Mystery Of Alleged 200 Million-Year-Old Shoe Print Found In Nevada In 1917

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In 1917, a mysterious rock was discovered by a worker of Nevada Mining Company that was estimated to be 200 million years old. The enigmatic object was found in Triassic rock near Fisher Canyon, Pershing County, Nevada. Upon doing microscopic photography, the experts claimed to have found the sign of stitching on the well-made piece of leather that was supposed to be worn by a human in the past.

The bizarre shoe-sole print rock was discovered by Albert E. Knapp in 1917. First, it was mistakenly claimed that the discoverer of the ancient artifact was John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer and geologist. But according to a letter written by Knapp on January 15, 1917, he found the object while descending the hill.

nevada shoe print
Fossilized Shoe-Sole, embedded in Triassic Mud,
found by Albert E. Knapp in Pershing County, Nevada.

He wrote: “In descending the hill my attention was attracted by the fossil, which lay fossil side uppermost amongst some loose rocks. I picked it up and put it in my pocket for further examination, and on such examination came to the conclusion that it is a layer from the heel of a shoe which had been pulled from the balance of the heel by suction; the rock being in a plastic state at the time. I found it in Limestone of the Triassic period, a belt of which runs through that section of the hills.”

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Later, Reid somehow took the fossilized shoeprint to New York and had it analyzed by a competent geologist of the Rockefeller Foundation, who verified Mr. Knapp and pronounced it unquestionably Triassic Limestone.

In 1922, two reports on the alleged shoeprint were published in the New York Times and the American Weekly section of the New York Sunday American respectively. According to the second report by W. H. Ballou, John T. Reid discovered the fossil (which was obviously a mistake). The report said:

“Some time ago, while he was prospecting for fossils in Nevada, John T. Reid, a distinguished mining engineer, and geologist stopped suddenly and looked down in utter bewilderment and amazement at a rock near his feet. For there, a part of the rock itself was what seemed to be a human footprint! Closer inspection showed that it was not a mark of a naked foot, but was, apparently, a shoe sole which had been turned into stone. The forepart was missing. But there was the outline of at least two-thirds of it, and around this outline ran a well-defined sewn thread which had, it appeared, attached the welt to the sole. Further on was another line of sewing, and in the center, where the foot would have rested had the object really been a shoe sole, there was an indentation, exactly such as would have been made by the bone of the heel rubbing upon and wearing down the material of which the sole had been made. Thus was found a fossil which is the foremost mystery of science today. For the rock in which it was found is at least 5 million years old.”

Ballou’s article created a controversy regarding the age of the fossilized shoeprint as it was stated to have been found in Triassic rock. According to it, the print could be at least 200 million years old. At the same time, others suggested that the rock is not more than 10,000 years old. He further stated that the print could fit a small child, 10 or 12 years old. But the real evaluation of the size is quite difficult as the precise length or shape of the missing section is not known. Besides, such shapes are seen in the natural formations known as “concretions.”

200 million year old shoe print
Some of the many possible shapes the missing
portion of the concretion might have taken

In his book “God – Or Gorilla” (1925), Alfred Watterson McCann discussed the structure of fossilized shoeprint in a detailed account. He stated that he had found on the North slide of Buffalo Peak, about twenty miles due easterly of the town of Lovelock.

Additionally, the Rockefeller Institute conducted microscopic photography of the print, which showed that the object in question contained the presence of two rows of stitching, about 1/3″ apart, with the appearance of hundreds of minute holes through which the soul was sewed to the shoe.

“The edges are rounded off smoothly as if it was freshly cut leather from an expert cobbler. The stone to which it is attached is about the size of a brick. The heel and part of the sole appear, the toe-end being missing,” wrote McCann. However, the author did not present any microscopy images to back up his statement.

There is no plausible conclusion on Nevada shoeprint due to a lack of available evidence. Further study cannot be carried out as the location of the object is unknown but looking at the photographs, some people speculate that it looks more like a broken ironstone concretion caused by erosion.

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