to give up hope --
REITZ: At this point,
it's Lady Franklin who's really concerned.
She was desperate to find her husband
and to have him brought home.
WILDMAN: So, Lady Franklin turns to the United States for help,
and President Zachary Taylor seizes upon the challenge.
The U.S. saw the prestige in finding Franklin,
and America wanted her footprint on the Arctic ice.
This was the search of the century.
WILDMAN: The U.S. government enlists Lieutenant Edwin DeHaven
and medical officer Elisha Kent Kane
to lead the rescue expedition.
The intrepid *** outfit two Navy cutters
for the journey -- the Advance and the Rescue.
And on May 22, 1850, with this figurehead on her bow,
the Advance leads the charge northward,
but will the Americans find Franklin dead or alive?
It's the mid-1800s.
In his quest to find the fabled Northwest Passage,
English explorer Sir John Franklin
has gone missing.
Many are convinced that Franklin and his men
are trapped in the Arctic,
while others believe they've perished.
So, what's the truth
behind the disappearance of Sir John Franklin?
After months of searching
the ice-choked lanes of the Arctic,
the Americans come up empty-handed.
Then, in August,
while off the rugged coast of Greenland in Baffin Bay,
they encounter a group of British explorers
also on the search for Franklin.
The crew breaks into teams
and begins scouring the shoreline.
And soon, they make a startling discovery.
REITZ: They found tattered clothing, a velvet pocket,
tins of food -- full and empty.
WILDMAN: Could these be remnants of Franklin's ill-fated voyage?
They continue to scour the shore until they come across
an abandoned campsite with indisputable evidence --
three graves encased in ice.
REITZ: And these three graves have stone markers
that have been etched with the men's name
and the ship that they come from.
WILDMAN: They are known members of Franklin's team,
but among them, there is no sign of the captain
or the rest of his crew.
DeHaven and Kane then come to a somber conclusion
about the fate of Franklin and his men.
Franklin became locked in the ice
and thought that he needed to abandon ship
and try to make for civilization on foot,
and the end result is that no one survived.
The men died of starvation and exposure.
WILDMAN: Satisfied that they've solved the Arctic mystery,
the Americans return to New York in September of 1851.
But nearly 150 years later,
a team of anthropologists turn the story on its head.
By examining remains excavated from the grave site,
they discover it may not have been
the brutal Arctic conditions that killed the men, after all.
REITZ: The anthropologist found
that there were high levels of lead in their bodies.
They could have been poisoned.
WILDMAN: The scientists realize the source of the poisoning
was the very food that was meant to sustain them --
the thousands of tins of canned food
were sealed with lead.
It was their reliance on the tinned food
that led to their ultimate demise.
No one knew what kind of deadly effect it would have.
WILDMAN: Neither Franklin nor his ship were ever found,
but these serene siren that led the search
through the icy Arctic
now sits as a silent witness to the grandest quest
that came at the price of life.
From a fortune-telling horse to a fire-fighting ax,
a cigar-box bomb to a set of psychic spoons...
I'm Don Wildman,
and these are the mysteries at the museum.